China distributor: How to find and manage Chinese distributors?
Distributors are changing in China in 2023.
When expanding into the Chinese market, it is important to find a quality distributor that will help your company to sell and reach its potential. The process of finding this kind of person can seem daunting for many foreign businesses. International and multinational companies want to get more profits by establishing a presence in China.
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However, the process of finding China distributors is not as easy as some might think. Indeed, settling on the Chinese market is difficult so companies have recourses to China’s local distribution channels. If you’re willing to try, take a look at the article below and find out how to deal with the task of finding China distributors on the Chinese market.
Reputation is the key to win China market
After some food scandals in China, Chinese people are always on their toes when it comes to safety. They make sure that they monitor the reputation of any product for sale or purchase through channels like social media and e-commerce platforms, especially when it comes to foreign companies. They won’t buy anything from trading companies that they don’t trust. As there is a huge variety of consumer goods, people in Mainland China can let themselves be very picky when it comes to products they want to buy.
But, since Chinese consumers got disappointed with Chinese factories and the quality control level of products made in China, they turn to distributors importing products from abroad. Chinese consumers are different from global buyers, they believe in foreign brands more than their own when it comes to quality. And that makes room for international brands and their China distributors to shine.
Chinese consumers check the Baidu search engine for opinions, they check Alibaba Group platforms like Tmall to see the quality and comments and look for low prices, and they check social media platforms for recommendations. Therefore, you need a good reference on these websites so that China distributors accept your products and help to sell them to the final destination in China. This happens for all other brands as well–companies will not get any promotional support from them: they typically focus only on distribution/sales.
Distributors can quickly switch brands to avoid losing money. If Chinese customers do not like the company’s products anymore, local distributors will take them off their shelves and find suppliers of similar goods or even promote competitor’s goods in order to make up for lost revenue streams that were once derived solely on sales of this specific line alone. This is why it’s important to build personal relationships with your China distributors, so they won’t replace you with a Chinese supplier that offers better prices.
Master the art of guanxi in China
Guanxi is the relationships that people in China form in order to get things done. It’s not just about who you know, but also about the favors and obligations that are owed between people. In a society where there is a great emphasis on hierarchy and status, guanxi is incredibly important for getting ahead, especially in the business environment.
The key to having successful guanxi is to first be able to identify who the right people are for your business, and then to develop a relationship of trust with them. This can take time, but once it’s established, the possibilities for what can be accomplished are endless. So if you want to find a good China distributor for years, you need to form proper guanxi with them, so that mutual trust is achieved.
How to find a reliable distributor in Mainland China
Finding a good partner to work with to distribute your physical products in China is not an easy thing. Your search for Chinese suppliers can start online. Alibaba, Made in China, and Global Sources are all popular websites for selecting distributors and manufacturers in China. But how do you go about finding one? And what should you look for? Follow some of our tips to kick off your company on China market.
Boost your brand awareness on the Chinese Internet
Before you try to find a local distributor, try to take care of some important tasks first, so you will show your potential distributor, that you’re not dependent on China distributors only. Start building brand awareness by setting accounts on Chinese websites and social media platforms. Do thorough research and learn what you need to do to kick off your business in China and attract distributors to work with you.
Start a Chinese website in the Chinese language and present your brand and products there, so that trading companies, customers, and China suppliers all will be able to check all the important information themselves. Highlight product quality, product specifications, payment and shipping terms, and the company’s story, so that Chinese people will know who you are.
Remember to work on SEO strategy, so you will rank high in the Baidu search engine. Nowadays, a website works as an initial contact method for any business, just like a business card in the old times. China is no different.
Consider setting an account on B2D website
For businesses that want to sell products on China’s largest online retail platform, Tmall, there’s now a new way to do it. Tmall Global B2D (Business to Dealer) is a new e-commerce platform that allows businesses to sell products directly to China distributors on Tmall. This is a great opportunity for businesses that are interested in exporting products to China, ranging from medical devices and health products, through office supplies at low prices, and building materials, to luxury fashion and beauty products for high-end Chinese consumers.
There is a database of more than 85000 China distributors, so any brand can find a suitable distributor there. The platform also takes care of supply chains, logistics, and payments. Tmall B2D platform is a great idea for brands, providing an option of selecting China distributors within the platform, so it’s a great time saver. But you need to know that the platform is fully in Chinese, so if you have a language barrier, contact us. We will help you with all communication issues, like setting minimum sales quota, deciding about sales channels and trade shows, logistics, and so on.
