How to find the right suppliers
Sourcing is a service we offer but we’ll clear a few things up so you can do it on your own in a breeze. Once you’ve found your supplier – the easy part, we’ll take care of bringing it into the Philippines – the hard part!
Sourcing is simpler than ever with the help of the internet. Many suppliers of products or services can be found online allowing for easier communication and price comparison. And now that you’ve found us, you can even buy directly from manufacturers in China and other countries. This page is all about sourcing products in China, but the same rules apply when you’re sourcing in the other countries we service.
Here are a few tips and tricks when you’re hunting for products…
Your #1 B2B Marketplace: Alibaba.com
Alibaba.com is the undisputed best place to do your sourcing. It’s the world’s largest trade portal where the most competitively-priced manufacturers can be found. Just open a free buyer’s account (which takes less than 5 minutes) and you will have access to the entire database of thousands upon thousands of suppliers.
If you are looking to purchase retail though, you can always check out their retail division which is AliExpress.
Do what the big boys are doing. For way much less!
If a product is manufactured in China, it’s almost never the case that there’s only one manufacturer producing it. The fascinating thing is that even if it’s something with intricate details like a flashlight, an electric bike, or a solar panel, there are almost always multiple sources producing or distributing the exact same thing with the exact same specs! There are two ways to get in touch with suppliers.
Method 1: Contact them one by one. You can study each supplier’s profile and the products they offer and ask them to give you a quote or discuss the details of your requirement via email, Skype, or other platforms (we’ll discuss this bit later). Alibaba has its own chat service but you may want to stick to other more convenient ways of communication.
Method 2: Submitting an RFQ (Request for Quotation). If you submit an RFQ, Alibaba will match your request with prospective suppliers and so they would be the first to contact you instead. We only recommend doing this if you are very organized because doing so will result in hundreds of offers from suppliers of the product you’re looking for as well as products that are just related to what you’re looking for.
Between the two methods, we recommend the first. Contact 10, then single out the best offer. It’s more manageable, less distracting, and you get the same results anyway.
Know your specs!
Myth: Chinese suppliers will swindle you with low quality products… This is a common misconception spread around both by people who think they have fallen victims, and by sympathizers who don’t really know the truth first-hand. If you are part of either group, have you ever wondered why companies like Google, IBM, and Apple still buy from China?
Let’s be clear about something: Chinese suppliers are more keen on repeat business than making a one-time-big-time sale. While a supplier may be willing to haggle with you, what they may be hearing from you is, “i’ll only give you this much, now you give me what it’s worth”. In a country where everything is produced, everything is produced in different levels of quality. They’re not necessarily tricking you, they’re just giving you the most they can with what you’re giving them. Just like you, they need to profit to stay alive.
So before or as you engage in haggling, it’s important that you know your product specifications. If you’re looking for IKEA-style furniture, make sure you know things like what kind of wood you want, how the screws are set, how the parts are put together, the kind of paint they used, etc.
Ask for close-up pictures if you have to but know that the representative is probably sitting in an office and the product is in a different building and she would have to request someone else to take the pictures for you – so ask nicely!
Lastly, know that all suppliers are willing to provide samples. Some you have to pay for, some for free. Yes, you can import samples through us too.
Getting a feel for the price range before you negotiate
An obvious good idea when picking the 10 suppliers that you will contact is to pick the ones with the lowest prices.
When talking to them, make sure you’re always talking about the same thing (which is the product with the specs you want). Before you haggle, ask all of them first for their best prices. Record their answers, compare, and get the average.
Now that you have an idea what the average price is and which among them is the lowest, you can start negotiating. Or if you want to go back and see if you can find other competitors, go ahead. But save your top candidates from the first batch.
This may seem obvious, but a common mistake among entrepreneurs buying factory-direct for the first time is settling for a good deal relative to the prices in the Philippines, not knowing they can get an even better deal if they compare prices of sources instead.
Another advantage of knowing the average price on the lower end of the spectrum is that it prevents you from being fooled with a low quality product like an antenna.
If you’re not an expert with the specs (but at least know the basics), knowing the average low price will help set off your sensors when someone is offering way too low. You can choose to learn more, just leave them, or request a sample. Because the rule always applies, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. But then it only applies if you know what is considered “too good” relative to what.
