Manufacture and distribute your products in China: MANUAL for start-ups

Most of the brands and professionals wanting to launch themselves in China decide to launch themselves in this market with an obviousness in mind: to establish themselves in the Chinese market by importing their products there. This method is one of the most commonly used to achieve this goal as a young company or start-up. But what if there was a totally different and more effective method? Should you decide to create your own brand in China?

What comes to your mind? You do not know enough about the specificities of the market and its regulations? Do you panic about the idea of creating your brand in a territory that is (almost) unknown to you? Don’t panic and continue your reading, we will explain what are the steps to follow and how you will succeed in achieving this goal!

1. How to find a Chinese supplier as a start-up?

Yiwu World's Largest wholesale Market
Yiwu World’s Largest Wholesale Market

Whatever your type of product is, finding your supplier(s) is the first step in creating your products and thus your brand. You need to find a reliable supplier that meets your needs.

For your supply of raw materials on Chinese territory, it is recommended to source from the largest e-commerce platform in the world: Alibaba. With a huge diversity of suppliers, Alibaba will allow you to find everything you need.

Offering you a wide range of choices, and qualities with specialized manufacturers as well as a possible negotiation, this platform seems ideal. However, keep in mind that suppliers may not speak the same language as you and expect variable delivery times depending on your order.

It is good to keep in mind that often you’ll deal with a middleman that facilitates the transaction between you and a supplier. Their own profit will be priority number one. We strongly suggest you build a network in China with partners your trust.

2. Select the right manufacturer

2.1 Find potential factories in China

In order to get an idea of the production price of your products, we advise you to select several factories and identify your exact manufacturing costs by asking each of the selected factories for a quote.

You will certainly see big differences in the prices offered because some “factories” are in fact companies passing through intermediaries. This is why it is important to select a real factory. GMA can help you in the identification of this difference to avoid wasting time with intermediaries.

This is how you will find the best value for money, taking you to the next step.

alibaba manufacturer

2.2 Take an interest in the organization of factories still on your list

In order to know which of the factories will be best suited to your needs, you will need to ask them your most important questions (about their old projects, production time, minimum quantity per order, payment terms, etc.).

It is after these questions that you will see which ones do not suit you and which will be the ideal factory for you.

2.3 Proceed to the manufacturing process

Now that you have chosen your manufacturing plant, it is essential not to skip the steps in the manufacturing process of a product.

  • The pre-production sample

As you know, doing a sample of your product before starting its production is essential. However, manufacturing with Chinese is very different than with Europeans. You must give as many precisions as possible for the details of your sample making.

Chinese people have a different approach and expect full instructions from you. Nothing should be assumed or excluded.

Detail the manufacturing options as precisely as possible: the materials used, the sizes, the measurements, the logo position, the type of print, and the colors, …

The more specific you are, the more time and money you will save.

alibaba masks respirator
  • Confirm the sample

Once the sample meets your qualitative expectations, you can confirm it and it will thus be your final product. You can then move on. Don’t hesitate to be picky. It can take a few tries before your manufacturer gets it right. Don’t get frustrated, be patient and explain again what you are looking for. Yelling at your manufacturer would only make him lose face.. and that would not be good.

Start production (and monitor it)

In general, once you have placed your order, you will be asked to pay 30% of the amount before production and the remaining 70% afterward.

We advise you to follow the production by asking for a manufacturing schedule but also to provide you with photos of the production progress to know if a delay is to be expected or not.

We also advise you to check the quality of the product before paying the remaining 70% of the amount so as not to have any unpleasant surprises (or defective products) and to settle this amount with complete assurance.

Congratulations! You have successfully produced in China!

But be careful, don’t forget the following important points:

3. Business Plan

Your start-up Business Plan must be flawless in terms of your budget.

