You can source almost anything and everything from China nowadays. With a population of 1.5 billion and one of the fastest booming economies, China offers a convenient one stop option for most of your manufacturing purposes. However, finding a suitable supplier who can meet your qualifications is the true challenge importers face. Below is some useful advice for importing from China.

1. Screen your potential suppliers

When choosing a supplier, you should have a checklist of all the relevant criteria you are looking for. The criteria should include supplier’s references, the scope of their business, the system for quality management. Don’t be blinded by a lower price and ignore everything else: you usually get what you pay for.

Afterwards, compare each supplier to your checklist and see how they measure up; you could give them a score. When you’re done, pick the top three or four companies and reach out to them.

Once you’ve settled on a few of them, you should have them send you a few samples for testing. Buy these samples if you have to: You need to see whether their products comply with the quality standards and safety regulations.

2. Sign a sales contract with your supplier

The importance of a sales contract cannot be overstated:

A sales contract lets them know that you are fully willing to pay for any extra work, such as customizing your product or following a stricter product standard than usual.

A sales contract specifies the quality and standards the products are supposed to follow. This helps clear any sense of ambiguity, acts as a point of reference for the future and resolves any possible disputes that could arise in the future. Moreover, the contract will also expand on what will happen should the products fall below your required standards, including whether punitive actions will be taken.

A sales contract defines the payment schedule between you and your supplier. This is important because you should never pay all the money upfront; only pay everything you owe once you’ve tested the products. A standard payment schedule is to pay a 30% deposit at the beginning, and followed by the remaining 70% upon receiving the products and verifying their quality.

A sales contract is the foundation upon which all third-party contracts are built. It includes insurance contracts, which play an instrumental role in mitigating the risk you’d normally carry.

3. Have a quality inspector on the factory floor

A quality inspector’s job is to test random samples from the manufacturing line. Granted there will always be quality issues, yet the presence of a quality inspector ensures these issues will not exceed a certain limit.

In case you are concerned that the quality inspector could miss something, you should visit your supplier’s factory during the production. And it’s very necessary to ask them samples for testing. There are numerous companies that specialize in testing products. As a matter of fact, customs may occasionally refuse to enter without the prerequisite documentation, which certifies that your product has been tested.

4. Always have your supplier’s attention

You ought to realize that supplier has other clients besides you. So, during busy times, they will be swamped with orders from many companies including you. This could translate into less care given towards your order or a dip in quality. Therefore, your best bet is to work for your supplier’s attention; you should make sure that he prioritizes your work over others.

This could be achieved by the following:

When sending in an RFQ, try using a fixed template. The consistency will make things flow smoother, and the probability of missing an important detail will be that much smaller.

Be punctual when it comes to payments. Follow the payment schedule to the letter.

Invest in your supplier. This investment can take several forms, be it monetary or educational; teaching their workers shows them that you are in this for the long haul. Furthermore, any cost savings your supplier experiences will trickle down to you eventually.

Although sourcing from China puts you at a risk of ending up with the wrong supplier, this risk is far outweighed by the benefits and cost savings achieved when you work with the right one. With this in mind, and with a little hard work, you should be able to forge a prosperous relationship that will last well into the future.


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