How to Find a Supplier to Export Products from China

If you have an in on the market, you can be incredibly successful importing Chinese products into North America or around the world; however, China is hard! Language, different business practices, and the sheer volume of manufacturers means you need to go into China with a plan if you want to have a leg up on the massive competition, and to actually take advantage of the low prices on goods. We will focus on electronics and mobile accessories in this article; one of the biggest current exports for small businesses.


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    Choose the right product(s). This can't be emphasized enough. The general rule is if you don't know a good deal about an industry outside of China you will never be able to make sense of it, or make good business decisions when jumping into China to find suppliers. Don't go into China just looking to take advantage of some mythical pot of export gold. Go because you know what product you want to sell, and you know you can find the best/cheapest supply in China.
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    Know the pricing and demand in your chosen market, and know how to find the quality goods. If you come in with a good overall sense of the products you're after, you're in good shape...what they go for elsewhere, what a version manufactured elsewhere would look like quality-wise. If not you'll be lost when presented with 400 different versions of the same item in a massive market where each vendor will naturally claim the superiority of their own manufacturing. That logic applies whether you're buying online, or heading directly to Chinese manufacturing cities like Guang Zhou.
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    Find an online supplier. Unless you speak Mandarin and have direct experience with on the ground negotiating and business in China, by far the best approach is to find an online supplier, preferably one that has connections to your global region.
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    Research the supplier online. You need someone who has a system in place and who is also reputable and trustworthy, right? Read reviews! Talk to others in the industry. The web may make the whole world accessible in a blanket, impersonal way, but business is still done person to person. Talk to someone DIRECTLY at the company, and talk to someone who has been their client, resale partner, or has significant experience in your industry.
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    Pinpoint a handful of good option suppliers on a wholesalers aggregate site. There are dozens of these. START there though and work to hone your search toward your specific industry and needs. Otherwise you're just basically going where anyone with a passive interest in reselling can go in a few minutes.
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    Understand the importance of getting the goods through the border and customs. Don't underestimate the potential cost and confusion of doing this improperly. The benefit to using a supplier with an established wholesale network is that it will be up to them to ship the goods through customs and they will already have the systems in place to get the goods across the border legally, safely, and timely...all of which can be a massive headache otherwise.
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    Be PROACTIVE and versatile, and don't settle, and you'll do wonderfully!


  • Start with a small order, and then don't order again until you're sure you'll sell all of the first order.
  • Don't underestimate import duties when calculating your prices and costs. Duties can vary from shipment to shipment.
  • Make sure the company has a physical address and working telephone number that you have verified
  • Inform yourself about importing rules in your country.
  • Always speak to the supplier directly. Telephone or face to face will personalize the interaction on both sides, which will cause a significant impression.
  • If dealing directly with Chinese business people learn a few words of Mandarin. It can't hurt, and can easily be done online. Here's a start:


  • Trying to leave China with a large quantity of goods without the proper paperwork or accounting for duties will never go well.
  • Never pay up front for a wholesale shipment from a supplier you're not familiar with. Typically you'll have samples sent, or pay via credit card with purchase security.
  • Don't pay for anything if the supplier doesn't have the stock "in hand", meaning if they're relying on your cash flow to pay for their manufacturing, get out of the deal.
  • Showing up in China and attempting to haggle a deal yourself without experience or an interpreter is not likely to get you very far.
  • Careful with copyright. In China the status quo is extremely different when it comes to brand infringements. You don't want to be importing goods into the US that you weren't aware are knockoffs of an international brand.
  • Be wary of making payments by international wire or bank transfer unless you have an established relationship with the supplier.
  • Trying to enter your own country with a large quantity of goods from China without the proper paperwork will go even worse.

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Categories: Sales