As companies look to expand their reach into the Chinese market, it’s important to find the right distributor that will be a link between your country and China.
The process of finding a quality Chinese distributor can seem daunting for foreign companies. Indeed, it is another country, another culture, another language.
You do not know who to contact, what a distributor wants, and how Chinese suppliers and companies work…
So read carefully this guide and everything will be easier for you.
- 1 Quick Summary
- 2 Why it’s worth working with distributors in the Chinese market?
- 3 What to know before looking for Chinese distributors
- 4 How to find reliable Chinese distributors?
- 4.1 Distributors must be able to find you easily on the Internet
- 4.2 Work on your social media presence to increase visibility and gain e-reputation
- 4.3 PR and Forums to create word-of-mouth and brand credibility
- 4.4 Tmall B2D for foreign investment in the Chinese market
- 4.5 Selling to the government distribution and sales channels in China
- 5 If you’re looking for reliable Chinese distributors, contact us!
- Role of Distributors: Chinese distributors act as intermediaries between manufacturers/suppliers and retailers or end consumers, handling sourcing, warehousing, logistics, and marketing.
- Local Market Knowledge: Distributors have in-depth knowledge of the Chinese market, including consumer preferences and cultural nuances, which is crucial for foreign businesses.
- Established Networks: They possess established networks with retailers, wholesalers, and e-commerce platforms, offering access to a wide distribution network.
- Regulatory Compliance: Distributors assist in navigating China’s complex regulatory landscape, ensuring compliance with local regulations.
- Logistical Efficiency: They manage supply chain aspects like warehousing and transportation, ensuring efficient operations and timely product delivery.
- Market Insights: Distributors provide insights into market trends, consumer behavior, and competitive dynamics.
- Brand Visibility: Working with distributors can enhance brand visibility and secure prime shelf space or online exposure.
- Risk Mitigation: They offer market entry strategies and guidance on pricing, marketing, and promotional activities.
- Cultural and Language Bridge: Distributors help in bridging the language and cultural gap, assisting in localization and effective communication.
- After-sales Support: They often provide after-sales services, which helps in maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Challenges with Distributors: Foreign companies often face challenges in understanding the expectations and operational methods of Chinese distributors.
- Profit Focus: Distributors primarily focus on profit and may not assist in brand promotion or go the extra mile for a specific product.
- Market Responsiveness: Distributors may quickly switch to other products if they perceive a decrease in market interest for a particular brand.
- Importance of Marketing: Companies need to manage their own marketing and commerce to make their products appealing to distributors.
- Building a Distribution Network: Establishing a trusted distribution network and understanding the Chinese market is crucial for long-term success.
- Digital Presence: Having a Chinese-friendly website and a strong presence on social media platforms like WeChat, Xiaohongshu, Weibo, and Zhihu is essential.
- E-reputation: Building an e-reputation and engaging the audience in product awareness is key to attracting distributors and consumers.
- Baidu Platform: Utilizing Baidu for SEO and SEM is effective for increasing online visibility and reputation.
- Tmall B2D Platform: Tmall B2D connects brands with over 85,000 Chinese distributors, offering services like logistics management and secure payments.
- Government Sales Channels: Selling to the Chinese government is an option, requiring an understanding of the distribution infrastructure and sales channels.
- Agency Assistance: Agencies like GMA can assist in the process of finding reliable distributors and enhancing product visibility in China.
Why it’s worth working with distributors in the Chinese market?
Chinese distributors serve as intermediaries between manufacturers or suppliers and retailers or end consumers in the Chinese market. They leverage their extensive networks and relationships with key market players to handle various aspects of the supply chain, including sourcing, warehousing, logistics, inventory management, payment and shipping terms, and marketing.
Manufacturers sell products to distributors at wholesale prices, and distributors store the inventory in their warehouses, ensuring timely delivery to retailers or end consumers. Distributors provide valuable services such as market research, marketing support, and after-sales services, helping manufacturers navigate the regulatory landscape, understand consumer preferences, and expand their market reach.
