Many of us are familiar with China as a global centre of manufacturing. Did you know that the town of Yiwu produces 60 percent of the world's Christmas decorations, and that the phone you are (probably) reading this on was, in all likelihood, made in China? China even manufactures Trump 2020 banners (inconvenient). But while it's an attractive destination for sourcing products, it's not without its risks.
Here is a very quick overview of how to go about doing this, and what to look out for:
- Amazon. Why not start close to home? According to Marketplace Pulse figures from April 2017, 25 percent of Amazon sellers in the UK were Chinese. Amidst concerns over VAT fraud, however, scrutiny has been stepped up in the months since and thousands of sellers were reportedly barred from the platform. Nonetheless, Amazon is a platform that many of us are familiar with.
- Alibaba. Alibaba needs little introduction. The biggest online marketplace in the world, whose founder Jack Ma has become a tech icon of sorts, Alibaba allows you to search for suppliers through a dizzyingly large website (here are sample searches for yak hair and A380 parts). Be wary ofscammers, however (Alibaba recommends that you trade only with Gold Suppliers or Verified Suppliers). Does the supplier have their own website? Check and see. Note that there are several other product sourcing platforms for China that you can peruse, such as Made in China and Global Sources.
- Visit a trade show. The biggest - the Canton Fair in Guangzhou - has more than 60,000 booths over 1.185 million square metres - that's roughly 11.5 times the size of London's 02 Arena. You can buy anything, from ambulance lights to foldable keyboards. But you don't have to be on the Chinese mainland to meet Chinese suppliers: Hong Kong also hosts huge fairs. Take for example the sprawling HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair held twice a year, the world's biggest showcase of innovative electronic products. If AI, robotics and frankly anything that lights, flashes or vibrates are your thing, you might want to consider adding this event to your calendar. Fair organiser HKTDC also offers an online marketplace through which you can source products and services.
- Check out the supplier. Exercise due diligence! Is the supplier what they seem? It's relatively easy to find aircraft components, but you might want to check them first before assembly. Reach out to the supplier and start a conversation. Install WeChat on your phone (available through Google Play and App Store), as that is the most commonly used messaging app in China, though you can use Skype too. Ask for a product sample and visit the factory. Of course, all of this takes time and effort, and possibly language ability, which is why engaging a third party can help enormously, so...
- Speak to us! We know that there are potential pitfalls when dealing with suppliers - which is why we are readily available to be your eyes and ears. We will happily assist you with attending trade shows and exhibitions; supplier management, mediation and quality control; and negotiating sales contracts.
We saved and so can you. We recently sourced and purchased direct from a manufacturer in China saving over 67% than if sourced in the UK and produced by the SAME FACTORY in China, If you would like to find out more get in touch.