Sourcing in China: An Importer’s Guide

by | Mar 14, 2019 | China, Freight Forwarder, Logistics, Trade Shows

china sourcing supply shanghai importer's tips

Boasting the 2nd largest economy and leading the world in exports, China has become the preferred source of supply for many US importers. So why do they flock to Asia? Other than the manufacturing costs being relatively inexpensive – scalability, efficiency, and swiftness are the key attributes appreciated by US businesses. However, sourcing in China can be a challenging assignment. Language barriers and other cultural differences can hamper your business goals. But fear not. Here are some helpful hints to bridge the gap and get you moving:

Addressing Communication Barriers

Don’t get lost in translation! A starting point can be as simple as making a phone call. Many Chinese business representatives will be happy to talk to you. They often relish the chance to practice their English.

If speaking on the phone is a little out of your comfort zone, WeChat might be a great alternative. With over 1 billion users, WeChat is a social networking platform that was developed in China and is spreading worldwide. It can be an outstanding tool for communicating with Chinese suppliers as it has voice-to-text and translation features. It also includes mapping, localization, payment, and financial services.

Keeping things simple lends to effective communication. Avoid using jargon or obscure vocabulary that could be counter-productive to your business objectives. Be straightforward.

If communicating in English is not an option, you can enlist the help of an interpreter or translation service. But take caution! Some free services do not account for dialects. The Chinese language has many dialects; each is unique to regions of the country.

Resources to Connect with the Right Supplier

With so many Chinese suppliers, how do you choose? Trade shows are an excellent way to find a suitable supplier. You can find these all over China. Trade shows allow you to speak face to face and learn about their key business strengths such as quality-control and capacity. Indeed, many exhibitors at these events showcase samples of their products. This will give you a good idea of their quality and expedite your decision-making process.

A couple of Trade Shows to note are the Canton Fair in Guangzhou (held twice per year) and the annually held East China Fair. Both attract thousands of participants and offer a large array of products.

US trade shows are also a viable option for connecting with Chinese suppliers. Some of these are industry-specific, such as the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. CES is a great venue for importers in the technology industry. 

Cost, scalability, efficiency, and swiftness are just a few reasons why US businesses select Chinese suppliers. But sourcing overseas presents challenges. These tips and resources will help make your business decisions easier.

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