The Global Sources website lists a plethora of sourcing agents within China. As critical as this resource is, Chinese suppliers are almost inconceivably abundant, and wading through a never-ending list for the ideal supplier can be intimidating and time-consuming. Armed with some knowledge of the major stepping stones in the process of supplier selection, you can navigate this critical process smoothly.
Find Some Matches
To start, write down the supplier qualities that are most important to you–consider location, materials, pricing, and reputation. As there are hundreds of suppliers in China to choose from, you can afford to be picky at this stage. With that said, do not necessarily prioritize the suppliers that offer the lowest prices without also checking product quality and reputation.
Don’t turn to Google to look for suppliers, as your search results may not contain adequately vetted sources. Instead, take your list of qualities to the Global Sources website for Chinese suppliers where you can browse through various types of reputable supplier lists. For example, If your supplier’s reputation is of the utmost importance, you can browse through a list of top Chinese suppliers by the product of interest, say, made in China automobile parts or cosmetics. You can filter these lists further by characteristics such as the supplier’s response rate, whether they are verified manufacturers, and whether products have videos associated with them.
Once you have some suppliers in mind, you can find them again on the website by selecting from a drop-down menu next to the search box on the top of the page. You can choose to search by company name, product keyword, or exhibitors from the trade shows.
Networking at Trade Shows and Summits
If combing through the online resources has not been enough to narrow down your list of suppliers, take advantage of the Global Sources trade shows–meet suppliers face-to-face, see their products up-close, and begin building relationships and strengthening connections.
The Global Sources Summit will take place from October 27th-29th, 2018 at the AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong. Here, you will have the opportunity to meet thousands of suppliers in one place during two co-located shows, Global Sources Lifestyle and Global Sources Fashion. There will even be in-house teams to help match you to the right suppliers if you are feeling overwhelmed by all the choices. Walk away with some solid points of contact for all the suppliers in which you are interested.
Look for Certifications
Once you have found a short list of suppliers based on your preferences for location, reputation, or raw materials, or you hit it off with a supplier at a Global Sources trade show, you should dig a bit deeper into the backgrounds and credentials of those suppliers. Some of the crucial certifications of product safety and quality to look for include ISO (International Organization of Standards) certificates, FDA (Food and Drug Administration) certificates, and adherence to the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) Code of Conduct. Global Sources also makes your job easier by labeling trusted suppliers on their website as ‘verified suppliers.’
Do not merely trust the supplier’s website in the search for certifications and credentials; check the particular certification database or the Global Sources website to confirm what they claim.
Audits and Inspections
So, you met a supplier at a trade show that made you feel all warm and fuzzy with promises of quality components and short lead times. However, this does not ensure that the products are of the quality you expect. Before you take a supplier’s word for fact, consider having an independent, third-party audit of the factory. This type of audit can range from sending an auditor to check in person that the factory actually exists and is under proper ownership, to investigating the ISO certification of a supplier. You may even want to audit a factory’s compliance with the BSCI code of conduct to rule out any human rights violations in the workplace.
While audits look at the processes happening within a factory, inspections deal with assessments of product quality. Look for certified, licensed quality control companies to inspect your supplier’s product in its various stages.
You may want to first proceed with a test order of around 50 units or so before committing to a supplier. 50 units is a sizeable enough order to make the supplier take your interest seriously without you having to invest too much right away.
Even after completing audits, inspections, and receiving a satisfactory test order, never proceed with full payouts until a contract is established, and you receive a purchase order. Make sure that the entity to whom you send your payment operates under the same name as the factory supplying you, and that the name matches what is printed on your contract and the supplier’s business license.
A Plan of Action
To find the right supplier in China, start by asking yourself enough detailed questions to narrow down a list of prospective sources. Attend a trade show to meet potential suppliers face-to-face, and begin establishing a mutually trusting relationship with your favorite suppliers. From here, dig deeper into the background and business conduct of your suppliers. Don’t skimp on audits or inspections based on a good feeling about a supplier, and allow yourself the chance to evaluate the quality of a test order for yourself. Once you decide on a supplier, be sure to lay out an explicit contract that outlines your expectations.
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