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8 Chinese New Year resolutions

by Jacob Yount

If you frequently source and import from China, here are 8 Chinese New Year Resolutions to consider.

In the spirit of the season…

1.)  Pay your vendors on time. Here is an easy peezy step to establish a great relationship with your vendor. It’s a low-effort solution for a small (and sometimes annoying) buyer to be tolerable to a vendor.

A vendor takes better care of an order when they know payment comes through without a bunch of clawing and scratching.

2.) Information in China is fluid and therefore, FUNCTION as if you know this.

Be cautious. Much of what your vendor confirms is based on the knowledge they have or the knowledge they think they have. Importers typically deal with sales people who deal with the production line, and there are 3rd party vendors for certain processes or material.

The communication is like a spider’s web and there are a lot folks in between who can mess it up.

Give yourself room in this case, whether it be in pricing, timing or whatever you engrave in stone. A rule to live by in dealing with China, don’t get happy about good news and don’t get upset about bad news, because it can call change within a day.

3.) Grow relationships with your vendors.

Impersonal sourcing will get you impersonal results. Endeavor to reduce scatter-shot sourcing if that’s how you roll.

4.) Keep perspective of your production and business.

Just because the order is big or important to you, does not necessarily mean it’s the “end all, be all” to the factory. If the order is important, then YOU treat it as such and control the factory. Most likely you are not the largest customer to your factory, they have other orders, other headaches and lives.

A Chinese factory does not serve a customer out of an obligation to some customer service creed or ethic but because of practicality. They ask, “Is there benefit involved for me?”

Just as much as you worry if a factory is reliable, the factory concerns themselves with the reliability and sincerity of the customer.

5.) Sharpen your delivery time management skills.

Consider timing parameters, precisely define your terms and don’t pass the buck to your vendor. When your supplier said 20 days, did that include travel time to the port? Does that consider the closing and sailing date?

Your supplier is not a freight forwarder.

6.) Be professional in your communication.

Avoid of quickie misspelled emails sent from your iPhone.

Strike a balance in your emails. Not too brief and not blobby full of too much wording. Think in terms of images, bullet points, and example videos.

7.)  Be charitable and give the benefit of the doubt to your vendors.

Don’t assume something underhanded is going on. Starting from a point of mistrust can actually seep from your mind and in to the quality of the order. Instead of either trusting blindly or not trusting at all, take baby steps that establish trust. Keep records of what’s been confirmed instead of expecting your vendor to always remind you. Their job is to produce a quality, safe product; not be a personal secretary.

Festive Street During the New Year Celebrations

Festive Street During the New Year Celebrations

Your vendor is using English as a second language and the Chinese are a reserved folk. Much of their effort they are not able to show in words or written communication. If you’ve established yourself as a proper partner, don’t assume they are not putting forth effort on your project.

8.)  Beware of the ports.

We’ve all seen the news and been effected by the chaos going on at the West Coast (USA) ports. Don’t bind the success of a job on a razor thin sea delivery. Consider airfreight for small runs and have your vendor quote proper, airfreight packing (efficient cartons, tightly packed, but safe). For small runs, airfreight, if packed and quoted responsibly, can be cheaper than sea freight…and without the current headache!

Happy Chinese New Year to all!


Jacob Yount lived in China from 2001 to 2012, during which time he started JLmade. He is now based out of North Carolina in the US and his home office is still in Suzhou, China; manufacturing and exporting branded merchandise, promotional products and retail gifts for distributors worldwide. Contact Jacob at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or find him on his blog.

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