I get some weird questions or comments from readers who are not professional importers. It keeps reminding me of what most people in the West think (imagine?) about China.
I listed a few of the myths, fantasies, and misconceptions about importing products from China.
The first ones are held by people who have never sourced anything from the Middle Kingdom, while the last ones are still engrained in many seasoned importers’ heads.
Oooh no, they won’t. They close some factories (a very small minority) from time to time, but they will not check if the products you buy from a supplier are acceptable in your country.
If you want someone to help you with quality control, take the initiative and contact some QC agencies.
Wrong! I bet that most of the suppliers listed on alibaba.com don’t own manufacturing facilities. They are intermediaries, and many of them will claim to be manufacturers.
Research who your potential suppliers are. There is no substitute forfactory auditsand background checks.
ISO 9001 certifications don’t mean much inChina— ignore them. If this is important to you, audit the quality system of the factory yourself.
Andcustomer referencesare cheap — they should be considered false until you have verified them yourself.
Bad advice. Start by defining what the ideal profile of the supplier you need looks like: what size, what engineering capabilities, what peak production seasonality, what main export market…
Then it is only a matter of contacting many potential suppliers (on trade shows or online directories likeglobalsources.com), of screening them, and of visiting the few that look the most promising.
It just doesn’t work. All importers ask their suppliers to make short-term concessions for mutual gain in the long term… And most of them disappoint their suppliers within the first two years of the relationship.
So factories just say “yes sure, let’s work on this like two partners”, but they don’t believe a word of it. More on this topic here.
Some sourcing agents do a great job. But over 90% of them should be avoided. They will actually increase your prices by getting commissions from factories, in addition to what you pay them. I wrote about thisbefore.
Chances are, the price that is the lowest at the beginning won’t be low any more by the time you have wired a deposit (“raw materials are up, so we need to raise the price by 20%”).
Or, even worse, you won’t hear from them again and they won’t ship anything to you.
If you place relatively small orders, you might be better served by a trading company. Small manufacturers generally are very disorganized and don’t have English-speaking staff.
And, inChina, the reality is seldom black or white. Factories routinely sub-contract some of their orders. Some trading companies own shares of factories. Most factories only do one final operation, but most of the potential problems originate from the components they have purchased from a sub-supplier. I could go on and on.
Wrong! You can buy about anything, as long as (1) the order quantity is high enough, (2) some manufacturers have the capability to produce what you want to buy, and (3) these manufacturers are willing to sell it to you.
Do your research, but don’t assume anything. And following up on a first order from China can take you 15 hours a week for the whole length of the project, if you purchase goods that were customized for your order.
Shockingly few of them know the safety standards inside out.
And, if you leave some specifications up to them, they will follow their cheapest solution… which is probably not in your interest.
What do you think?