Enter Chinese social media platforms to gain Distributors’ trust
The brand has to spread its image on Chinese e-commerce platforms and social networks to gain popularity among Chinese consumers and to provide the maximum of information on products. The brand has to work on its digital strategies and show Chinese distributors that the product attracts customers in China. Nowadays, more and more foreign companies are entering Chinese social media platforms, as they see the real potential of winning an audience there.
Although the selected platforms will depend on your products type, there are three main platforms that Chinese netizens use on daily basis:
Use WeChat Marketing Feature to Expend your Distributor Network in China
WeChat is a messaging app that enables users to connect with each other and share information. The app can be used for a variety of purposes, including staying in touch with customers, conducting business transactions, and sharing news and updates. Today it is considered one of the most successful e-commerce platforms, thanks to the huge community and features it provides.
There are some key features that you should consider to gain more visibility in China:
You need a Wechat Official Account
WeChat’s official account is a platform provided by Wechat for companies, organizations, and individual users to publish their articles and connect with their followers. It offers a great way for verified users to build their brand and connect with fans.
Users can share articles, images, videos, and audio files on the Wechat official account. In addition, they can also hold live interactive sessions with up to 500 people. This makes it an ideal platform for conducting online marketing campaigns and building relationships with customers or fans.
WeChat Brochure instead of PDF Listing:
Businesses can use Wechat to create a brochure that showcases their products and services. The brochure can be customized with the company’s logo, colors, and contact information. Prospective customers can then view the brochure and learn more about the business. This is an effective way to promote your brand in China to a large audience while fostering two-way communication.
There are a lot of benefits of having an H5 brochure on Wechat. Primarily, those brochures are easy to share and interactive, so it’s a nice way to present your brand and show potential distributors that you know the market. They are also cost-efficient and are a good alternative to PDF documents because they load faster and are more fun and intuitive to scroll through.
COMPANY’S SHOP IN YOUR WECHAT MINI PROGRAM:
WeChat Mini-programs are like apps within WeChat. They allow users to access a specific function, without having to leave the WeChat app. For businesses, this is a great way to offer a more streamlined user experience for customers and to keep them engaged with your brand. You can set up a shop within Wechat, which is way cheaper than entering Tmall or JD marketplaces.
Weibo is a social media platform with over 500 million users in China. It’s very similar to Twitter, but has some unique features, such as the ability to post longer messages and include images and videos.
Weibo can be a great way to connect with customers in China and promote your business. You can create a Weibo account for free, and then start posting updates about your company, products, or services. You can also share news and articles about your industry, and respond to comments from followers.
The key to using Weibo successfully for business is to be active and engage with followers regularly. Try to create interesting content that will resonate with Chinese consumers, and be prepared to respond to questions and feedback.
LITTLE RED BOOK
Little Red Book or Xiaohongshu is a social media app that allows users to share pictures and reviews of products they’ve purchased. It’s especially popular with millennials, who use it to find and buy products they’re interested in.
Xiaohongshu can be used for business in a few ways. Firstly, businesses can use it to advertise their products and promote sales. Secondly, businesses can use it to research new products and trends. Thirdly, businesses can use it to connect with customers and followers. Finally, businesses can use it to gather feedback on their products.
China’s public relations are a good tool When looking for distributors
In China, word-of-mouth is the most effective marketing and PR strategy. Chinese netizens prefer to buy something recommended by a person they trust, whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a person they follow online. So in order to have a good presence in China, so that Chinese distributors will trust you, you need to take care of good public relations of your company.
There are many different ways to build a positive image for a company or individual in China. Some of the most common methods include creating news stories that are favorable to the company or individual, issuing press releases, arranging interviews with journalists, and establishing relationships with influential people.
The goal of PR is to make sure that the company or individual is seen in a positive light by as many people as possible, including Chinese suppliers.
Beware of beyond-control cooperations with Chinese suppliers
Even if you find the best distributors for your company, don’t let them take over the control. Otherwise, the local distributors have too much power over the brand’s strategy in the market, and they don’t care about the image and the reputation or any other factors which are important for the brand to stand well in the market. When they lose interest in a brand or there are other products more profitable, they will stop their work for you.
For many foreign companies, it’s a foregone conclusion that local distributors have merely been intermediaries for entering the market, temporary partners incapable of sustaining growth in the long term. In order to avoid that, build a personal relationship with your distributors for the trust purpose and don’t let them control everything that happens in the China market regarding your business.
Maintain control over your Chinese marketing strategy
Any foreign company entering the Chinese market needs a solid marketing strategy, otherwise, it won’t succeed. The firm should lead the strategy about which products to sell, how to position them, and which budget to apply. If brands provide solid leadership for marketing, they will be in a beneficial position to exploit the full potential of the Chinese market rather than be fooled by local distributors.
