China sourcing: Using online supplier directories

China sourcing Using online supplier directories

Most of you already know that at you will find long lists of potential suppliers for just about any product. And in videos produced by PassageMaker entitled “Finding Suppliers” and the video called “Evaluating Suppliers ” we talk about how to narrow down that long list of potential suppliers to the best supplier for your particular order.

But for today’s post, I was asked to offer some other tips about using the Global Sources website.

Keep in mind that the following tools are all free!

1. If you want to stay in touch with the latest trends in sourcing, you would be wise to sign up or RSS the following websites that are in the Global Sources family.

At Global Sources’ sister site, you will find a lot of great content from sourcing professionals covering topics ranging from paying suppliers to managing QC.

At at the bottom of each product category home page — “Electronics” for example — you will find free resources such as industry news, surveys and a showcase called “What every buyer needs to know”.

2. There is also a free “Ask the experts” service where you can send in your specific questions and people like myself will provide feedback and get you pointed in the right direction on issues of China sourcing.

3. I highly recommend the 18 Global Sources e-magazines that come out each month, each covering a different industry. Each one is a good tool to get a feel for what products are available in a given industry. The magazine is pretty thick with a lot of content, but I like to flip through to keep an eye on trends and see which suppliers are making which products.

4. It is always a good idea to come to China to hit a trade show and visit suppliers face-to-face, ideally at their factory. But if you are not quite ready to make the flight over, you may be interested to know that Global Sources now hosts a virtual trade show online. At recent trade shows, Global Sources staff went around to each booth and took pictures for the virtual trade shows online.

5. Speaking of trade shows, on Global you will also find a comprehensive list of trade shows broken down by industry and location. Not only does Global Sources list their own trade shows, but they also list all the other trade shows. If you do come and check out any of the Global Sources trade shows in person, make sure to attend the China sourcing seminar series. It’s free as well.

6. I’d also like to address the term “verified supplier” which you will find online at In my opinion, Global Sources goes out of their way to ensure the suppliers on their website are professional. Global Sources staff even visits some of the factories. But, China is a massive market and things at the factory level can change suddenly.

So just because a factory has a high ranking in the star system today, it is not a guarantee that they will be professional tomorrow. But, having said that, if the factory has high ranking with Global Sources, and if they have maintained a booth at the trade show for many years and if they advertise in the Global Sources e-magazines, then there is a much higher likelihood that they will be good suppliers for you.

As I said, because things can change so quickly, a key manager leaves, the factory moves, staff don’t return from Chinese New Year holiday, raw material pricing goes up, quality goes down. A great supplier today is not a guarantee they will be a great supplier tomorrow. So as buyers, it is our responsibility to conduct due diligence and qualify our vendors. The Global Sources verified supplier ranking is an excellent start. But it is just the start of the process. Check out the videos called finding and evaluating suppliers if you want to learn tips for checking out a factory.

Wishing you successful China sourcing!

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