How to find a Chinese manufacturer?

Start your treasure hunt through research and making as many contacts as possible, then watch your “thingamajig” take off.

China is still a choice location for manufacturing operations for many companies around the world. With the recent buzz around manufacturing in China and particularly the growth of manufacturing as a industry in other countries trying to compete with China, we decided it was a great time to focus on China with a mini series on manufacturing in China.

You have a product idea and you want a China manufacturer to produce it for you. But you’re on a limited budget so sourcing in China seems like a good idea. You know that China has many low-cost manufacturers. and you want to find a supplier in China because of the low product development cost and low production cost there. But how do you find the right one? To successfully find a suitable China supplier, you need a strategy. This strategy will consist of awareness, knowledge and a good amount of homework. Below are some practical steps to find a suitable Chinese supplier for you.

You can get leads on potential Chinese manufacturers from many sources, including:

• Your industry trade association

• Recommendations from business contacts and online or offline networking groups

• Online directories of overseas manufacturers, such as Global Sources
and Alibaba

• Your nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or SCORE office

Canton Fair

Canton Fair Commonly known as the Canton Fair, the China Import and Export Fair is a trade expo designed to connect Chinese manufacturers and wholesalers with buyers and exporters. It has been running since 1957 and held its 120th session in October 2016. Though attending a major trade fair might be intimidating at first, gaining access is easier than one might expect, and allows for meeting a large number of suppliers in person in a short amount of time. Keep in mind that most suppliers are at Canton Fair to sell their finished goods, not to find clients for bespoke manufacturing.

• International trade shows.

While there are trade shows in China where you can meet manufacturers, a better place to start is attending U.S. trade shows that attract Chinesemanufacturers.

Trade Show News Network has global trade show listings.

At the show, you can look for exhibitors selling products similar to yours and make connections.

Understand what you need. You need to first know what is available and have a way to categorize the information. Properly categorizing the suppliers will help you understand what you need.

Do some preliminary Internet research to further develop your category system towards your specific needs.

Create a data table to help you record the search result, so the job can be done more efficiently and effectively. The table should include columns like company name, contact information, business scale and scope, category check boxes (important), and notes.
Use search engines to search information related to your product name. 

The first 100 results would be the most relevant websites related to the product of your concern. You can also find your competitors’ information and develop a better sense of market segment and marketing channels.

Use trustworthy B2B websites or popular business directory websites to obtain very structured information for Chinese suppliers.

Famous B2B websites providing valid information of hundreds of thousands of suppliers are great choices. Be sure to use local ones, such as,,, as you can contact Chinese suppliers on these websites and get quick responses. The directory websites are also excellent resources to obtain industrial knowledge.

Narrow down the list of suppliers you want to work with to a manageable amount.

At this stage, you may already know what your real needs are and what is available. Initiate contact with the suppliers you want to work with, and further develop relationships with them.
Find a Chinese local business to help you.

The local men know how to check the supplier, some special business manner is unknown by the foreign ones, once you have a local guide, all your business work will be easy.

Be sure to ask:

• Do you specialize in certain materials? Do you work with specific materials, for example, neoprene, nylon, cotton, plastic or metal?
• Do you work with small companies?
• What are your engineering and tooling capabilities?
Start your treasure hunt through research and making as many contacts as possible, then watch your “thingamajig” take off.

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