Furniture in China-a complete guide for buyers

Introduction to furniture in China

The quality of furniture in China has been on a steady increase for the last few decades but the knowledge of how to find, buy and export is still very limited. In this article we will cover:

       1. An overview of China furniture market

       2. How to find furniture in China

       3. Things to consider when buying furniture from China

       4. What to do after purchasing furniture from China

By the end of the article, you will know of over30 different locations to buy furniture from, things to look out for when purchasing, and hopefully how to save your company some money for the exact same furniture.

An overview of China furniture market

1. Market situation

Residential conditions are improving day by day, making Chinese residents more willing to invest in home decoration, and the overall home furnishing market is developing rapidly. However, due to the epidemic, the supply of materials is tight and the housing needs to decrease. In 2020, the national furniture manufacturing operating revenue reached 687.54 billion yuan, down 6.0% year on year. The total profit was 41.77 billion yuan, down 11.1% year on year.

In terms of material, in 2020, China mainly produces metal furniture (50.9%) and wood furniture (40.5%), accounting for 91.4%, followed by soft furniture (8.6%).

 In addition to the value domestic market, China furniture industry also grasps the business opportunity to launch internationally. In 2020, China's furniture and its parts exports reached 403.9 billion yuan, up 12.2% per year.

The custom furniture market has become a bright spot for the industry, with an annual growth of 20%. Compared to the finished furniture market, customized furniture can make better use of space and reduce the waste of resources. It is expected that the customized furniture market size can reach 334.2 billion yuan by 2024.

In addition, with the development of artificial intelligence, big data, and 5G, intelligent furniture supplies are expected to become the mainstream. In 2020, China's intelligent furniture market shipments reached 801 million units, and the market size in 2020 was 170.5 billion yuan, an increase of 11.4% year on year. It is expected that China's intelligent furniture market scale can exceed 200 billion yuan in 2022.

2. Competition situation

Currently with popular "advanced customization", both large brands and small companies follow the trend . Some companies that used to only sell furniture now also offer whole-house design, increasing customers' desire to buy a lot of whole-house furniture.

With the increasingly fierce competition in the international furniture industry, it is expected that a large number of overseas enterprises will transfer to the Chinese market in the next 3 to 5 years, and mainly invest in the high-end furniture market, resulting in competition between overseas furniture brands and Chinese brands.

3. Marketing channel

With the rapid development of e-commerce, online sales are becoming increasingly popular.

The O2O e-commerce model has begun to be popular in the furniture market. The O2O is to connect online marketing and online purchase with the offline operation and offline consumption. At present, a typical example is the e-commerce of home manufacturers, such as "Qumei Home Furnishings".Qumei uses its website developed as a sales platform to show different products for consumers to buy. Consumers can also have an offline physical experience in the dealer's store, and order them in the store at the online price.

Another kind of furniture e-commerce is developed by the traditional furniture channels, such as "Easy Home".Its way is to move online from offline experience stores, where some consumers like the brand and want to choose online.

Why should you buy from China

With over 50,000 manufacturers making furniture in China it is the largest location in the world for furniture manufacturing. Not only that but it is significantly cheaper to buy your desired furniture in China than it is to buy it from home-and yes I am including shipping it back home at that price.

Quite frankly buying from China means A. a cheaper price B. more options. The only real question is how to do import the highest quality furniture for the best price only.

Most common types of furniture in China

China's furniture market mainly consists of the following areas:

  • Children’s Furniture
  • Bathroom Furniture
  • Bedroom Furniture
  • Living Rooms Furniture
  • Dining Room Furniture
  • Hotel Furniture
  • Office Furniture
  • Patio Furniture
  • Contract Furniture
  • Commercial Furniture

You’ll easily be able to find manufactures covering these options. With them able to create furniture in the following materials:

  • Metal
  • Wicker
  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Fabric
  • Leather
  • Marble

As a side note since 2019, there has been a growing trend of marble top furniture.

How to find furniture in China

When looking for furniture in China there are several major options to find it. Simonsense has listed 6 different options/ideas for you to look at.

Top 5 locations for furniture from China

If you are looking for furniture directly from China there are 5 major locations you need to check out they are:

  • Pearl river delta furniture factory location (mainly furniture factories in Guangdong Province, especially its Shunde, Foshan, Dongguan, and Shenzhen city)
  • Yangtze river delta furniture factory location (including Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu);
  • The Bohai Sea Surrounding furniture factory location(Beijing, Shandong, Hebei, Tianjin)
  • Northeast furniture factory location ( Shenyang, Dalian, Heilongjiang)
  • The west furniture factory location (Sichuan, Chongqing).

Each one has its pros and cons which you can find out more about on our top 5 furniture locations blog.

