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Why do the suppliers ignore me?

Why is it that many Chinese suppliers do not reply to our inquiries on goods needed? Is it because of English or a communication problem?



This is a great question.  As a buyer, it is very frustrating not hearing back from a potential supplier.  There are many reasons, ranging from, the supplier is no longer in business, to the buyer is not perceived as professional.  To help ensure good communications with your potential suppliers, I have the following tips for you.

1.     Contact appropriate sized suppliers. For example, if your order is for a few 100 USD, it is unrealistic that you will be able to go factory direct due to minimum order quantities and they may not even bother to reply to your email.

2.     Make a good first impression.    If your initial email to the supplier is from a free account like or, the supplier may think you are a small trader and not a professional buyer.  If you don’t want to use your business email, at least briefly describe your company and offer a website. Present to the supplier, why the supplier should take an interest in your company.  Spell check your email and present communications in a professional manner.  You may be a fortune 500 buyer, but if you write to the factory from a account speaking casually, saying something like, “I wanna  buy your stuff, what is the price”, don’t expect an answer.

3.     If a potential supplier cannot manage sales communications well, don’t expect them to do any better when it comes to, order management and updates.

4.     In some cases the suppliers may be great factories in terms of product, price and quality, but lack English skills.  Consider engaging a 3rd party sourcing agent to represent you in China to find and manage potential vendors.

The following short videos may also be of interest to you.

Video 1: Finding Suppliers
Video 2: Evaluating Suppliers
Video 3: Negotiations
Video 4: Project Management and Quality Control
Video 5: Protecting Your Intellectual Property
Video 6: Leveraging Global Sources
Video 7: How to Find and Manage Partners for Logistics
Video 8: Avoiding Scams
Video 9: Returning Defective Products
Video 10: Resolving a Dispute

Thanks again for your email. Let me know how things work out for you.

Wishing you successful China sourcing.

Question answered by Mike Bellamy, an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center. Mike is also the author of "The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing" and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.

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