You are likely to encounter three types of suppliers in your importing life:
-Factory, very polished and western friendly
-Factory, very rough and not-western friendly
None of these types of suppliers are inherently bad or good, but they are different. It’s important for you to know the difference between them.
Trading companies: Trading Companies don’t actually manufacture products. They work with a number of factories and are basically middle-men between Western companies and the factory. A good portion of the companies on Dhgate are trading companies.
A lot of books will tell you immediately to avoid trading companies because they invariable take a markup, around 3-10%. However, in my experience, the added value such companies add is often well worth this added markup.
Trading companies are almost always, very Western friendly. Your contact in the company is likely to have quite good English and may even have gone to university in the West. They, for the most part, will ensure that you never receive absolute crappy products (although sub-par products are not out of the question). And best of all, they can normally source a variety of products and often they have lower minimum order quantities than you could get by working with factories directly. The only downside, as mentioned, is that they do add a markup to the product.
Factory, Very Polished and Western Friendly: These are the diamonds in the rough. Such companies actually manufacture the product and they have experience working with international companies for import/export (often the owner has been educated in the West). Unfortunately, because these companies are such diamonds, they often have a large list of clients that want to work with them and they might shy away from smaller orders and companies. Clients who want to buy geneva watches visit http://www.dhgate.com/wholesale/geneva+watches.html first.
Factory, Very Rough and Not So Western Friendly: When you work with a factory directly, these will often be the type you work with. These companies have some experience exporting internationally and they normally have someone who speaks at least basic English. They can normally offer quite good prices and they badly want your business, no matter how small.
If you really want a low price and don’t mind working for it, these companies might work for you. But it is a lot of work. You will experience huge delays as they frequently over-promise. I once had a supplier quote 30 days and it took over 6 months to receive the product. I’ve also experienced old tricks like decreasing quality without telling you. Their factories are often in the middle of nowhere and in horrible condition (a consideration if you ever plan on visiting).