How To Buy Direct From China: Beginners Guide 2022

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Step-By-Step Process To Buy From China

When you buy from China, you need to know what steps to take and when to take them. You need to put in the effort to find trustworthy suppliers, to have a full grasp of the manufacturing process, and to understand shipping logistics, customs clearance, and delivery.

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Performing Due Diligence on Suppliers

You could have a fantastic product and world-class shipping logistics, but it won't mean anything if you're working with a low-quality supplier. You can find suppliers on platforms like Alibaba, but the easiest way to know your supplier is trustworthy is through a business referral or through the recommendation of a sourcing agent, like Kanary. 

It's possible to vet suppliers yourself, but it requires time and patience. Be sure to request samples, take note if suppliers are unwilling or unable to answer questions, and don't be afraid to restart the search process if a supplier isn't up to your standards.

Producing the Product

​​After you find a supplier, you need to focus on getting your product made. Your supplier needs clear, understandable expectations for what you want out of your product, and your business should be prepared to conduct some kind of quality control. A physical presence at the factory is the only way to guarantee quality control, which is an included service Kanary provides. 

If you can't physically be at the factory, ask your supplier for regular photos and videos of the production process. They should show you finished products, whether or not products are palletized and properly stored, and evidence that your manufacturing instructions are being followed.

Shipping, Customs Clearance, and Delivery

Even after you get a quality product manufactured, you still need to import it cost-effectively. That requires intense logistical planning from the factory and any temporary storage to the port, tracking deliveries while they're in transit, and making sure you have the appropriate documents and paperwork to pass customs.

Benefits of Buying From China

Lower Costs (Production, Labor, and Assembly)

Lowering costs is front and center for any business, and buying from China offers a unique opportunity to decrease expenses while scaling. General production, labor, and assembly costs are all dramatically lower in China. Buying overseas may feel intimidating, but partnering with someone like Kanary can make it easy and highly profitable.

High Output in Less Time (Scalability)

Costs can delay scaling, but long timeframes can put a damper on exciting growth. The manufacturing industry in China is well-developed and equipped to help a variety of different businesses quickly and easily scale. Having an inside connection like Kanary makes it easy to find the right factory partner to accelerate sustainable business scaling.

Product Customization

Your business won't be pigeon-holed into a limited product selection. Manufacturers in China are often experienced with customizing existing products to fit your specific needs, and certain factories can help develop unique product prototypes. Kanary has a deep understanding of what factories specialize in specific product customizations, making it easy to find the perfect match.

Common Mistakes When Buying From China

Not Understanding Cultural Differences (Communication)

Language and culture barriers present challenges to businesses looking to China manufacturing for the first time. Not sharing a common language will make negotiations difficult and can cause problems with communicating product specifications or customizations.

Kanary has bilingual experts to ensure that negotiations are precise and that product needs are delivered clearly.

Choosing Products Based on the Lowest Price

Businesses will face the temptation to seek the factory that offers the lowest price, but this is often a huge mistake. Budget manufacturers often lack professionalism and have longer lead times. Budget factories may be located in a region that dramatically increases shipping costs, which will wash away any savings without adding any benefits. 

Kanary can help you negotiate the best price for your business without sacrificing professionalism or a high-quality end product.

Starting An Order Before Receiving Samples

Even if you find a reliable manufacturer, starting mass production before seeing samples is a common, and costly, mistake. Your product could have design flaws or problems, and your manufacturer may make mistakes in following your parameters. The sampling process offers proof that your design works and that the factory understands your specifications. 

Kanary knows how to expedite the sampling process to make sure the factory is ready for mass production without wasting unnecessary time with communication issues or shipping delays around your samples.

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Buying From China FAQs

How Do I Buy Direct From China?

The best way to buy directly from China is to use a sourcing agent like Kanary. There are other alternatives to speak directly with suppliers such as Alibaba, DHgate, Made-In-China etc. However, using a company like Kanary, who has relationships with suppliers developed over many years, is going to be your best option.

Can I Trust Buying Products From China?

Yes, but if you are not using someone like Kanary to help you then it is best to be cautious and ask a lot of questions. You should never feel like you are asking too many questions to a supplier.

If the supplier doesn’t answer all of your questions or is trying to rush you through the purchasing process, then it is recommended not to use the supplier. They may be trying to scam you, or there is a good chance you will be unhappy with the quality of your finished product.

Is Buying Direct From China Safe?

If you are using a company like Kanary, who has years of experience and relationships in China, then yes. If you are not using a sourcing agent, it would be recommended to use legitimate payment methods for purchasing, such as Paypal or Alibaba Trade Assurance.