Longjiang town in Foshan

 

Foshan-our top choice for furniture from China

Out of the top 5 locations previously mentioned, Simonsense recommends Foshan (Lecong) for the majority of your furniture needs.

Here you will see the largest furniture shopping malls in the world. So large in fact there is a 5km stretch of road just for furniture. Here you can find whatever furniture you can ever think of.

Lecong is also famous for its raw materials. Several material markets are supplying components and materials for all different levels for the furniture factories in this area.

Related article: Top 8 furniture malls in Lecong

 

Be careful what you’re buying from actually comes from that store!

There is only one major downside with all of these furniture factories in one location. That downside is it may be become hard to know what you are buying has actually come directly from that store and you may have been able to get that furniture for a far better deal.

In fact, there are many Wechat groups specifically for when a customer comes to their store looking for that product to quickly find someone who does. Once they have found they add a % on top of that price for no added value. If you do not know the local market then this is a very real chance of happening.

To deal with this problem for those who don’t have the resources to have a dedicated team of buyers we recommend working with professional sourcing agents where you are clear about the pricing and receive extra value on top.

Sourcing companies-the best option for small to medium businesses

Sometimes the best option for small to medium businesses is to go through a sourcing company. Why? Other than knowing the local market and where the best value for money is they can help you throughout the whole process normally saving you money. Buying furniture in China is not just buying furniture it is:

  1. Sourcing
  2. Factory audits
  3. Order processing
  4. Quality control
  5. Logistics
  6. After-sales service

And sometimes even custom furniture (OEM).

In order to get the best possible deal, you need to be an expert in all these fields. Companies such as Simonsense are the experts here, by working with us we will get you that best deal. Contact us today for a one-hour free consultation on how we can help your business.

Related articles: 10 steps you need to know for successful custom furniture

Furniture fairs around China

In total there are 6 major international furniture fairs in China that you should take a look at. They are the following:

  • Shenzhen International furniture exhibition (SIFE) held at Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Center from March 19th to 22nd, March. SIFE is a commercial design exhibition for China’s high-quality furniture industry
  • International famous furniture fair (3F), held at Guangdong Modern International Exhibition Centre from March 16th to March 20th. 3F mainly focuses on the China domestic market however it also has a 30,000 sqm Export Pavilion for export-oriented furniture producers
  • China international furniture fair (CIFF), held in China's import and export complex in Canton. From March 18th to March 21st (Phase one, for home furniture), March 28th to March 31st (Phase two, office furniture) China International Furniture Fair, known as CIFF, takes place twice a year in Guangzhou (March) and Shanghai (September).
  • International famous furniture fair (3F)-August 11th to 14th. Held in Dongguan
  • China International Furniture Fair (Shanghai)-National Exhibition & Convention Center (Shanghai • Hongqiao),10-13 September
  • China International Furniture Expo-September 11th to 14th (Shanghai • Pudong). CIFE is an export-oriented furniture fair for high-end furniture highlighted in contemporary furniture, international brand, and up-to-date designs.

Important things to note is that most factories specialize in one specific product, you may need to work with multiple factories to get all your products on your list.

Related article: top 20 sofa factories in China

Related Article: Top 10 tips on buying sofas from and the number 1 location

Alibaba the Chinese Amazon

Alibaba is a great place to start looking for your products with 10s of thousands of products for you to choose from. The only major downside is it is almost always easier to get a better deal face to face. Always remember online you are just another number.

Over 50 different furniture locations in China

In fact, China has over 50 different locations for buying furniture in China down below we have listed an additional 16 for you to look at:

  • Lecong, Foshan City, Guangdong Province- The largest and the most comprehensive wholesale furniture center in the world
  • Longjiang, Foshan City, Guangdong Province-The most important furniture material & upholstered furniture manufacturing town in China
  • Jiujiang, Foshan City, Guangdong Province-New Manufacturing base next to Longjiang Town.
  • Dalingshan, Dongguan City, Guangdong Province-comprehensive export furniture manufacturing base
  • Houjie, Dongguan City, Guangdong Province-Manufacturing and exhibition
  • Anji Town in Zhejiang Province-Home town of Chairs, also famous for loft-style metal and plastic furniture
  • Haining City, Zhejiang Province-sofas
  • Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province-office furniture and home furniture
  • Dangshan Town, Xiaoshan District, Zhejiang Province-bathroom cabine
  • Likou Town in Suzhou city, Jiangsu Province-wholesale furniture center in east China
  • Xianghe County in Hebei Province-Largest wholesale furniture center in north China
  • Shengfang Town in Hebei Province-Newly emerged base for Metal & glass furniture
  • Zhuanghe City in Shenyang Province-Solid wood furniture
  • Ducun Town, Jiaozhou City, Shandong Province
  • Qingdao, Shandong province-Japanese and Korea Style furniture
  • Chengdu, Sichuan Province-Wooden furniture, upholstered furniture

If you’re interested in learning more about these locations then check out our ultimate guide on furniture manufactures in China.

