How to Source Chinese Products Without going to China?

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George Tewson


We do china so you don't have to

No, To get high-quality Chinese products that are competitively priced you don’t need to be in China. Let’s understand how to source Chinese Products without going to China:


The internet is a great place to start your sourcing journey. Simply put your request into Google; let’s say you want to source shoes…

Consistently Alibaba turns up time and time again. This is the first system you should be getting comfortable with when trying to source from wholesalers and factories in China.

What’s the difference between wholesalers and factories?

We spoke a little bit about the difference between factories and middlemen; and when to try and work directly with the factory where possible, in our blog post:

An Introduction On How To Source In China: A one-stop source of free information

But what are the fundamental differences? Why does it matter to us when we are looking at how to get ‘stuff” from China while not going?

Wholesalers are the guys who sell to the people, who then go on to sell to consumers (those people usually known as retailers). They deal in medium volumes and with good reason.

If you wanted a batch of, let’s say 300 shoes… (keeping our theme running), now, this may seem a lot of shoes to you: (the Amazon or eCommerce seller) the factory itself would not entertain the idea of switching tooling over just for your small production run.

Sometimes it’s useful knowing the wholesaler. Especially if you want a medium number of items.


The factory, on the other hand, is where the shoes are produced. Their key industry is making things. Not necessarily marketing and selling things… Which is why some factories sell solely to wholesalers, others sell directly, and some have their store. It gets a bit complicated here…

If we take Apple (you know the phone people, right?), as an example. Apple has factories, they sell to Wholesalers, (your big purchase players who sell on to retail) Apple also sell directly to retail; Walmarts, Curry’s, PC World, and to add a bit more complexity in there; they also sell in their retail outlets.

Now I am not suggesting that every factory in China has such diverging sales tactics as Apple, but it is a casing point, factories can and do have very complex sales routes.

Bypass it all by getting us to do the hard work for you: Services We Offer

Why does this matter to me?

Factories don’t deal with small orders, wholesalers do (within reason), wholesalers need to take a cut somewhere and it’s only through knowing what that threshold is that you can capitalise upon the situation, to gain the cheapest possible price at the best quality.

So again, Alibaba and the places that you usually look to in China, have both wholesalers and factories. “Directly from the factory” does not mean you’re dealing DIRECTLY with the factory.

Having someone on the ground is a must, given that this is just one of the many nuances of dealing in China. 

Now, to buy things in China, and more importantly what do we recommend the best route is.

I have found a product on Alibaba (or any other similar site), now what?

Contact the factory or wholesaler, and provide them with a description of what you need, colours, logo’s, pretty much everything you want with the product.

Make an RFQ, (you can read more on how we recommend you make a Request For Quotation here).

An RFQ is a document that holds all the information that you would provide the supplier to accurately produce your product.

It’s also is a good way of ensuring everything is documented in the event of something going wrong.

Ensure that you are accurate here.

Its how the supplier will quote you on your products, subsequently its how you will understand how much profit is in the item.

They should be pretty accurate in their quotation, more so if the stock you are buying is general catalogue articles.

The more detail that you provide, the more accurate the company will be in fulfilling your quote.

Additionally the ability to rectify any design issues, at a later stage, will be greatly in your favour, but only if documented here.

With a quote received, its time to send some money over.

No one is going to do anything without the call of cold hard cash banging on the door.

This is the same here in China, or indeed wherever you are.

Companies usually offer an initial downpayment plan of around 30%. With the remaining payment being sent before shipment.

The items are now either produced or, packaged from the warehouse and (after the remaining 70% received) shipped to your decided POE (port of entry/ exit).

You get your items shipped to you and everyone’s a winner!


Ok, so unless you were born yesterday… You can see there are some gaping holes in the above strategy.

What about quality?

  • How do I know the factory makes my product and not some sort of semipermeable cheese (unless you are in the market for semipermeable cheese)?
  • Can I trust these guys?
  • Do I know the product being shipped is to a satisfactory standard?

Honestly, it’s hard answering these questions when sat on the other side of the world.

All you have to deal with is broken English email and a phone number that just sings to you when you phone (which by the way is normal in China).

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Deal with Quality, not just quantity

The only 100% sure-fire way to ensure you are dealing with quality in Chinese factories is to have someone on the ground, on your side.

On your team.

A team player who not only knows how to capture and report out but a player that can hold those suppliers to account in the event of quality issues.

Here at Merchsprout, we do just that, we offer you the ability to save time and money by doing the hard work for you.

We offer several services that allow you to remotely oversee operations.

If you want to learn more about how we do what we do and the services we offer, have a look here.

Source Chinese Products Without Going China

If you want to just get in touch, we are a friendly bunch and honestly just like hearing from you. Contact us below,  leave a comment or contact us on Linked in Here.

Dealing remotely is very much a possibility, have the right team members on your side

Source Chinese Products Without Going to China is not only a possibility it’s relatively easy when you have the right team on your side. We are the right team for Sourcing, Auditing and Quality control.