2.2 – Supplier Sourcing

“Supplier Directories” such as Alibaba and Global Sources are the largest and most widely used on the internet today.

Both supplier directories contain a vast array of figures and data for you to use when creating your shortlist of potential suppliers.

If you would like to gain further confidence that you have chosen the best supplier then you can use our automated supplier checking tool which will rate each supplier against a range of essential criteria:

Online Automated Supplier Checker

How many suppliers should I contact?

As you will see when you begin searching for your product supplier on Alibaba or Global Sources there are hundreds, even thousands of suppliers and manufacturers all competing for your business.

Even if you did have time to send them all an email, things will get incredibly time consuming if and when they all start replying. It is all about quality, not quantity.

You should be looking to shortlist a maximum of 12 verified suppliers that you have found using set criteria and personal judgement regarding professionalism and customer service also.

Take your time and review as many suppliers as possible. Be more flexible/strict on your approach depending on the number of suppliers in the industry that you are looking at as it can vary massively.  

Essential Criteria for Shortlisting Suppliers

Company Overview

  1. Company Name: 

Companies registered in China generally have the city or province within their Chinese name. Provinces are larger than cities so you can use this to gain an understanding of the size of operation of the company.

For example:

Tianjin Company Ltd (Smaller)
Hebei Company Ltd (Larger)

  • Product Scope: Look at the suppliers key products and ensure that yours is listed. If the manufacturer has a vast range of varied products that have no obvious connection it may be that they are a selling agent or middleman. Manufacturers generally have a slimmer scope of products and churn out only those. Choosing a manufacturer as opposed to an agent is key if you are looking for the best quality and price combination.
  • Product Compliance: Compliance is key. Manufacturers who have previously manufactured compliant products will usually have this listed in their profile or specific product information. It is safest to look for this at outset rather than assume and keep fingers crossed.
  • Quality Management System & CSR / Social Compliance: Does the supplier claim to be ISO 9001, BSCI or Sedex certified? If yes, they are more likely to be a ‘quality supplier’.
Please Note: The above is just to be used as a guide.
Although the major supplier directories do carry out checks and verification, the suppliers can alter their company introduction without directory confirmation.

Reports, Audits & Certificates

Experienced manufacturers will upload audit and certification documents. These can be an easy way to assess if a supplier should be shortlisted.

  • Product test reports
  • Product certificates
  • Factory audits
  • Production line audits
  • Quality management certificates
  • CSR / Social compliance audits

Verified Company Information

  1. Registered Capital: The Registered Capital indicates the supplier’s scale of operations. A supplier with a very low capital (i.e., RMB 100,000) is most likely a trading company, while a supplier with, say, RMB 20,000,000, is likely a manufacturer.
  • Year of Registration: Albeit not the most important criteria, a supplier’s history has some significance.
  • Registered Address: The suppliers, registered, operational address. However, these often tend to be outdated.

Using our “Online Automated Supplier Verifier”

We have put together a supplier verifier tool for you to use when deciding whether or not to add a supplier to your shortlist.

The overall assessment takes into account the following factors:

  • Company Registered Capital (RMB)
  • Year of Company Formation
  • Company Name Specifics
  • Product Scope
  • Product Compliance
  • Quality Management System
  • Social Compliance / CSR

Once you have answered the above questions using the tool, an automated supplier score will be generated along with one of the following ratings:

  • Excellent (Add to shortlist)
  • Qualified (Add to shortlist)
  • Average (Do not add to shortlist)
  • Not Qualified (Do not add to shortlist)

Alibaba / Global Sources: Finding Supplier Company information

Alibaba: Search for your product and view the “Company Profile” tab.

Global Sources: Search for your product and view the “Company Information” and “Verified Information” tabs.