That concludes this article on how to find furniture from China, next up are things to consider when buying furniture in China.

Things to consider when buying furniture from China

So far we have covered how to find furniture in China but that is only one part of the problem in the following section we are going to cover the following parts:

  1. MOQ
  2. Safety standards/ fire regulations for different countries
  3. OEM vs standard furniture manufactures
  4. Working with a normal furniture factory vs an OEM what extra things will you need
  5. Factory Audit
  6. Negotiating the price
  7. Payment options

MOQ

MOQ or minimum order quantity is a huge factor in the price of your goods yet there is a huge difference between different factories. Some have a MOQ of just one piece to others with MOQs of one container or more. In general, you will have two major options ahead of you:

Wholesale

A lot of wholesale factories in China require a larger MOQ however they can be flexible on how many different products to reduce your risk. The positive is the price is generally cheaper while the major negative is unless you’re a large business the total amount of furniture needed to buy is normally too large of a number.

Retail

For retail there isn’t a guarantee they’ll have the products in stock however it is much easier to buy single units but at a cost of around 20-40% more than the wholesale price.

Safety standards/regulations for your country

The price you see may not be the price you need. When buying furniture from China many people forget that China sells furniture to the world but each part of the world has different furniture regulations, for example, the European market:

  • EN 1021-1
  • EN 1021-2
  • EN 597-1
  • EN 597-2
  • EN 14533

In order to comply with the European market, there are lots of different fire regulations that may unexpectedly increase the cost of your purchase.

However cost is the smallest concern here, unless you specify what regulations you need you run the risk of having furniture in China which you cannot export because you don’t have the right standards.

By working with Simonsense you can remove this risk by allowing us to do quality control before, during and after purchase. Contact us today for a free one-hour consultation on how we can help you buy furniture in China.

OEM vs standard furniture manufactures

When buying furniture from China there are really 3 major ways.

  1. Retail
  2. Wholesale
  3. OEM

But what is the difference between the three? Well, wholesale and retail normally have set standards and each piece of furniture will be the same with the major difference between the scale of purchase on the buyers end. For OEM it becomes a completely different ball game.

They operate on a “make to order” scheme. Their catalog? A reference to previous jobs at best. In order to work with an OEM factory, you will need to provide details such as:

  1. The Styles
  2. The drawings
  3. Dimensions
  4. Materials you prefer
  5. The functions you want to achieve
  6. Standards and regulations to comply with

There are no standard specification sheets however the more detail you can provide the more accurate the end result will be.

Related article: 10 steps you need for successful custom furniture

Factory Audit

factory audit is a must. I’ll repeat that when buying furniture in China a factory audit is 100% a must do. Why?

  • To verify that your supplier’s facilities are operational and suitable for manufacturing your product
  • To ensure that your supplier’s sourcing policies comply with your own
  • To identify and hedge against potential quality, operational, and ethical risks
  • To evaluate the competence of the factory management

Without a factory audit, it is very hard to verify these points which is why Simonsense factory audit service is a lifesaver for many of our customers.

Our professional audit team conducts factory audits from the following aspects according to international standards such as ISO 9000 for the quality management system and operating procedures.

• Factory profile checking (General information)

• Production capabilities

• Factory facilities, including the condition of machinery and equipment

• Production Workflow and organization charts

• Quality assurance system & related certificates

To sum up when buying furniture from China make sure you do a factory audit to make sure what you buy they are able to produce for you.

 

Negotiating the price

Price negotiation is an important part of buying furniture in China, yet before you head straight into asking for the cheapest price consider the consequences.

Some dealers will say yes to whatever price you say before even calculating if it is possible or not and once they have your deposit will take as many short cuts as possible to the detriment of your quality.

Its the thought process of money first, then ask questions later. Many first-time buyers falling into this trap.

The most effective way is to understand the local market and costs. A perfect example to know is that most prices in China are fake labels put up for their competitors to not know the real price.

When it comes to first-time buyers our normal advice is work with a sourcing agent, the reason being is they will know the market and they will be able to find the best deals for you. Deals which will be very hard for others to find.

 

Contact us to get a free one-hour consultation to see how we can improve your bottom line.

Payment options

So, you have finally found your ideal furniture from China but how to pay for it? Well in total you have 5 major options which we will go through now.

 

International Wire transfer

This mode is normally used for small to medium businesses with the general transaction being 30% before beginning with the final 70% being sent after completion. The general risk is that after the factory receives the money, they don’t complete the order and the purchaser has lost a bunch of money.

For most deals, this is the standard offer and is quite reliable.

