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November 22, 2016

How to find Chinese suppliers

Now that your buying list has been completed, you can move on to the next step: searching for suppliers.

Several Trade websites that link suppliers to buyers will make it easier for you to find your ideal supplier. Examples of these websites are: www.alibaba.com, www.sourcetheglobe.com, www.globalsources.com, made in China etc.

For the purpose of explaining the process on such platforms, which usually involves many steps. We will choose Alibaba.com to demonstrate what you should go through to find a reliable supplier.

Once registered (which is completely free, at least now), enter the name of the product you are looking for in the search engine, specifying as many criteria as possible. This will allow you to reduce the scope of your search and thus find suppliers faster.


You will primarily find on the front page so-called “Gold” suppliers. Although, this “certification” is not a reflection of the competence of the supplier. Nevertheless, the indication of the number of years accompanying the acronym “Gold” can give you an idea of the supplier’s seniority on the site and by pushing your research a little more further, you will be able to identify if the company’s verification has been carried out by a third party (Alibaba.com)



Once you have gathered a sufficient number of suppliers, now you could get in touch with them directly by preparing a typical message if possible (This will help you save time, instead of writing the same text10 times). You should introduce yourself and specify your product (This last point is extremely important, because your inquiry will seem more genuine and attractive for any potential supplier). Once the supplier contacts you by email you can go into details and provide them with the information they require.



Now it is time for you to ask the right questions in order to estimate at best the seriousness and the reliability of the company:

– Is the company a manufacturer or simply a trading company. You could verify this by looking at the company’s website. If multiple products are being offered on the website, it is very likely that you are not talking to a manufacturer.

– Can the supplier send you photos of the product from the factory or the stock? Make sure they are different from the ones on the website.

– To which region does the company export? If Europe or North America, ask if the supplier has CE and UL certificates. This will also help when you need to clear up the goods at your local customers, since these certificates are usually required to import goods in some counties.

– What is the minimum quantity order? Is there a discount for large quantity?

– What is the lead time for production and the shipment (It is important to take the Chinese holidays- which there are many- into account)?

– What is the sample cost and delivery time? You should mention if you have a customized sample which usually needs a new design and so it takes a longer period of time.

– What is the unit price? You should point out which type of delivery method you prefer: FOB, EXW or CIF. For instance, FOB will help avoid having to deal with Chinses customs’ procedures etc.… EXW will be more suitable and cheaper if you already have an agent in China that helps you with the transportation. You should also ask for the validity of the given price. It sometimes varies because of the change in the price of raw materials.

– What are the payment terms? This is probably the most crucial point when it comes to verifying whether the customer is trustworthy. You should be careful if the supplier is asking you to pay the total amount at once, it raises suspicion over their credibility. Moreover, avoid paying by things like Western Union as much as you can. Actually, now Alibaba.com provides a considerably secure payment method called Trade Assurance which helps international buyer avoid fraud and get refund if the arrangement agreements weren’t met by your supplier (This includes meeting the quality and delivery time requirements).



Take enough time to discuss things like the factory, working experience. Also, present your project clearly and show your seriousness to your potential supplier. Otherwise, many suppliers might lose interest if they feel like your project is unlikely to succeed or you are not clear about what you are looking for.



Once you have obtained enough number of answers, compare them to each other and make your decision. It is also important to understand the reasons this supplier price is cheaper (often they will offer products with a different quality level to meet your low price), or why the minimum order quantity is 3 times lower than the others for example.

Hopefully, this article allows you to have a better vision of your future supplier as well as helps you lower the risk of international trade especially with Chinese suppliers.

TMK Transfomrers
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About Sam Xu

Sam is the Managing Director and Head of Sales at TMK Transformers. He believes in co-operation, loyalty and hard work! Come join him on Linked In.

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