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China sourcing & importing excuses buyers make

By Jacob Yount

China sourcing and importing excuses are tempting, but the energy is better spent towards improvements and solutions.

In the spirit of the crying towel, here’s a batch of excuses for those in China sourcing and importing. If you find yourself mumbling these curses (and we all do and still do at one time or another), button your lip and think about…”how am I going to fix it next time?” This one’s not for the faint of heart…

 

1-  The suppliers won’t answer my emails:

Make your emails more “answerable.”

Ditch wordiness, jargon and corporate speak. The supplier should be able to

• easily read

• understand

• see call-to-action.

Do your inquiries show that you have potential business on the horizon or do they show someone shopping around and wasting the supplier’s time?

We’ve all had to start somewhere in sourcing and importing, but show potential and help the vendors to see the goal line.

 

2-  The suppliers aren’t understanding my quality expectations:

This is one of those importing excuses that translates into “the suppliers are not reading my mind.”

Have you sent clear renderings to the supplier? Send spec sheets of quality expectations. Use visuals and to-the-point wording. I’ve called this sufficient evidence.

Also, sending physical samples for quality and material reference equal thousands of hours of email.

 

3- The supplier won’t take responsibility:

This is a tough one. But, when errors do happen, some buyers in their China projects spend too much time focusing on “responsibility”, instead of making sure they, the importer, did everything correct in the first place.

Before you expect your supplier to stand up and make a full confession, ask yourself.

• Did I equip the vendor with everything they needed in order to fulfill the job?

• Was there any area in which I also slacked on?

• Was there sufficient margin for the importer to be motivated to cover errors?

• Was this a 1-time order with a supplier that I really don’t have a relationship with?

• Did we establish beforehand the expectations of what happens if something goes wrong?

 

4-  “Well, I told the supplier to…”

This is usually muttered from a buyer once something goes wrong. They envision the supplier is sort of like their offshore butler who stands at attention waiting for the next decree. And since you told them a directive once, then it is engraved on their minds and any error from not following the emailed declaration is now completely their fault. Regardless of how indiscreet or hidden the request was.

In China sourcing, repetition of specifications and expectations is the way the concepts are seen and understood by the vendor.

 

5-   “Why didn’t the factory tell me earlier?”

It would be nice if the factory was proactive and gave you possible outcomes to various scenarios. If they did this sort of thinking and communication, the price would be higher though, you’d manufacture elsewhere and run out of importing excuses.

Here’s a post as to why the factory doesn’t sometimes tell you earlier.

Honorable Mention Sourcing and Importing Excuses:

• It’s dangerous, you never know what you’re going to get.

• The supplier told me they understood. – did you make sure they understood?

• The supplier told me they were on schedule. If I have not seen any production images and common sense tells me they aren’t going to make schedule…chances are, they aren’t going to make schedule.

• That’s the price they agreed to!

• I told them everything had to be perfect! That’s not exactly what you call controlling an order.

We all mutter excuses and lose perspective. When we find ourselves in this rut, let’s spend the energy, wordage and thought power trying to find solutions and avoid the above scenarios the next go-around.


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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