Cultural differences aside, the key benefit of going to a trade show like the Canton Fair or Global Sources is that it allows you to make face to face contact with a large number of vendors and establish real relationships. I am now frustrated. At this stage, you may already know what your real needs are and what is available. Regards Louis Li Email: Please can you tell me how to go about it?
First off, while there is some overlap with the Canton Fair in terms of suppliers, many of the vendors that attend the Global Sources tradeshow are unique. Because Global Sources is a search engine for Chinese vendors like Alibaba, they also have a gigantic searchable database of manufacturers that you can establish contact with prior to attending the event.
In addition, Global Sources contains a much larger contingent of suppliers in certain key categories such as electronics and fashion accessories. So if you plan on selling anything electronic, Global Sources is the best show to attend. The other key difference is that Global Sources provides a strong focus on education.
During their show, they simulaneously run a conference that teaches you how to run a successful importing business. The content of the event is fantastic and they invite successful ecommerce entrepreneurs from all over the world to speak. My advice if you decide to travel all the way to Asia is to attend both the Global Sources show and the Canton Fair during the same trip.
Running our online wedding linens business for the past 10 years has required me to deal with many vendors across China, India and other parts of Asia.
The key thing to keep in mind when communicating with Chinese suppliers is that they probably studied English in school. They might not be able to speak or understand English that well, but they can probably read it much better than they can listen. So when you are visiting your vendors, it helps to have everything written down or typed in English.
If you go in there and start blabbing away, chances are that the vendor will only be able to pick up bits and pieces of the conversation. The same goes for taxi drivers and directions.
Have someone write everything down in Chinese if possible and if you have to speak, speak slowly and enunciate every word. One of the main cultural differences between the US and China is that Chinese people tend to be non-confrontational. It is part of their culture to be polite and accepting. But if you are not careful, this one simple cultural difference can cause you a ton of grief when placing orders. The biggest obstacle to overcome is that you might think you are communicating when in fact you are not.
The key is to ask direct questions and make sure that there is no misunderstanding. Ask, clarify and reiterate all of your points as many times as necessary and be sure to write everything down as well. The important thing to realize is that your vendor is just trying to be polite so you can never assume that anything is clear unless it has been thoroughly discussed. In the United States, contracts are considered final. After a series of negotiations, the final contract is supposed to represent an agreement and acknowledgment of terms.
In Asia however, a contract is almost meaningless. When I deal with Chinese vendors, drafting an official agreement can often seem like a waste of time. We might spend a day negotiating and agreeing on terms and pricing only to have everything change the very next day. On another occasion, a supplier tried to raise prices on us after the fact even though we agreed on pricing long ago.
The key takeaway here is that the definition of a contract is different in Asia than it is in the US. In fact, I would argue that drafting an agreement is just the beginning. Never assume that the vendor knows what you want.
For example, we import plain white handkerchiefs and you would think that it would be straightforward to describe. But one time we negotiated a lower price and the vendor sent us handkerchiefs with paper thin fabric.
Bottom line, go through your samples and specify every last detail of what you want. Assume that any aspect that is not explicitly spelled out will be made incorrectly. Cultural differences aside, the key benefit of going to a trade show like the Canton Fair or Global Sources is that it allows you to make face to face contact with a large number of vendors and establish real relationships.
By going to the fair, you can easily meet hundreds of factory owners in just a few days. In fact, your relationship with your vendor is one of the key components to your success and face to face contact is essential. For example when my wife and I first started our business, we communicated with our suppliers solely through email.
The difference was night and day and the overall demeanor of our suppliers changed once we met them in person. Miraculously, our product quality improved and they became eager to help us out with special requests and designs. If you plan on going, then check out my itinerary! If you are unable to travel to China or Hong Kong to attend the tradeshows, the next best way to find Chinese vendors is to use an online directory like Alibaba or GlobalSources.
