Sourcing in China is really getting old in the past ten years. Since business in and out continually in the integrated global market, the novice rushes into trading, googles all tips and instructions, it seems like an article about how to select reliable BBQ-accessories supplier in China is still needed. Let’s digest step by step.

  • Define strategy

Find which sourcing method you would like to choose: factory, trading company, sourcing agent. Check out the definitions at first.

Types of suppliers in China:

    1. OEMs who are able to manufacture products as per your very requirements.
    2. Trading companies, who bridge the connections with importers and factories, and play important roles as sales instead of factories.
    3. Sourcing agents, who represent importers with assistance of procuring products.

We can find out 2 elementary factors to strongly affect importers’ sourcing choice: 

    1. Degree of involvement. From factories to sourcing agents, the participation of business decreases, however,
    2. Buying cost will be increased accordingly.

That’s the key to decision-making. Imaging a small family business in Poland or a graduate in USA starts business in Amazon, sourcing company perhaps is not the best option, trading company suits better; a brand manufacturer in the Netherlands with full-functional product and procurement departments have a-reasonable-quantity order, I bet it is a good solution to find a qualified factory in China.

  • How should we think of the suppliers in China? Factories, Trading companies, or Sourcing agents? 

Good question. A ton of bloggers are obsessed with the pros and cons among Chinese suppliers, do they really have to? Factory with what-you-think-the-lowest-price-should-be and professional production knowledge but more communication cost, limited product range and high MOQ compared with trading company and sourcing agent. Right? Not quite. Although they do have the issues listed above before, time changed fast. While a factory starts trading with importers on his own, how do you think they will leave the margins which was supposed to be trading companies’ to buyers’? You have to understand the procurement is direct from sales department of factory (normally it’s from factory’s own registered trading company), they do have edges in price or say cost, the gap between trading company and factory is not what you thought. Likewise, the MOQ and product range will not be obstacles once factories are willing to export goods.

Trading companies, they do have resourceful sources in China, cooperating with dozens of factories to cater importers, who will find 2-3 factories to fulfill purchase schedule but probably with 1 trading company. What’s more, their sources are frequently verified and collaborated. Quality control, inspection, good payment term can be considered as added values.

Sourcing agents, as far as I see, is one-extra-mile of trading company, running a business at employer’s/importer’s will like price negotiation, supplier identification, quality control. It is a stress free option with one-stop sourcing service, though importers aren’t able to involve with business in China, plus the cost apparently higher than previous 2 options.

We will not say who is better than others, the fact is each method is useful, but not for you probably. Choose the best from where you are standing, this is the objective logic we want to express.

  • Collect sourcing information

Usually a vendor list or CRM system will be available for each purchaser, category buyer or product manager, which will be updating annually. For example, Lidl HK will develop new suppliers each June. Simultaneously, procurement shall involve with big shows like famous outdoor Fair – Spoga+gafa in Cologne, SOLEX in UK, HPB expo in US, etc.

No doubts, you probably find unexpected emails from Chinese suppliers as self-recommendation, if just right in time, why don’t you give it a shot? There are a few other cost-saving sourcing methods listed below you may find helpful:

    1. B2B marketplace. Alibaba, Made-in-China, Global Sources, etc. You can find thousands of suppliers there with BBQ relative keywords, meanwhile, filters can also help you find assured suppliers like years, location, business type, if interested you can find more tips from LOCATION REBEL.
    2. Google. Most of Chinese grill tools suppliers take advantage of digital marketing, establishing a website to propagandize their BBQ products. Company info, product range, core value, contact info you may easily find. Select what suits in your list, and compare afterwards.
    3. Sourcing forum or group. LinkedIn is a quite well-liked business community. Join an outdoor barbecue products group, I bet you will be surprised to find a great many of industry peers, perhaps suppliers. What’s more, Posts and connections will expand your vendors regularly.
    4. Sourcing, buying, purchasing, procuring, anything linked to China, you might find a good recommendation from your friends who got buying experience. You know what, referral orders come up everyday in China. Ask yourself if anyone tried to ask for help or you did? Mouth-to-mouth propagation can yet be regarded as a good sourcing method.
  • Organize information

If you did your homework well (before contacting, you have to get an overall understanding with your potential Chinese partners like location, business type, product range, credibility, etc), now you can probably list at least 3 promising suppliers with details, for example: raw material, price range, quality, service (prompt reaction, professional quotation – packaging, gross/net weight, packing rate, outbox size, image, fluent communication – English speaking, expertise in BBQ industry).  For example: The same type of grill net used chromed plated steel is totally different from that made of stainless steel, not only because raw material, but food class ratings, weight, etc. Without raw material info, exact product description, hardly to make a comparison sheet. However, this is a good way to tell good from mass.

