Interview with a China Sourcing Specialist

We field a lot of questions about China sourcing and the management of the China supply chain, such as: How is it done? How hard is it? What are the pitfalls? etc.   The best answers are provided by China sourcing specialists.  To address some of these questions we thought we could interview the people in our very own China sourcing office and provide you with their answers to these common questions.

Note that the answers below do not come from one single individual and are not the exact words of any one person, they are a summary of real feedback we got from a range of experienced China sourcing specialists:

  1. What is a China sourcing team? What does it consist of?

A China sourcing team is a mainland China-based group of people working together to help one or more buyers manage their China supply chain. Some companies have teams well in excess of 100 people, but, at a minimum, such a team usually consists of at least 5 people: a team leader (manager), two sourcing specialists, one quality assurance specialist, and an administrator/accountant.

  1. How do you find suppliers?

Today, finding suppliers is not hard.  Any reasonably sized supplier will have its own website and most likely will be listed in their industry association or on Alibaba.

  1. How do you qualify suppliers?

Qualifying suppliers is actually much harder than finding them.  Depending on the product and the end-client, the qualification process can be very involved today.  The considerations involve such factors as: reputation, size, enthusiasm, ownership, previous experience, proven ability, geographical location etc.  The qualification process can involve an in-depth audit (essential for CSR-conscious corporations) but even at its simplest level will require a careful review and assessment of reputation and manufacturing capabilities.

  1. How do you go about inspections?

Inspections should be seen as justone of the elements of a QA (Quality Assurance) program. There are many kinds of inspections, ranging from sample quality inspections to pre-production, to in-production to pre-shipment.  Exactly what inspections are needed and how each is performed depends on the product and the specific needs of the buyer.  All these details should be listed exhaustively in writing.

  1. How do you ensure timely delivery?

By making sure every sourcing step that precede shipment proceed smoothly. Timely delivery means good planning, but it also means the quality was under control and all elements of the supply chain performed as expected. 

We hope these questions and answers were helpful in understandingsome of the basic functions a China sourcing team performs.

What are some China sourcing questions you would like answered? Share them with us in the comments below.


By Jocelyn Trigueros

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