You’ve spent a year designing and refining a new product. The market studies point to success and a great opportunity.  Now you are ready for the next step; sourcing and manufacturing. Because the target cost has to be competitive you’ve determined your custom product needs to be manufactured in China.

Since its industrial boom beginning three decades ago, China has built a huge industrial infrastructure.  In addition to some of the world’s most advanced highways and logistics systems, there are many advantages to outsourcing production and manufacturing in China. The key is knowing who to work with and how to find the right partners.

While there are outsourcing manufacturing pros and cons, finding a good Chinese sourcing agent will enable you to tap into lower labor costs, lower product costs for consumers, a wide range of materials, and flexibility. Starting and maintaining a business is expensive, and one way to keep all costs down is to consider US outsourcing to China.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. A Good Track Record

The agent/consultant should have a strong track record managing overseas facilities. As you’re looking for a Chinese sourcing agent, ask for references.  How do they help resolve timing and quality issues?  How are they paid?  If they simply take a percentage of the invoice value there is no incentive for them to keep your costs low. What do they look for in a manufacturer?  Do they audit facilities to be sure they have the best equipment, staff and quality control processes? Your Chinese consultant should be able to do their due diligence and vet the manufacturer for compliance in all areas of third-party manufacturing. High-quality manufacturing in China takes a consistent, constant, on the ground presence.

2. Understanding of Your Product and Category

Find a consultant who specializes in your industry’s products. You don’t want an agent who sources garden products to handle a highly complex electromechanical product. The agent should be able to work with drawings, designs, and specifications that match the level of sophistication your product requires.  Perhaps you have a seasonal product.  He/she should understand the sense of urgency, especially when dealing with retail customers that demand accurate, on-time shipments of goods.  

3. Logistics Support  

Your consultant should be attentive to how and when your orders are processed and shipped. You have worked hard creating your startup business. The agent you use should be able to forewarn you of any supply-side problems that may arise prior to the promised ship dates. He should also be able to provide support and suggestions to the factory to avoid any possible issues. The main reason you have decided to use manufacturing outsourcing services in China is to provide quality, custom products to your customers. It is vital your consultant works with the manufacturer on every single order.

Like the analysis and hard work you have put into developing your business, so should you invest solid research in identifying the best fit for a third party sourcing agent in China.