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Price quote questions in promotional item sourcing

By Li Zhang

Don't fly through a price quote. A list of questions to ask yourself.

What questions come to mind when you look at your price quote? The post will obviously be geared to the promotional product distributor & importer.

Some of these questions may be answered inside the other areas of the price quote. Thoroughly read the entire quote sheet before formulating your questions. Suppliers, for examples, in their quote sheets have “additional detail sections” or packing specs laid out.

But it’s also common for Chinese suppliers to be too vague in their price quotes.

Just because something’s discussed in the email, doesn’t mean it was included in the pricing.

What are the price terms in this price quote?

Did the supplier properly quote FOB China port? If you asked for overseas transportation to be included, double-check to make sure they quoted what you asked (even if their quote says it!).

What else will I have to pay and to whom?

Will everything China-side be included in this price per piece?

I know I have to pay the freight, origin clearance and inland delivery.

Consider if you requested any product testing or 3rd-party services.

Setup charges and physical sample; included or separate price quote cell?

If you see an additional setup and sampling cost then this answers your question. If you do not, do not assume there is NO setup or sampling fees, the supplier just forgot to include it in the price quote.

Also, package freight. Who’s covering it? It’s not super expensive, but it all adds up.

Can this price achieve the quality I expect?

I want to make sure the supplier didn’t under quote, which can be worse than over quoting. Under quoting leads to quality disasters later in mass production.

Use common sense and if a price looks too low, then research.

Is the expected and requested branding included?

You may have requested a high quality print. The suppliers quote may even repeat back your high quality print. But double-check with the supplier. You may have requested high quality, their sheet states as such, but their mind and actions didn’t implement. Double-check to be on safe side.

Packaging:  has this been hashed out and added in price or do I need to reconfirm?

This is similar to the above branding question.

If you asked for a unique packing scheme or some sort of inner packing addition, was it included? It’s highly possible the supplier was in default mode and they still quoted based on their normal routine.

Is the supplier going to motivated with this number?

Did the supplier begrudgingly take this order this price? A demotivated supplier seeps into production quality.

Food for thought…

What about waste or poorly produced pieces?

Is there enough padding in the quote for some loss? Will this price cover if you have to add more quality? How about supplier errors? Are they prepared to replace the bad pieces with good in this price quote? Another reason you want to avoid under quoting.

Do I need to further research?

If the price looks too high or low, ask yourself if further research is required. This could mean more comparisons from domestic sellers, checking with a few other trusted China suppliers and even verifying your freight costs.

Not asking proper questions is a reason that offshore promo item orders fail. Be sure to ask questions and get everything in writing.


Li Zhang has worked in international manufacturing and exporting since 2003. She has served global brands such as Bayer, Coca Cola and Warner Bros. Her background is in design and engineering. Li is a native of Jiangsu Province and currently finds herself back and forth between Suzhou, China and the USA. Contact Li at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or find her penning manufacturing thoughts at her blog.

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