Outsourcing the Sourcing

I am trying to source a manufacturer for some furniture which is to be designed by my partners. I was wondering if there was an easier (more efficient) process than trawling through websites such as Alibaba, Global Sources and Made-in-China (and others like it).

My concern is that, in trying to identify potential suppliers, there isn’t really enough hard information provided on the above websites to make an educated assessment of their competences and whether they may be appropriate for my business.

I am starting out relatively small and would ideally like to partner up with a small-to-medium sized business that is going to give me the time of day and value my future potential.

Any guidance would be much appreciated.

The tutorials and free resources at CSIC were designed to help buyers manage the China supply chain. But a lot of buyers feel the same way as you do and would like to “outsource the sourcing” function to a professional 3rd party.  If you go that route, there are various types of intermediaries that can help, going by names such as trading company, sourcing agent, factory rep and so on.

If you engage a 3rd party you need to be clear about their motivation and allegiance. For example, some traders imply they have your best interest in mind as you are paying them a commission. But they may have a hidden kickback from the factory. So in reality, they have a very conflicted interest.

But this is China and there is no better business bureau or industry wide code of conduct.  So you would be wise to read the following white paper from CSIC called Selecting Service Providers to Support China Sourcing Projects

I would also encourage you to visit the sourcing agency I founded over a decade ago called PassageMaker (www.PSSChina.com) to get a feel for how professional agents can support you.

Best wishes on your sourcing program.

Question answered by Mike Bellamy, host of “Ask the Experts” at the China Sourcing Information Center.

Mike Bellamy is an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center (www.ChinaSourcingInfo.org). He is also the author of, “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing” (chinasourcinginfo.org/book) and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions (www.PSSchina.com )



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