Benefits of working with Chinese distributors
Through their expertise, logistics capabilities, and established networks, Chinese distributors play a crucial role in facilitating market entry and ensuring the efficient distribution of products in China.
Here’s a list of reasons why it’s worth working with distributors in the Chinese market:
Local Market Knowledge
China distributors have a deep understanding of the Chinese market, including consumer preferences, purchasing habits, and cultural nuances. Their local expertise can help businesses tailor their products or services to effectively meet the needs and preferences of Chinese consumers.
Distributors typically have well-established networks of retailers, wholesalers, Chinese companies, and e-commerce platforms in China. Partnering with a distributor allows businesses to leverage these existing relationships, gaining access to a wide distribution network and expanding their market reach.
Navigating the regulatory landscape in China can be complex for foreign businesses. Distributors can provide valuable guidance and assistance in ensuring compliance with local regulations, licenses, and certifications, saving businesses time and resources.
Distributors handle various aspects of the supply chain, including warehousing, transportation, and inventory management. By partnering with a Chinese distributor, businesses can benefit from their established logistics infrastructure, streamlining operations and ensuring timely delivery of products to customers.
China distributors have their finger on the pulse of the market and can provide valuable insights into market trends, consumer behavior, and competitive dynamics. This information enables businesses to make informed decisions and adapt their strategies to effectively compete in the Chinese market.
Distributors often have strong relationships with retailers, e-commerce platforms, and other key market players. Partnering with a distributor can enhance brand visibility and increase the chances of securing prime shelf space or online exposure, boosting brand recognition and sales.
China’s vast geography and diverse consumer preferences pose challenges for businesses entering the market. Distributors can help mitigate risks by providing market entry strategies, conducting market research, and offering guidance on pricing, marketing, and promotional activities.
Local Language and Cultural Understanding
Distributors can bridge the Chinese language and cultural gap between businesses and Chinese consumers. They can assist with translation, localization, and cultural adaptation of marketing materials, ensuring effective communication and resonating with the target audience.
Distributors often provide after-sales support, including customer service, warranty management, and product repairs. This helps businesses maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to repeat purchases and a positive brand reputation.
Overall, collaborating with distributors in the Chinese market offers businesses numerous advantages. These partnerships can be instrumental in achieving success and growth in the dynamic and highly competitive Chinese market.
What to know before looking for Chinese distributors
Although there are many advantages to working with China distributors, it’s not always easy. Many foreign companies look for distributors and then get disappointed because they expect more from a Chinese supplier or a distributor than the person is willing to offer. This is why it’s important to know some of the China distribution basis before looking for your perfect fit.
You need to remember, that distributors focus on gaining profit
Companies will not get any help from China distributors to promote their brands: they will typically focus only on distribution and sales. If Chinese customers do not like the company’s products anymore, local distributors will not care and will take them off their shelves, replacing them with similar items from other retailers.
In addition, distributors have so many opportunities to sell other kinds of products from multiple companies in many distribution channels: they do not need to promote your business or go the extra mile since they can choose another product whenever they wish.
Don’t put all your cards on China distributors
As we said before, distribution companies really do not care about your products, even if they have been taking care of your sales for years. If your brand has some troubles with the supply chain, logistics, the latest economic reforms, business development, resources, risk management, marketing etc., they will switch straight away to another brand with similar products. Most businesses only want to buy products that have big potential in the Chinese market and get benefits out of selling them to the final destination.
In order to get China distribution on board, you need to show them that your product gets the interest of people and in order to do that, you have to manage your own marketing and commerce side.
Build a trusted China distribution network
Having a trusted China distribution network and supply chain system and knowing how to approach problems when setting them up in China is essential to long-term success in the Chinese market.
While having a good distribution network is neglected by most businesses, choosing the right distribution channels and not failing your entry into China by choosing the wrong partners should be your main focus in terms of business development. Well-functioning distribution systems are key to success for all international businesses.
