China Sourcing: A Guide for Small Businesses

Many people foresee that China will be the largest economy in the world in the 21st century and will soon outshine the United States. Although the relative cost of China sourcing has increased in recent years, the country is still often the cheapest location for American retailers and manufacturers to source goods or parts.

Use of Internet Search in China Sourcing

The easiest and economical place to start a search for China sourcing is on the Internet via search engines. And B2B sourcing platforms like Alibaba, Global Sources, and Thousands of suppliers are listed on these sites, and you can streamline your search and upsurge the number of valid sources by filtering results for only those entries labeled as “gold member,” “verified supplier,” “onsite supplier,” or “accredited supplier.” Good reviews offer some sign that the supplier is legitimate. Some B2B sourcing platforms have recommended service provider lists and supplier blacklists. For example, Alibaba has a list of debarred members.

Some sites also provide special services to further safeguard buyers. For example, Global Sources has credit-check services and supplier-capability-evaluation services that will deliver suppliers’ key business information including company status, production capabilities, and product quality.

Be mindful that verified suppliers at these sites may only mean that the companies are proved to exist. It does not essentially mean that their reputation, production capability, or quality has been verified. Further, while these sites have huge directories of “suppliers,” some are traders or wholesalers, not manufacturers. You won’t get the best price from traders or wholesalers, so you need to do your own meticulousness on potential suppliers.

It is worth declaring that Global Sources also has China Sourcing Reports (CSRs) that have in-depth studies focused on specific China sourcing industries.

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Social Media

Social media is not automatically an ideal platform to recognize suppliers. Only some suppliers have a social media existence, but they can be a good basis for feedback or reviews of potential suppliers. Therefore, be thoughtful when trusting on such platforms and remember to do your own due thoroughness as the information provided is often unconfirmed, reviews are often anecdotal, and sample sizes may be small.
Also, there are now several professional LinkedIn groups focused on China sourcing:

  • China Sourcing
  • China Sourcing Forum
  • China Sourcing, Networking,
  • Import, Export, Trading, Manufacturing
  • China Sourcing Group
  • China Trade Group
  • Trade Shows

Trade shows

are another way to find authentic suppliers. By attending trade shows, you have the chance to talk to potential suppliers face to face about their companies, products, production capacity, quality-control procedures, and other primary business areas. Such direct interaction can help you assess suppliers and validate their abilities.

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