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Changing a spec in your China project? What else changes?

by Jacob Yount

Changing 1 spec in a China project, leads to other spec changes...find out what change leads to what change.

In a China project, if you change 1 spec during the inquiry and sampling phase, is it a safe assumption that the factory will alert you on the ramifications of the change?

An example scenario is the buyer decides to change the material before they start sampling.

Buyer receives the sample and the color is wrong.

The buyer says, “Why is the color not the pantone # we agreed to”

The supplier says, “because when you changed material, for the new material, there is a higher minimum order quantity to customize the color. We can do your color for the old material”.

Then the buyer infamously exclaims:

Why Didn’t the Factory Tell Me Earlier!?!

Buyers, even if somewhat experienced in China sourcing, fall into a trap of “casualness”. This results into thinking the factory will catch mistakes, watch your back and let you know, what you need to know.

Be mindful of the next 5-steps ahead…

“If I change this, then what are my possible scenarios?”

Confirm changes with the factory and then ask them point-by-point

“Does this affect this? Does this affect this? What happens now to my timing if I do this?”

You cannot expect the factory to walk you through it.



Consider if your change, tweak or addition to your China project will cause a price change.

When you make whatever change in question, just because the supplier doesn’t immediately mention a price increase, doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

First, they are listening to your change, later they will calculate price increase.


Timing for your China project

If something takes longer to produce, then it takes longer to produce. Remember that first and foremost the factory is not going to be your assistant scheduler.

If timing is tight as a drum, then any change you make, the first thing you’ll want to do, is touch back on timing.

Buyers, even if somewhat experienced in China sourcing, fall into a trap of “casualness”. This results into thinking the factory will catch mistakes, watch your back and let you know, what you need to know.


Artwork / Design

If something has a full-color print but you’ve increased the surface area, chances are, you’ll need to provide a new artwork file.

I’ve seen changes made, samples produced and the logo or print didn’t cover the entire surface as it did before because the new artwork wasn’t provided and the factory didn’t request.

Remember, a factory’s focus can be a bit narrow.


Something else

Does your requested spec change cause a change to something else? Consider the intricate, inner movements of a timepiece. One wheel moves another wheel, one turn leads to another turn.

A China project in sourcing and manufacturing is not much different. Increasing the size of your item by 10cm, could lead to less pieces per carton, could lead to say 5 more cartons in your shipment, could lead to a completely different bracket in shipping, thus completely altering your shipping costs.

Whether it’s packing, processes, different production lines, check to see what broader ramifications may happen.


If you want to avoid setbacks, in a China project, you have to take the initiative.

Simply saying, “let me know if you have any questions”

IS NOT proactive order control.

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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