Finding and Qualifying Distributors in China: The Basics

Finding and qualifying distributors in China can be a tricky process. Historically, all medical device and pharmaceutical distribution in China was done via State owned distributor companies who covered most of China but were very bureaucratic and not very market oriented. Abut six to seven years ago, private medical importing companies began to form. The advantage of these groups are that they tend to be more marketing oriented and able to move faster than State owned groups. However, most are relatively small (under 75 people), not well financed, and oftentimes do not have the resources to buy a container of your product. Despite these negatives, private medical importing companies are often the best way to go, as long as you check the group out very carefully (both reputation and financial situation) and make sure they have a business license to operate legally. Be weary of groups with big talkers, who claim to have 100 staff (when the staff is 90% other third party distributor groups and not on this company’s payroll) and payment terms that oftentimes will never be met. Distribution can also be split between different firms because (1) the landscape is so large, and/or (2) the manufacturer has multiple lines of business. For example, you might choose to have separate distributors for North China and South China, or separate nationwide distributors for each of your product lines.