The Definitive Guide To Product Sourcing from China

If you’ve ever wondered:

“How to buy from China and sell online?”

“How do I find a niche and profitable products my competition doesn’t know about?”

“How do I know if a product fit for my target customers?”

“What’s the best way to develop a best-selling product on the niche market?”

“What are the tools and platforms should I use for product sourcing?”

This definitive guide is right for you!

Product sourcing from china

With all the talk in the sales business field today about best-selling products or an amazing idea of popular products it’s easy to forget a little thing that happens to be the foundation of sales business: product sourcing and research.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that without product sourcing and research, there’s no such thing as sales business (or at least profitable and stable sales business).

Product sourcing and research are like a map for your sales business: they tell you where to go and whether you’re making progress or not.

They can also help you identify the supply chain components of your target market, such as product origin, sales channels, and more.

In fact, product sourcing and research are to understand the target market from the root and they are the first and most important steps of your sales business.

To Benefit from Product Sourcing and Research, You Need to Know How to Use Them

Product Sourcing Definition

Product sourcing can be most simply defined as “Finding the suppliers (or potential source) of the Product”. And research means systematic investigation.

Product sourcing and research are digging out the (potential) suppliers that wholesale products and verifying if the suppliers are matched to your business by performing a detailed investigation of them.

Product Sourcing Process

If you can grasp the skill of finding sources of awesome products for your business — you’ll not only benefit from more sales opportunities – but you’ll also know your business better than your competition.

In spite of the importance of product sourcing, most business owners or buyers’ process of product sourcing and research look something like this:

Well today, forget these 1-2-3-4 steps.

Since now you have a well-rounded guide that’s going to show you EXACTLY how to find suppliers that could grow your business.

And when you improve your sales business by the right suppliers, you’ll watch your own business becoming outstanding in your industry – landing you more sales leads, sales in the process.

But there’s a question:

Before you conduct product sourcing and research to find the right suppliers, you need to identify niche products in your industry.

Once you find these niche products, you can tap into untapped sales opportunities that your competition doesn’t know about.

Niche Products: Where (Smart) Product Sourcing and Research Starts

As I mentioned earlier, most people begin the process by finding existing products from the market, like the retailer store, competitors’ channel.

If you attempt to start and run your sales business in a crowded and popular product section or market, you will face having a pretty hard uphill battle fighting against the existing competition.

A niche product or market is an essential part of conducting a product sourcing for your sales business (online or offline). And you could hardly find a niche product idea from the existing market.

Why? Because the products displayed in the existing market or product category are very similar and competitive, there is no chance of coming up with new niche product ideas. At the end of the day, your effort just made another similar item.

Here’s an example:

When we search “work light” on Amazon and we could find a lot of similar items that are listed in the results (The same situation happens on physical stores like Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, etc.).

amazon similar work light

How to Quickly Find Niche Products (Market)

You may ask:

“What is a Niche Product or Market, exactly?”

Niche Product Definition

A niche product is just a product of a niche market (a subset of the market which a specific product is focused). Providing niche products will help define possible product features designed to meet specific market needs, product price ranges, production quality, branding, and marketing.

However, while the meaning of niche product (or market) may be simple, the actual finding one is not. It’s extremely important to use your own existing experience or knowledge to come up with a good niche idea. Otherwise, you’ll pay too much for your products and your competition will beat you every time.

Reddit

Opportunities are your target clients hang out on Reddit.

This means, with a little investigation, you can find fistfuls of Niche Product ideas with ease.

Here’s how:

Our company has served a lot of customers who are selling LED lights for applications of household, camping, DIY and more. And sometimes we are required to offer new product ideas for their reference.

So, we’d head over to Reddit. Then search for a wide topic that target consumers are interested in … and something that’s related to what our client sells.

Here is an example: use keyword “work light”

After browsing a few pages, there is a result looks interesting (211 upvotes).

work light reddit

Work light which is made by a DIYer

niche product idea reddit camping lantern

There is a very close item in the market (a unique one): camping light (2000 lumens) with stepless dimmer switch

Kickstarter

Similar to Reddit, Kickstarter is another goldmine. There are many creative product ideas here for crowdfunding.

LitraTorch is a versatile LED light which is started on Kickstarter in Dec 2016.

litratorch kickstarter

Check another one as below which is similar to LitraTorch: Kube light launched in 2018.

As Seen on TV

Trending products are full around in As Seen on TV industry which is an often-overlooked goldmine of niche product research.

Here is a case (share with you after getting permission from her) about 2 years ago.

Our client who runs a Shopify store for household application field. She wants us to help her sourcing latex garden glove to complement her existing product range. Claws garden glove as an extra option to be submitted to her by our product sourcing specialist. Meanwhile, we also locate the vendor of Garden Genie Gloves.

garden glove claw

So, head over to Google and type in As Seen on TV + “keywords of your industry” to see if there are amazing niche product ideas.

Get Yourself Ready to Sourcing from China

Compared with domestic product sourcing, international sourcing (refers to Asian countries like China, India where the cost of production is generally much lower) allows you to take advantage of low labor costs and obtain higher profit margins.

China is known as the world factory due to low production costs and a complete industrial foundation in the world, lots of small business owners can make their business high-profit margin when they import from China.

There are many one-stop procurement platforms such as Alibaba that can significantly reduce the difficulty of overseas sourcing procurement.

More advantages below for your reference:

  • Get a small order done easily
  • A high number of suppliers to choose from
  • Trending products could be got from China wholesale market easily

Product Sourcing Tools

Alibaba.com

More than 8 million gold suppliers on Alibaba covers almost all industries from pencil to agriculture machine, all your products could be found here.

