China Sourcing Crash Course: Video 1. How to find reliable suppliers in China
Greeting from South China, I’m Mike Bellamy, founder of the PassageMaker Group of companies and guest lecturer at the China Sourcing Academy.
I have been living in Asia pretty much full time since 1993, and today I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I learned over the years.
Thanks to online directories, it is pretty easy to come up with a long list of potential suppliers. But it is not so easy to take this long list and narrow it down to the right suppliers for your particular needs.
Here is an overview of my strategy for finding the right supplier for your particular needs.
First, write down on paper what you think your ideal supplier would look like. For example, do they have access to a certain raw material, are the ISO certified, do they have X amount of employees, do the produce X amount of goods per year and so on… The dream supplier will be different for every buyer so write down what is important for you.
Second, compare the website or brochures from your list of potential suppliers against the attributes of this “ideal supplier” and create 2 piles: “good fit” and “not a good fit”. Don’t have a “maybe” pile because that will waste time. Know that the perfect supplier is out, there so be picky, the goal is to save time by removing all the “maybe” and clearly “not a good fit” candidates, so you can focus your attention on picking the best ones from the “good fit” pile.
Be very conservative as you sort these piles. Generally speaking, the websites and brochures offer you a best case scenario, in terms of supplier capabilities and experience. Sales and Marketing people anywhere in the world, and especially in China, tend to over promise and under deliver. So if a supplier doesn’t look great on the website, they probably won’t look great in reality and you should put them in the “not a good fit” pile.
Note that we haven’t yet contacted the suppliers or asked about price. Don’t do that just yet, because as soon as you ask about price, you will sub-consciously be attracted to the supplier that has what appears to be the lowest price, and it is very rare that the lowest price supplier is the best overall choice. It is far more effective to narrow down the pool down to a handful of highly qualified suppliers, then start to talk price. Don’t be seduced by the siren’s song of low price.
The strategy above should narrow the pool down to the top handful of suppliers. In our next video we will talk about evaluating them and negotiating with them.
On that note, as always, I sign off- wishing you successful sourcing in China!
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