The best way to find a reliable supplier in China. Part 3 of 4

What people are saying about Mulberry Fields
“Your blog speaks to the many issues I have experience with when doing business in China” – a California company

Once you return from China with a list of 10-15 vendors whom you have met and think you can move forward with, the next step should be to confirm costs on all the products you have discussed with vendors in China. Try to draw out the process over a couple of weeks to test vendor responsiveness.  It is inevitable that some vendors will not reply or do so slowly.  Some vendors may be very busy after the show but that is no excuse for them not  to reply to your email within 24-48 hrs.  Many will. Of course, vendors who are slow or unresponsive are vendors you would not want to deal with anyway. After all pricing comes in you should be able to eliminate some vendors based on poor follow up and/or pricing and your notes from the show.

For those vendors you decide to move forward with you should prepare a rigorous sample order.  You can see the sample order as a “pilot” order of sorts. It will give you an idea of how a vendor might be to work with over the long term.  You should select a product for sampling that will test all of a vendor’s capabilities. In other words, don’t give the vendor a product that will be easy for them to do but instead choose the a product that might pose some challenges for them, for example a product with a difficult to source component or a special fabric e.g. ballistic nylon or a product that requires a certain printing technology, e.g. digital printing on wood. And then give the same sample request to all vendors.

You will see how they communicate; how they solve problems;  if they hold their pricing steady;  if their quality can meet your standards etc act.  If you do this with 10-15 vendors you will find that only about 4 or 5 will be able to pass muster.  At least that has been my experience. But in eliminating the bad vendors you have substantially reduced your risk in sourcing from China. And the vendors that remain should be potentially good partners for you.

When your samples come back you should have 2-3 vendors whom you can move forward with and should feel reasonably confident in doing business with.

Here are the other posts in this series:

Part 4
Part 2
Part 1


kyotosf2003 064



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