The most important things you should know about Alibaba.com

Gold Suppliers

The free version is no longer provided, there is a membership fee must be paid by Alibaba seller (4650 USD/year at least). But it doesn’t mean you will never be scammed in Alibaba.com. In all, Alibaba.com is a good platform for product sourcing. Here are 7000+ reviews about Alibaba.com

Minimum Order Quantity (AKA: MOQ)

Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) is the quantity of the order that the supplier is willing to accept.

Most suppliers’ MOQ is negotiable, so don’t be discouraged if your quantity is not matched. And telling the suppliers that you must place a trial order to test the target market before a decent order, most suppliers will support you if you are willing to accept a reasonable extra fee.

Alibaba Hacks

Bringing The Conversation Out of Alibaba System

Why? The suppliers could find your activities in Alibaba.com, such as what are the products you have searched for? How many inquiries you have sent before? Your IP address and more. Disadvantages are obvious, suppliers will know too much about you and quote the price accordingly.

So, I am not going to teach you how to use a contact form or trademanager. You should conduct product souring on the Alibaba and bring the conversation out of it. Many tips about contact suppliers will be provided here!

Do Not Confirm The Price Too Quickly

During negotiating with suppliers, give it time to waiting for the best price from each of them. Make yourself outstanding by being a professional buyer (at least trying to be) will let suppliers value your inquiries since there are a lot of inquiries that will go to suppliers’ inbox.

NEVER Pay 100% Up Front

Negotiate 20/80% or 50/50% payment terms with suppliers. Hire 3rd party inspection company on your own before shipping.

Suppliers Evaluation

Well, Alibaba.com has such a feature called “Onsite Check” (The supplier will be checked by the 3rd inspection company) – it could only give you a rough impression on this supplier. Conducting a background investigation is necessary by Google.

Monthly visitors: about 104 million
Resources for reference
Register an account on Alibaba.com
Sourcing product on Alibaba.com

  • alibaba monthly visitors
  • alibaba visitors locations
  • alibaba visitors sources

Made-in-China

Made-in-China.com (As known as MIC), is less well-known than Alibaba and owns less market share in China. MIC is specialized in industrial products. MIC has two kinds of memberships, Gold supplier (4700 USD/year) and Diamond supplier (9500 USD/year).

Monthly visitors: about 12 million
Resources for reference
Register an account on Made-in-China.com
Sourcing product on Made-in-China.com

  • MIC monthly visitors
  • MIC visitors locations
  • MIC visitors sources

Global Source

Global Sources is a mature multi-channel B2B foreign trade platform. Suppliers to be provided with offline exhibitions, business publications, and sales industry advisory reports. And the major strengths of Global Sources are electronics and gifts. Promoting international trade through media is its core business.

  • globalsources monthly visitors
  • globalsources visitors locations
  • globalsources visitors sources

Hktdc

Hktdc is running directly by the Hong Kong Government and dedicated to promoting the Hong Kong trade.

There are many products could be found through Hktdc such as lighting products, gifts, accessories, and toys. According to the feedback from existing clients of our company that these goods are well-doing. On the other hand, the industrial goods are not Hktdc’s strength.

Online Shopping and Wholesale Platforms: DHgate, AliExpress, and GearBest

At present, many Chinese suppliers are developing multi-channel sales. As one of the means of cross-border e-commerce, it is also a form of sales that Chinese suppliers focus on, so there are also manufacturers, trading companies, etc.

DHgate is founded in 2004 and the CEO of DHgate is as know as the former CEO of Amazon.cn. Major products of DHgate are tablet computers, cell phones, electronics and wedding dresses.

AliExpress is the branch of Alibaba.com. The main visitors of AliExpress are from Russia (23%) who shopping for products such as electronics, fashion, phone accessories, computer electronics, and toys.

GearBest is mainly doing online shopping and it is a brand of Shenzhen Globalegrow E-commerce Co., Ltd. which owns china brands for dropshipping. – Not good since the company uses a grey hat SEO to improve their ranking of the website. And the service is not good as well.

1688.com (Secret Weapon)

1688.com is a domestic B2B platform website in China for wholesale and drop shipping. It is a Chinese version of Alibaba.com, companies in China will buy or wholesale products from it and trading companies will sourcing products for their clients.

A typical sourcing process through 1688.com

Start Sourcing Products in China

You’ve made it this far. This alone is a huge achievement but you can’t rest are your laurels quite yet. Now let us get started to conduct a product sourcing and find suppliers.

Company Website and Email

Checking the email address is the first thing that Chinese sales to do.
yourpersonalemail@gmail.com
yourname@companyname.com (normally, normally, a prompt reply will be sent to this kind of email address)

Not yet have ones? You should have them (use tools like strikingly or Wix to get a domain and company website easily) since they will get yourself in front of these buyers who use a personal email address and let suppliers value your inquiry.

Appreciate their success at the exhibitions

Normally, the suppliers with strength will attend domestic or (and) overseas fairs. Contact them by acting as a physical visitor to their booth will be an easy way to cut early communication links and talk about the real deal.

Requesting A Quote

A lot of articles out there to tell you it is important to write a detailed email. I am not going to say here, since when many people did that you shouldn’t.

Here is an example:

Hi,

This is John Doe and I am the product manager of XYZ Company.

Glad to visit your booth at Canton Fair and I am interested in getting your product model#.

John Doe
XYZ Company
Company Address
www.xyzcompany.com
Your phone numbers