November 15, 2022

Facts About Chinese Suppliers You Need to Know

Ok, real quick, here’s what you need to know about looking for Chinese suppliers:

The US Powerball Jackpot estimates your chances of winning at 1:292,000,000. Yes, 1 in 292.2 million. To put that into perspective: Even if you bought one million tickets, your chances are still slim at 1:292. 

But it’s very easy to buy the ticket, you just stop at your local 7-11 on your way home and grab one for $2. 

Why am I talking about the US lottery? 

Because that’s what you’re doing when you try to find a Chinese supplier to service your product overseas. It’s extremely easy to find one, but the chances of your product ever seeing the light of day in its market are slim to none. 

I know that analogy isn’t exactly a perfect fit, but it isn’t supposed to be. I’m simply trying to push the point with an exaggerated example because I’ve had so many entrepreneurs and companies come to MorphoMFG after wasting $50,000 on average, by working with random Chinese suppliers and manufacturers. 

For those who prefer video content, here’s a video summary of what you’re about to read below.

How do I know finding the right supplier in China is such a pain in the a**?

Before you read on, it’s crucial you understand this:

  • What I am about to share is useless to you if you’re looking to resell existing products. So if you’re a trader… Then you might as well hit the ‘back’ button and try another website.
  • This is only for you if you have an idea for a unique product, and you demand the most efficient way possible for bringing it to market.

If you’re looking to manufacture your own thing, this will be extremely useful:

A decade ago I moved to China, became fluent in Mandarin, and started networking for my manufacturing business, MorphoMFG. I spent years going to different suppliers and factories in China every day. And I mean that literally, around 3+ years of visiting factories in city, city, and city, every day. 

I met a lot of people, plant managers, owners, product engineers, suppliers, and workers in those factories, how important quality is to them, how they handle different kinds of products, etc.

But the most important of all: I realized how they manage their Western clients (that’s you!). 

What I learned after years of visiting factories in China and 1,000+ Western clients 

Here are just some of the things you’d be going into: 

  • Chinese suppliers are very careful about what they share when they work with you.
  • If any issues in manufacturing arise, it is very likely you will be the last person to find out.
  • They’re also very unlikely to inform you about production delays or ask questions if they aren’t sure about your product specifications.

Why does this happen? 

Simple: Their priority is to just ‘make it anyway’ and be done with it. It’s the quantity game that’s been predominant in China for the past 20 years. 

And that’s what the whole shtick about China really is. Yes, this is the best place you can go to get quality at better prices, and I doubt anywhere else in the world has as many experts as China does, but the catch is you’ve got to know your people. 

The dominant norm in Chinese manufacturing is ‘take the money and make the thing’. And this is fine if you’re looking to outsource manufacturing for 10,000 knock-off watches and resell them in the West. 

That’s what most of them will assume you want. And that’s why their priorities will be speed & money. They want an assembly line of clients just like you. Get the deposit. Deliver whatever just get it done. Rinse and repeat. 

This story is a lot longer, but here’s the summary: 

Chinese suppliers are not all some shady, evil businesses looking to trick you. Most of them are simply not in the business of providing high-quality service and expertise necessary to get your unique product off the ground.

Even with those that have no ill intent towards you, you’ll have trouble explaining you want quality. And even if you did, good luck relying your investment & long-term plan on factories & suppliers with non-existent quality control or in-house engineers. 

30% of MorphoMFG clients are people who didn’t know what you know now 

When entrepreneurs come to MorphoMFG and say “Ok, we want to try again, but for real this time.” they have already wasted $50,000 on average. 

And of course we love the new business every time it comes in, but honestly, I’d much rather they came to us in the first place, instead of giving it a go on their own and wasting so much time, investment, and losing so much faith in China overall. It’s just easier to work with people when their original enthusiasm for their project is untouched.

So if you’re on the hunt for a Chinese manufacturer or supplier, I ask you to do yourself a favor and get in touch. Obviously there is no obligation of any kind, the call is complementary and we do it because we’re always on the lookout for the next big product that’s going to go viral in the Western market. 

Our bottom line is your bottom line. We help you get your product designed for manufacturing, then we can do a rapid prototyping phase to test out the market. If there’s big enough interest, we can move into mass production and this is where we both earn the real money and make the real moves. 

And our key difference is of course our vetted supplier network that took years to build, and naturally our communication, quality control, tracking, testing, and manufacturing experts that have already done for other brands what you want done for yours. Here’s proof

What You Get From Googling “Chinese Suppliers” and what those results mean

If you Google “Chinese Suppliers” right now, you’ll get offered advice to go visit the Canton Fair or the Yiwu Market. But this is outdated advice. These types of events are the early 2000s ‘toy’ market. This is quantity, not quality. These things are basically an offline Alibaba, you go there to pick a product that exists and order a 1000 units to resell in the West. 

The results and the advice you get are not based on developing a new product. They’re for brand knock-off trading and reselling, because that’s what China has been about for a long time. 

Yiwu Market

Yiwu is basically a garage sale. Toys, gifts, outdoor furniture. It’s a big mixed bag. Everyone sells the same stuff and there is no idea developing or creative problem solving here. It’s the same experience you’d have if you went into your local cheap store in the early 2000s. 

You go to Yiwu to negotiate prices for cheap stuff you want to resell in the West. You go into a store, you pick a model, negotiate, and have them ship 1000 units to your warehouse in the states. That’s it. 

The Canton Fair 

In the early 2000s, the Canton Fair was the main thing in town. The big party you have to go to, and it was huge. Thousands of companies would gather there and millions would visit. But it’s the same story as with Yiwu. You go there and someone says: “Here’s a TV we have, we’ll ship you 100 units for this price.”

But the Canton Fair became less of a thing once the Internet started becoming a bigger deal. And more recently, COVID made it near to impossible to travel to China, and that’s why the Canton Fair is doing an online thing now as well. Again, it’s almost the same as going on Alibaba and picking out what you want to resell.


Bottom line is: 

If you’re making a custom product, an ODM, then you have no business going to these types of places. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but why would you put the future of your idea on the chance of finding a needle in a haystack? 

We can transform your napkin sketch idea into a sustainable, successful business in the West

We’ve done it plenty of times in the last dozen years having worked with 1,000+ Western clients. Here’s their reviews and thoughts.

  1. Manufacturing contractor that’s on the ground in China
  2. With experience working with Western clients
  3. And bringing unique product ideas from scratch to market 
  4. With in-house engineers that know what questions to ask
  5. Vetted list of suppliers who’ve already been tested for the Western market

Basically a turn-key solution in China that can guide you in transforming your napkin sketch product idea into a long-term, sustainable, successful business.

MorphoMFG has worked with 1000+ Western clients,

Get in touch now, no obligation, if you’re the real deal, we want to work with you.

Thanks for your time, hope you’ve learned something today, and feel free to find more useful tips on Chinese manufacturing on our Blog, or through our YouTube channel where I post all kinds of tips on working with the Chinese.

About the author

Josh Fairbairn

CEO of MorphoMFG, fluent in Mandarin, Blogger, and Youtuber. Josh loves interesting materials and the craftsmanship that goes into creating innovative products - watches, tech, games, whisky, leather, wood, blockchain & electronics. Josh and his team in Guangzhou, China are striving to create (& consume) the world’s highest quality products. Partnering with entrepreneurs globally to help solve the world's problems - whether small or large.

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