China imports can get you a strong competitive advantage when done right. This is a guide for finding high quality products from China.
This blog article was first published on www.sourcingallies.com
Manufacturing has always been the strong point of China. With the economy and industries getting on to the road of recovery post the pandemic related lockdowns, China is set to regain its historical position as a leading manufacturer of many goods.
For many Amazon sellers and customers, poor quality of products sourced from China is often a concern. However, China has the proven capability of manufacturing high quality goods. This has been made possible by the use of cutting-edge technology, lean manufacturing processes and other quality control systems.
Many labor intensive industries are increasingly adopting automation, robots and lean manufacturing processes such as garment and mobile phone manufacturing industries. With advanced manufacturing capabilities, many suppliers in China are looking to go beyond making cheap or simple products.
There are, however, many reasons behind receiving poor quality products in China. These can include failure on the part of the buyer to specify quality requirements, failure to verify product quality before shipment, or simply just lack of communication. Oftentimes Amazon sellers make the mistake of relying on the quality control staff at the supplier’s factory in China to conduct pre-shipment quality inspection. To ensure you get high quality products, it is important to be involved in the process from start to finish and to pay attention to even the smallest details.
Here are some of the steps to follow to boost your chances of getting high quality products from China:
Steps to get high quality products from China
Select the right product
Finding the right product to source from China and sell on Amazon can be challenging if you are a business new to selling on Amazon or have no idea about which products to source. One of the best places to find the right product to sell is Amazon itself. As more than 50 percent of internet users in the U.S. carry out product searches on the marketplace, it is fundamentally important to find a product that is in demand on Amazon.
However, over 12 million products are sold on Amazon, which can make a daunting task of the search to find items that will enable you to make a good profit. Some of the most popular categories that are in high demand include home and kitchen products, books, shoes, clothes and jewellery as well as home improvement and tools.
You can look at some of the keywords in the product category you are interested in to see which ones are searched the most. You can also look at the ‘customers also bought’ section on Amazon to get an idea of what products are selling the most. There are also product intelligence tools available specifically for Amazon, which help you find popular products that sell the most on Amazon.
Best Sellers Rank (BSR) on Amazon reflects historical as well as recent sales of a specific product. A high BSR shows that a product is in-demand.
The key to selecting a good product to sell on Amazon is that it should not be seasonal, it should be priced low and it should be simple to manufacture.
The next step is to evaluate what type of products are of good quality from China such as:
Personal Computers — China surpassed Hewlett Packard at one time in 2013 in terms of global market share for personal computers. In 2017, China exported $142.2 billion worth of personal computers. As per a McKinsey data analysis, in the five year timeframe from 2013 to 2017, 28 percent of the world’s export of computers was from China. In September of 2020, communication technology and computers together accounted for US $ 43791.53 million in China.
Mobile phones — Since 2010, there has been a 105 percent increase in the export of mobile phones and smartphones as per WorldsTopExports.com. China sold mobile phones worth $219.4 billion in 2017.
Solar Cells — China is one of the top countries in the world in terms of solar thermal energy and photovoltaics production. Close to $26.8 billion worth of solar powered semiconductors and diodes were exported in 2017.
Energy-Saving Lamps — China has also been the major manufacturing hub for energy efficient lighting, lamps and illuminated signs.
From solar panels to photovoltaic cells, China is one of the go-to places for solar energy.
Air conditioners — China has continued to export billions of dollars worth of air conditioners, accounting for 33 percent of world’s HVAC exports.
Many experienced Amazon sellers recommend starting out with low-risk goods for those who are new to the business. Once you get exposure to the intricacies of sourcing products from China, you can transition to higher quality and better profit margin products. Some low risk products that you can source from China include
- Wireless phone chargers
- Video door bells
Once you have shortlisted the product/products that you want to source from China, you can move on to the next step of searching for manufacturers in China who can meet your quality specifications.
Before beginning your search for China suppliers:
- Create an information matrix of the type of supplier that you need to work with.
- List the technological sophistication needed for your product, quality or good manufacturing certifications the supplier should have such as ISO, pricing, location of the factory, order quantity and if you need specialist suppliers for various components or products.
Search for a high quality supplier
There are multiple B2B marketplaces, trade fairs and international conventions that are available in China where manufacturers showcase their capabilities. While Alibaba is the most common platform for many to start their search for high quality manufacturers, there can be many pitfalls for those who are not aware of the hidden dangers.
Some ways to avoid getting scammed on B2B marketplaces such as Alibaba is to avoid suppliers who do not have Gold member certification. This certification is given to suppliers on Alibaba who pay a certain membership fee. Although this by itself is not a guarantee of high quality, the certification can be indicative that the suppliers are serious about doing business on Alibaba. Gold Members may also be subject to periodic “Onsite Check” from Alibaba in order to maintain the gold membership status. You can do your own research as well on the suppliers that you shortlist on Alibaba and other platforms. Do a Google search and ensure the company is not listed on fraud/scam forums, lists or websites. Check if they have their own website or if it is an extension of Alibaba. Research on where the factory is located and see if you can get a street view of the factory on Google Map. Check also for a social media presence and if users have given feedback or made complaints against the supplier.
