Looking for Auto, motorcycle or ATV spare parts? Chinese suppliers might have exactly what you’re looking for. While this is a product that can be purchased both from manufacturers and “off shelf” from Trading Companies, the industry is infested with unscrupulous and disorganized suppliers. In this week’s article we look into the do’s and dont’s when buying vehicle spare parts from China.
Buying from a Manufacturer
Buying directly from the manufacturer comes with some obvious benefits. The product selection is wider (I explain why in a minute) and the prices are lower due to the lack of middlemen. However, it’s not viable for most small businesses importing vehicle spare parts from China. The reason is spelled “MOQ”, or “Minimum Order Quantity” Requirement.
A supplier must produce a certain minimum quantity of a product in order to make the production run viable. This “minimum quantity” tends to be 300 – 500 pieces for each part. Assuming that you wish to offer a wide range of different parts, the required investment can skyrocket to several millions of dollars if you would buy every single spare part directly from a manufacturer. However, there are other ways to do this.
Advantages when buying spare parts directly from a Manufacturer
- Lower prices
- Product certification compliance (when required)
- Full product availability
Disadvantages when buying spare parts directly from a Manufacturer
- High MOQ requirements (300 – 500 pcs per part)
Buying from a Trading Company
While it’s in general not possible to find “off shelf” products in China, vehicle spare parts can be purchased “off shelf” from Trading Companies. A Trading Company offers smaller volumes compared to manufacturers. Sometimes the MOQ requirement is as low as 5 to 10 pcs per spare part model. However, these Trading Companies are not working for free. The prices are often two to three times as high compared to if you would’ve purchased the spare parts directly from the manufacturer.
But that’s not where your trouble ends. I’ve had my fair share of dealing with auto, motorcycle and ATV spare part traders in China and it’s been far from pleasant in most cases. The main problem is that they are in general very disorganized. While the Trading Companies may have product catalogues, far from all are in stock at any given time. Basically, you get to buy the parts that are available. This can cause major disruptions in your supply chain and it can take months before you’re able to restock on certain spare parts.
While it would be fair to assume that a Trading Company should be able to deliver spare parts faster than a manufacturer (well, the parts have to be manufactured before they are delivered, right?) – it’s often the opposite Trading Companies often purchase spare parts from other traders. In most cases it takes at least a month before the Trading Company has gathered all the ordered parts.
Advantages with buying spare parts from a Trading Company
- Low MOQ requirements (5 – 10 pcs per product)
Disadvantages when buying spare parts from a Trading Company
- Limited product availability (you can buy what’s in stock. That’s it)
- Major risk of missing, used or damaged parts
- Higher prices (x2 to x3 times the price compared to manufacturers)
Why it makes sense to buy spare parts from both factories and traders
A major issue shared by most small businesses importing from China is that they can’t reach the MOQ requirements for more than a few products. Since you’re interested in importing vehicle parts, you probably want to stock up on more than two types of carburetors. You might need 50 different types in order to be a serious player on the market.
Instead of choosing between placing a big bet on a manufacturer or get stuck with a disorganized trader, I suggest that you go for the middle way. Buy from both! One of my clients, an importer of ATV spare parts from China, does exactly this with great results. Like everyone else, they need to have a wide product selection to offer their customers. This is what they use the Trading Companies for. They buy 5 – 10 pcs of each product in order to ensure that they can offer as many different spare parts as possible. In return, they accept a lower profit margin on these “small volume” products.
However, certain parts are in much higher demand than others. These are the products my client buys in larger quantities for very low prices, directly from the manufacturer. I’d say that this strategy is not only viable when importing Car, motorcycle and ATV parts – but when importing small volumes of any product.
Common issues and how you can avoid them
As I implicated earlier in this post, my experience tells me that issues of various kinds are more likely to occur when purchasing spare parts from Trading Companies than Manufacturers. It’s common that certain parts are missing. It’s also quite common that traders send used or dirty parts. Neither of this acceptable. Solution? Ask your supplier for product images before you settle the balance payment. However, these can be faked so it adds a very thin layer of protection at best (even though we’ve discovered a lot of issues this way). The best thing is always to hire a quality inspector that checks the cargo prior to the delivery.
Low quality export cartons are another issue. Spare parts can be quite heavy, and those plastic gas tanks are easily crushed. I’m yet to find a vehicle spare part trader that understands that overloading cartons is not a good idea. Solution? Again, hire a quality inspector and refuse to let the supplier ship cargo in thin and overloaded exporting cartons . At a minimum, the cartons should have five layers and be wrapped in bubble plastic.
Another issue that’s not really a quality issue, but still a major headache, is the shipping restrictions for certain spare parts. Oily and magnetic spare parts often require additional customs clearance, and certain parts must be cleaned prior to shipment. Tell your supplier to pack any oily or magnetic parts in a separate carton. This reduces the risk for serious delivery delays.
Most metallic spare parts such as carburetors, fuel pumps, fuel tanks and exhaust pipes are manufactured in China’s southern Guangdong province and the eastern provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Chongqing in the inland, and Shandong province in the northeast, is also becoming more prominent in the industry. The manufacturing base is in other words quite spread out. However, if you have to choose one city when sourcing metallic spare parts, Yongkang city in Zhejiang might be your best choice.
Electronics part manufacturers are on the other hand a bit more concentrated. While there are still some well established manufacturers of electronic spare parts, such as starting relays and ignition coils, all over China – Guangdong province is the place to go. Most industrial and consumer electronics used in the world today are assembled in Guangdong. Car, motorcycle and ATV spare parts are no exceptions.
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Trade Fairs in China for Vehicle Spare parts
- Motorcycle Parts
- Engines & Spare Parts
- Lubricants & Fuel Supply Spare Parts
- Transmission Parts
- Steering & Brake Parts
- Vehicle Dashboard & Parts
- Auto Electric Equipment and Parts
- Maintenance & Related Products
- Vehicle Decorations
- Car Audio & Visual Products
- Car Electronics Products
- Car Modification Products
- Car Decoration Products
- Car care & Beauty Products
- Auto Parts & Maintenance Products
- Auto Parts
- Auto Accessories
- Tuning & Restyling
- Engine Parts
- Chassis System
- Automobile Frame and Parts
- Repair & Maintenance
- Automobile Electronic Components & Parts
- Automobile Electronic Products
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