8 Questions to Ask When Sourcing from China


Online marketplaces like Alibaba have made it easy to find high-quality suppliers from all over the world, but if you want to source from China, it’s not enough to just order the cheapest parts on the market. You also need to be able to control your supplier and make sure that they can deliver what you need on time and within budget. To do this, follow these eight questions before finalizing your supply chain in China.

1) Can we inspect your Factory and Shipping Documents before we place our order with you ?

When working with a supplier, ask for time to go on an IATF 16949 audit and Quality control china inspection of their facility before you place your first order. If they decline (and they almost certainly will), it’s probably a good sign that there’s something fishy going on. Any good supplier will be more than happy to show off their operation and answer questions about how they produce your product. You should never have to ask more than once or twice if you’re making business sense for both parties; if you’re having trouble getting access, it’s better not to work with them in my opinion.

2) Are they IATF 16949 Auditor Certified?

Is your supplier IATF 16949 Audit Certified? While some industry experts will tell you that it’s not 100% necessary for a supplier to be IATF 16949 Auditor Certified, we believe that’s only part of an effective QA program. An auditor-certified supply chain also includes A Quality Control service. A compliant Supplier Code of Conduct. Several other key elements, which you can read about here: How To Audit Your Manufacturing Supply Chain. And, if suppliers fail your audit? You stop doing business with them. An IATF certification is one of several checkpoints you should consider when looking for a quality manufacturer in China and/or Vietnam, but it isn’t enough on its own.

3) Do they have any Quality Scars on their Products?

Just like you, your potential suppliers might have scars on their products. The easiest way to check for product scars is via Alibaba Supplier Search. Enter their name and make sure they show at least one result (even if it’s negative). On each result page, there’s a Products & Services section that lists all of their offerings. Click through each one and examine the quality of their past products. If you notice patterns like poor stitching or visible defects, think twice about working with them in future (these issues are usually indicative of larger quality control problems). It also wouldn’t hurt to contact some previous customers in order to get more insight into how they work as a manufacturer.

4) Do they provide Test Reports/Certificates at No Cost?

Test reports are essential for any product that you plan on selling. You should ask your potential supplier to provide them at no cost. The tests are cheap and easy to do, so there’s no reason for them not to—especially if they know you plan on ordering a large amount of products. Most suppliers will be willing to supply these reports if they believe they can make more money by doing so, but it’s always worth asking. If there is a charge for test reports, find out what type of information will be covered in the report, how often they are updated and why there is a cost attached.

5) Do they Offer Extended Warranties at No Additional Cost?

Although you may not need to purchase an extended warranty, as your suppliers will likely stand behind their products, it can be useful information. If your supplier does offer warranties at no additional cost, that should tell you something about their confidence in their work and product quality. It could also make it easier for you to negotiate prices and order volumes (it’s cheaper if they offer warranties at no additional cost). Of course, there is no guarantee your supplier will honor a warranty; after all, they’re not going out of pocket! But if there is no price premium on warranties and you like how your supplier treats customers generally, then feel free to ask them about any claims or issues that might arise.

6) What is their MOQ [Minimum Order Quantity] Policy?

You can find out a lot about a supplier by simply asking how their minimum order quantity policy works. Depending on your business, it might be advantageous to create larger orders at once or break up smaller orders. It’s important to know upfront what will work best for you so you don’t have any hidden costs or extra time invested down the road. Suppliers that comply with ISO 9001 and 14001 ensure best quality control and also have IATF 16949 certification for their quality management system . This is a third-party certification of a company’s adherence to international standards of quality management.

7) Does it include Plating, Coating and Painting in the MOQ [Minimum Order Quantity]

If a supplier does not allow for plating, coating and painting in their MOQ, there is a good chance they are doing it themselves. This can be very dangerous as many manufacturers have been caught using harmful chemicals that have been known to cause cancer and other serious side effects. You should always ask about what processes they will do themselves and what processes they outsource because you want them all done correctly. The more information you have, the better off you will be when it comes time to make a purchasing decision. So make sure your supplier is willing to work with you on getting as much of your order as possible covered by an MOQ instead of individual orders if possible.