There are rules and then there are rules. To succeed in China, one must know how to navigate the culture, it’s customs and have the right networking. There are three golden rules in order to succeed when it comes to product sourcing in China.
1 Things are not always what they seem so when evaluating a potential supplier, be sure to do a background check. Ensure they are not just another middle man by visiting the factory. Get references of others who have done business with them and cross reference them. Make sure the factory meets your needs in terms of customer service, operating agreements such as terms/buying procedures, SLA, product QA, etc. This is the most over looked step but perhaps the most important one. Take time and do the necessary due diligence and audit as much as you can. Get this right and your road to a healthy working relationship is that much easier.
2 Once a supplier is chosen, work with them and don’t give up early. Visit the factory and have face time with them. Contribute ideas and operational efficiencies when appropriate and needed. Remember, a well run supplier is a partner that can meet your needs.
3 Regularly perform QA and audits. This is key to ensure that things are going accordingly and no surprises. Remember that they can be thousands of miles away and spotting issues earlier is key to maintaining a healthy relation with your product sourcing factory.
If you are buying products from China, the above 3 rules will help you chose the right factory and maintain a strong relationship with your supplier.