Importing From China: Getting Started Sourcing Products

In this article I’ll give some suggestions on the first actions to take to get started importing from China and finding products.

It can seem daunting at first how to begin finding manufacturers to deliver the products you need for your business. I recommend browsing online sourcing websites where manufacturers list their available products as well as visiting trade shows to begin seeing the product selection available and meet sellers.

The most well-known site for importing products from China is Alibaba.com. This site is a large directory where manufacturers feature their products. A virtual trade show if you will. Alibaba is an incredible resource to browse and see the selection and type of products available. You can get a general idea of what is available and general pricing information. Many factories list their MOQs (minimum order quantity) as well.

Another feature of Alibaba is that you can immediately chat and contact the sellers. An important first distinction is to find out whether the company is the manufacturer of the product or a trade company representing a variety of products. The easiest way to find this out is to just ask when you contact them. Ideally you want to deal with the factory directly for cost and operations efficiency.

Although it is possible to import your products and do all your business online. I highly recommend taking further due diligence if you are interested in a long-term sustainable relationship with your supplier. This can be done by taking the trip to China to visit the factories of the suppliers you have contacted to see that everything is in order. Another good option is to get an experienced sourcing agent on your side to represent your best interests on the ground in China.

Another excellent way to see the many products available is to go to a trade show. This allows you to walk the floor and see up close all the products in different industries and immediately talk business with the sellers. Often you can make contact with the companies then later do a factory visit after the show is over. The biggest trade show in mainland China is the Canton Fair which takes place twice a year in the fall and the spring. Another large trade show is the Hong Kong Mega Show which I haven’t attended yet but have heard good things.

I hope these few ideas are helpful in getting started and taking action towards finding and importing products from China.

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