When & Why Should You Visit China For Sourcing Products ?

Lately i have been getting a lot of questions from all of you and answering them is the best part of my day, however it takes a lot of time to do so as each answer is tailored to the specific question asked, but there is a common question i got from many readers and i thought it would be better to address it here and write a full post about it so that all of you can get a clear and definitive answer regarding this.

The question is “Do i need to visit China, is it necessary, is it different than managing and doing the entire process from where i am and just use email ? This has garnered a lot of interest from many people so i decided to write a full post on this issue to address the concerns that you have.

Visiting China 101

Do you need to visit China ?

When you are serious about starting a business venture that is supported or based on importing you need to have an edge over something that you can control and being on the ground in China is the best thing that you can do for yourself.

What one person might accomplish in 6 months using Alibaba,email and personal research can be reduced to a staggering 10 days by visiting China !!! Most people who hear this don’t believe it no matter how many times i say it,until they have tried it themselves,so you can imagine the time difference of getting started and learning all the things you want to know.

The Advantages Of Visiting China Yourself

  1. Visiting your suppliers by yourself can mean a lot to them and it shows how sincere you are in doing business ,besides you can always check out other suppliers as well during the same time-frame to assess whether or not they are viable options or not.
  2. When you go there you can see for yourself how these people operate,communicate and manage business on a daily basis so you can learn a lot about their way of doing things,and how to manage the communication when you go back.
  3. It can mean a different thing at all when you send some requirements in an email rather than showing them what you need exactly by being physically present there, so basically you cut out all the little misunderstandings that can occur during your research and order placing phase significantly.
  4. The experience of travelling in itself makes a lot of difference to people who want to control every aspect of their product’s manufacturing process and being there will help you make this come true.

I’m still unsure of whether i need to go,this doesn’t solve anything, WHY or WHEN should i go ???

Well basically it depends,because no one rule can be applied to all people,so from my viewpoint or experience as you might say , it is preferable to go there but only if you are very serious about pursuing this business model,and if you need a motivational push then the best time to go would be the Canton Fair where you will find many like minded people who are there for the same reason, this will make it better for you to meet and see a lot of suppliers combined in one place without the headache of travelling to different cities or setting different appointments with different suppliers over a span of a week.

So it all comes down to your personal preference and what you really think about this business model.Many people have seen success and are still successful till this day even though they never set foot in China before,but this is the exception not the rule.So if your product requires a lot of customization, private labeling, branding and other important stuff, then it’s better to go there at least once ,however if your product is a standardized one with no need for many modifications,then using E-mail ,Skype and DHL for sending and receiving samples will be sufficient in getting you what you need.

I’ve decided to go there,so how do i organize an excellent factory tour to get the best sourcing experience in China ?

Step-By-Step Guide:-

Option-1

  1. If you are going to visit different suppliers by yourself,then the best thing to do would be to target at least 10 suppliers for the product you need,then make sure through Alibaba filters while you are doing  your research that most of these suppliers be located in one City or at least the same province ( This is usually very easy as most manufacturers of a certain products are clustered into the same city or province),so for example if you want electronics,then 80% of the suppliers should be in Shenzhen, if you are looking for Kitchen and Home Products,then most of your suppliers will be clustered in Zhejiang province, so make sure you locate suppliers in the same city when doing your research,and this can be known through the CONTACT tab on each supplier’s page on Aliababa.
  2. After you have located your 10 suppliers and contacted them to make sure that they are producing what you are looking for,then out of your research and their page you will choose what you think is the best supplier and the one that you would have worked with even if you didn’t go there,this supplier will be responsible for picking you up from the airport and then sending you to the hotel that they will book for you.Make sure to explain to them and the other suppliers as well that it’s your first time to China and that it is only normal that you visit many suppliers to choose what best suites you,they are understanding of this and will not have any problems with that. I prefer that they book the hotel themselves,as they can book a nearby hotel which is suitable for your needs.
  3. After you have confirmed with the main supplier on these points, you will get the hotel name and address from them in Chinese,and send it to the other 9 suppliers so they know where to pick you up, you will then ask them all if the hotel is near or far from their factory and about how many minutes they can arrive from the factory to the hotel, based on their answers you will organize a spreadsheet based on these times ,try to visit 2 suppliers at least per day,that way you can make sure that your trip for visiting the suppliers will not be more than 5 days max.
  4. After you have finished all your visits,you will contact the supplier that you will work with and meet with them on the 6th day to finalize all issues and product details,expect to spend the full day at their factory or office.
  5. Then you will have about 3 or 4 days to go sightseeing,shopping and do what you like,which will be the responsibility of the supplier that you have placed the order with,and they will gladly accompany you and show you around.

Option-2

The second option which is also preferred by many is the Canton Fair,which is held twice a year,once on October and the other on April.

In these precious 15 days you can meet with hundreds of suppliers of your product which is very good if you are not that in a hurry i getting your products, that way you can meet a lot and at the same time get a grand view on things. The only downside to locating suppliers in the fair is that they will usually not have the time to discuss and negotiate with you all your requirements during the fair as they are very busy during this time with other customers as well, so you will have to wait when the fair ends then go visit their factory personally to check out their production.
Don’t be surprised when you go there and change your mind completely from what you see,it can happen, so that’s also a lot of wasted time.
So as you can see,there are pros and cons everywhere, you can go to the fair or organize your own trip, it all comes back to your personal preference and what you need done.

Final Takeaway

If you are just starting out by trying a shipment and validating your product in the market,then you can manage it from where you are,but if after validating the market,you scaled up then you definitely need to go there yourself to make sure that as the size of your business grows,your problems don’t increase as well.

If you have any questions,please e-mail me through the contact tab, i’ll be more than happy to help you organize a trip for sourcing your products.

Good Luck & Happy Sourcing.

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