How To Find Trustworthy Suppliers In China In 2021

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we have had numerous customers who are sourcing new components, materials, and products come to us requesting our help with how to find trustworthy suppliers in China.

There are 2 key reasons for this:

  1. They lost suppliers who either folded or were unable to continue delivering expected results due to the virus’ effects on their businesses (lockdown in China, loss of revenue and deep internal changes, the disappearance of key sub-suppliers, etc).
  2. Foreign importers are almost completely unable to visit China and conduct their own supplier visits these days and there’s no indication as to when that might change.

Sofeast is and has always been on the ground here in China throughout the pandemic. So, if you’re in this position, here’s how we have helped customers like you find trustworthy suppliers in China.


It’s normal to be nervous if you’re trying to source suppliers in China from continents away

Many importers used to regularly visit China to check on their current suppliers’ facilities and progress, bolster good relationships, and, importantly, check out potential new suppliers in the flesh. Business trips would often number three or four per year, but now most travel into China is barred for foreigners and restrictions may not change much until 2022.

“So, what’s the alternative? WeChat or Zoom calls?”

As we know from our podcast series focused on vetting new suppliers in China, there are many ways in which a potential supplier may bend the truth in order to win new business. That’s great for them, but a nightmare for you! So if you’re relying on email, calls, and video chats, it’s very risky to sign a contract with them.

A common customer scenario…

You’re considering placing an order from a new Chinese supplier. Here are the activities you wish to happen at 4 stages:

1. Before placing an order
You need to inspect their factory to check that they have the staff, equipment, processes, etc, to actually fulfil your orders and also examine their business to check that they are legitimate.

2. Before production starts
Check that the factory is actually set up to produce your products and that the supplier has purchased the necessary materials and components.

3. During production
Check product quality as it’s being made to assure that your quality standard is being adhered to.

4. Before shipment
Inspector checks the goods, quantities, packaging, and loading methods are correct.


Here’s how to find trustworthy suppliers in China and achieve those goals

So, even if you can’t visit the new supplier, you still need to be able to check on their legitimacy, audit their factory, and perform quality inspections in order to be sure that it’s safe to work with them.

We handle all of the above as factory audits and product inspections are two of our most popular solution types and we’ve been performing them since 2006 and are ISO 9001 certified by BSI (British Standards Institution).
Here’s how we act as your eyes and ears on the ground in China in stages corresponding to the above scenario…

1. Before placing an order

  • Perform a deep background check on the company – this returns thorough information about the supplier far beyond just their company’s legitimacy, including: Legal documents check, confirmation that they are a manufacturer, not a trading company, on-line reputation (in Chinese and English) check, check on consistency of information they show in different places, purchase order and logistics review, report on the supplier’s: Attitude, transparency, and industry and technological knowledge, certifications check (e.g. confirm they hold ISO 9001:2015), review of their capability according to your project requirements. This takes around 5 working days to complete and is just 199 USD.
  • For fast answers about the supplier – one of our most popular services is the Supplier Legal Records Check (LRC) for only 99 USD (for 1 company) which will give you a very fast indication in just 2 working days about whether the supplier’s company is legitimate.
    Important 👉  Do you know their company name in Chinese characters? (That’s the only name that is official, and that’s the one we need in order to make the searches on the Chinese government databases.)
  • Audit on the factory – we help you do an on-site evaluation of the supplier’s capabilities and quality management system. With supplier cooperation, we can complete the on-site work quickly, and issue the report to you within a few days.
    Our most popular audit is the IFE (Initial Factory Evaluation), for just 279 USD per factory in the main manufacturing areas of China. You can also read about our other factory audit services on this page.
    Important 👉 Do you know their factory’s address (at least the district and the city)? We need to know this in order to conduct the audit.
  • Reliability testing on the product you intend to purchase – this is common for electro-mechanical products that bought “off the shelf”. We reproduce typical usage over 2 or more years, and you have an idea of the risk of returns from your customers over that period of time. If the risk is very high, maybe you should not purchase that product…

2. Before production starts

  • Pre-production meeting at the factory (common for textile products, but may also be useful on hardlines) – It is 299 USD all included in the areas that are close to our technicians (learn more about our core operating areas here).
    The main elements we check are: Inspection of the materials & accessories, discussion with the factory people about the main risks and how they intend to manage them, and (in some cases) reviewing the start of production. Pricing depends on the product and its expected usage.

3. During production

  • Inspection During Production (DPI) – this popular quality inspection is where our technician inspects components, semi-finished, and/or finished products during their production run in order to give yourself and your supplier feedback on production quality, and find and solve problems early on. It starts from 299 USD per man-day in major areas of China, Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh.
  • Reviewing samples sent to us – for extra assurance, we can request samples from the manufacturer at several stages of production and we give them feedback. This has been useful in detecting serious mistakes early. The price is 34 USD per hour.

4. Before shipment

  • We check finished products in a Final Random Inspection (FRI) – on a random set of samples, usually based on the ISO 2859-1 standard. Starts from 299 USD per man-day in major areas of China, Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh.
  • If you are worried the supplier might load the goods incorrectly, in the wrong quantity, etc., go for a Packing & Loading Supervision (PLS) where our quality technician confirms the order quantity and the type of packing used, and supervises the loading of your shipment in container(s) or truck(s). Starts from 299 USD per man-day in major areas of China, Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh.


The key takeaway

Don’t sign a manufacturing agreement with a new supplier based on their claims, online information from their website (if they have one), or even if they’re recommended by sites like Alibaba. It’s so important to check their background independently and get someone into their facility for an audit before proceeding and to subsequently keep the pressure on them to perform by inspecting quality later on, too.

Unsure how to find trustworthy suppliers in China if you’re currently sourcing a new one but can’t visit? Let us know by contacting us and we’ll help you make sense of what your next steps are.

P.S. You will also probably like this post

If you or an auditor goes into a new supplier’s factory in the future, you need to ask these 27 questions.


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,
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Just hit the button below to request your free copy:

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