6 Screening Questions you should be asking Chinese Suppliers
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Sourcing your products from a different country with big cultural differences and impossible language barriers is scary and challenging, to say the least. We know you have questions like how to go through self-checks on your suppliers, handle email, phone and WeChat communications, benchmark product quotes and specs, and most importantly, how to get quality products.
With our 20+ years of experience and millions of dollars, we’ve learned a lot about how to create smooth, productive relationships with Chinese suppliers, and some best practices.
It starts with asking the right questions. If you’re screening a new potential supplier and you want to get started on the right foot (no surprises!), here are 6 screening questions you should be asking. Screening suppliers are important to establish a good fit for you and them.
1. What is the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)?
This establishes expectations upfront for buyers and factories, which is always helpful. As a buyer, you then know how to discuss orders, quantities & what the factory expects. ( Of course you can always negotiate lower MOQs and we will write a separate blog post about that.
2. Information about the size of the factory, number of workers, production lines, number of units produced every month, and the monthly capacity.
This provides useful insights into the capabilities of the factory. Asking this question makes you look experienced and therefore more likely to be taken seriously.
Utilization is the actual quantity produced monthly. Capacity is what a factory is capable of producing monthly. For example, the factory can produce 20,000 units per month but might only be utilizing half of production capacity and making 10,000 units per month. And it will help you establish of the supplier is a good fit for your size.
3. Which are the major countries and markets they supply?
The USA, European and Australian customers present much more complex markets compared to South East Asian markets like India, Sri Lanka etc. By establishing the historic customer base upfront, a buyer gets a good indication of whether they have the capabilities and experience to deal with sophisticated markets or customer, and what standards the supplier will be used. The same applies for larger Brands, they usually have higher demands on manufacturers, and manufacturers will usually have to follow stricter standards and controls.
4. Request a presentation with information about the company and background.
Experienced and larger manufacturers are usually ready with a good presentation. Many of your questions about a factory are answered in their presentations, and this can be very helpful in understanding more about your suppliers.
5. Ask about their factory accreditations and what regulatory standards they are familiar with for various markets.s. Request copies of the certificates and check when they were last approved.
For example, there are typically 3 different categories you want to consider, the first is quality management systems ( e.g ISO9001 etc.. ), the second is Social Ethical and Environmental standard the factory adheres to ( e.g Sedex 8000, BSCi, ISO140001 etc.. )and lastly product certifications ( e.g ROHS, CE, CB, IEC etc.. ) which demonstrate various compliance to countries regulatory standards for safety or other areas. These will need to be verified further down the line, but it’s a starting point.
6. What equipment and machinery do they have?
The answers provide additional information and understanding of production capabilities. A buyer can tell by the equipment and the investment made in the equipment whether a manufacturer is a large scale or a smaller operation. Factories with larger investments and the right tools/machinery can usually make better products. You can also ask for pictures of the factory and production lines along with company registration documentation. This offers visual insight to the manufacturer which is invaluable.
We have been helping numerous clients to source products in China. We aim to remove many of the insecurities of our clients and provide them with a support structure to ensure they get good quality products, well-vetted suppliers, and improved communications so our clients can relax and have peace of mind.