A REAL buyer with 30 years experience of buying wholesale toys in China shares amazing tips and insights that will help you buy toys in bulk from China and make money.
I have intimate knowledge of buying and selling toys wholesale. For about 30 years I was buying, selling and trading toys in bulk.
I started as a buyer, buying toys from trading companies and exporters in Taiwan. Up to the early 1990s, Taiwan was a major manufacturing hub for toys. Then, toy factories moved to mainland China, and so did I.
I was buying toys from the Yiwu wholesale market, Shenzhen, and the main manufacturing hub, Chenghai, a suburb of Shantou.
After about 20 years of buying toys in bulk, and exporting them from China, I became an exporter myself. I created a small but very efficient trading company in Chenghai, and for about 5 years I was manufacturing and exporting best selling toys from China to the rest of the world.
I am therefore very familiar with all the dos and don’ts. I am in a special unique position where I have been both a buyer of toys in bulk as well as an exporter and trader. I know how a buyer thinks, what he wants and what he is afraid of. I also know what the Chinese sellers are looking for, and how they think.
In this article, I will offer some precious and high value real tips for successfully buying toys in China. The insights you will read here cannot be learned in University, they are from real life situations, based on so many years of actual trading in toys.
You will notice that other articles about sourcing toys in China offer general information about wholesale toys buying in China, but non of those sourcing companies can actually offer any real useful tips to the buyer, for the very simple reason that…they were never buyers. They were born in China, grew up in China, and starting sourcing (which is just another way of saying trading and exporting). The tips you will read here are REAL, from a REAL buyer, pay attention and you will know doubt benefit from this guide.
Never push to hard on the delivery date of your order
It is a good idea to always ask your supplier how soon they can ship your order, and accepting their delivery date is wide. Pushing for a faster delivery date of your goods is looking for trouble. Quality is always more important than speed. Allow the factory to take the necessary time to produce high quality toys, with the best parts and steady production schedule. If you push, and insist you need your toys by a certain date no matter what, you risk receiving a defective shipment that may have leaky batteries, poorly printed gifted boxes or remote control units that are not working.
Negotiate A Good Price But Do Not Push Too Hard
If you are a savvy sharp buyer, you are probably negotiating a big order of the newest and best selling toys. Keep in mind that other buyers, maybe hundreds of them, are also trying to get the same very toys, as usually the hot toys are in high demand. Even if the factory will work 24/7, which happens sometimes, the amount of toys that can be produced is limited, pushing up the price based on simple supply and demand.
When a Chinese toy factory is producing a new best selling toy, they want to get as much as they can for it, and so does your supplier, because your supplier is competing with other toy suppliers for the goods. So your supplier can also get only a limited quantity of toys, and wants the highest possible price for them.
And this is the critical point of danger: if you push too much, and try to lower the price too much, (In Chinese they call it “squeezing the price”), your supplier will say sorry to you, and sell the available toys to another buyer, willing to pay just a little more. So remember the Chinese toy exporters love money just as much as you do, maybe even more, don’t try to “squeeze the price” too much.
Never Buy Toys On The First Production Run
A toy factory can never get it perfect on the first try. Just not possible. Once a factory starts producing a new toy, they will discover some issues. Maybe a mold needs to be adjusted, maybe the assembly procedure needs to be modified, there is just no way the toys will be of high quality the first production run. Be smart, when a new, boiling hot toy comes out and time is of the essence, remember that quality trumps time. Let other buyers grab the first few containers, keep the factory some time to adjust the tools and production, wait for them to discover all the quality problems and fix them, and then move in as a big winner and buy toys that are free from quality issues.
Yiwu Wholesale Toys Market VS Shenzhen and Chenghai
Yiwu has many cheap plastic toys, as well as educational toys, wooden toys, metal toys and any kind of toy you can think of, you will find it in Yiwu. The problem is that the over all quality of toys in Yiwu is so so, and most toys produced in Yiwu are low tech toys.
If you want more quality as well as toys that are more sophisticated like the popular remote control toys, that include flying toys like drones, rc helicopters and rc airplanes, then you should shift your attention to the Shenzhen and / or Chenghai (Shantou) manufacturing hubs.
Even though Shenzhen has many toy factories going all the way as far as Bao An, Dong Guan and Guangzhou, and these factories in many cases are newer and updated with better management and better quality control, the absolute ultimate place to buy toys wholesale in China is Chenghai.
80% of the world’s toys are manufactured in Chenghai. But because “Chenghai” is a really difficult word to pronounce for western people, most people refer to the Chenghai toys manufacturing area as “Shantou”. Toy exporters and toy factories based in Chenghai will tel you they are in Shantou, just because they know how hard it is for a non Chinese person to say this word!
The distance between the 2 cities is about 20 minutes drive, and Shantou is in fact the larger city, Chenghai is just a suburb.
Buy From The Factory Direct Or From A Trading Company?
Buying toys from a trading company is much better than buying factory direct for many reasons.
