Import From China Business

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A practical guide for starting a small business

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The Importer’s Little Black Book

Finding a supplier seems like black magic to many starting out in the world of importing.  Ask any experienced importer for his or her list of suppliers and you will likely get an interesting reaction.  An importer's list of suppliers is like a little black book full of secrets.  It is quite understandable though.  A supplier's list is the life blood of the import business.  The importing business will die without it.  

Finding a supplier is one of the most important tasks in the import process. Depending on the product and the country of origin, there are many ways to go about finding a supplier.  In many situations, you do not want to rely solely on a single supplier.  Many importers have backups just in case the primary supplier cannot supply the importer's demand for whatever reason.

Find a Supplier

7 Ways to Finding a Supplier

There are many creative ways to find a supplier for your import business. Here are seven of the most efficient ways:


  1. Online Sources


Kompass Group:


One of the best on line sources of finding international suppliers is the Kompass Group.  With over 60 years of experience, the company has 2.8 million records of international suppliers in 26 languages. The records are classified in 57,000 codes.

Enter costume jewelry in the search bar and the web site returns almost 3000 suppliers.   You can select or filter by country.  Pick China and almost immediately you have almost 100 costume suppliers in China for you to investigate.



ThomasNet (Thomas Register):


ThomasNet (previously Thomas Register) has brought buyers and suppliers of industrial products and services together to do business with one another for over 110 years.  This site has over 600,000 registered North American manufacturers, distributors and service companies.  More than 3 million buyers and sellers connect every month.



Trade Key: was formed in 2005 with the goal of facilitating global trade and linking buyers and sellers from all around the world. is world's leading marketplace which connects traders with worldwide wholesalers, buyers, importers & exporters, manufacturers and distributors in over 220 countries, quickly and cost effectively.


You can access this service for free.  You simply create an account and post an interest to buy.  Then you will receive quotes and information from potential suppliers.




This site allows buyers to post their requirements reaching potential suppliers from 180 countries around the world.  This site with headquarters in India has over 20,000 buyers and 40,000 suppliers.


2. Foreign Government Offices in Your Country

Foreign Consulate Offices promote the commercial interests of the country that they represent.  If you have an interest in doing business in their country, they are obligated to set you up with suppliers from their host country.   Start by writing a letter to the local consulate from the country that you are interested in finding a supplier.  State your interest and your product and ask for supplier leads.  Follow up with a phone call after your written letter has arrived.

3. Trade Shows

Practically every country in the world will have trade shows highlighting the country's industries and suppliers.   Some are specialized shows while others are national expositions which highlight a cross section of the country's suppliers.

4. Trade Publications

Most countries have trade journals representing the different export industries.   The advertising within the journal highlighting certain suppliers can prove beneficial.  So go ahead and grab a copy of a trade journal for the country that you want to import from.  You can contact the country's chamber of commerce or consulate for more information.

5. Exporting Country's Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages are available in major cities around the world including cities such as Hong Kong and Bangkok.   Some foreign publications are published in English and in the country's native language.  If you are visiting the country, you can always pick one up at the hotel or try calling your local phone company to get information on how to obtain foreign Yellow Pages.

6. Banks

International banks are well connected in the world of international trade because practically all financial transactions are conducted through them.   If you are in the U.S., go to the U.S. branch of the foreign bank to obtain economic information and potential supplier connections.  HSBC is one such global bank.

7. Airlines

Air Cargo has a vested interest in promoting international trade.  Call the customer service for information.  They may be able to assist in connecting you with economic information or potential suppliers.

After a list of potential suppliers is selected, you will need to evaluate them or determine which ones are best for you.


Finding the right suppliers is a key to the success of your import business. Whether you are importing from China or from another country, doing your homework in this area is vital.

Evaluating Your Potential Supplier