  • Request samples

While one or two suppliers stand out, opt to get samples from them. For Chinese suppliers, normally BBQ accessories will be free of charge but freight collect. Fair enough! Good choice to identify your targeting product.

  • Settle terms

It is going to negotiate further for price and payment term once samples confirmed. Tons of negotiation ways at the last stage posted online, of course you have to chase the best terms to secure your sourcing target and economic benefit, whereas business is two-way, long-term development should be taken into consideration. Besides, quality and price are twin-brothers, do not expect get premium quality at lower expense, you can find those perfect deals nowhere.

We would like to conclude the all-in sourcing method as follows:

  1. Identify sourcing method – by self or outsourcing by agent.
  2. Collect supplier info – from Fairs, mails from Chinese suppliers, B2B market place, Google, sourcing forum or group, recommendations.
  3. Sort out info – select 3-5 providers as prime vendors with different elements, finish comparison sheet.
  4. Verify samples – check samples by weight, size, material, manufacturing technique, function, flaw, etc. Compared with previous one or other suppliers’.
  5. Settle terms – Negotiation with all trading terms. Go and visit physical presence if necessary to make sure it is qualified with production capacity, delivery date, etc.
  6. Written contract. a) Parties with address, telephone, fax number. b) product description, unit price, quantity and quality as per samples or otherwise. c) payment term with agreed trading terms. d) shipping port, destination port e) dispute resolution. f) arbitration clause.

The logic of sourcing in China is almost there, a general solution for most of buyers in different industry. As a product manager or purchaser in outdoor barbecue category, you would better know resources of each BBQ accessories since grill tools are quite wide range from preparing, grilling to cleaning with hundreds of items. Hence, origin of place for above is critical: Trading is one of economic drivers in each state, especially in China. Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu are significant provinces, not only the advantages of coastal cities, but policies, integrated supply and production chain. Let’s break down briefly.

Guangdong. You probably find almost everything in grills there. From gas, charcoal BBQs, spit roaster, grill rotisseries, to BBQ accessories like grill tool set, pizza tools, grill net, grill woks, racks, grill brush, and grill gadgets, etc. The first city you have to go visit should be Yangjiang, which is around 250 km away from Guangzhou Baiyun international airport. You can choose either take high-speed train or bus there within 3 hours. Experiencing the rapid rising 20 years, factories are transforming from individual workshops to modernized manufacturers with automated production lines. Thanks to the global market, part of them are qualified with BSCI, SEDEX and other requirements from world giant chain store like Walmart, Costco, Lidl and so on. Over 90% of grill accessories in the world, well-liked by overseas consumers, are from here. You can probably source all kinds of BBQ accessories from grill tools, grill basket & pan, grill brush and grill gadgets, different suppliers got various advanced product lines as classified above. Foshan, Dongguan, I think, are acquainted names also. Yep, you may find grills, all kinds of potable BBQs, fire pits, spit roaster, grill rotisseries, BBQ covers there. See, definitely you can find all you need there.

Zhenjiang, has a lot of amazing cities with natural edges in hardware. If you find grill tools there, do not be surprised, cause they can also manufacture BBQs same like Guangdong, even though the variety is less than that in Guangdong, it is also a pretty good option. Other places like Hebei, specialize in cast iron BBQ stuffs; Fujian, nice to source ceramic grills.

China is a huge destination to source, each area got its own edges. Large part of BBQ products you are looking for may be syncretistic in multi-areas, however, there would be slightly different among them, it takes time to figure out the mystery even though supply chain firmly established before.

I would like to discuss further about regional disparity in sourcing later on, let’s roll out on this and leave your comments.