Starting a Business? 3 Keys to Successfully Sourcing from China

If you’re starting a business and done your research, you may have learned that many companies source products from certain other countries, such as China. That can be a good idea for your business, but it’s important to do it right. Here, we’ll help you source products from China the right way.

Business negotiation for product sourcing in China

Work with the right supplier

This one is so important. Not all potential suppliers are created equal, and some will not serve you well. It’s important to find the right supplier in China before you proceed. The first thing to do is to send out an RFP, or Request for Proposal. In doing this, you’ll be able to gather proposals from different suppliers so that you can compare them. Be warned, however, that the responses you receive may not be as comprehensive or thorough as you were hoping from potential suppliers.

It’s important to know the difference between a trading company and a factory. A factory will have much more in-depth knowledge about a particular category of products than a trading company will. On the flip side, a trading company will typically offer some advantages over a factory, including a higher level of customer service, fancy showrooms, and the employees are much more likely to speak English – but these services will often come at a higher price tag.

Get the best deal

Next, it’s time to negotiate. This isn’t just about getting the best price, it’s about getting the best deal – and understanding the subtle difference. When speaking to a potential supplier, it’s imperative to negotiate on every aspect of the arrangement, including the terms of payment, the delivery schedule, the products themselves, the return/exchange policy, etc. Be sure every detail is discussed and any arrangements are made in writing so there is no ambiguity later.

Remember that in Chinese business culture negotiations are normal and expected.

Export import

Stay on top of things

Once you’ve found a supplier and signed an agreement, it’s time for the supplier to start production – and it’s your job to keep an eye on production and ensure good quality control. Whenever possible, be as specific as possible when it comes to your product, including packaging, branding, size measurements, and more.

Again, always be sure everything is in writing so you have recourse if anything goes wrong and the supplier is at fault. Having a detailed written agreement to refer back to can help tremendously when it comes to requesting a refund or credit.

Be sure you perform good quality control at every phase of the production so that any mistakes can be rectified early, before costly mistakes have been made. In fact, it’s a good idea to request a sample product from the supplier before you agree to work with them in the first place, to get an idea of the level of quality of their work.

A post-production sample is also a good idea, so you can get an idea of the level of quality of the production, before the entire order is shipped to you. Often, a supplier will send you photos of a sample rather than a physical sample, which can be costly to ship.


Using a supplier from China isn’t without its challenges, but there are some definite benefits, too. As long as you work with a reputable company, do your due diligence and are as clear and specific as possible about what you want, sourcing supplies in China can be an affordable, easy, and effective way to help your business grow.