Find Chinese Distributors
It is not easy for US exporters to find proper China distributors. The reason is, unlike China suppliers, China distributors do not promote their business in the US. Therefore they are mostly unknown to US companies. However, there are cost-effective ways to find many potential distributors in China to sell your products. Before you set up to physically go to China, you should conduct sufficient research and connection, so that your costly visit could be very productive. It is highly recommended to use government resources.
- Search online to get general idea of the market situation and distributors in China for products that are similar to yours. China distributors of course focus their attention on China market. So they normally do not have website or web listing information in English. Therefore you need to have an informed person who understand Chinese to help you.
- Contact US Embassy in Beijing or Consulate Generals in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Shengyang for assistance. These agencies could give you lists of reputable distributors in China, with company and contact information.
- Record your findings using a data table, so that you could better manage the vast information you obtained. The data table would include columns like distributor’s name, company information, products range, market channels and industrial applications, and notes.
- Analyze the information you have and initiate the contact with your interested distributors. You may directly send email or fax to the distributor in English, because you may like your target partner to have some one speak English in daily communication.
- Develop relationship with the potential distributors of your interest.
- Visit the distributors in China and finalize the cooperation agreement. The best time to visit your distributors in China is during relevant trade shows or relevant industrial conventions, seminars or workshops. Join US governments’ trade missions to China is excellent opportunity for establishing relationship with China distributors, because, by accompany government officials to visit China, you obtain high credibility with China companies.
- In internet searching, there are generally two kinds of websites you should use. One kind is the major Chinese search engines, like www.baidu.com, www.sohu.com, www.sina.com.cn, www.google.cn, and www.yahoo.cn. Another kind is business web directories maintained by various industrial associations, which could give you very concentrated and structured information of distributors, by products, by market channels, and by industrial applications. You can also find these directory websites through search engines.
- In developing relationship with China distributors, you need to repeatedly exchange information with them, discussing business plan, marketing support and launch plan, etc. In the cross-culture and cross-system environment, intensive communication is the key to establish firm relationship. When proper, sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the idea distributor, expressing the intention of cooperation. MOU has very important symbolic significance of confirming business relationship in Asia.
- When you set up to visit China, it is highly recommended you to use Gold Key Matching Service provided by US Commercial Services to arrange meeting with reputable China distributors in your area. US Commercial Services work with US Embassy and Consulate Generals in China to provide this service locally with a small fee of $675 per program. One of the big benefits of this service is that you will directly meet the high management of the potential distributors. For more detail, visit https://www.export.gov/Gold-Key-Service
- The equity information of a China distributor is very important, it may be privately owned limited liability company, a government owned company, a company that pertains or is affiliated with a big group of companies, or industrial association, or local government. Such information is the key to understand the capability and marketing channel of the distributor. For example, if you are to sell consumer products to upscale department stores, you may use a private limited liability company. Or if you are to sell control devices to energy industry, you may want to work with a distributor that can help you go through necessary regulatory process.
- In China very few distributors can operate national wide. You may need to find many distributors to cover the whole market. But you should start with working with one in a major city.
- There are sayings that working with China distributors is difficult. Yes, it is. However, that would be where the opportunity exists. Once you get through, the transaction cost will become your profit and the entry barrier will help protect yourself from competition.
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