Many importers who are purchasing products from China want to find real factory suppliers, not any middlemen or trading companies, though this is not an easy task.
The topic “how to find a factory in China” is discussed frequently in many Facebook/LinkedIn groups and trading forums related to “import from China”. But unfortunately, most answers are useless, such as visiting China in person or searching Gold Supplier on Alibaba. There is no solution that can really work after I search all related topics on the Internet.
However, I found that there is no one thinking about “Why we are not able to find factories”, which I think it’ll make more sense than just asking “How to find factories”. And only when you know the main reasons for failing, then you will figure out the best way to get the factory.
In this article, I’m going to explain why Chinese factories in certain industries are so hard to find, and what kind of factories are more likely to be discovered.
1. Some Special Products Are More Likely Made by Small Factories, Which Are Not Easy to Be Found
What kind of products you are importing usually is the essential thing of whether you can search the real factory because you cannot find factory suppliers for every product? I think this is the main reason why foreign importers fail to find factories.
If your target product is such common types as T-shirts or socks, buying through Alibaba or Google is OK. And it’s still not difficult to find out a real factory supplier, although there’re lots of trading companies after searching.
But the situation will be totally different if you are source some special products, for example, self-stirring mug. Due to its less demand in the market, there are almost no middle/large-scale factories will be its manufacturers. So the manufacturers of this kind of mug are very few and most of them are small factories (probably less than 30 staffs). That’s why the suppliers you searched on the Internet are all trading companies. Then realized that you can’t find the factory.
In addition, there are several other reasons why small factories are difficult to find, which I’ll explain in the following paragraphs.
2. Factories Didn’t Publish Their Information on English Website
All foreign importers, no matter they can speak Chinese or not, are all sourcing suppliers on B2B platforms such as Alibaba or Global Sources or searching on Google. So if a factory doesn’t have any staff who knows English, then it’s impossible for them to publish their product information on the English website. So there is no way for foreign importers to find them.
It’s very common in China that no one can speak English in a small-scale factory, and most staff are doing work related to products and production, and dealing with domestic trading companies. Because they think that it’s expensive and not very easy to build an English sales team.
For example, you have to pay about USD 4,000 annually as the member fee, then you can publish products on Alibaba, which is the so-called “Gold Supplier”. Also, you need to pay at least USD 7,000 every year for employing a full-time English sale, and it’s only for a basic salary. If his working ability is not like you expected, you may get no order.
|One of our suppliers–a small toy factory, who has no English-speaking salesman and only works with domestic trading companies|
The targeted customers of these factories are Chinese trading companies, so they would like to publish their information on Chinese websites, such as 1688 (Chinese Alibaba website, belongs to Alibaba Group), which is the largest Chinese B2B platform in China and has more suppliers than Alibaba.com. One interesting thing is that many suppliers on Alibaba usually go to 1688.com for finding their suppliers.
But it’s very difficult for foreign importers to source suppliers directly on 1688.com. First, you must speak Chinese as your mother tongue or knows Chinese very well. Second, you need to be quite familiar with all kinds of Chinese suppliers. Because trading company suppliers on 1688.com are even more than factories, it’s harder to distinguish them than searching on Alibaba.com.
3. Factories Don’t Know Online Marketing
Even though some factories are Alibaba members and have published products there, it doesn’t mean they certainly will be searched by foreign importers. Because there are many skills to be ranked on the first page of Alibaba searching result, such as keywords settings and Pay for Per Click, which is similar to Google AdWords. Trading companies know more and better than these factories about these skills which help them to be easily searched by importers.
It’s even more difficult to be searched on Google than on Alibaba for factories. Factories must have their own English website, and do SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) work such as marketing on Facebook or LinkedIn, to increase the probability of being searched. Trading companies also send developing letters to potential customers that searched on Google.
That’s why most small factories cannot be found by importers even they are publishing products on Alibaba. Besides, some small factories reply to Alibaba’s inquiries very slow, which may make the importers feel like they are not reliable and professional, so they ignore them. There is one tip for you: those suppliers who are replying to you slowly, or difficult to communicate with, maybe they are the factory.
