How To Find Suppliers In China [Importer Tips] Are you looking for assistance to find suppliers in China?  Sofeast can help you with that.

Keep reading to see our suggested sourcing process and how we take the pain out of sourcing new suppliers for importers:

Help! I need to find a supplier in China. Where do I start?

China has a huge number of potential suppliers just waiting to help overseas importers to manufacture any number of goods, but how to find one that’s right for you?

Let’s assume that you’re starting the sourcing process. Where to begin?

Purchasing direct is a good idea if you can handle it, as you can avoid various fees that you might pay to middlemen or sourcing agents, however it may be more work (and risk) than you initially expect.

For instance, it’s a lot more complex than simply checking a B2B directory like Alibaba, choose and place an order with a ‘gold supplier’ because they seem more legitimate due to this status? (Hint: This is a bad idea).

You will need to follow a process including:

  1. Identifying potential suppliers
  2. Screening these suppliers and verifying the last candidate(s)

Supplier identification

The supplier identification process requires a lot of desk work, as you need to:

  • Create an ideal supplier profile
  • Search B2B directories online and/or attend trade shows in person
  • Reach out to them via email and phone calls (being sure to communicate in such a way as they will want to respond to your inquiries)
  • Assess suppliers based on cost
  • Add all of this data and notes to a spreadsheet

Read about this stage in this excellent in-depth blog post: How to identify potential Chinese suppliers

You may also find this list of contract manufacturers in South China helpful, too.

Supplier screening and verification

We suggest three stages to go through in order to narrow down your shortlist of potential suppliers, from the identification stage to a preferred option who you can place an initial test order with. As you can imagine, for best results your physical presence in China will be required, especially for factory visits and meeting with the suppliers:

  • Performing background checks and due diligence
  • Factory visits (by yourself and/or factory auditors)
  • Physical face-to-face meetings

Again, read about this stage in detail in this detailed blog post: How to Verify a Manufacturer


Unwelcome time pressure on importers

sourcing suppliers in china puts unwelcome time pressure on importers
In our experience, you need to be able to dedicate a minimum of 1-3 hours a day (per supplier) to manage what happens in China. If you don’t have this time, you might need help from a service provider that can handle the following tasks:

  • Identifying new suppliers who can make your products within an acceptable price and quality range
  • Work on developing new products with the suppliers
  • Day to day management of the supplier relationships (communication, quality control, shipments follow-up, handling crises if any)
  • All along, ensuring you retain transparency over what happens in your supply chain, and retaining the control you need over it


How Sofeast act in your interest to find suppliers in China and assure best results

How Sofeast act in your interest to find suppliers in China and assure best results
Here at Sofeast, we assist importers to go through all of the above processes in order to find the best possible new supplier in China.

If you come to us wondering how to find suppliers in China and requiring assistance, here’s what can do to help.

New Factory Identification

The supplier identification process mentioned earlier is time-consuming and risky as importers don’t have the time or money to waste on working with a supplier who turns out to be a bad fit.

In particular, if you want to avoid trading companies but you conduct your research on Alibaba, you will probably end up working with the wrong people.

Sofeast works for you on the ground in China to find you the best possible qualified export-ready suppliers or component sources for your needs from the most relevant directories and our own network of qualified manufacturers that has been built up over many years.

Here’s how the process that we follow looks:

sofeast new factory identification process

This solution costs from $495 USD per sourcing project, and you will receive the following deliverables a list of potential suppliers we have identified, with all the information we gathered from them within 1-2 weeks:

  • Company name and contact information, size, export orientation…
  • Current products, capacity
  • Quality standards, company certifications
  • Business terms such as MOQs

Learn more about this solution on its page here >> New Factory Identification


Supplier Background Check

You are right to be wary of being scammed by unscrupulous individuals or trading companies posing as manufacturers. Therefore, we conduct off-site background checks as part of your supplier vetting process.  This includes a business registration and credit rating check. 

Our full process is as follows:

sofeast supplier background check process

This solution’s cost is $199 USD, and the results are available quickly – typically within five business days. 

Download a sample registration check (which is part of the service) here, it will give you an understanding of the information we’ll be providing to show you how legitimate your proposed supplier/s are (or not).

Learn more about this solution on its page here >> Supplier Background Check


Initial Factory Evaluation Audit (IFE)

Whether Sofeast does the initial sourcing or you take care of that in-house, we can go to a supplier’s facility to complete a basic evaluation firsthand.  Elements covered in this evaluation are:

  • Factory profile including staff
  • Type of products manufactured
  • Observation of one production line: process steps, type and number of machines
  • An overview of the organizations quality system and the equipment condition
  • Photos of the factory, production areas, workshop, offices and warehousing and licenses.
  • Note that for an additional $30 USD, we can review a sample while at the factory, too.

The cost is $279 USD in major manufacturing cities, and we’ll get our report to you quickly – within five days of our on-site visit.

 Learn more about this solution and get a quote on its page here >> IFE Audit


Quality Inspection and Production Monitoring

Assuming you’ve now found a suitable supplier and are going ahead with your first order or so, the next step is to inspect your product quality to assure that everything is as promised. Detailed on-site product inspections at any point in the production process, customized to your requirements.  

 We’ll email our full report to you shortly after the inspection.  To prepare for an upcoming service, we usually ask for this information:

  • A copy of your P. O. to the factory or equivalent – we are looking for item descriptions, quantities, and number of SKUs (you can omit sensitive information such as pricing).
  • Service location (city and province)
  • Any pictures or spec sheets that you have handy for our reference.
  • Any special instructions.
  • Production point for the service – for example: Early, During-Production, or Final / Pre-shipment

For most major manufacturing cities, the cost is $299 USD per man-day all-inclusive for inspections requiring a skilled technician (non-engineer).

Learn more about inspections and get a quote on their page here >> Product Inspection Solutions


Any questions or experiences to share about finding suppliers in China?

Do you buy directly from Chinese manufacturers, or get outside assistance? What challenges have you faced when managing your production projects there from abroad? If you have any sourcing tips to share with our community, please leave them as a comment, and the same goes for any questions you may have, too.


Ultimate Guide To Sourcing From China And Developing Your Suppliers [eBook]

This FREE eBook starts from the beginning, discussing whether you need to hire a sourcing agent, and follows the sourcing process right through to developing a trusted supplier’s quality and productivity.

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,
  • Negotiations,
  • Quality inspections,
  • Developing Chinese suppliers,
  • Improving factory quality and productivity,
  • and much more…

Just hit the button below to request and download your free copy:

Ultimate Guide To Sourcing From China And Developing Your Suppliers [eBook]

About Renaud Anjoran

Our founder and CEO, Renaud Anjoran, is a recognised expert in quality, reliability, and supply chain issues. He is also an ASQ-Certified ‘Quality Engineer’, ‘Reliability Engineer’, and ‘Quality Manager’, and a certified ISO 9001, 13485, and 14001 Lead Auditor.

His key experiences are in electronics, textiles, plastic injection, die casting, eyewear, furniture, oil & gas, and paint.

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