Finding a reliable supplier in China

Imports from China have opened possibilities for Israelis to import high-quality products inexpensively; however, sometimes the product we receive is not the product that we ordered. Finding a reliable supplier in China will ensure that you receive exactly what you ordered at the best possible price. How do you find a reliable supplier in China? How do you identify unreliable suppliers? How do you communicate with Chinese suppliers efficiently? All of this and more in the next guidebook.

The trend of importing products from China did not go unnoticed in Israel and, in recent years, many Israelis have been opting to import products from China. Importing products from China is perceived as particularly inexpensive and, for the most part, they really are significantly less expensive than the other options. Labor and raw materials costs are very cheap in China and therefore, this significantly lowers the product manufacturing costs there.

However, there have been many reports from around the world about severe problems regarding the reliability of some of the Chinese suppliers. These problems include the shipping of defective products, products being shipped that are not the products that were ordered, shipping delays and, sometimes, even fraud and disappearance after receiving an advance on account.
Problems relating to the reliability of Chinese suppliers are liable to cause major financial losses. Therefore, it is advisable to everything possible in order to avoid such situations. In order to avoid losses, it is advisable that you become more familiar with the import process and, even more importantly – that you learn how to find a reliable and inexpensive Chinese supplier.

The import process – stages

The product import process, whether for commercial or private use, is a very complicated process. Initially, we must clearly define the product that we want. Then, we must find a reliable supplier and negotiate with him according to the etiquette of negotiations practiced in China. The last stage is tracking your order. But obviously, the most critical stage is finding a reliable supplier and conducting negotiations with him.

So how do you find a reliable supplier in China?

Firstly, you should visit the supplier and obtain a first-hand impression of the supplier’s reliability. It is important to verify that the product that you are ordering meets all the required standards – Israeli and international standards alike. Importing a product that fails to meet the Israeli standards is liable to become a severe problem for you. The product might be delayed by the Customs Authority and its entry into Israel might not even be approved, which will cause you a significant monetary loss. Even if you pass the customs obstacle, if the product has no standard mark, you are exposing yourself to enormous lawsuits, if people who use the product are caused damage or injury. You should also verify that the product’s manufacturer and supplier are in possession of all of the licenses and requisite approvals to manufacture the product you selected.

After that, it is advisable to inspect the factory where the supplier manufactures the product. You should inspect the production facilities, the warehouses, the shipping methods and more. Even though it is reasonable to assume that you do not possess the professional know-how needed to ascertain the quality of the product from a tour of the factory, it is important that you do so in order to verify that the factory is operating and that the manufacturing is being conducted under good or reasonable conditions at the very least. Thus, for example, you will not want to order fragile products if you see that they are not being packaged adequately and consequently, are liable to be damaged during shipping.

It is highly advisable to also speak with the owners of the factory. True, this might sound strange, but it is within the realm of possibility that the person with whom you agreed on the details is not the owner of the factory, but rather, might be a swindler or an additional “broker” who will demand a commission and additional payment from you. It is important that you verify that you are speaking with the person who is authorized to set prices and close deals at the factory.

If you cannot travel to China, there are Israeli and international companies that possess vital information about many companies in China. Some of these companies share their information about the supplier with whom you are planning to cooperate, for the most part, for a fee. If one of the companies indeed has this information, it is worth it for you to pay for it, since it will likely save you considerable anguish – and even more – a substantial sum of money.

When these companies do not have the information you require about the supplier you selected, they can perform a reliability check of the supplier for you. Again, this also involves a fee, but this is an important and wise expense that will save you money and considerable bother.

How do you negotiate with Chinese suppliers?

Congratulations! You found a reliable supplier that you can use to inexpensively import the product that you want, but the difficulties do not end here. One of the most important issues when working with suppliers, in Israel and abroad, Americans and Chinese, is the communications between you and the supplier.

It is very important that you have good and full communications with the supplier that you selected. Good communications are critical for coordinating expectations and for preventing misunderstandings about the quality of the shipment, the shipment arrival times and all of the other terms that were defined.

The enormous cultural differences between Israelis and Chinese are liable to cause communications problems between the you and the supplier, which could adversely affect your negotiations and subsequent stages. It is highly recommended that you find a supplier who speaks English, who has broad professional knowledge and is familiar with the professional terms that are relevant to the product that you are importing.

Conducting negotiations with a Chinese supplier can be very complicated. During the negotiations, you will need to reach agreements on the quantity of products being ordered, the price, the supply time and additional details. It is important to not open the negotiations in a manner that is too direct, as many Israelis tend to do, but rather, you should begin with small talk and postpone the negotiations to a later stage, after you are better acquainted with the supplier and with his factory.

For Chinese suppliers, the decorum during the negotiations is extremely important, and sometimes, it is more important to them than agreeing on the final transaction price. Therefore, you must be respectful towards a Chinese supplier and be very meticulous about proper etiquette: you should introduce yourself in a dignified and serious manner, preferably by presenting your business card and additional marketing materials. Furthermore, Chinese suppliers are averse to bargaining, and when they say “no,” this is an absolute “no” and there is no point to arguing. It is important to keep in mind that a reliable Chinese supplier is in enormous demand and has no problem replacing you swiftly with another customer; therefore, your bargaining power is low, and it is reasonable to assume that you will not succeed in significantly lowering the price.

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