4+1 China Sourcing Experts You Should Be Following (Who aren’t actually China Sourcing Experts)
I learned a lot of my China sourcing chops by doing- ordering lots and lots of product. I learned the ropes as I went. I got a lot of good advice- and some terrible advice. Along the way, I found some people who just “get it”- they understand China. A few of these people share their experiences with the world on their blogs.
Funnily, a lot of these guys aren’t “China sourcing experts”- they hang their hat on something else- law, QA (quality assurance), etc.
Dan Harris- The China Law Expert
I’ve spoken with Dan on the phone a few times, ages ago. He probably doesn’t remember the conversations. But if you have a question about the interaction of US law and Chinese law, he’s your go-to guy. Want to start up a WOFE? He’s your man!
Warning! Lots of Westerners do stupid things in China (uh, like me), and Dan will tell you if you’re doing stupid, dangerous, or illegal things. And he may refuse to represent you!
His blog is a great place to start if you want to get a feel for what is or is not legal in China- rather than what your factories tell you. Shocker- your factories and Chinese agents are probably leading you wrong, either by accident or design.
David Dayton- The China Sourcing Expert
David bought me a marvelous dinner in Shenzhen years ago, where I met him and a few of his employees. Among the many dishes served to us, we ate “pissing shrimp”, and I vividly recall that David apologized to his [female] employee when he said the name. Let’s say we have slightly different backgrounds…
David’s blog is fantastic- although it looks like his updates have fallen off. When I hire a new employee for the sourcing side of the business, I tell them to read all of David’s archives.
I remember when I first stumbled across his blog. It was a revelation- “This is the China that I know!!!”
David’s company, Silk Road International is a 3rd party procurement agency in China. If you need a product developed, or you need more sourcing help than just simply inspection, give David a bell.
Start following: You can find David’s blog online at Silk Road International or on Skype at dvdd8n
Renaud Anjoran- The China QA Expert
Renaud runs Sofeast Quality Assurance- he is the man for outsourced QA in China for SMBs. Plus, he’s super knowledgeable about sourcing in general. Sofeast is the only company on this list that I actively do business with currently. I have Renaud’s crew inspect every container before it leaves China.
His blog is great, and Renaud has helped me on multiple occasions when I’ve had a factory problem. We also had this great conversation the last time I was in Shenzhen:
Me: John [a factory boss] has been giving me problems again.
Renaud: Same things as before?
Me: Yes! We fix the problems, I go and visit, and everything is fine. Then as soon as I leave, the same problems start up again. You know, the last time I visited, he found out that I was going to visit another factory. I wonder if this knowledge caused him to lose face, and then he is compensating by having poor quality controls. Blah blah blah, more ‘China cultural differences’ stuff…
Renaud: This is not a “China” thing. Some people are just assholes.
Ever since then, I try to remember- not every problem is an East vs. West culture shock. Some people are just assholes. Thanks Renaud!
Andrew Hupert- The China Negotiation Expert
Andrew used to have a fantastic blog called the China Negotiation Blog. It looks like a lot of his stuff has migrated over to the ChinaSolved blog. I really dug his stuff on Chinese and Western negotiation styles, sources of conflict, sources of power, etc.
BONUS SECRET WEAPON- Shanghaiist
If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of what young, internet savvy, worldy Chinese and expats are thinking and doing, check Shanghaiist regularly. You’ll rarely find anything of strategic value for your business, but you’ll get sources of small talk with your Chinese friends and they’ll be amazed at how well you know the litany of mini-scandals that are constantly getting weibo’s panties in a twist.
Really, this one is great for relationship building. Most Westerners know very little about China- and if they know anything, it’s an ignorant laowai’s view of Chinese history (aka my knowledge of Chinese history). So get educated, son!
Who am I missing?
Who is your sourcing or product development guru? Let me know in the comments below. And just like the above cast of characters, I like a high signal to noise ratio, but I will learn from a broad range of people. I’d love to know a US sourcing expert, or a Vietnam-focused person.
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