Ask the supplier to provide references of their previous satisfied buyers. Any legitimate supplier will be willing to provide references.
The right questions to ask
After searching and doing the initial research, go a step further in the due diligence process. Finding a high quality manufacturer entails leaving nothing to chance and covering all minute aspects of due diligence.
Ask the suppliers you have shortlisted these questions:
- What protections can they offer for your intellectual property?
- Do they have a transparent pricing policy or are there hidden costs?
- Are they consistent in maintaining product quality?
- Do they have quality assurance systems and follow lean manufacturing or other practices to ensure streamlined operations and high quality
- What quality certifications do they have including ISO 9001 and who is the issuer?
- Can they provide you with samples for evaluation?
- Are they open to third party quality audits and onsite inspections?
Give precise product requirements
Lack of precise product specifications, vague instructions or incomplete instructions are some of the major reasons behind getting poor quality products from China suppliers. As it is with any industry, trying to complete a project without clear directions leads to varied — and often unsatisfactory — results than what was intended. Similarly, when Amazon sellers do not clarify product quality requirements, they often receive products that fail to meet their expectations.
Uncertainty about your quality requirements are created when you omit important details from the OEM contract, CAD design, purchase order or other communications. Your Chinese supplier may attempt to “fill in the gaps” by themselves instead of asking you for clarification. The outcome of this is that you can end up with poor quality products, or products made with wrong materials/components and other nonconformities.
Be clear that you won’t compromise on quality. To do so, you’ll need to get into the exhaustive details of product specifications and be certain that your supplier in China understands them. While going into minute details, use simple and clear language and ensure clarity of your specifications. Take your time and avoid any misunderstandings.
Other steps that you can take to clarify requirements include:
- Communicating directly with the production or quality control manager of the factory instead of depending on a sales person or vendor to communicate your requirements.
- Developing a checklist of quality control with inputs from the manufacturer and QC manager to ensure your requirements are understood by everyone involved. The quality control checklist is a guide for the manufacturer of your product and acts as a benchmark for any quality inspection staff who checks your product.
- Encouraging the supplier to clarify doubts and to ask questions in case of confusion to help avoid mishaps. Cultural differences can make the supplier hesitant to seek clarification in times of need.
- Showing precise CAD drawing, actual photographs or a product sample you may have to help ensure the manufacturer understands your quality requirements.
- Explaining the intended use of the product for the China manufacturer.
- Ensuring the factory is equipped with the relevant technology used in your industry such as CAE engineering or 3D printing.
- Double checking the raw materials and components/accessories before the production begins as well as the end product is as good as the raw materials that go into making it.
- Request frequent factory inspections during the production process to ensure nothing is amiss.
Ensuring success with professional help
Getting high quality products from China can be a daunting task, particularly if you are a business new to selling on Amazon. There are multiple factors that you’ll need to look at apart from being able to communicate with the supplier effectively. You will need to check various documents, licenses and certifications, most of which may be in Chinese. An OEM contract is also drawn up in Chinese. Apart from knowing how to identify the right manufacturer who can give you the high quality product that you intend to sell on Amazon, you will also need to coordinate with freight forwarders. Above all, a major part of doing business in China is about ensuring guanxi. Building a strong professional relationship is the key to boosting your chances of getting favorable deals and ensuring the product is of good quality.
Many successful Amazon sellers work with a reputable China sourcing agent to handle the entire due diligence, communication and coordination aspects with the suppliers in China. Experienced China sourcing agents offer end-to-end solutions that help you achieve your goals of sourcing high quality products from China.
From identifying the proper manufacturer in China who is known for making high quality products in your industry, to conducting on-site factory inspections, you should also expect that your agent will ask for samples, negotiate the price and handle the shipment. The China sourcing agent is able to take care of all the critical tasks in the journey.
With an office located in China, the agents can conduct ongoing inspections and keep the communication channel open between you and the China supplier. This ensures there are no costly errors, delays and misunderstandings when it comes to meeting your quality specifications.
The agent is also familiar with the key manufacturing zones such as Huizhen or Shenzhen in China and can find just the right local suppliers whether you are looking for metal fabrication, plastic injection molding or die casting. Any of which can include die casting and forging, plastic injection molding, and metal fabrication.
The China sourcing agent is also well versed in drafting the OEM contract and helps you with registering your IP in China. They will also do the required compliance checks before the product is shipped. All this means that you can be rest assured, your product has the quality that you envisioned, setting you up for business success.