Checklist for importers who are manufacturing products in China or low-cost AsiaMany people come to us and ask: “What are the steps we need to take now that we have decided to manufacture our products in China/Vietnam/SE Asia?”

While no two manufacturing projects are the same, I’ve tried to distill the process into a checklist that covers 95% of situations for importers of consumer goods and simple industrial products here. (If you are simply picking an off-the-shelf product, you will need to ignore some of the points.)

Checklist for importers from China/Low-cost Asia

Here are the basics you should be on top of before importing products from China/low-cost Asia. If you can follow all of these tips then you’ll be in a far stronger position where your project will run more smoothly.

Describe the product you need

  • Write down precise product specifications – this will be the basis of your quality standard

Identify and pre-qualify supplier(s)

👉 Listen to our series of podcasts about vetting Chinese suppliers

Share product information with potential supplier(s) [for a new product]

  • Ask the supplier to sign and chop an enforceable non-disclosure, non-use, non-circumvention agreement
  • Share product specs with supplier(s)
  • Send a sample/prototype to supplier(s), if applicable
  • Get feedback about your product specs

Develop tooling with the chosen supplier, if necessary [for a new product]

  • Find an initial price agreement
  • Get a development agreement signed and chopped by the supplier
  • If necessary, wire money

👉 Later on, you may need this information if you own tooling: How to move Plastic Injection Molds between China Factories [10 Tips]

Develop samples with supplier(s) [for a new product]

  • Supplier sends a first prototype/sample made with tooling
  • Client comments about it
  • If necessary, supplier sends more samples
  • Approval of golden sample
  • Comments for production

Develop samples with supplier(s) [for a new labeling or packing]

  • Same as above, for packaging materials (should be done in parallel)

👉 Read our guide to types of packaging for smaller products

Finalize product specs

  • Confirm with supplier that product specs are correct
  • If the product is new for this factory: place a small order for a pilot run and make sure there are no major issues

Confirm the order for mass production

  • If not done yet, sign a manufacturing agreement (to be signed and chopped by the supplier)
  • Make the product spec sheet an exhibit of that agreement
  • Launch the payment process (transfer of deposit / opening of letter of credit)
  • Remind the supplier to book the materials/components immediately

👉 You may find this blog post helpful: How To Create A Valid Manufacturing Contract In China To Protect Your IP

Comment on production samples

  • Supplier sends samples taken from mass production
  • Comment on samples
  • If necessary, supplier sends samples again

Inspection/testing during production

  • Share PO & share product specs with inspection firm/staff
  • Get an estimate of the price/time necessary, and confirm
  • Tell supplier about inspection plans
  • Supplier proposes timing of inspection
  • Get report & give feedback to supplier

👉 Examine inspections during production here

Book shipment with a forwarder

  • Get quotes and compare them
  • Confirm a quote
  • Start tracking shipment with forwarder

👉 Understanding Incoterms will be helpful

Approve quality before shipment

  • Share PO & share product specs with inspection firm/staff
  • Get an estimate of the price/time necessary, and confirm
  • Tell supplier about inspection plans
  • Supplier proposes timing of the inspection
  • Get inspection report & give feedback to supplier
  • If necessary, proceed to re-inspection and issue a debit note to supplier

👉 See Sofeast’s product inspection solutions, including final random inspection and container packing & loading inspections


  • Forwarder advises closing date
  • Authorize shipment
  • Forwarder confirms the products were made available in time
  • Forwarder confirms the products were shipped out
  • Supplier sends a copy of the documents
  • Confirm that the documents are all correct

👉 Logistics management can support you at this point

Final payment

  • Check the quantity of shipped products
  • If payment by bank wire: transfer the balance
  • Supplier sends all original documents
  • Confirm receipt of all original documents

Customs clearance

  • Forwarder/agent applies for clearance
  • Payment of import duties

Domestic transport

  • Arrange domestic transport
  • Confirm receipt of products


  • Arrange sufficient manpower and space

👉 You can utilize our China fulfillment center for warehousing and shipping if it makes sense to keep some of the goods in China for some time

QC on incoming products

  • Share PO & share product specs with internal QC staff
  • QC service checks conformity & quality
  • If necessary, give feedback to supplier and inspectors


Do you have any questions or any points to add here? Tell us by commenting, please.


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There are 15 chapters over 80+ pages to explore, providing exhaustive guidance on the entire sourcing and supplier development process from start to finish, including:

  • Identifying suppliers,
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