  • Know your exact manufacturing and merchandise costs (knowing that merchandise costs far more than manufacturing!)
  • Also, know your printing/labeling costs, these costs can vary a lot depending on different factors such as size, number of colors, and tooling costs, …

4. Intellectual property


Remember the importance of intellectual property if you have chosen to purchase a product model from your manufacturer’s catalog. Check if this model is already used and/or patented.

Also, always use photos and unique content from you to avoid copyright, trademark infringement, or patent infringement issues.

And remember to protect your own products and brand in China if you don’t want counterfeits to pop up quickly. If you see counterfeit, it means you’ve been successful at promoting your products! congrats.

5. Find the right distributor

Once your production is ready, you must have planned a way to sell it. Because e-commerce is the best way to sell massively in China, finding the right distributor will play a key role in the sales of your products.

5.1 Tmall Global

The local online distribution leader with over 60% of total Chinese online sales in 2019. You can sell almost everything on this B2C platform: from clothes to cosmetics, electronic products, furniture, or even food.

Getting on Tmall Global is getting access to Tmall’s 700 million monthly active users, as many potential consumers.

There are multiple steps and ways to get into Tmall Global: the first thing is to request your entry into the platform and then choose the type of store you want to open. Being accompanied by Chinese market professionals such as the GMA team will facilitate your entry and will certainly save you from unnecessary problems.

To know more about it,  we invite you to read this article: From home to China: How to sell on Tmall?

5.2 is the second online distribution leader in China. It is also a B2C platform but more specialized in electronic product distribution. With more than 350 million active users, it is a perfect platform if you want to distribute household appliances, home equipment, electronic products, or any other type of product.

Chinese people believe that is more reliable when it comes to buying electronic products since it is the platform’s specialty.

For example, another platform named Koala is specialized in the distribution of food products. This illustrates well that you must choose carefully your distributor depending on your products’ category to better sell them!

Read our Merchants Guide

6. How to Promote your products efficiently in China

The last step to boosting and selling effectively in China: is your digital marketing campaign. Online presence is the key to success in China and sells any type of product.

Start-ups in China should use WeChat

The most important social platform in Chinese people’s daily life. Representing more than 1 billion daily active users, WeChat gives many possibilities to make your promotion reach as many users as possible:

  • WeChat official account: Create an account to be visible, and share texts, images, and other marketing content. This will allow you to establish your fan base and your presence on users’ feeds.
  • WeChat brochure: This feature is efficient for a simple introduction of new products for example. Easy to create and easy to use, WeChat users are very receptive to opening those brochures.
  • WeChat mini-program: An original way to reach potential consumers through games or events invitations. Some brands even use mini-programs to set up an alternative online shop to sell even more through WeChat. And this solution works since the WeChat mini-programs sales amount represents some brands half of their total sales!

Weibo, in China business, is social, and social is Business

With more than 500 million monthly active users, Weibo is also one of the largest social platforms in China. Since Weibo’s main concern is visual content, your targets can easily be led to the distributor’s online store you chose and thus sell more effectively. Being in some ways your showcase, Weibo also gives you other features for your marketing campaign as KOLs and live streaming to gain visibility and reliability.

Collaborating with KOLs will convert the trust users according to the influencers you chose into your products. Using live streams AND KOLs at the same time is a real sales booster because the Chinese love this feature and are more willing to spend money during this kind of event.

Read more about Weibo

The beginning of your China adventure …

It is possible that some of the previous steps are problematic if you are not familiar with the market, practices, and local regulations, or if you simply do not speak Mandarin. Being accompanied by a partner with knowledge and experience will be the best tool for any start-up in China.

Anything is possible in China. Producing it is not easy, and marketing and selling your products is another story! Your marketing strategy, especially digital, will or won’t make the success of your brand in China. A partner who knows the Chinese lifestyle and habits and knows how to reach your target will be your best friend!

We are your Marketing agency in China:

  • A team of 70 digital experts in China
  • Having a deep knowledge of the Chinese market
  • More than 1000 projects carried out in a wide variety of sectors
  • Experts are not less human!
GMA Chinese digital ecommerce Agency

Leave the first comment