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Partners to keep close in China product sourcing & importing

by Li Zhang  

In the world of China product sourcing and importing, partner companies create solid links in your supply chain.


In China Product Sourcing, you are not an island. Here is a list of vital partner companies to keep handy.

Express Company (Courier)

This is that important partner in charge of toting packages from point A to point B. Packages of samples that are “hot off the presses”, for the long leap from China to your office. And of course sending China sample packages from your office to China.

Most Americans use FedEx or UPS. But even on using these large companies, you want to have contacts within your local office who understand your business and expectations. When the express receive a phone call from you to come to your office, they know what to expect, who to speak to and the sample package send-off should be seamless. If you are scheduling a pickup; it should not always being a hassle describing China and giving the Chinese city names to the courier contact.

Keep in mind that whenever timing is not urgent and you want to send a sample to China, USPS is an economic alternative to UPS and FedEx.

Likewise, remind your Chinese supplier, that if timing is not urgent, EMS (a wing of China Post) is an economic option.

Testing company

This is the company that you send samples to; to certify the product, check for CPSIA, lead-free..any and all forms of safety testing. You probably have a contact for this in your home country.

Product safety testing in the promotional product industry is vital and every year becoming more a heavier focus…rightfully so!

I recommend having a contact office in China to keep close by as well. Put this China office or lab in touch with your supplier. By doing this, the testing process becomes more efficient. You can step out of the way and product can go directly from the supplier to the lab. The renown testing labs have offices throughout China.

3rd Party QC company

If you are ordering substantial quantity from China it is hard to justify relying ONLY on your supplier for 3rd party inspections. This is inviting trouble. There are reputable and efficient 3rd party quality inspection companies throughout China. Many of these companies are Western-operated making for easy communication.

Contact me, Ms. Li Zhang and I will inform you the companies we use and you can tell them I sent ya!

Freight Forwarder

This important player takes the mass production merchandise from point A to point B… It would take entire blog posts to explain the necessity of having a good relationship with your freight forwarder.

You want a freight forwarder who is going to care about your business. Especially in the promotional product industry, you want a freight forward who is going to understand your delivery time expectations.

Too many freight forwarders do not care and treat everything as another project, without grasping the special characteristics of each job.

Lastly, it’s important to find a freight forwarder who understands your overall expectations.  Avoid reinventing the wheel and having to waste time, with every project having to describe again, where to deliver, your expected price terms, where is pickup, etc… Eventually you want a trusted freight forwarder to fill in the blanks themselves.

Customs agent

If you have a stellar freight forwarder, this company may be the least necessary for you to keep close by in your contact grasp. But if your freight forwarder is slow on the uptick, it’s a good idea for your to have someone in the customs’ department of your home country.

In the United States, for example, this customs contact is able to receive samples and accurately inform you the ruling for the import duty rate. You can research this information yourself; but then it’s open for error.

Also if you plan on developing a new product line, it’s good to have the duty information down from the early stages of your business.

Li Zhang has worked in international manufacturing and exporting since 2003. She has served global brands such as Bayer, Coca Cola and Warner Bros. Her background is in design and engineering. Li is a native of Jiangsu Province and currently finds herself back and forth between Suzhou, China and the USA. Contact Li at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or find her penning manufacturing thoughts at her blog.


Want to know how to work with factories to produce your unique products?  Join the Smart China Sourcing Summit to learn sourcing best practices, April 17-19, 2016.  Co-located with Global Sources 3,000-booth trade show in Hong Kong.  Learn more at

Keep updated on sourcing best practices and the Summit.  Join the Smart China Sourcing Facebook group at

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