Win the audience on all China distribution channels
Chinese people, both from rural areas and urban areas need to discover your products and make their own opinion about them. Only after this, they will buy them, and your retail sales will rocket. It is the perfect way for companies to communicate about their product and brand, convince them, and keep them updated.
They want to know every detail of every product (especially when it comes to cosmetics and fashion accessories) and they do not want to miss any promotion or offer. Consequently, do not hesitate to advertise your products with photos and videos on social networks such as WeChat or on other internet sites and e-commerce platforms like Taobao, Tmall, and JD.com for instance.
How to find reliable Chinese distributors?
In order to find reliable local distributors for any industry, it is important to:
- Have a Chinese-friendly website, hosted in China or near (so your content will be uploaded quickly); Although really often a foreign investment in China is big, a lot of international businesses forget, that a well-done Chinese website is a must;
- Be present on social media, such as WeChat, Xiaohongshu, Weibo, and Zhihu in order to build a good relationship with distributors and traditional retailers, communicate with them, and listen to their expectations and what they really need;
- Build an e-reputation and set an example in the industry;
- Engage your audience in your products awareness, observe the trends, and control every process related to them
- The website must also be adaptable to mobile phones because Chinese people mainly operate on phones to surf the Internet. Check our Vitabiotics website optimized for mobile phones here:
Distributors must be able to find you easily on the Internet
Nowadays all trading companies willing to enter the Chinese market must be able to understand how the Chinese buy and which e-commerce platforms are their favorites if they want to be successful.
Understanding the preferences and mindset of consumer groups in all Chinese cities is crucial to a successfully established brand in the Middle Kingdom for any industry and here are the key points to better understand it.
The Internet is the main source of information for a total number of more than 1 billion Internet users, so don’t neglect this source, if you want your company to succeed.
Any Chinese distributor or consumer must be able to find you on Baidu, the Chinese most used search engine, with 70% of queries and more than one billion mobile active users. If you want to sell locally, this is where you need to be.
Use the Baidu platform in all its forms because Baidu clearly rewards those who use the platform, from Baike (Baidu Wikipedia) to Baidu Zhidao (Q&A website), to its social network Baidu Tieba (keyword-based discussion forum), Baidu Shopping or Baidu video platforms.
Combine SEO & SEM: To achieve success in Baidu marketing campaigns, it is very effective to create a strategy that combines SEO and SEM, as both have a very significant weight in the visibility results attributed to the algorithm of the platform. Through SEM it is possible to sponsor sites with targeted campaigns.
In this way, your brand’s site will get a better online reputation, an increase in visitors, and of course a higher market return. If you rank high, it’s possible that other internet sites from the industry, even Chinese ones, will add external links to your website as a reference.
Although having a website and working on Baidu SEO is important, as a Chinese website works as a hallmark of your company and a contact point for local distributors and Chinese consumers, social media platforms are where the majority of Chinese Internet users learn about companies and look for consumer goods and luxury goods from overseas companies.
WeChat can be seen as an email & community management marketing tool. But this is far from the truth, as it’s mainly a social e-commerce platform providing a wide range of services for all kinds of businesses.
When it comes to the best tools that will help you find distributors interested in importing products from you, we would name WeChat brochure, official accounts, and group marketing.
WeChat brochure helps you show off your product in a beautifully designed H5. Light and easy to share, they are ideal for your product listing and reaching out to distributors. For example, when joining Food Fair (eg. Canton fair) or other trade shows, having a QR code that allows people to access your WeChat Brochure is a must and tells much about your understanding of the culture to a potential partner.
Those brochures are very easy to share and highly interactive, making them a perfect tool to show the potential partner or distribution companies that you understand the market. Those cost-effective mini-apps are a great alternative to PDF documents, as PDFs are not interactive and load longer.
WeChat Official Account:
The equivalent of email marketing but with more advanced options. You can share your content 4 times a month to neuter your follower. But you can also set up a menu to guide your followers and create a mini-program to entertain or facilitate taking actions such as buying your products.
