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Things to include in your promotional product RFQ – Part 1

By Li Zhang

A sloppy RFQ, leads to a sloppy quote, leads to a nightmare of a project. Let's start out on the right foot with a proper request for quotation.

An effective RFQ is the start of a successful China sourcing project. As we all know the RFQ is the “request for quotation” and it’s basically when you contact the supplier to provide you a quote. So what to include in that RFQ? Let’s get to it….


Greeting and intro

Include a basic greeting in your RFQ. It can be something as simple as, “Hi _ (supplier’s name)”.

Don’t just send the RFQ without addressing the vendor; especially if it’s a new vendor.

This looks unprofessional.

More importantly, it subconsciously tells the vendor that this is a low priority inquiry and most likely WILL NOT come to an order.

The goal is for your vendor to see your RFQ, not as a waste of time, but as synonymous with actual business.


Name of product you’re quoting

This could part of the intro.

Too frequently, buyers send emails to a vendor vendor and say, “Can you quote these?”

You want to tell the product the name of the product you’re quoting. Even if you are quoting ball caps and contacting a vendor that specializes in caps. Define the item in a way that’s going to be helpful in referring to the item.

Blue Devil Ball Caps

Embroidered Baseball Team Caps

Student Custom Backpacks

…you get the idea.

In the initial RFQ, give the product a name that you will use throughout the project.

This leads to clarity and precision. When working with China, you want to be as precise as possible in everything you do.

Sloppy has no place in requesting a quotation from an overseas vendor. Remember, that you’re dealing cross-languages and you don’t want to cause inefficiencies over something as basic as a product name.

This is especially necessary when dealing with a custom product. The name of the product is the starting point to giving the supplier a framework for understanding your request.

I’ve seen inquiries that leave the China supplier scratching their head and saying…”what the heck do you call this thing?”.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this is more subconscious incentive for your supplier to move on to the next project and put your’s at the bottom of the pile.


Give the product a description and a list of specifications.

If it’s a customized product, the description needs to be more detailed and lengthier.

• Use bullet points in your product description.

• Avoid blobby, too-technical paragraphs.

• If technicality is required, then use details on mocked-up images.

• Use easy English since you’re dealing cross languages and cultures.

• When providing product specifications, do so in a list format. Measurements and numbers shouldn’t be hidden in paragraph blobs.

• If the item seems to be basic, still don’t leave out the description!

• Consider, if you were quoting the item, what would you need to know?



Since we’re focusing on the promotional product industry here, branding or logo characteristics are vital to the project.

Don’t assume your supplier understands the importance of branding and logo placement.

Similar to your description and specification, your branding requirements should:

• Be detailed and use list or bullet-point format.

• Show logo placement by mockup or careful wording. Don’t assume the factory should know where you want the logo to go.

• How is the branding to be done? Embroidery or patch? How about printing? If you know a higher-end print is required, tell the supplier beforehand, otherwise, they’ll quote the lowest-end application and you’ll either get a junky sample or they’ll have to amend the quote later.

• Send images of previous pieces you’ve done that show the branding.

• Color: inform the supplier the color requirements. And when it comes to China manufacturing, whether logo or material, don’t underestimate color matching and getting it right.


How about including in your RFQ

Timing requirements, quantity, testing… stay tuned for the next installment!

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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