(a) Chinese Trade fair
One of the best places to find reliable China suppliers is to attend Canton Fair, which is the biggest trade fair in China. In 2008, more than 10,000 Chinese companies have attended Canton fair (spring session). The Canton fair organization committee set a very high threshold for exhibition companies, let us take textile industry for example, only companies with more than 3 million USD export turnover in last year are qualified to attend Canton fair (For companies from eastern part of China, the limit for western China company is 1 million USD).
So the suppliers you met in Canton fair are mostly big and authentic suppliers that selected and recommended by local government. So the big buyers can always find ideal suppliers from Canton fair. But if you are a smaller buyer, I would suggest you choose smaller while rapid-developing companies instead of big suppliers. The big buyers like Wal-mart, Target etc are on their top priority, smaller buyers’ interest will be sacrificed first if they don’t have enough production capacity to fulfill all the orders at peak season. However, your orders are always taken care well by the smaller suppliers. The other reason I recommend smaller but quality suppliers from Canton fair is that they are fast responding to your questions and concerns, that is very important especially when your order is really complicated.
Other than Canton fair, the East China fair is a large scale trade fair in China that is only next to Canton fair. Also if you are geographically connected with China, for example, if you are buyer from Russia, you might be interested to attend Harbin fair which is close to Russia.
(b) B2B website
I have worked in several trade companies, when I received an inquiry from foreign buyers, the first thing I do is go to alibaba.com to compile a list of suppliers and then compare price and narrow down the list. That fact shows how useful it is to use B2B website to find a good supplier.
There are many B2B website out there, like Alibaba, made-in-China, globalsources, tradekey etc. Global sources set the highest threshold by charging for expensive membership fee, so the supplier quality is relatively higher than the other platform. Alibaba, made-in-china and tradekey are also good resources to find suppliers, especially Alibaba. Most company in Alibaba are real companies (except for counterfeited brand products sellers). But one thing I need to stress is that a gold supplier and trust pass member in Alibaba doesn’t necessarily mean they are real, Alibaba said they have verified those companies, but this still doesn’t promise these companies are real.
(c) Search engine
Use search engine Google or Baidu to search China suppliers. Vary the search term to put up a list of suppliers showing up in the search results. Besides, many suppliers launch pay per click advertising on Google and Baidu, the AD appears on the side of organic search results. PPC advertising is pretty new in China, companies pioneered to use this advertising method definitely worth you to have a look at.
(d) Industry association
It is always a good idea to search the industry association websites or buy industrial publications from those industry associations to search for reliable suppliers and buyers. We have written an article on Chinese industry association list, where you can find the industry association website related to your business. One thing I might add is that they are mostly very bureaucratic, do a DIY search on their website to find the information and resources useful, don’t expect that they will answer your email..