Buying Product From Asia: The Short List

International due diligence checklist

The Asia Business Media blog has a post up that nicely lays out the basics for those buying product from Asia. This list actually comes from Trapp Lewis, “formerly of both Global Sources and, now running the Palmetto consultancy:”

Sourcing websites – Don’t forget that these are designed to provide marketing channels for suppliers/exporters and aggregate product/supplier content for buyers/importers online. Read the User Agreements closely as they clearly state that you are essentially using the site at your own risk. Never rely solely on any ratings systems provided by these sites. Always conduct your own due diligence.

Trade shows
– The absolute best place to meet suppliers and learn more about the industry, manufacturing process, products, export issues, etc. The exhibitors can teach you many things and are willing to do so if they believe you are a serious buyer and potential customer. Like finding the right supplier, it is not easy selecting the right trade show to attend. Do your homework, ask other importers you know which shows they attend and also look for UFI approved events (

Quality Assurance
– There are companies that specialize in factory audits and product testing – use their expertise. Bureau Veritas is a good place to start.

Shipment –
Selection depends on the product and quantity. If by air, then speak to FEDEX, DHL, etc. to understand not only shipping costs but also import taxes. If by sea, look for a shipping company that can also help you manage the taxes. It’s also a good idea to speak to your local customs office.

– Never send cash. Talk to your bank about Letters of Credit and Escrow. There are systems to protect your money so use them.

– Take your time, look at alternatives and start small. If something looks too good to be true, it is.

Makes good sense.

Your thoughts?

2 responses to “Buying Product From Asia: The Short List”

  1. I wrote this comment also on Asia Business Media’s original post but would like to repost it here for the benefit of The China Law Blog community…
    This post is important because there are so many small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) getting absolutely burned when purchasing initial orders from Chinese factories.
    The reality is that China is a place where you need to work face to face and build trust with parties over time. This is why Trade Shows, as Trapp Lewis pointed out, are a great way to meet potential suppliers.
    We’ve written a similar article 7 Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed by Suppliers in China. It’s particularly important that if you can’t be here on the ground, that common sense is used when arranging payment methods. A solid LC or Escrow agreement can weed out the majority of true online crooks that unfortunately troll the likes of Alibaba.

  2. thank you very much for posting this. I had a lot of buying poting leads on Alibaba and just recently took them down. It is very risky doing business with allot of companies based out China and it alos seems as if everybody is wanting to make a quick dollar instead of trying to establish a business relationship between the two. I state that I am looking for one thing and get tons of responses for something compltetely different.

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