I had an email from a South African company last week. They were reaching out to me to help them source self-balancing electric scooters, those cool scooters you see when you walk down the street in any major American city nowadays. It just so happened that the company emailed another sourcing company at the same time and as they failed to bcc the email recipients, I could see the other company. Out of curiosity I looked at their webpage and saw that this is a Chinese sourcing company based in China. As is so typical with China based sourcing companies, this company promises that the importing process will be cheap, fast and reliable, that is as long as you use their service. The website is full of information but when you read much of it you realize it does not say much. For example there is a tab on “how to import furniture from China.” It looks promising but when you click on the tab the gist of the lengthy text is that if you want to import furniture you need to find a good supplier. And that’s all. There is nothing about the myriad of problems associated with sourcing furniture in China e.g. a factory’s drying facilities, the quality of hardware and lacquers, fumigation certificates etc etc, a few of the things that come to mind when I think about importing furniture from China. Much of the text is cast in ungrammatical language and when they advise you to watch out for scams they spell it “scums.” They say they have 6000 suppliers in their data base. It looks good but how many of these suppliers are active suppliers of theirs they do not say. I suspect very few. This is the kind of China sourcing company that often comes up when you do an online search. But it is not the kind of company I would advise someone to use.
The kind of company I would recommend using is a sourcing company that spells out clearly the risks of sourcing from China. Such a company I came across a couple of weeks ago. They are located in the Midwest and the owner is a Chinese lady who has been helping US companies source industrial products in China for 20 years now. There is a tab on the website of this company labelled “essential China advice” and it pretty much spells out the obstacles that one encounters when sourcing in China. I read through it and I think it is excellent in terms of the advice it offers e.g. anticipate mistakes before they happen so you will be in a better position to deal with them when they do happen, if in fact you cannot circumvent them with adequate foresight; Do not make assumptions about your China partners and/or China orders but be on top of everything at all times; Don’t be in the habit of taking big risks; Play by the rules in China. And much more advice along these lines. After reading this I come away thinking, wow, doing business in China is costly, challenging and there is no guarantee of success, what I knew all along, but what so many people do not know when they contact China based sourcing company and are told the process is easy. Here is the link to the company Good US based China sourcing company
In short when you are looking for a China sourcing company, don’t go with the people who tell you it will be easy. Go with the person who tells you it will be difficult and that you will need to stay the course, no matter how difficult. And that you may not always succeed. Go with the person who tells you that you will sometimes need to show up in China to meet the people who are making your product and helping you grow your business, and not those who tell you that you don’t need to go to China and that they will manage everything for you. In other words, when looking for someone to help you with you China sourcing use your common sense.