What Is the Best Way to Buy Directly From China?

The best way to buy directly from China is to use a company like Kanary. The years of experience and strength of long-term relationships built with suppliers is invaluable when it comes to the sourcing process.

What Are Useful Tips to Buy Directly From China?


‍When buying directly from China, you should
  • Figure out which products you want to purchase before communicating with suppliers.
  • Do your due diligence in finding and vetting your suppliers.
  • Request samples and confirm the product follows your specifications.
  • Negotiate payment terms/price.
  • Make sure you have a plan to ship your goods from China.
  • Make sure you are ready to handle import and customs clearance.
  • Organize delivery to final destination.

What Things Do I Need to Know Before Buying Direct From China?

Before buying from China it is important to have an understanding and expectations of the following:

  • Budget
  • Lead times
  • Type of products
  • Negotiate payment terms/price.
  • Product purchasing volumes
  • Help needed (are you comfortable with buying online or will you need help from a company like Kanary?)
  • Shipping methods/responsibilities.

How Do I Find Reliable Suppliers if I Am Going to Be Buying in China?

The best way to find reliable suppliers is to speak with a sourcing agent who has built up relationships with them over the course of many years. Otherwise, you can use platforms like Alibaba.com to speak to various factories and trade companies to see which one works best for you.

If I Buy Direct From China, Will the Language Barrier Be an Issue?

The language barrier is less of a problem than it was years ago due to communication platforms like WeChat with built in translation. Having said that, it can still be a big problem when it comes to fixing quality issues with manufacturing or negotiating price and/or terms.

Kanary can help with these scenarios as they almost always require a complete fluency in the language and understanding of the culture to resolve issues and move forward in a timely fashion.

Should I Request a Sample When I Buy Directly From China?

You should always request a sample when buying from China. Any supplier that will not provide a sample is most likely trying to scam you or sell you an inferior product. If the product is too large to provide a sample, e.g. a piece of machinery, then you should ask for video of the product and factory to make sure the supplier is legitimate.

How Do I Negotiate Payment Terms When Purchasing From China?

Many people think of payment terms when they think of negotiating, when in fact there are usually several items that can be negotiated when purchasing from China. Kanary negotiates prices, ordering volumes and shipping responsibilities.

Whatever you are negotiating, it is important to remember to be very clear. Confirm everything three times! Make sure the price, whether it is EXW or FOB, is clear, and make sure the supplier’s and your responsibilities are divided clearly. The last thing you want is a dispute between you and your supplier because you did not negotiate correctly from the outset.

What Is the Difference Between Buying From China vs. The U.S.?

Essentially, buying from China is going to be more cost effective than buying from the US. There will be lower manufacturing, labor, and assembly costs. The ability to scale your production and greater access to raw materials will also be advantageous when buying from China.

If I Am Buying Products in China, Does That Mean That They Are Cheap?

Products aren’t necessarily cheap when purchasing from China. This is particularly true after the coronavirus pandemic, which has drastically increased shipping costs affecting the total cost of imported products. The “Trump tariffs” have also made products dramatically more expensive to import from China.

However, in most cases, whatever you buy in China should end up being cheaper than what you can buy domestically. Especially if you are customizing the product or you are buying in large quantities.

Why Is Buying Products From China Cheap?

Buying products from China is cost effective for many reasons. Some reasons include low labor costs, low material costs, abundant access to raw materials, and low assembly costs.

Should I Buy a Cheap Product From China?

As long as you are confident in the product quality, then buying a cheap product from China would be great for your profit margin! Make sure you do the necessary supplier due diligence, request samples, and do onsite inspections to ensure product quality.

Is Buying Cheap From China Dangerous?

Buying cheap from China isn’t dangerous, but, like any purchase, it has its risks. If you use a company like Kanary, then those risks will be eliminated. If you use safe payment methods on reputable platforms like Alibaba, then those risks will be minimized.

How Do I Ensure My Product Quality if I Am Buying a Product From China and Selling It in the U.S.?

The best way to ensure your product quality is to use a sourcing agent that can help oversee the entire manufacturing and process. Having people on the ground in constant contact with the supplier to do quality control checks and onsite inspections will guarantee product quality.

If you would like to ensure the quality of the product on your own, make sure you request samples, videos of the factory and reviews from previous customers not located in China.

How Do I Buy a Cheap Product From China Without Jeopardizing Quality?

The best way to find cost effective products without jeopardizing quality is to use a company like Kanary that has worked for many years with reliable suppliers. If you plan on buying from China on your own, It is important to do your due diligence on suppliers and have sampling rounds.

