How to Source Products from China

Here is a quick guide to sourcing products from China

It’s not just about finding deals. Try to build relationships

Research the supplier carefully


  • Keywords of products- Put in a few keywords related to your product that might attract the attention of some suppliers. Including as many generic terms as possible can help capture the attention of as many sellers as possible. On the other hand, if you have a niche and complex product, using specific keywords will help attract the attention of those who do manufacture the product.
  • Detailed product description- Give the exact description of the product you want and include the measurements, dimensions, materials, logo and other customization required.
  • Quantity- After the product, one of the main things China suppliers look at is the order size. The more the order quantity, the lower the per unit price likely to be. If the order quantity is very low, suppliers may not show interest.
  • Photos- Ensure you have good quality photos of the product you are looking for. Take a few close ups from different angles to give the suppliers a clear idea of what you are looking for.
  • Look for Gold Supplier- Alibaba provides a ‘Gold Supplier’ tag for suppliers who have been vetted by the marketplace and passed their scrutiny. If you also see that the supplier has Trade Assurance, it means that Alibaba acts as escrow service for the transaction.
  • Find out the product line- If the supplier offers hundreds of products that are unrelated, it is a clear sign that you’re talking to a reseller or a trading company. A manufacturer makes a limited number of related products.
  • Ask for documents- Ask the supplier for documents and certification such as ISO 9001. Check if the supplier can show you business registration certificates and confirm the dates. Ensure the information given to you by the supplier matches with the details on the business certification.
  • Personalization- A manufacturer is typically able to customize your product as they directly access the machinery.
  • Tell the supplier you plan to visit- A legitimate supplier is fine with your visit. Red flags are when a supplier makes excuses and tries to discourage you from visiting.

The Canton Fair

The Canton Fair is vast. It is a great sorce for finding suppliers.

Yiwu Market

Do not rush to finalize the first offer

Avoid scams

  • Google the supplier- A good and legitimate company will typically have a web presence. Ensure there are no warnings about them on online forums.
  • Beware of very low prices- Remember the adage ‘ if it is too good to be true, it probably is.’ when it comes to sourcing from China. A supplier who offers very low prices is a red flag. You should be suspicious of the supplier’s authenticity if they give you a quote that is much cheaper than all other quotes in the market and is an exact match to what you want.
  • Check the supplier’s email address- The supplier’s email addresses can give you a clue as to their legitimacy. QQ email addresses are commonly used in China and are as reliable as gmail or email addresses. Check also if the supplier has an email id with the company name.
  • Ask detailed questions- A reliable manufacturer will have answers to all your questions on the process, quality standards and timelines among others.
  • Look at pictures- An authentic supplier can usually supply detailed pictures of their factory and the product if you request for the same. They should also be able to give you the pictures quickly while also being able to meet your request for specific product details or equipment close up pictures.
  • Get a sample- Any legitimate supplier should be able to ship you a sample.
  • Evaluate the selling history- It is a good idea to ask the supplier who they have sold the particular product to and ask for reference from one of their customers.
  • Request a factory tour- While it is difficult for you to personally visit the factory, you can partner with a reputable and experienced China sourcing agent to carry out the inspection for you.
  • Beware of payment fraud- Payment frauds are one of the common frauds in the past few years. The scammer accesses the account of the supplier which is typically the email and gets to know which orders are being paid. They communicate using the same email with the buyer and provide a different bank account for payment. The unsuspecting buyer transfers the money to the account of the scammer. By the time the supplier or the buyer realizes they have been scammed, the fraudster is long gone and it is virtually impossible to track them. To avoid the payment scam, verify the bank account details with the supplier before making a payment.

Work with a China sourcing agent




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