Sourcing Products from China

Since buying my mechanical my keyboard parts business a couple years ago I’ve gotten more involved in sourcing items from asia.

This post pulls together my notes on a couple different books on the topic.

The Import Bible (Manuel Becvar) 

The author is a “your guy in China” type consultant who spends a lot of time finding and developing relationships with factories. The book is a quick read on how to start sourcing and manufacturing in China as a foreigner.

Places to find product ideas

Approaching Suppliers

      • Your goal is to avoid middlemen who hang out on Alibaba, etc and get directly to the factories.
      • How to spot middlemen:
        • filter by “Gold supplier” on Alibaba
        • Also look for “onsite check” and ” assessed supplier”
      • Helps to have your own templates for vendor assessments where they fill in their info.
      • Make sure to check certifications: (CE, RoHS, FCC, GS, business license, factory standards (ISO-9001), other third party labs.  BSCI > ISO 9001
      • Get references of customers in your country
      • Price haggling: take their price and go down 20% unless your quantity is super low
      • Check certification requirements at ImportDojo

Getting Samples

  • Have them marked “samples of no commercial value” on the sample invoice”
  • Common to get samples for free or you pay shipping

OEM / ODM

  • OEM = Factory produces product based on your design and specs (higher initial investment)
  • ODM = Factory designs and produces based on your guidance
  • Beware suppliers who tell you they have modified the design to avoid patent conflicts

Inspection Process

  • If you are getting stuff made in China you need to have a 3rd party inspect the goods before they are shipped to ensure quality.
  • Big players in this space are Buereau Veritas, TUV-SUD, TUV-RHEINLAND, AsiaInspection
  • Author recommends hiring an inspection ($300-$600) for shipments over $2k in value
  • Video Skype is your friend if you can’t do an inspection

Placing an Order

  • Keep in touch each week or two after order placed
  • Packaging can be handled after order placed
  • See if you can get more attractive packaging made.
  • Having customized stickers with your brand to go over a generic box can work well
  • Next steps = GO TO CHINA for ~12 days; visit all the factories and go to the big trade shows

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