The supplier should have in-depth knowledge about the products they are manufacturing and, even better, they should have a design/engineer team that can help them improve qualities and eliminate flaws.

Additionally, you should make sure you are purchasing from a supplier in the same region of China that you plan shipping from so that shipping costs do not significantly increase the cost of your product.

If I Buy Directly From China, Where Can I Store My Products?

If you are not ready to ship your product out of China and the order is complete, factories will typically offer short-term storage for their customers. However, if you want to store your products for a longer period of time, they will most likely not be able to accommodate you.

It is best to look into storing your products with a company like Kanary who provides third party warehouse storage for cheap. It is best to know and manage your lead times well and ship your products to the US to store domestically.

Is Buying Products From China and Selling Them Easy?

Many people have had success buying products from China and selling them. When looking for products to source, you want to make sure the profit margin is high, the items are easy to ship and the business is scalable.

Kanary has helped many companies buy products to sell to other businesses, as well as many individuals to buy products to sell on online platforms such as Amazon, Ebay and Etsy.

What Are Some Advantages of Purchasing From China?

Advantages when purchasing from China include lower production costs due to cheaper labor and streamlined assembly operations, efficient customization processes for products, and abundant access to raw materials.

Should I Hire a Sourcing Agent to Buy Straight From China?

It depends on the reason you want to buy from China. If you are a smaller company, only want to buy a small quantity of goods, or just want to make one purchase from China throughout the year, then it may be better to purchase goods on online platforms such as Alibaba.com.

However, if you are a company who plans on growing, scaling, and using China as a large part of your supply chain, then it is much smarter to use someone like Kanary who can help streamline your entire process and take care of sourcing, product development, shipping, importing etc.

If I Am Buying From China Is It Better to Use a Sourcing Agent or Buy Direct From a China Factory?

It is best to use a sourcing agent if you are going to be repeatedly buying from China to grow and scale your business. Otherwise you may want to use online platforms, like Alibaba.

How Can Kanary Help Me Buy Direct From China?

Many customers use Kanary as a complete, outsourced, supply chain manager to handle the whole process of sourcing from China. We can handle many steps of the sourcing process like:

  • Supplier due diligence
  • Coordination of samples
  • Negotiation of terms/prices
  • Onsite inspections to oversee manufacturing
  • Coordination of shipping from China to USA
  • Product purchasing volumes
  • Importing and customs clearance
  • Delivery of the products to their final destination

Why Is Kanary So Good at Buying Products From China?

Kanary has over 40 years of collective experience in sourcing, supply chain management, supplier relationship development, shipping and importing/customs clearance. This is what we do and we’re great at it.

How Can Kanary Help Me Scale My Business When Purchasing From China?

Kanary can help scale your business by:

  • Developing your current supplier relationships
  • Offering our extensive supplier database to provide new or back-up suppliers
  • Providing logistical/shipping consultation to maximize profit
  • Handling the import/customs clearance process as efficiently as possible
  • Guaranteeing delivery of your products to the final destination

Should I Buy From China Through Wholesale Markets?

Sometimes you can get a great deal buying through wholesalers and not the factory directly, but most of the time you will be paying a higher price since you are not going directly to the source.

Why Should I Buy From a China Manufacturer?

A Chinese manufacturer can provide fast production and scalability, lower production costs, simplified access to international markets and magnified service.

This is true for even for smaller companies who are not ordering in large quantities or volumes.

What Are Some Problems When Buying Direct From China Suppliers?

Some Chinese suppliers may not have favorable MOQs (minimum order quantities). For example, you may only want to purchase 500 of a certain product, but the MOQ necessary to get your satisfactory price could be 5,000.

Other suppliers may have trouble communicating in your language, which could lead to all sorts of problems during all stages of the sourcing process. Finally, some suppliers may just be trying to scam you.

Do I Need an Import License to Buy Direct From a Factory in China?

You do not need an import license to buy direct from a factory in China. However, depending on the product you are trying to buy, you may need some form of certification or license to import the product to your final destination.

For example, many food and health products will require FDA registration to import them from China to the US. If you are the importer of record, or person in the destination country responsible for ensuring compliance requirements are met, you will also need a customs bond to import your goods.

It is recommended to use a company like Kanary as your importer of record to take compliance responsibility and help with this process.

Is It Illegal to Buy Direct From a China Factory?

No, but depending on the product being purchased, for example KN-95 or N-95 masks, it is important to make sure that the factory has proper certification for importation to meet the standard suitable for your market.

