Whether sourcing from China or elsewhere, one of the most important things you as a buyer need to do is to make sure you are working with the right supplier. So where do you start?

Define your ideal supplier. Buyers should first define their “ideal supplier.” This is unique to each buyer and depends on a number of factors, including price, quality, order QTY and lead time.

Define your location. Where factories are based should also play a role in supplier evaluation. While factories in China‘s northern and western provinces have lower manufacturing costs, the quality is often lower, also, they are far from port so domestic logistics costs and lead time could be concerns. Those located along the coast and in the southern region have higher production outlay but the quality is generally better, plus close to port.

Look in the right places. Although nowadays leading B2B websites can help buyers easily find suppliers, many of them offer services to reduce transaction risk as well. But it’s recommended meeting suppliers face to face. Further, always do your due diligence and verify suppliers before working with them.

Do your homework. To find the right suppliers and coordinate production, the best way is to visit the factory yourself. Spend more time on the production floor than anywhere else.

Pick a factory that is the right size for your order. If you are a small buyer at a large factory, you will find it hard to keep their attention.

Make sure you communicate with the suppliers on a regular basis. If you do not ask for updates, you are unlikely to receive them. Be in contact when there is good news to share so that you do not become the “headache client” who contacts the factory only when things are bad.

Build into your budget the costs of a few international trips to the China factory to keep an eye on things and build a good working relationship with your supplier. If you cannot afford to travel on your own or do not want to make the trip, then get an agent to represent you.


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