We hear it all the time from importers sourcing from China, “I can’t find a factory to manufacture my products!” This is especially so when the product you are seeking to source is unusual: you will not have any difficulty finding factories for white T-shirts or running shoes, this only is a challenge if you are trying to source from China a rare or unique product, something your competitors don’t know about or don’t have yet. Which, of course, is what gives importers a lead in the market place.
This happens to both large importers who want to stay ahead of the pack and to small importers who are looking to branch out and find uncommon products. It seems strange that in the “World’s Factory”, as China is often referred to, it is difficult to find factories to source your product. I mean, in this day in age, you expect to find things quickly. Thanks to the internet, people are accustomed to finding an instant answer. So, they’re baffled when they come across websites like Made-in-China and Alibaba and they can’t find what they’re looking for. Well, here’s why:
Small Factories: When sourcing from China, rare products are more likely to be made by small factories. Products like green rubber pigs with wings or flasks in the shape of a dice will be hard to find – because specific and special items like this would more likely be made by small factories. And small factories, you guessed it, are not easy to find. In most cases, you will only find small factories like this if you are working with an agent or consultant who has many contacts and has been sourcing from China for a very long time.
Language Barrier: Most small factories do not have the resources to employ people who speak English. Therefore, they cannot target or appeal to companies, like yours, when they cannot communicate effectively. If you can’t get your ideas across to a factory that can’t speak your language, you’re going to end up with a sub-par product, if you end up with one at all. Even if you can find a factory, if they can’t communicate with you, they’re basically useless to you.
Marketing: The role of a factory is to produce goods. Therefore, they’re, often, not very well versed in marketing. This is especially the case with a small factory. They don’t have the know-how or resources to advertise or market to companies in the West who are interested in sourcing from China, often because of the language barrier previously mentioned. It would be rare to find any factory, much less a small factory, ranking high on Alibaba or Global Sources, because much of the skills used to rank highly on these platforms are similar to those that would be required to rank highly on Google. There are large American companies that haven’t mastered this – we can’t expect a small factory in rural China to figure it out.
Copyrights: We tend to forget when sourcing from China, because there are so many copycat products imported from China every day, that copyrights DO exist. If you’re a serious China importer, copyrights would be #1 on the list, BEFORE researching factories. Thus, because of this, many factories keep the products they are manufacturing a secret in order to avoid copies being made.
Sourcing from China is no simple feat. We find that the companies that are the most successful in finding these elusive China sources have their own sourcing office in China, or hire a professional sourcing company.