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Sourcing From China: Tips for Amazon Sellers

by Liz Fickenscher

Sourcing products from China can be very rewarding for Amazon sellers, but it can also present a number of challenges. We recently hosted a webinar with James Addison, founder of My Asia Office, to discuss ways that working with fractional overseas employees can benefit merchants interested in sourcing from China. Conversation topics include:

  • The challenges of sourcing from China
  • Why working with someone in China can make the sourcing process easier
  • How My Asia Office helps eCommerce vendors

Here is the recap written by Becky Trowbridge

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.

Many Amazon business owners have the goal of selling their own products. But this can be an arduous, complicated process as you attempt to do business overseas – whether with China or another country well-known for manufacturing.

Some turn to online marketplaces or commission agents. In this conversation, James Addison explores another option.

Vast Opportunities, Big Tasks

If you have an online business, it is often easy to think about what you can get done with a few mouse clicks or by sending an email. But working with the factories in China is much more complicated than simply sending a request to ask how much it will cost to make 500-plus teddy bears with a holiday theme. When you start to contact factories on your own, or even through a marketplace such as Alibaba, you are likely to receive irrelevant quotes that just don’t match up with what you are looking for.

China is an enormous country and there are many factories you could potentially do business with. Contacting all of these factories about how to create your item could soon become far more demanding than running your business. Nobody wants to tackle a business task that takes much longer than it should!

Quality Control

Even when you’re successful in obtaining a factory quote, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to get started. A lot of times your factory quote can require multiple changes due to inaccuracies, whether pricing, minimum order quantity or materials used. One change could throw your entire quote off in a way that you don’t expect, and you could wind up needing to look for a different factory to work with.

It’s tempting to do business with the first factory you think is going to meet your needs. But you’ve also got to keep an eye on quality. Your sample could be top-notch and then when the items are created, the quality may be inferior to your expectations. When you have a terrific product that is bringing in 4 and 5-star ratings on Amazon.com, you’ve got to work to protect that. If you start to get a bunch of 1-star ratings that talk about a bad product, this truly will have an effect on how the item sells long-term.

Tips for Sourcing from China: Keep “Boots on the Ground”

Fractional employees through a company (such as My Asia Office) have the experience to connect you with the best suppliers. This can save you time, money and a lot of stress and worry.

“[Our employees] are trained to quote a large number of factories quickly and narrow down to the couple of factories we think, and they think, in their experience, will be the best fit,” said Addison. “When you have a fractional employee through My Asia Office, they can pick up the phone, email a large number of factories, eliminate them quickly and get down to a few good potential options.” In this case, you can find a solution in a number of days instead of spending weeks going back and forth in a vain attempt to try to find a factory somewhere in China.

One thing to keep in mind is that the factories in China actually prefer to work with in-country agents. This is in part because the language and time zone barriers are removed. On-the-ground agents also know how to negotiate and how business is done at the factories. Having an agent representing you in China helps your Amazon business be seen as a more serious buyer. You’ll likely receive much better pricing by using an agent representing you in person, as the factory sees you as a genuine customer. Sometimes factories will receive orders online, and they will try to quote them at high prices, simply to see if they can get the bid. They would rather take fewer projects and get paid a higher rate than take more jobs at lower prices.

Find Your Factory

Keep in mind that every factory is unique. They all have a different way of handling the quoting process. While you can take care of this on your own, there are a lot of things that having a representative will streamline for you. They will know if you need a factory that can produce your items quickly, if this is your top priority and where to find the right type of factory to manufacture your item.

You’ve worked hard to build your Amazon business. Keep your company running smoothly by ensuring that the items you source are manufactured to your specifications.

Originally published on February 23, 2017, updated October 2, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.

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