I wanted to learn about the processes involved with sourcing in China and the kinds of challenges buyers might face trying to find a quality supplier. To that end, I sat down with Sourcing Specialist Terry Zheng of InTouch for a manufacturing podcast interview where he gave me an insider's view of what it's like to search for a quality supplier in China. The following is a transcript of that interview:
What products have you sourced?
Terry: I have sourced products such as chairs, batteries, cameras, various electronic parts, magnets and so on.
What kinds of electronic products have you sourced?
Terry: I’ve done some sourcing for tablets and touch monitors.
What does the sourcing process look like for you day-to-day?
Terry: Normally, we will check what the client needs and find the products accordingly. First of all, we will compose an e-mail and make an excel form to summarize all the information we have. We will then search for the suppliers from the Internet, see which suppliers have the required products, and then we will call them and send an e-mail to them to make sure they can make the products. After that, we will see which supplier provides fast feedback and good communication. We will also check the quotation and make sure that the supplier we recommend to the client provides good quality, good price, good communication and fast response. With such information, we can try our best to find a good supplier for our clients.
What kinds of websites do you use for your search?
Terry: Normally, we will look for suppliers from websites such as Alibaba, Global Sources, Made-in-China, and some other local websites.
Do you think that buyers must be able to speak Chinese to find a supplier in China?
Terry: I think if you can speak Chinese, it will be much easier for you to get a good price. It will also be much easier to find out if a supplier is actually a ‘fake’ supplier or actually just a trader and not the actual factory. It’s possible to find out if the supplier you are corresponding with is a ‘fake’ supplier, based on the communication in Chinese.
What are some of the challenges with sourcing in China, some of the things that make it difficult for you to do your job?
Terry: I think there are three points I need to raise. These may be the most difficult aspects for me when I am sourcing.
The first issue is that some of the companies will give you false information. Perhaps the factory is actually very small, but they will tell you that they are a big factory, and there are many workers in the factory or something like that. However, the information is totally wrong.
The second issue is that they will tell you that they can do everything, but actually they are unable to.
The last issue is that, maybe they will tell you that they can make all the parts themselves, but actually they will just buy the parts from another company or another factory.