5 Tips for Negotiating and Dealing with your Suppliers in China – 1

Tip #1. “You need a native speaker in your team (even if it is part-time!)”

You need to look for the information in Chinese! I initially searched the internet looking for suppliers in English, but you miss lots of interesting information. You need somebody who is a native speaker (or can perfectly read and speak) because not only do they find better information, but they also interpret it, they have the “feeling” to be able to assess when a supplier is worth pursuing.

It also comes in very handy during the negotiation process. We usually have in the meetings our suppliers’ sales & production guys. As most products need a bit of customization they are working together on setting a quote for us, so it is good having somebody with you who can capture nuances and what’s going on in general.

It is also cheaper to have your own Chinese interpreter or team member. This is like “World Link”, if you want it in English the suppliers are gonna make you pay a lot for it.”

Tip#2. “ALWAYS visit the factory”

You need to know who they are, to ensure they can actually make the products and that you are not really looking at some intermediary.

I once got samples done by a supplier. I sent them to my client and they got approval and were registered in their systems. I subsequently realized they had been made manually and that the guy couldn’t actually manufacture the product.

My lesson: before you send anything to a client, go to the factory, check what machine is producing the product and make sure it is working. If the machine is not functioning that day I ask them to produce a few samples for me right there. If the manufacturer has good will he/she will do it. It may not have your exact specifications, but you will at least know the capability is there.

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