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Before you start, you need to have a company and get an import license from your country or you can just find a reliable importer from your side. By the way, if you are a starting company, a professional importer would be very helpful to handle all the documents and processes including payment, shipment, customs clearance and import taxes and so on. However, you should rely on yourself to find a reliable supplier in China. Let’s take LED lighting business for example.

Several LED Lighting Supplier or Partner Options You May Choose

  • Factory
  • Trade Company
  • Wholesaler
  • Sourcing Company
  • SOHO

Factory is a good option to get the best price and customized services. They can produce exactly according to the confirmed sample and quality under your brand name. However, if you choose to cooperate with factory directly, your quantity must meet the MOQ (minimum order quantity) per item. Otherwise, it is hard for factory to arrange raw materials purchasing and production.

Trade company is not a bad option if you don’t want to waste your time to talk with different factories about the quality, requirement, sample confirming, prices and so on, then let the trade company do it for you. Of course, you need to pay for their services. So, the price could be a little higher.

Wholesaler is a best option for small business importers. Usually, wholesaler has a wide range of products in stock. You can get very fast delivery and the MOQ is usually based on 1 master carton. The disadvantage is that they can only offer you the ready item in their own brand if there is any. If you want to place a customized order, they will ask for a factory MOQ. If you can meet factory MOQ, then don’t bother, just place your order to factory and get a better price.

Sourcing company is for foreign companies who is not familiar with Chinese market. They can offer you some information and collect some commission from you for the services.

SOHO is a personal service. I don’t recommend you to start your business from SOHO, except you know this person very well and you trust him or her very much. Or you have someone you trust to recommend you some SOHO guys. Usually, SOHO is an expert in their working area. For example, a SOHO guy in LED lighting business, he must know very well about lighting factories in China and he is very familiar with the LED lighting products standards and he knows how to handle every step in the transaction as he already has many years experience in foreign trade. SOHO is more like a friend-to-friend business cooperation. If you have one, congratulations! You two could be a life-time friend to each other. But for the beginner, be careful, not everyone is reliable at the first sight.

Where to Find LED Lighting Suppliers from China?

There are two common ways to find your LED lighting suppliers. You can choose to visit professional LED lighting Fairs in China, like Canton Fair, Hongkong Lighting Fair, etc. If a face to face visit is not possible, then I recommend you another way, searching suppliers from google and top B2B platforms, like Alibaba, Made in China, Globalsources. There are tons of factories and suppliers. Besides, you can also contact us since we offer sourcing services and you may visit our website first before you make decision.

How to Start?

Before you really start to contact suppliers, you ‘d better have done a market research in your country or in your target market to help you figure out what kind of LED lighting products may win the market and at what prices these products are selling to your target customers. These are very useful information. After market research, you will be very clear about what kind of LED lighting products to find and what the cost range should be. Take factory for instance, let’s start the business.

  • Select factories and send them inquiry. You may ask factories some questions, like MOQ, top-sales items, packages, etc. You can also ask factories to send their e-catalog to you for selection. But never ask for prices for all the items. Focus on some items you are really interested in. If you already have a buying quantity for each item in your mind, tell the factory and your will get the exact quotation. If you are not sure about the buying quantity, then you just ask prices based on factory MOQ for your consideration.
  • Ask for samples to check the quality. Factories are willing to send you samples to check and conform. If you have special requirements on the quality and package, you should tell factories before they quote. You can ask for a regular sample or a sample according to your requirement. Normally, you need to pay for the samples.
  • Place your order to factory. After sample is confirmed, you can place the order now. Remember to send factory all your requirements in details. Usually, factory will confirm with you about every detail before production. You may follow them. If you want test report for your order, ask factory to offer.
  • Arrange Payment. Normally, factory will ask for 30% TT as deposit, and 70% TT before shipment. If you want to do L/C at sight, you need to tell factory before they quote. The cost is different for TT and L/C, so, the price will differ too. For order amount less than USD150,000.00, there is no need to do L/C. Regarding L/C after sight, factories won’t accept it since you are a new customer, however if your company is very famous and enjoy a very good reputation, then it is possible to cooperate on L/C after sight.
  • Arrange shipment. After factories get your order deposit, they will make arrangements for the production and they will let you know the supposed delivery date and the total CBM for the order. With these information, you can check with your shipment forwarder about the shipping cost. You can also ask factory to check for you too if you don’t have your own shipment forwarder. Once confirmed the shipping cost, you may ask the factory to book the shipment. When the cargo is almost ready, factory will inform you to arrange the balance payment. Once they get the payment, they will inform the shipment forwarder to release the container or send the cargo (LCL) to the appointed warehouse of the forwarder.
  • Confirm the B/L. After shipment, factory will confirm the Bill of Lading with the forwarder, and will send you the draft B/L for your confirmation. Be careful before you confirm. You need to check every detail, including your company name, address, telephone number, product name, quantity, weight, mark and so on. Some customers have special requirements on the B/L, that’s why factory will send the draft B/L to their customer to check and confirm. After you confirm the draft B/L, the final B/L will be issued. If you want to revise some information after final B/L is issued, shipment forwarder will charge you an extra fee, like USD30 to USD50 per bill.
  • Documents for customs clearance. After B/L is confirmed, the shipment forwarder usually asks factory or customer one question. Do you want a tel-release for the cargo? If you choose tel-release, then they won’t issue you the original B/L. If you refuse tel-release, they will send factory the original B/L. Later, factory will get documents ready including original Invoice, Packing List together with the original B/L and send to you for your customs clearance. If you need other documents like Form A, you need to tell factory when you place the order. It takes some time to get this document.
  • Get the Cargo from the Destination Port. When the cargo arrives at your port, usually shipment company will call you or send you a notice through email. Take all the documents needed and get the cargo. Usually, you may need an agent from the destination port to help you clear the customs and pay import tax. If you don’t have a ready agent, you may contact the agent from the shipment company and their contact information is already on the B/L. You just need to pay them for their service. Till now, the import process is ended up.

Something You Need to Pay Attention

  1. Always give factory your requirements in details, follow up and confirm.
  2. Always ask samples to check the quality before you make a decision. Looks the same, but probably not the same.
  3. Never ask cheap price for good quality. If you want cheap price, then accept cheap quality. If a supplier offers you prices much lower than the average, don’t trust him and he is liar. You may get the cargo you don’t want, or you just get nothing. Pay a reasonable price for the quality you want.
  4. If it is not able to pay a visit to factory, you may ask for a video call to do a factory tour. Keep a good contact with factory, and you will get everything you need to know by pictures, videos, and emails.

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