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What is the main thing learned in 10 years trading with the Chinese?

by Adam Gilbourne

Today I am going to dispense 10 years of trading with the Chinese into one idea. At a recent HK Global Sources event where I chaired a panel someone asked:

“Adam, what is the main thing you have learned in 10 years trading with the Chinese?”

Now more than ever, it is clear as daylight that if you…

Find a competent, established manufacturer = positive outcome. Pick a mediocre factory = uphill battle, problems, disasters from the start! So you should focus a large amount of initial energy on finding the right factory.

But most people have no method, system or analysis of how to do this. And if they find a good factory it is often by trial & error. Or dumb luck.

Most people do not value how important finding the right supplier is. They nod their heads. “Yeah Adam of course you need a great supplier…”

But sourcing the right supplier is not easy to execute. How can you judge a factory if you are sourcing from another country via the internet? Or if you meet briefly at a trade show? How can you judge their operations if you do not visit in person?

Most importers do not have the significant time and resources it takes to do this properly. Here is an insight into the lengthy steps one should take to source properly.

Unfortunately you have to wade through a lot of mediocre suppliers to find  the good ones.

And compounding this difficulty – many of the biggest and best manufacturers in any industry are not listed on any trade directory at all.

Of the top 10 factories I have visited this year only about 10-20% were listed on trade directories.

Sometimes factories are not accessible through the normal trade websites.

But however you do it, choosing the right supplier is the critical step when importing from China. It sounds obvious but dedicating the time to get the right factory is not easy.


Adam Gilbourne is the founder of Easy Imex Ltd and helps importers to source product & manage their supply chain in China. He writes advice for importers on the Easy Imex blog. He lives full time in Shanghai, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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