First is freight consolidation. Most big buyers will buy a container load of mixed toys, produced by a various different factories. You need a trading company to co-ordinate the production time from all the factories to be ready at the same time, and arrange for an empty container to arrive from the port, to consolidate all the goods in a special container loading warehouse, and take care of the shipping arrangement and documentation. A single factory does not normally consolidated many orders from different factories, you absolutely need an export corporation to take care of this for you.
New, hot best selling remote control toys, novelty toys and other toys come and go all the time. The hot toy today will be old and boring tomorrow. It is much better to find and build a good relationship with a supplier, that will work with you on an on going basis.
Lets say you buy a remote control car directly from the factory. Several months from now when the market cools down, you are left with a factory that is not able to offer you a new toy for sale. But if you are dealing with a toys supplier, your supplier will be offering you the newest toys all the time, because they are buying the toys from hundreds of different factories. You have a much better chance of being updated and informed about the new toys if you work with a good, up to date and dynamic supplier.
The difference in price will be very small. The factories, having a pretty good idea about the price the exporter is offering you, will quote you a price which is just marginally cheaper, just enough to get your interest, but still much higher than the price they charge the trading company. So there is not a lot of money to be saved by buying from the factory direct.
Just as much as you want to build and maintain a solid long term relationship with your supplier, he or she are just as keen on keeping you as a customer long term. Your supplier will fight for you. On 3 levels; they will try to negotiate the best price for you, they will try to deliver the goods as fast as possible, before the factory delivers to other buyers, and they will do their absolute best to make sure the quality is good, otherwise they will lose you as a buyer forever.
One more good reason to buy toys in bulk from a trading company is that the traders are more sophisticated than the factories. Toy exporters will usually speak better English and will have more education and knowledge about the Int’l trade business.
Pay A Little More For Strong Export Cartons
Toy factories in Chine will usually try to save money any way they can. The toy factories buy the export cartons for specialized….carton factories, and the cartons cost money. So the toy factory will always try to get the softest and thinnest cartons which cost less.
You should be aware that your goods can easily get damaged in transit if the export cartons do not offer enough protection. Most crucial moments are when the cartons are loaded into containers, and the workers are standing and walking on the cartons while they are stuffing the container, many cartons can easily get squashed. It can be as bad as 5% of the shipment getting damaged.
Make Sure The Toys Have The Necessary Testing Certificates
If you receive a container of toys that cannot clear customs because of lack of the proper testing reports, you are in very big trouble. Best case scenario your shipment will be delayed, but worse case scenario it can be seized by customs.
Check carefully with your customs in your country what kind of certificates and test reports are needed for the specific toys you are buying and making sure the information is accurate and relevant to the producing factory. For example, if you are buying remote control toys, produced by Goldlight Toys Factory, then the toy description in the report should say “remote control toys” and report should confirm these samples were from Goldlight toys factory, if the shipper of your container is Goldlight toys factory, and the testing report from the lab is referring to rc toys made by Long Xiang toy factory, you will be in trouble.
Check Routing & Time in Transit Carefully
Normally your supplier, the trading company, will offer you the goods with the cost of ocean freight to the closest Int’l port closest to you. Some shipments are direct, but often there are stop overs, which make the time in transit much longer. A direct shipment from Shenzhen to Seattle will be half the time than a shipment from Shenzhen to Hong Kong, then South Korea, and then to Seattle. So each quotation you get should include a detailed description of the exact routing, as well as an exact time of transit and the arrival date should be known when you confirm and book the shipping arrangements.
What Is More Important; Price Or Quality?
Both are very important, but if I had to choose one, quality is a lot more important. Sadly, most buyers look at the price first, and I know this very clearly from when I was exporting toys. Promises of quality toys fall on deaf ears, the buyers want cheap prices. But cheap prices offered by Chinese manufacturers means cheap motors, cheap batteries and cheap materials. After the buyer pays a really low price for his toy, he is normally surprised when he discovers that many of the toys are defective, not functioning properly or don’t look quiet as good. Any part of the toy that is cheap, can ruin the entire shipment, and bring your business down. For example, if you negotiate hard and insist on a very low price, the factory may not want to lose your business, and will agree to your price, but to make up for this, they may provide you with cheaper batteries or a thinner gift box. A really good toy in a cheap ugly gift box (individual packaging) will reduce sales considerably. So remember, quality is kind. Pay more, get good quality toys, and save yourself from the hassle and headache of dealing with many returns.
Back in the day, Chinese toys were a disaster in terms of quality. But these days, quality issues are much fewer. Never the less, a few important things you should keep in mind when buying China toys in bulk:
Never accept a sample that is not quiet right, if the factory tells you don’t worry, this is just a sample. You should only place an order with the factory or your supplier once the sample is absolutely perfect. If they can produce one perfect sample, they can normally produce a perfect container full of toys as well.
The factories in Chenghai have their own QC inspectors, and they test every single toy coming off the production line. But the trading company also has their own QC inspectors, and you should insist on the suppliers QC guys going to the factory when production begins, in the middle, and towards the end, as often as possible, to add an additional layer of inspection.
If your order is a high value order, lets say a full container of drones costing USD 200,000, then quality issues cannot and should not be accepted. In this case, you should hire your own independent quality control inspector, to add a third and maybe the most secure line of protection, as this QC loyalty will be with you.