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What is the normal practice for requesting samples from manufacturers in China?

Posted: 2012-05-08

Full Question

What is the normal practice for requesting samples from manufacturers in China? 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, free of charge. Will Chinese suppliers do this also?

Answer

As you mentioned, it is quite normal for suppliers in North America or the 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 realize 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 a corporate policy against offering free samples 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, 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 2 or 3 high potential suppliers, and I have negotiated a credit to the order.

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