Here’s an example:
McDonald’s and Jollibee both offer their single-patty cheeseburgers ala carte for about P50 (about one US dollar). They’re known to be in the low-end of the price spectrum for acceptable-if-you’re-hungry-and-in-a-hurry quality cheeseburgers. You also know they make up for low profit margins for the massive amount of cheeseburgers they sell every day.
If someone else is selling buy-one-take-one cheeseburger for P25, a wise buyer might assume that the quality is going to be at around a quarter of what is sold at McDonalds or Jollibee at best – because it’s half the price divided into two.
While someone perhaps not-so-wise will think, “Wow, that’s a great deal!”, goes to spend P50 for four pieces but only gets to eat about half the amount of real beef in a single order of burger from the McDonald’s or Jollibee – less the air conditioning, a clean place to sit, and a well-groomed cashier.
So yes, your goal when buying direct from factories or dealers overseas should always be to get the best possible price. But it should be the best possible price for nothing less than what you want 🙂
***Exporting through a third-party***
Pay attention to the stars… This is a very important bit that you can’t afford to overlook.
The government in China gives out rebates to companies who put their names on export documents. Most likely to help keep track of how much goes out of the country. To some suppliers, this is where they make money. They sell to you at or below manufacturing cost, then collect rebates.
This is very important information because some companies (there’s only very few of them, don’t worry) will insist they handle the export procedure for this very reason. If you allow them to do it, then you will have no choice but to go through the “regular” importation procedure. In other words, you’re on your own and we can’t help you.
You don’t want to spend time and effort negotiating with the supplier only to find out in the end that the only way they will sell to you is if they handle the export process. So ask them right off the bat (this should be among your first qualifiers):
“I have someone in China who will handle the shipping for me. Can you ship to their warehouse?”.
This is a major time saver. Don’t bother explaining to them Why if they are insistent on doing it their way. They will never understand that exporting out of their country is easy – getting stuff into the country and cleared out of customs is the hard part.
The Minimum Order Quantity is ALWAYS negotiable
When you search for a product, you will find that most suppliers display their Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ). Sometimes, the number shown is more than you what you are willing to buy.
Keep in mind that the MOQ they show is their desired minimum relative to their desired price. It doesn’t always mean that it’s the amount you have to purchase for them to do business with you.
Don’t be shy. Ask! You will find that most suppliers are willing to sell smaller quantities for just bit higher price. This is where you practice your PR and negotiation skills 🙂
Like we said, Chinese suppliers in particular just want to do business with you and gain your repeat purchases – they understand they have to bend over backwards sometimes if they sense a potential for you to become a long-time client.
The language barrier isn’t as bad as you think
Have you ever wondered how the Chinese ended up making a lot of the stuff all around us? Chinese, by and large, are good at connecting with others. You don’t have to speak their native language just to get from point A to point B. In fact, that’s what they’re good at and that’s what’s expected from you: Stay on point and make sure you know what you want. Based on our experience, most Chinese in sales positions are very conversant in English, if not fluent.
So far we haven’t encountered one salesperson that we could not understand at all. But hey, if you ever find yourself talking to one, simply ask to be transferred to someone else. Suppliers usually have more than one salesperson. But ask nicely 🙂
Maintain good communication
We cannot emphasize enough that you have to maintain good communication with your supplier every step of the way. And that means constant communication. It’s not enough that you communicate via email. When you send your first message to your supplier, give them your Skype or WeChat ID. Download the apps on your phone.
When an idea or question pops up, you want to ask your supplier right away. Besides, the better you know and talk to each other, the more he or she is gonna want to take care of you as a client. Don’t be rude. Make friends with your rep. A little niceness goes a long way.
Opportunities abound! Take good notes!
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it and once you’ve realized that you indeed have the world’s biggest marketplace for almost anything at your fingertips – opportunities will begin to pop right in front of your eyes here and there. Whenever you see a need for anything that can be imported, take notes. Whenever you see a supplier of anything that might come in handy, take notes. Ask questions, explore the opportunities. It’s fun, and it can even get addictive 🙂
These are pretty much the only things you need to know when looking for suppliers on Alibaba.com. Everything is straightforward. The most important thing you need to do is get started. You’ll find out soon enough how easy it is.
Once you’ve found a supplier and you’re ready to proceed to getting your importation cost, ask your rep for your order’s gross weight and dimensions (inclusive of packaging material), and fill up the quotation form here: https://importanything.ph/get-a-quote/