There are some key factors to take into consideration when working on a marketing strategy in China for your brand.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand the cultural context. What might be effective marketing in other countries might not work in China, where cultural values and preferences vary significantly from those in the West. For example, while Western cultures prize individualism and independence, Chinese culture is more collectivist and emphasizes the importance of harmonious social relationships.
Another key consideration is that the Chinese market is extremely diverse. There are vast differences between rural and urban areas, between different regions within China, and even between generations within the same region. It’s important to tailor your marketing strategy accordingly to reach your target audience effectively.
It’s best if you work with China marketing agency, that will help you with all the tasks together, from starting official accounts on e-commerce websites and platforms, working on the marketing and public relations strategy, as well as finding suitable China distributors for your company. Those agencies are usually based in China, with both Chinese netizens and foreigners on board, so you don’t need to worry about the fact that you don’t know the Chinese language.
Set goals for your Chinese distributors
As we mentioned earlier, any Chinese distributor wants to sell products that will profit quickly. They will not sell a product if they know that the Chinese consumer will not buy it. Chinese distributor seeks a brand with a certain reputation in China. We must therefore propose an easy product to sell. They expect their suppliers to deliver excellent quality products manufactured with precision, with good packaging, precise positioning, and a good reputation.
The company should not conclude a contract with Chinese distributors and then expect them to take care of all actions needed on China market. You need to engage in your distributor’s actions by setting goals and keeping in contact closely with your partners. Try to create an agreement with strong incentives for appropriate goals, such as customer acquisition or new product sales.
Adjust commitments accordingly
Once you have found your collaborative distributors and you have entered the market, you need to adjust your commitments accordingly. As your business grows in the Chinese market, your brand position, reputation, and distribution scales may change, and the distributor’s business may fit best at the beginning of the market entry.
However, as time passes, the fit deteriorates. The distributor may be less able to follow companies’ activities or companies need to make some changes in the cooperation with local distributors.
Communication with your distributors in China is very important
The brand needs to communicate as much as possible with its distribution teams and help them to know as much as possible about the brand. To do so, train your salespeople to present a very good image of your brand because they are people who are directly in contact with your targets. Make them engaged in your brand, and well-motivated so as to increase your sales.
Additionally, make sure your Chinese distributors provide you with detailed market and financial performance data. You should be all-around informed about your product’s situation in China. Through this two-way communication, can misunderstanding and ambiguity be averted?
Finding China distributors: conclusion
Finding the right China distributor is key to success in the Chinese market. As you consider potential partners, be sure to keep the following in mind: their level of experience and expertise in your industry, their distribution channels and reach within China, their financial stability and resources, and finally, whether they share your company values. With due diligence, you can find a qualified China distributor that will help your business grow and thrive in this complex but lucrative market.
Gentleman Marketing Agency is here to help you with the process
External assistance is very helpful at the beginning of the market entry. If you want to know more about how Chinese distribution works and how to choose good Chinese distributors, feel free to contact us, we have unique expertise and knowledge of the market thanks to our international marketing specialists.
It’s a lot easier to overcome language and culture barriers when you go through a sourcing agent that will come up with the best sourcing strategy to find suitable distributors for your products in China. Feel free to leave as a message!
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please keep in mind that building successful partnerships with distributors requires mutual respect, clear communication, and professionalism.
Basic (i sahre my experience)
Learn to speak Mandarin like a pro: Start by practicing simple phrases like “ni hao” (hello) and “xie xie” (thank you), and work your way up to mastering complex business jargon. Who needs a translator when you can just wing it?
guanxi: Forget about contracts and legal agreements, the key to successful distributor relationships in China is all about building strong personal connections. Start by sending your distributor a big red envelope filled with cash – that’s sure to seal the deal!
Build Guanxi, they will like it
Know your numbers: Brush up on your math skills so you can negotiate prices and quantities like a pro. And if you’re not sure, just make up a number and hope for the best.
Gift-giving is key: Show your appreciation to your Chinese distributor by giving them lavish gifts like luxury watches, designer handbags, and bottles of top-shelf liquor. Who needs profit margins when you can buy your way to success?
Be flexible: In China, business moves at lightning speed, so be prepared to change course at a moment’s notice. If your distributor suddenly decides they want to sell something completely different from what you agreed upon, just go with the flow!
Remember, while these tips may be humorous, it is important to approach distributor relationships with respect, professionalism, and cultural sensitivity.