 

PayPal/Western Union

PayPal is only really an option for small deals/purchasing samples. PayPal can be a safer option due to PayPal structures but Western Union is a faster option but again the risk that you are paying to a person, not a company. For anything of a medium to a large order, we do not recommend it.

 

Letter of credit

A letter of credit is probably the most expensive and time-consuming option, though it is the safest way of protecting your assets. It is normally used for transactions well over $50,000 so it is normally used for larger companies.

 

Online escrow

Again, not a very recommended option for buying your furniture from China but there are many different options online but if this is your option, we recommend using it for small purchases only. (think less than $5000). If this is an option you are thinking of, we recommend going through a sourcing company first in order to protect your assets. To find out more by contacting us.

 

 Cash

Cash is the way to get the cheapest deal for your furniture from China but should only be used for small orders or when you have complete faith in the supplier. If you are planning on this option for an added layer of protection, we recommend working with a sourcing company.

 

After purchasing furniture in China

Once you have purchased your order there is still a lot of things to consider. In the third and final part of this blog we are going to cover:

  1. Quality control
  2. Things to look for
  3. Packaging
  4. Shipping process
  5. Full container vs Loose cargo load (LCL)
  6. Different options for handling this process

Quality control

Without the proper quality control, it is very easy for furniture to look the same but be of inferior quality. When buying furniture in China it is imperative that you hire a quality inspector to make sure what you are paying for is what you are getting. At Simonsense as part of our package we offer the following:

  • Incoming inspection
  • During production inspection
  • Pre-shipment inspection
  • Container loading supervision

For a complete list of what all of these services please check out our page on quality control.

Packaging

Once the furniture is made one of the final parts is making sure the packaging is correct and ensure that on its way to you the damage risk is diminished as much as possible. A major part of that process is ensuring the manufacturer uses the right cartons with outer plastic wrappings to stop mold as well as pallets to allow easy unloading.

Shipping process

The final part is a major part which is forgotten when buying furniture in China and that is logistics. For furniture, there is a high likelihood that’ll you will go by sea AKA ship freight. In this regard, you’ll have several options.

  1. Loose cargo load
  2. 20ft container
  3. 40ft container

How you will choose between them will depend on the total amount of furniture you have purchased and their total CMS (cubic meter squared) and weight.

 

Full container vs Loose cargo load (LCL)

A loose cargo load or LCL for short is when you send your products mixed with other peoples in the same container heading to the same location.

Normally this option is more expensive per item than a full container would be. In order to reach a full container, the general rule of thumb is a minimum of 5 pallets worth of products if you’re able to reach this level your shipping price will decrease massively based per product.

 

Different options of handling shipping your furniture from China

In total, you have 5 different options for shipping your furniture from China back home. They are:

  1. Let the supplier deal with it
  2. Handle shipping yourself
  3. Have a shipping freight agency from your country do it
  4. Have a Chinese freight forwarder to handle it
  5. Have both a local and Chinese freight forwarder handle it

Each of these has their pros and cons which we will go into now.

 

Let the supplier deal with it

This is the simplest option but definitely not the cheapest. Yes, it saves you the headache of thinking about it but you can be assured they are simply getting another shipping agency to deal with it and just put a mark-up on the price for you.

 

Handle the shipping yourself

If you are not a large company we suggest to forget about this option. Handling shipping is a time-consuming event in which you will have to deal with both your own countries and China’s custom declarations.

 

Have a shipping freight agency from your country do it

This is a good option due to working with local people who will understand your needs however unless they have an office in China they will also need to work with a Chinese company and will mark-up the original price for you. If this is an option you are looking at then make sure they have an office in China to save you the most costs.

 

Have a Chinese freight forwarder handle it

This option generally is the fastest. The Chinese supplier can easily contact the Chinese freight forwarder with no language barrier and conclude businesses at a much faster rate. In general, this is also the cheapest option.

 

Have both a local and Chinese freight forwarder handle it

This option is the best of both worlds. Both sides receive clear communication and it allows you to be in contact with A. who will send the goods and B. who will receive them. This option tends to be the best between price and service for small to medium businesses.

 

Conclusion

To conclude when purchasing from China there are 3 major aspects you need to think of before making your purchase

  1. Where to buy furniture from China
  2. What things to consider when buying furniture in China such as MOQ, safety regulations, and payment
  3. How to deal with logistics

When buying furniture in China remember it’s not just buying it but you also need to think about the logistics of getting it back, the laws in your home country, how you’re going to pay and how are you going to ensure a high-quality product for the right price.

 

About Simonsense

Simonsense has been in the furniture industry for over 10 years, we have reliably helped source furniture in China for 100s of customers. To work with us is to work with a professional and reliable company. Contact us today for a free one-hour consultation on how to buy furniture in China.

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