WeChat group marketing:
Wechat groups are an effective way to grow your presence on WeChat. WeChat is rather a close social media, so joining and managing as many groups as possible is the most cost-efficient way for you to gain followers and control any ongoing marketing process there.
Zhihu to build your e-reputation
Zhihu is the most popular social Q&A platform among Chinese apps. To make a comparison we can define it as the Chinese parallel service of Yahoo Answers and Quora. Its success is based on the authority of the content published by its users.
What makes it an interesting app for brands is first of all its audience, made up of educated users with high purchasing power that like to search for recommendations before buying a product. Furthermore, in terms of SEO optimization, it must be taken into account that the keywords searched on search engines such as Baidu and Sogou are always linked to Zhihu, so by entering Baidu, you also gain control over the audience on Zhihu.
The app can therefore be used for lead generation, content marketing, KOL marketing (thanks to the top contributors, considered particularly reliable) and to build your e-reputation.
PR and Forums to create word-of-mouth and brand credibility
PR is one of the most cost-effective solutions for any business. It is a basic of marketing where the right people talk about you. PR is a good way to build your credibility.
In China, recommendations mostly come from locals because Chinese people mostly trust Chinese netizens. Word of mouth is the key, that’s why it is important to be present on Chinese forums if you want to boost your sales.
Complete your PR efforts and strengthen your credibility using forums (like Baidu Tieba) and KOLs to talk about you. Although the phenomenon of influencers is gaining popularity around the world, the country leveraging this aspect the most is definitely the Middle Kingdom.
KOLs and communities are powerful and widely listen to the Chinese internet, in fact, their opinion matters the most. Most young Chinese people nowadays search for recommendations from their favorite Key Opinion Leaders.
Tmall B2D for foreign investment in the Chinese market
Tmall B2D is a platform where you can connect with 85,000 Chinese distributors. Tmall B2D gives brands great visibility in the current market. It helps to:
- connect brands and 85000 distributors
- manage service, minimum sales quota, minimum order quantity, supply chains, and logistics
- manage distribution to the final destination and quality control
- conduct secure payments
- ensure product quality
Any entrepreneur can choose his distributor on the Tmall app. Quality distributors must have sufficient knowledge of the logistics management involved and be up-to-finding solutions to all problems related to sales. However, it is not easy to choose the right distributor for you when one has no expertise in China distribution and is not even in the country to search for one himself.
In addition, the platform is in Chinese, therefore it is better to be accompanied by professionals in this first step. You can contact us for help!
Selling to the government distribution and sales channels in China
Apart from finding a distributor, according to Chinese law, you can also consider selling to the Chinese government. Last year, the government distribution and sales channels in China were valued at $1.7 trillion dollars with a CAGR growth rate of over 15%. The current market size is huge for both domestic suppliers as well international competitors like Amazon or Walmart who want to get their piece of this pie too!
To successfully sell to the government, primarily you need to have a deep understanding of the distribution infrastructure, sales channels, services, logistics, and supply chain system within the country.
The first step is to identify your target market and which entity or agencies would be most likely to purchase your product or services. Once you have a list of potential customers, you need to research the appropriate contact methods for each of them. In many cases, you will need to go through a state-owned enterprise (SOE) in order to reach the relevant government agency.
If you’re looking for reliable Chinese distributors, contact us!
An agency like GMA can help you in all the processes to make your products famous.
- Help with Seo, Sem, Content Marketing, Recommendations;
- Localize your content marketing to attract clients;
- Provide an H5 WeChat Brochure, which is an electronic brochure that is easy to share on WeChat. It contains the listing of products (in Chinese);
- Help using Lead Generation, Lead Generation is the set of marketing actions that aim to acquire and generate interesting contacts in any region in China. Drawing up a list of contacts is possible through a careful lead generation strategy, which can use advertising and acquisition tools.
Contact us if you are looking for a distributor in China! We have many reliable distributors in all sectors and we can connect you with the ones most suitable for your brand.