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Expert Q&A: What is the normal practice for requesting samples from manufacturers in China?


What is the normal practice for requesting samples from manufacturers in China? At first I need to receive small numbers of samples to show that the manufacturer can meet my specifications and has the ability to produce the goods to the standard I require. European and American suppliers can send me samples by normal mail and free of charge. Can Chinese suppliers do this also?


As you mention, it is quite normal for supplier back home in North America and EU to provide samples free of charge. However, it is not always the case in China for the following reasons:

  1. The seller may not be familiar with the overseas buyer’s reputation or history, and not realise the opportunity they have to make a good impression by giving free samples.
  2. Chinese companies operate on tight margins, even if they know the buyer is legit, they still may have corporate policy against offering free samples and/or free shipping.

I can respect a supplier that does all they can to keep costs down (especially if those savings are passed on to the customer), so when I am in a situation like yours above where samples are needed, I offer to buy the samples and pay for the shipping, but request that they give me a discount of the same value should the order be placed with them.  Since I have done my research in terms of Finding Suppliers and narrowed the potential suppliers down to a handful, I don’t end up spending a lot on samples because I am getting them from two or three high potential suppliers and I have negotiated a credit to the order.

Wishing you successful China sourcing!


Question answered by Mike Bellamy, host of "Ask the Experts"  at the China Sourcing Information Center.

Mike Bellamy is an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center. He is also the author of, The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.

For related articles, visit China Sourcing Information Center.

(Source: Mike Bellamy, China Sourcing Information Center )