Is There an MOQ When I Buy Direct From a China Factory?

MOQs will differ depending on the industry and the product you are sourcing. There will be an MOQ with any supplier, and Kanary helps negotiate the MOQs to help companies minimize their purchasing risk.

When I Buy From a Manufacturer in China, What Are the Most Important Things to Know?

Most manufacturers in China are reliable, you just need to know how to find them. Important things to know include:

  • Years they have been in business
  • What kind of products they manufacture in China (one or many)
  • The level of their communication skills and who they have on staff (designers, engineers etc.)
  • What their MOQs are and if they are flexible
  • If they have references from previous customers outside of China

Should I Buy From a China Manufacturer That Doesn’t Accept Trade Assurance or PayPal?

You can buy from a manufacturer that doesn’t accept Trade Assurance or Paypal, but these are the safest ways to purchase products unless you are using a sourcing agent. Trade Assurance protects your online orders when you are ordering through Alibaba.com. Other safe methods of payment include Paypal and Apple Pay.

When Buying From China, Should I Attend Chinese Trade Fairs?

There are many advantages to attending trade fairs if you are on the ground in China. Walking around and speaking to various companies is one of the easiest ways to find out about their products, prices and services. This is also a great way to discover market trends, get experience with negotiating and learn how to purchase with confidence.

Scammers are not solely exclusive to online platforms, so again, it is best to be cautious and ask as many questions as possible before making a purchase at a trade fair. Trade fairs can be overwhelming with many industries and products available, and Kanary can help you navigate your way around to find the right products for you.

What Are the Best Import and Export Trade Fairs if I Am Buying Direct From China?

The following are the largest import and export trade fairs in China, so this would be a good place to start:

  • The Canton Fair
  • Beijing International Automotive
  • China Yiwu International Commodities Fair
  • Bauma China
  • East China Import and Export Commodity Fair
  • China International Import Expo
  • The China Electronics Fair

Is the Canton Fair a Good Place to Buy Direct From China Suppliers?

The Canton Fair is the oldest, largest and most representative trade fair in China, so it is definitely a good place to meet suppliers and buy products. It has been held in the Spring and Autumn seasons each year since 1957 in Canton, Guangdong, China.

The coronavirus pandemic has made trade fairs like this much harder to attend and to successfully connect with people. The size of this fair can also be overwhelming. It is best to hire a sourcing company that can help you navigate around the fair and introduce you to reliable suppliers for your product and industry from their many years of experience.

What Is the Best Way to Communicate With Suppliers When Buying From China?

The best way to communicate with suppliers would be to use a platform like WeChat or Skype. It is also good to use the messaging centers on sourcing platforms like Alibaba and DH-Gate

Is It Better to Use Email or WeChat When I Buy Directly From China?

When you are buying directly from China, it is smart to use both WeChat and email. They can both make sense to use for different reasons. WeChat is good to use if you want to dialogue with the supplier, while emailing is typically used for sending documents needed for payment confirmation and keeping track of shipping related activities.

What Is the Best Platform to Use When Buying Products From China?

Alibaba is the most reputable and probably the most user-friendly. Others include DH-Gate, Made-In-China, GlobalSources, 1688, and WeChat.

How Do I Buy Stuff From China Online?

You can buy stuff from China online using certain platforms. For example, Alibaba.com, DH-gate.com, and Made-In-China.com. These sites are usually for businesses who are looking to make large product purchases, so they are referred to as B2B sites.

Other sites, such as AliExpress, are more for the consumer to purchase individual products from China.

If I Am Going to Learn How to Buy Things From China, Should I Use Alibaba?

It depends on your reason for buying things from China. Alibaba.com is a site that is used by many businesses to purchase in larger volumes, whereas Aliexpress.com is a site that is used by many individuals to purchase consumer items in smaller quantities.

These sites allow you to talk directly with suppliers and trade companies for the products you want to purchase. However, if you want to learn about the entire sourcing process from choosing a supplier to shipping products to their final destination, it is best to get in contact with a sourcing agent, like Kanary, who can help explain each step.

Is DH-Gate a Good Source When Buying Cheap From China?

DH-Gate can be useful depending on what you want to buy. For example, DH-Gate is more suitable for people that want to buy small volumes of goods from a wholesaler, whereas Alibaba is a better platform to buy larger quantities of goods directly from factories.

If I Am Buying Products From China, Can I Sell Them on Amazon?

