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In China, make no assumptions

by Renaud Anjoran in 'Quality Inspection Blog'

Last week I had an interesting conversation with a few friends. An American said “when I arrived here and I started sourcing products, what really hurt my business was all the assumptions I was making”. And another friend responded “what really saved me is that I come from Brazil, and in my country we can’t make any assumptions”.

So, what are these assumptions that Westerners tend to make, and that can hurt them badly when they purchase from China?

The short answer is: they are used to purchasing products on a catalogue, agreeing on a price, deciding on a quantity, and arranging payment.

Do that in China and you’ll run a 30% chance of losing the entire order! Many steps are missing. See my checklist for importers for more details.

Here are a few assumptions that need to be challenged on a daily basis:

  • The supplier says, and even writes, that he will respect the shipment date. So I am fine.
  • I have negotiated a good price. That’s what I will pay, so I am fine.
  • The sample I approved is nice. So production will be nice, and I am fine.
  • If the supplier says he is a manufacturer, it must be true.
  • The supplier says he also sells to some big German and Japanese companies, so their product quality be good, and I am fine.
  • The supplier says he already sells thousands of iPhones to importers in my country, so I will be fine if I do it too. It must be perfectly legal.
The list could be long. Any other candidates?

Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast Quality Control and helps importers to improve and secure their product quality in China. He writes advice for importers on the Quality Inspection blog. He lives full time in Shenzhen, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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