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E-Commerce for Brands

Sourcing Products and Building Brands

What to know about product sourcing from China

Kian Golzari is the Founder and CEO of Sourcing with Kian. He first gained clout for designing, developing, sourcing, and manufacturing his own products. While those projects still hum in the background, after crossing the threshold of over 2,500 product endeavors Kian turned his enterprise into one of helping brands.

Today, Kian mentors Amazon entrepreneurs on better sourcing practices.

Kian has earned attention and accolades as a result of his enormous product savvy. His awards include the 2017 Sunday Times Fast Track Award for Top 100 UK Companies in Export Growth.

On this episode of E-Commerce with Coffee?! Kian joins host Nate Svoboda to answer:

  • How can brands successfully source product manufacturing from China?
  • Why China (particularly today)?
  • How do you find the best manufacturers?
  • How do you get started after that?

Listen to the full episode of the interview — and come with your notepad ready!

Product Sourcing from China

China was once seen as the home of cheap (and quick-to-break) products. To say that of every manufacturer in a country with almost one-third of the world’s manufacturing, however, is an oversimplification.

In fact, businesses that source and manufacture products in China have the luxury of searching for the highest-quality production their budget can allow. They also form key partnerships that ultimately support the success of their innovative product ideas.

Once you realize just what a hotbed of manufacturing opportunity China is, though, a new problem steps in. Now you’re dealing with the complex system of Chinese business in an endless sea of options.

That’s where Kian comes in. He says to first prioritize your “why.” What is it about sourcing from China that’s most appealing to you? He names the top three benefits:

  1. Cost: cost is the main reason why so many businesses turn to product manufacturing in China. The Chinese market offers lower costs because of the low cost of labor and the sheer volume of manufacturing that takes place.
  2. No middlemen: one of the safest ways to boost revenue is to eliminate middlemen. Brands that source from China can skip the retailers and gain a better understanding of how the manufacturers work (and how to get the best products from them).
  3. Large supplier base: no matter what industry you’re in, there are manufacturers for it in China. There are also systems in place that measure quality and plant efficiency so that you can quantifiably balance price with quality on your terms.

How to Find the Best Manufacturers

Developing products and sourcing from the perfect-fit manufacturer is something Kian has down to a science. He describes the kind of great products a brand can develop with the right manufacturing partner.

Kian then describes how particularly innovative products have successfully created new niches, too.

The quality of products is enhanced not only by the right manufacturer, Kian says, but by direct sourcing itself. “The best way to develop products is to have an understanding of how products are made,” he remarks. He then describes his first experience visiting a factory in 2010. Listen to the full story to hear how that impacted his own product development.

Kian speaks almost affectionately of the sourcing community. As he’s jetted around the world for speaking events, he says the energy and excitement of brands working on their own products are downright infectious.

Perhaps the most actionable part of the interview is when Kian provides a detailed step-by-step on how to navigate Alibaba to source the best manufacturers. Listen to the interview for the full breakdown — and be prepared to take notes. He goes step-by-step through what filters and search criteria to use.

He also advises brands to bear in mind these three fundamentals while vetting sources who make it through the initial search filters:

  1. What pre-shipment inspections are offered?
  2. Understand how sellers outgrow their suppliers
  3. Recognize the profit in buying price and not just in selling price

Kian also talks about some of the other important websites for sourcing research, including:

Are you branding or selling?

Kian asks a question that most brands don’t know to ask themselves: are you branding or selling?

By this, Kian elaborates on why only one of these should be the focus at a time. They’re both fundamental to success in e-commerce, especially on Amazon. Arguably, one of them (branding) has to come before the other (selling). The only viable strategy to the top of the mountain, though, is taking one step after the other.

Kian then prompts brands to define their core values if they haven’t already. “It’s such an important part of the brand journey,” he affirms. If you haven’t established your core values, he insists, “you don’t know your brand yet.”

Keep reading if you have branding already but definitely need a brand refresh.

Selling isn’t only done on Amazon, either. The goliath platform is where most brands will up their sales volume, but “you don’t get email addresses from Amazon,” Kian points out. You’ll therefore get better insights into your target consumers with better data feedback from purchases and conversions on another platform. Kian recommends selling elsewhere first to get that data before launching on Amazon.

Quick Tips:

  • Always begin your search with defined product specifications. Once you vet solid manufacturers, these specifications will supersede any cultural or language barrier.
  • Never forgo supplier audits. The Chinese manufacturing sector is subject to many national standards, but international standards like the Disney Code of Conduct are even better to go by since there’s more transparency. You can search for manufacturers based on this filter criteria, too.
  • Don’t focus just on price. It’s true, the cost will forever be one of the driving forces behind most business decisions. Focusing only on price, however (or lowballing suppliers) will result in low-quality products and a lot of extra work.

To make a mark in today’s hyper-competitive market, Kian offers insights on how to source smarter and make your exceptional product ideas even better with the right manufacturer.

Listen or watch the full interview on E-Commerce with Coffee?!

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