Yes, one of the most common places to sell imported Chinese products online is Amazon.com. When you are looking for products to buy cheap from China and sell on Amazon, you want them to have a high profit margin, be lightweight so they are easy to ship, and be easily improvable so they are not identical to items already being sold.

Is It Profitable Buying Cheap From China and Selling Online?

Of course. It is a common strategy used by many online sellers, many people have made a great living doing just this. Many people will use a trusted company, like Kanary, to focus on the sourcing process from China, which allows them focus fully on and grow their online business.

Sometimes buying from China can be a job in and of itself, so many people will choose to use Kanary as their outsourced supply chain.

If I Buy Directly From China, How Do They Ship My Products?

There are various methods that importers use to ship their products from China, including Air Express, Air Freight and Sea Freight. Many factors come into play when deciding what option is best for you.

It is best to figure out details like the type, size and weight of the product, quantity being ordered, how the supplier will pack your product and then get in touch with a freight forwarder or Kanary to help guide you through the process.

If I Am Buying Products From China How Long Does Delivery Take?

It depends if your products need to be shipped by air or sea, as well as the quantity being manufactured and shipped. Air shipping typically takes 7-10 days, while sea shipping can take 30+ days. Other factors to take into account are delays because of the coronavirus pandemic, what port in China you are shipping from (referred to as the port of origin) and the port of final destination.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for Shipping After Buying Product From China?

The best way to prepare for shipping after you are finished buying a product from China is to use a Freight forwarding company or a sourcing company that is familiar and partnered with freight companies, like Kanary. Freight forwarders basically act as an intermediary between the supplier factory in China and the final destination of the goods.

How Can I Import Directly From China?

You can import directly from China using various shipping methods. Air express usually takes about 1-5 days. Air Freight usually takes about 2-15 days. Sea Freight can take anywhere from 25-30+ days. The coronavirus pandemic has extended the transit times and increased the price for all of these shipping methods.

How Do I Know What Tariffs and Duties to Pay When I Buy Direct From a China Factory?

Tariffs and duties differ for each country and imported product. You can get an HS code from the factory you are buying from (Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System), which is a list of numbers used by customs to classify a product.

Keep in mind that the HS code you receive from your manufacturer is not always correct, and it is best to use a customs broker to help import your products and avoid costly mistakes.

Do I Need a Custom’s Agent When I Buy Straight From China?

You do not legally need a custom’s agent when buying from China, but their expertise can help make sure your goods are imported properly without delay and can help you to avoid costly mistakes.

How Do I Buy Stuff From China That I Can Airship?

If you are looking to buy stuff from China that can be air shipped, then there is one thing to keep in mind. You should make sure the products are small, light-weight, and of a limited quantity, otherwise air shipping will not be cost effective and may even be impractical.

For bulkier, heavy, and larger volume orders, you will want to explore the sea freight shipping method.

How Do I Buy Stuff From China That I Can Seaship?

When buying stuff from China that you are going to ship by sea, the items should be heavy, large, and you should always try to have enough volume to fill a container (FCL). A full container load (FCL) is always going to be cheaper to ship than less than container load (LCL).

If you are shipping multiple products, a sourcing company, like Kanary, can help you consolidate all of your products in China so that you can put everything in one container instead of multiple LCL shipments. This can save you a lot of money!

Words from our clients

I’ve been in this industry for a long time and I was surprised that Kanary was able to help find us machines for a 1/3 of the cost compared with US and European manufacturers. What I really enjoy with Kanary is that they constantly keep me in the loop and get back to me almost instantaneously. What’s also great is that they kept me in the loop with the shipping, customs clearance, delivery, and also arrange travels for engineers from the factory to install our equipment.  The quality has been outstanding and I’m in the process of building out a new facility with them.
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I’ve been in the construction industry for over 30 years. We’ve always bought from US distributors. I reached out to Kanary out of curiosity to see if we could find similar construction materials of high quality. I did not think they were going to make much progress and so I was shocked when they found the exact manufacturer that my distributors have been buying from within 2 weeks. They were able to make contact and have the factory send me samples within a week.  By connecting directly with the factory, we’re looking at savings of over 30%.
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We’ve done quite a few different packaging projects with Kanary in the past (Child-resistant packaging, glass jars, plastic bags, shipper boxes, etc.). We sent AI files to Kanary, who then worked directly with the factory's design team to make prototypes of the packaging. Our in-house designer is very particular about our designs and Kanary was really flexible and worked with us when our designers wanted to make changes in the packaging development process. They were able to manufacture different prototypes at different price points, which gave us options when making our final decision.
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You’re interested in buying from China. Here are some helpful insights we’ve learned along the way.

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