Alibaba and GlobalSources are search engines for Chinese suppliers and you can instantly have access to tens of thousands of vendors at your fingertips. Simply type in what you are looking for in the search bar and Alibaba will return a bunch of suppliers, prices and minimum order quantities. By clicking a button, you can then send the vendor a message and establish contact. We are interested in carrying many of the items that you have to offer.
If you could send us more info as well as your product catalogs and MOQ requirements we would greatly appreciate it. The biggest caveat is that this process can take a while and communicating back and forth with suppliers requires patience. For example, the time it takes from initial contact to obtaining samples can easily take weeks. In addition, the language barrier can make communication challenging because you must describe exactly what you want to manufacture via email and live chat.
The other key difference between using a directory like Alibaba versus going to a tradeshow is that services like Alibaba tend to contain a lot of middlemen. For example, none of our primary vendors advertise on Alibaba or Global Sources. The two biggest online directories for Chinese suppliers are Alibaba and Global Sources.
But there are some key differences between the two. First off, Alibaba has many more supplier listings than Global Sources but it comes at the cost of quality. In general, Global Sources has a more involved vetting process which allows them to attract higher quality vendors. But bottom line, your mileage will vary depending on what you want to sell.
Give both services a try and see where it takes you! It pays to do your homework to find out which phase has the products that you want. This can be a quick way to meet many relevant suppliers. They are a good way to get a quick feel for products that are made locally. This means you can walk around and touch and feel the products. Most these fairs offer online registration so book ahead to save time. Here are some links to get you started. Though overall fair attendance is declining it may still be useful for some.
This is held in South China twice a year in the spring and fall. Another way to find relevant trade shows is to ask your suppliers where they are going. If one supplier falls through you need a plan B and attending trade fairs and getting their contact information is a great way to do this.
But of course this takes more time and money. Just like doing business anywhere, referrals can be a powerful tool when finding suppliers. One of the ways is to ask suppliers you are working with. On the other hand, the referral may not be based on objective criteria or measurable benchmarks, so you still have to do your homework.
As your purchase volumes grow, consider using matchmaking services that online sourcing platforms and offline trade shows may offer. For more established buyers, Global Sources offers a private offline matchmaking events where they will organize meetings with suppliers that are matched according to your buying requests.
This is a great way to save time and meet many suppliers quickly. In fact, Global Sources will be doing most of the pre-work setting up the meetings. On the other hand, do you trust their ability to find the right supplier for you?
Moreover, their scope is limited to their own platform. This will save you time and headaches so you can focus on your strengths to grow your business.
On the other hand, there are good ones and bad ones, so you have to find the right one for you. And this service will result in additional costs. Sourcing is not a one-trick pony. I hope this was helpful. Thanks for the feedback Dave. Just curious how do you find your sourcing agents? And how much commission do they take? I think I found one, then read bad thing about the supplier. What did you read that frightened you? Where are you looking now?
Have you tried the resources suggested in my article? Currently searching for a supplier in china for watches, not having any luck but this article has helped. I agree that sometimes it is better to find local suppliers that you can build a relationship with and hold accountable for faulty products.
This article has been eye opening. Been trying to get a shoe manufacturer for my new line but the few I got refused to send me samples. They verbally assure me of quality and ask me to order pairs.
I am interested more information around factory visits and sourcing agents — can you provide any further insights? How do I find the right sourcing agent that does not receive commission from Chinese suppliers. There just those times one desires to to get in touch with real manufacture without Alibaba and other such portals but you enter Google search for say Chinese manufactureres of fabrics and find all these portals in the way. Is there any means where you can get contact directly with manufacturerers instead of having to go through these portals?
As I said in my article, offline trade shows can be a great way to meet actual manufacturers in person. Have you considered that? I have been pouring over the internet for wedding hair and jewellery accessories. Your article confirms my frustration to date in that I need products which not on Alibaba to differentiate from my competitors.
I am struggling to find the right suppliers. Your artlice has given me some hope and Clearly I need to think outside the box.
