Choose a Chinese Factory – Part 1

With the fast growing Internet, you can today almost have access to any kind of information. In result, there is a profusion of information about potential chinese manufacturer that could supply your need.

On this base, you have performed somme research to find a manufacturer capable to manufacture your product via Globalsources or Alibaba and you are now with a bunch of potential suppliers in hand who could answer your request.

You have now 10 potential suppliers in hands and this is with only one you will have to place your deposit to start your order. The question is now “how to choose a Chinese supplier?”.

I have listed below a few points I use to select chinese suppliers when performing sourcing in China

Chinese Manufacturer Size

If you are about to place some small order, and if your company is also not vey big yet, then it might comfort you to go with a big manufacturer thinking that because they are big they are probably reliable and that they will be able to perform properly their quality control and quality assurance procedure.

Unfortunately, from my experience the biggest are not necessarily the more reliable “for you“.

Indeed, if you are small and they are big then it means you are probably not their priority.

Hence watch out about deadline and production planning. Not to mention that big companies are usually well structured with a lot of process and it make the chain to be slow when reworking or modification are needed.

I would recommend to find a supplier who will value the order you will bring to them and who will be able to have flexibility.

Selecting Chinese Manufacturer
Selecting Chinese Manufacturer

Contact at the chinese manufacturer

Who is your contact people. This point is very important: as Donald Trump say: always talk to the boss. I found out that to have direct access to the boss face to face can solve a lot of trouble easily and faster because he/she has power.

If your only contact point is only a young sales people of 20-25 who is lot less than employee, then it might not have a lot of power and they are not decision maker. When things go wrong , it is easier to have direct access to decision maker than trough a whole chain of people who have no power to influence and communicate your stress, anger and buying power.

Unfortunately, today still many factories boss don’t speak English, so unless you speak Chinese, you may have difficulties to solve issue. In this case I would recommend you to have an ally with you in china who can help you.

Organization of chinese manufacturer

Depending on your profile you will be able to work with cheap but badly organized factories or expensive but well organized factories.

I personally choose the option 1 because living in Shenzhen since 2007 and being on site allow me to quickly and easily solve issue on the spot. Of course if you are on the other side of the planet, it might not be so easy to do so.

I can also bring proper support and training to manufacturers who are not well organized as long as they accept to be flexible enough to change their organization (and actually quite often they are ready to do so to make their clients more happy). I have a service of vendor and factory training available if you are already working with a manufacturer in China, that you are not able to live them and if you need for support.

Capability of chinese manufacturer

Of course the number one criteria you will look at when selecting sourcing a chinese manufacturer is his capability to handle your production. Choose a supplier capable to handle with your product manufacturing is essential. There are many supplier who will pretend they can do your order perfectly but who in the end will fail doing it.

One weird thing I see in China more than anywhere else in the west is the acceptability to fail or to give up. I have always been amazed by how many suppliers are capable to say “I can do, I can do”, take a deposit, realize after several months of effort they can not reach the target and who finally give up the task saying “I refund you, I am tired of this project”.

The motto :”Failure is not an option” doesn’t seems to be really working in China.

This is very frustrating, because not only it make your nerve crazy but also because you just lost 2 months in your product development.

I will introduce in another post about how to verify the capability of your manufacturer.

Cooperation & Attitude of chinese manufacturer

This is something essential when choosing a supplier. I personally prefer to work with someone honest and with good attitude but slightly more expensive than with cheap cost but dishonest and bad faith people.

When things go wrong on a production and your deposit is an hostage, you can not afford going with dishonest and bad faith people.

How to make sure people are honest and good faith, I will discuss this point in another future post.


Of course you will look at price. Inexperienced buyer look at this criteria first and accept the profile of their s this is a mistake. Many people while swing cheap price, hence anticipating high profit for them, will become blind about the reality.
Don’t get me wrong: everything has a cost, there is no magic about it. If you find a product who is 50% less cheaper than the market price, then there is probably something wrong. I will talk in a future post what can go wrong.

All right, this is my first post about how to select a Chinese supplier.

And you, what do you think or how do you do ?

About Christopher Oliva 77 Articles
Christopher Oliva is an Engineer based in Shenzhen since 2008 involved in Product Development, Supply Chain, Sourcing, Quality Management and Manufacturing activities. With a Msc Electrical Engineering and a Business Administration background, an ISO 9001 Lead Auditor Certification, a Six Sigma Certification and a Quality Engineering Certification, he works as a consultant on mission and contract oriented to Product Development, Manufacturing Management, Quality Assurance & Quality Management System setup. He works in the product development and engineering field, and as well as an advisor and quality consultant for several quality control and quality assurance companies.

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