I am a Chinese but I chose to stay in Europe for business after I graduated from university. It was 1995 and I was just 24 years old. After 13 years stay, I came back to China and established a company. During 13 years in Europe, I had to deal with various kinds of Chinese suppliers as one of my duties is purchasing goods from China. Therefore, I am quite familiar with Chinese market and suppliers.

 

The production of Chinese products is showing a clear regional distribution. Different products distribute in different cities. For example, small wares mainly in Yiwu, toys  in ShanTou of GuangDong, beddings in JiangSu, furniture in FoShan of GuangDong, commercial kitchen equipment in GuangZhou…In fact, there is a small part of distribution of kitchen equipment in ShanDong whereas it is low-end Chinese style equipment mainly. What is main reason of such distribution? Besides historical factors, Chinese people’s learning capability is also a main reason. In China, it is very common that, after someone founded a factory and succeeded, there will be a number of people start to follow. When it comes more and more businesses founded, the local government possibly will treat such businesses as a pillar industry for developing local economy. In this case, the region will attract relevant people and enterprises come to invest or work for their business due to its good support and convenience. Finally, all these parties will form a production chain in such concentrated market that provides one-stop service to consumers. In fact, in recent years, some factories are turning to low labor cost countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam due to the increasing labor cost of China. However, the production chain of those countries is not mature as China. Therefore, Chinese manufacturing would be able to keep its advantage for long time.

 

Regarding the price, I would like to remind all of you that due to the demand, all goods should be divided into 3 levels in China (High-class, Middle-class & Low-class), or even it is just same with other countries in the world. Sometimes, although the surfaces of the goods look alike, the price could be very different. It is because there are big differences on materials or components.

Even though they look alike with similar functions, the durability and stability could not be the same. In other words, the product with higher grade, the better durability and stability it has. For some suppliers, if customers are only looking for a low price, using inferior materials might be the only way to satisfy them. In fact, it is not easy to differentiate the level of quality by general customers themselves. Thus, for selecting suppliers, I would advise you to firstly eliminate those suppliers that offering a pretty low or high price, and start selecting from the remaining afterwards. Moreover, it is necessary to request factory to provide you all relevant information such as details of materials, information of spare parts and the specifications of products.

 

Besides understanding the Chinese market, there are still a lot of works to do for selecting a supplier. Actually, it would be very effective to get important information from the suppliers’ websites and Facebook such as their company background and history. Furthermore, searching on Google is also a good idea. By searching the companies, you may find some valuable information such as good or bad comments from other customers. Anyway, searching on internet is the second best way to assess and observe a supplier if you are not able to visit China for direct investigation.

 

In opposite, if you are able to come to China, visiting the suppliers directly is definitely the best way to investigate. It is especially true in this generation of Internet. For example, if you are planning to deal with a factory, their facilities, workshop areas and laboratory are necessary to inspect. Of course, it is most important to access their management quality. There are a few ways to access whether the management is good or not, such as the environment of factory. If the factory has good management, all areas should be clean, raw materials should be placed tidily, the connections among every production line should be smooth. Also there should be a standard procedure for inspecting their product’s quality and checking their inspection records.

 

If it is a trading company, there are different ways to access. For example, a specialized field of business should be concentrated on its specialized industry as it is difficult to be specialized if a company tended to divide their resources into different fields of business. Moreover, human resources, company’s history and experience are also very important to contribute the success of a trading company. In fact, human resource is practically important for a professional company’s growth. Besides, the inspection records of quality control as well as the information of their clients could be a good method to access a trading company. Last but not least, you may observe if their employees are working with a stable mentality and being grateful to this company by inferring their conversations. It is because an excellent company would definitely care their employees and strive to make them feeling positive. Also, it is much easier to cooperate with the people who always have stable and full positive energy. One more point for your reference, according to my own experience, a well management won’t ignore the cleanliness of the restroom as well.

 

Lastly, I would also want to point out the Chinese culture. Chinese often invite customers to have meal together due to their hospitality. However, if you really have no intention to have a meal, just tell them clearly. Otherwise, they may even think if you are too shy to accept their invitation. If they invite you at the first time of meeting each other and you are happy to have a meal together, takeaway food might be a good option to save time and money unless you want to spend more time with them in order to gain more information. Strictly speaking, having meal together could bring disadvantages to the buyers in some way as the suppliers may calculate the cost of meal into the selling price. Chinese invite you due to their politeness most times. Whereas if it is not the first time of meeting and you have already known each other very well, it would be fine to accept the invitation. They will treat you as a friend. In conclusion, Chinese culture and thought are important to understand well for dealing with Chinese suppliers. Although most Chinese businessmen are honest in general, it is still better to carefully avoid fraud from some Chinese cheaters.