Thanks for the great article! Question about Global Resources… can you negotiate price like you can on Alibaba? Should a company that we plan to use to buy electric bikes container supply us with spare parts to service the bikes should the need arise?
That would be a very smart move. This saves you time, money, and headaches down the line. It would make a lot more sense to have spare parts on hand to service the bikes when they arrive rather than order them at a later time and have to either air ship them expensive or ship them by ocean freight takes up to a month!
Not to mention the plus it will add from the customer service standpoint. Gary, Thank you for the article and information. I am new to our company, and recognize the system we use is flawed. We currently use a sourcing agent. He lives in the US, but travels frequently to China, and is fluent in Mandarin. However, the quality of the product coming from our factories is below par. It seems like we trust him too much, and that his performance is slipping.
For example, if you want a planter in plastic not ceramic , you could search "plastic planter" at Alibaba. Not Helpful 5 Helpful 1. Answer this question Flag as Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Tips Be aware that while the decision-maker may not speak any English, establishing good relationship guanxi with the top management is crucial for long-term success. Email is good for exchanging product specifications, catalogue and price list.
To establish a deeper relationship, a phone call is 10 times better than email. A personal meeting is times better than a phone call. Many people want to start a business, so you have to show you are more serious. As long as your contact person uses English, you can just go ahead and give that person a phone call. It does not matter how much you and that person can understand each other; you can always follow up with an email. Analyzing the types of suppliers has strategic importance.
It will help you to understand where you are, what kind of results to expect, and what are the things you need to take care of in the mutual cooperation.
You may want to have an experienced person help you to analyze the information. In your strategy, you will also need to include the consideration of the future contracting and operation. You may seek advice from Chinese professionals who understand the Chinese mentality, culture and business practices.
You may get the incorrect interpretation if you visit the supplier's English website, or you could omit data that contains key information.
Information comes from seemingly insignificant data, for example, the email addresses may reveal useful information about Chinese suppliers. However, do not judge an address too quickly. You never know where good information can come from. An independent third party can be an excellent idea for a quick cost effective review of potential suppliers before you choose one to visit. There are many companies in China run by westerners who do this and can provide a good bridge between you and your supplier at the start.
Consider accessing the U. This will tell you who their customers are, how loyal those customers are, as well as the volume capabilities of your factory. Import Genius offers these hard-to-find customs records at affordable rates. Document your product as effectively and as completely as you can. Sometimes, words just aren't enough. Work with suppliers that have already exported their products to Europe or the US.
Pay attention to the agent relationship. Many manufacturers may have their products exported to the US in good quantity through a third party supplier without an exclusive supply agreement. They may want to have direct channels to the US, and that might mean more business for you. Check the factory organization, its process flows, the quality of goods produced, the packaging, the workers' training level, the overall working conditions, equipment maintenance, etc.
This will give you an indication of how the company is managed. A face-to-face meeting with the supplier's management team will also give you an idea of their experience and willingness to embark on your project.
You will also be able to create a friendly relationship, which is crucial for your project! Just because a site is ranked higher in Google search listing, this does not necessarily mean it is a more serious business.
Some very good Chinese suppliers are not well-versed in having their website listed highly, while some other Internet guys can have their website listed very highly. Use your industrial judgment. Warnings Beware of cheap electronic products sellers from China. Many online sellers of electronic products in China are fraudulent sellers.
Dec 12, · Commonly known as the Canton Fair, the China Import and Export Fair is a trade expo designed to connect Chinese manufacturers and wholesalers with buyers and exporters. It has been running since and held its th session in October While there are trade shows in China where you can meet manufacturers, a better place to start is attending U.S. trade shows that attract Chinese manufacturers. Trade Show News Network has global trade show listings. How to Find Chinese Suppliers Beyond Alibaba March 1, May 29, Essential Guides Importing, Sourcing Gary Huang This post is by Gary Huang, an American based in Shanghai, China.