If this is your first foray into the world of outsourcing manufacturing to China, you need a smart approach. Sourcing from China comes with its own set of challenges that need to be overcome. Here's how to not make it a problem.
Determine Your Needs
Sure, you know what you want to make but in China there are different approaches to each manufacturing contract. Basically there are big corporations that will take on the job or farm it out to a 3rd party vendor. As a small business owner, you might want to seek out the smaller family owned business for the startup. This type of company will probably be in a better position to provide you with direct access and support. You will avoid the markup when a larger manufacturer subcontracts out your job.
Research All Angles
Before you book your first flight to China, you'll want to do a lot of research. Build up a database of potential manufacturers by searching trade directories, chamber of commerce listings in China, Export Development Corporations or business associations. This can happen when you research comparable products to yours online. You'll start seeing some of the same company names popping up. Clearly these are the dependable factories. They should be your first stop.
Pick Your Top 15 Suppliers
Once you've put a list together, start making calls or sending out emails to set up relationships. You'll want to find out all the costs associated in hiring this company from raw materials to transportation. Make a list of questions that you'll be asking of all of your suppliers and then you'll be able to narrow down the list to your top 15. These you might want to visit in person to make sure they can handle the job. It's going to take time to find the best fit for your company's needs but you're better off exhausting all the possibilities before firing up the assembly lines. Do not put your entire manufacturing assembly line on one company. Spread the work between two or three companies depending on your volume of work.
Get a Local Guide
If you are traveling to China you'll definitely want to find a local business representative to help show you around. Hopefully, this will be someone who comes highly recommended and who you've set up arrangements with before landing. The best guides are usually the government trade representatives between your country and China. You don't want to ask around at the airport for a guide!