4. Factory Keeps All Information in Secret If Product Has Patent or Copyright Issue
It’s universally acknowledged that China is producing all kinds of copycat products and exporting every corner of the world. Once there’s a hot-selling product in the market, maybe electronics or even a toothbrush, Chinese factories will start to copy it and sell cheap price. The interesting thing is, in a lot circumstances, importers don’t know the product is a copycat.
It’s usually quite difficult for imports to find real factories of this kind of product as involving patent or copyright issues. These small factories often work with domestic trading companies so that can export this kind of product to other countries. So most importers are buying from trading companies, rather than from real factories.
This circumstance often occurs in lots of electronic products manufactured in Shenzhen. For instance, an automobile recorder we sourced for one European customer. I chose the best price among more than 20 suppliers, but he told me that the products were produced by his friend and entrust him to sell. He also claimed that he won’t take any customers to visit the producing workshop as it needs to be kept as secrecy.
Most importers want to bypass the middlemen or trading companies and purchase directly from factories, but not every importer can actually make it. In this case, you’d better find more suppliers (no matter middles or trading companies) and compare them to select the most suitable one. Or you can attend some fairs which are the best way to find factories, such as the Canton Fair, Global Sources Fair, etc.
Also if you want to learn more about the differences between trading companies and factories, you can check another article: 7 Ways to Verify Chinese Suppliers Are Factories, Not Trading Companies. Learn ways such as find industrial clusters, checking VAT invoices, to find out whether your supplier is a factory or not.
I want to share my own ideas as a factory. Our factory is a textile industry and produces all kinds of kids underwears, in China. First, some online platforms like as 1688, those platforms charge expensive annual fee. In addition, manufactories have to buy advertising service, otherwise, your product will be never shown in the top 10 when customers search keyword of products. We hope can strike a balance between trading companies and my own factory. However, they always take profits as the first priority. They would like to choose the one which can offer cheaper price even though the… Read more »
Thanks for your experience sharing. Firstly, all platforms charge the suppliers or factories that shown in the top 10 a higher fee, it’s reasonable. Because it happens all the time, even in some wholesale markets or in the street, the rent of the best place is the most expensive, and they are the easiest for customers to find. Not all customers buy the products directly from factories. Most of them want to find someone who can service well, help them handle all the issues, and communicate smoothly to finish all the procurement. Such as retail giant Wal-Mart，Nike, Adidas, they don’t… Read more »
I have been surfing on-line more than three hours as oflate, yet I never found any fascinating article like yours.It is pretty price sufficient for me. Personally,if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content as you did, the internet can be a lot more useful than ever before.
Good. very good.
I read this paragraph fully about the resemblance of most up-to-date and earlier
technologies, it’s amazing article.
I want to answer this question as a factory. Our factory is of a wide range of woodworking , metal products, miscellaneous hardware and all kinds of packaging, in China. We have regular business cooperation with foreign traders, but we still want to be able to find foreign customers directly. 1,As the Author say many there is no one can speak English in the factory. This factory is my family’s business, My uncle didn’t think I would go back to my factory until I had enough experience working in a big company. As I see many college students are reluctant… Read more »
Hi kimimk can you contact me? I am looking for a factory just like you described above.
Please contact me. I’m searching for a manufacturer.
Hi Eric, what products you’d like to purchase? You can submit a ticket so that we can contact you.
Hi. I’d like to ask you few more questions on this topic. I am in china at the moment and would like to talk to you on the phone about this topic. Can you please send me an email with your contact details. I would highly appreciate it. Thanks
That s all the aswers i need. Very long time i wonder how to find them
I guess I am a little confused overall- why would China want to hide its factories? I understand that most companies have limited marketing and do not have websites. Is this most likely because of the internet laws there? I would have thought it would be really easy to find a factory! Overall, I think I will go with your advice and just look for suppliers than an actual factory!
what about to check their business registration and see if they are producing or just trading,import export ?
Hi Destiny, of course checking the business license will work, the most import thing is here is checking their “Business Scope”, you can learn the details from our another article: 7 Ways to Verify Chinese Suppliers Are Factories, Not Trading Companies. It has many different ways to verify the Chinese suppliers.
Thank you, it is an informative for most of the importers.