So you want to outsource to China? Anybody can tell you that the key is to find a good partner, but what does that mean? Exactly, how should you go about outsource manufacturing in China? At the outset, visiting sites like Alibaba or Global Sources can open you up to a whole world of Chinese trading. There are a lot of less than desirable agents out there, and to think otherwise would be doing yourself a disservice.

This is the reason why you should always conduct your background research on the company that you want to partner with. Obviously, the bigger the investment, the more extensive the due diligence will be.

Below are some tips that will help you find and assess your new outsource manufacturer:


Find a China sourcing agent

The trading partner will handle all the logistics, the permits, and licenses, ensure a stable supply and delivery chain, deal with bureaucracy and ensure quality control, among others. You don’t know the culture so you may need an intermediary.

Protect yourself by hiring a lawyer

Having a Chinese lawyer on retainer can go a long way in protecting your business.

Go to sourcing websites

Be careful, however, about putting all your trust on the companies listed there. Alibaba and Global Sources may have the mechanism to weed out the bad apples, as well as encourage feedback from previous customers, but don’t trust the information 100%.

Talk to manufacturers themselves

Once you have a small list of four or six companies from the sourcing websites, you will have to visit them in China and talk to them personally. There’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting to gauge their capacity.

Visit the office or manufacturing plant

If you are going to outsource production to China, make sure that it can handle the expected delivery. The only way to do that is to visit the manufacturing plant.

Trade shows and exhibits

You can visit and come up with a shortlist of names. It’s important that you be there on the exhibit date for a personal one-on-one with the outsourcing manufacturing company.

Business licenses

While this will not necessarily ensure quality manufacturing in China, at least you are assured that the business is legitimate and whether it’s listed in the Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC). A Chinese sourcing agent can make sure to double-check the permit with the local government because for all intents and purposes, these certificates are all written in Chinese characters.

Creating the prototype

It’s important that the Chinese manufacturer is able to give you the prototype according to your specifications. This is the first step before you decide on outsourcing your manufacturing needs in the East. In most cases, this is the deciding factor to move on to the partnership or not.

When you are dealing with Chinese manufacturers, there are outsourcing production pros and cons. But you can maximize the advantage and reduce the risks with proper preparation. A good Chinese sourcing agent will also be invaluable for the success of your first partnership with the outsource manufacturer. The operative word here, of course, is good.