Looking for a Chinese supplier in online directories
Last week I wrote how to ask Chinese suppliers for quotations. It is a necessary step to screen potential candidates. Buyers usually get lots of surprises at this stage. It illustrates the difficult of looking for a Chinese supplier in online directories (such as Alibaba or Global Sources).
First, many suppliers show photos of products that they can't manufacture. They simply want to subcontract potential orders to legitimate factories. The problem is, they pretend to be the manufacturer themselves. It is not easy to detect, since they might have a factory but produce other items.
In such cases, you'd better not ask for a specific quotation (based on your own design or on a modification of the samples you see in photo). The intermediary will ask the factory, which will probably give him very low priority. This means inflated, imprecise, and late quotations.
Second, many advertisers already operate at full capacity and are flooded with inquiries. They pay for an Alibaba or a Global Sources profile in advance and they maintain it. But they feel they don't currently need this stream of new business.
In this case, they will usually assign a junior merchandiser to respond to inquiries, and/or they will only respond to what looks like a "big fish". If you don't look like (or don't market yourself as) the ideal customer in their eyes, they won't spend 1 min on your file.
That's why nearly half the suppliers you contact will tell you "sorry, can't do this". It can get pretty frustrating.
Find the right supplier is the cornerstone of a successful sourcing strategy. Don't wing it!