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Asking Chinese suppliers for quotations

By Renaud Anjoran in 'Quality Inspection Blog'

We started offering supplier qualification services a few months back. One of the steps we go through is sending requests for quotations (RFQ) to Chinese suppliers.

The trick is to avoid sending too much information at once, or many potential suppliers will not read the message entirely. Some important considerations, such as the validity of the quotation or the factory profile, can be asked in a second step, after a candidate has invested some time in giving a quotation.

Here is the format of our RFQs:

1. In the first message to the supplier:

A few words about the customer:
(Name, country, wholesaler/retailer, website url, in business since…)

A few words about us:
It is important to explain why the customer is not contacting potential customers himself.

If you have questions: contact person:
Some suppliers are more comfortable asking questions over the phone to clarify some issues. They should be given a contact person & number.

Description of the product to manufacture:

  • Type of product
  • Photos
  • Intended use
  • Material
  • Dimensions
  • Other specs

Quantity of the first order:
(In number of pieces)

Quantity of the following orders:
(Rough forecast of the number of pieces per order, and of the number of orders per year)

Development needs:
(Does the client already have a sample that the factory can copy? Will the supplier have to open a mold at its cost? Etc.)

Quality standard:

  • Safety standards from the importing country
  • AQL (standard for most consumer goods: 0 for critical defects, 2.5 for major defects, and 4.0 for minor defects)

Please give us a quotation:
- In USD per piece
- Under FOB terms
- For a T/T 30% deposit & 70% after B/L is faxed to the customer / Irrevocable L/C at sight / any form of payment preferred by the client.

2. In the following messages to the supplier:

Please specify the validity of the quotation.
Please specify the lead time between approval of a gold sample and shipment (for the quantity of the first order).

Customer references:
Have you already made this type of product for other customers in [the customer’s country]?
Please give us a list of at least 2 of these customers.

Profile of your company:
Is your company a manufacturer? A trading company? An agent?

Profile of the factory:
How many people work in the factory that would produce this product?
Where is it? (City, province)
What is the proportion of sales for the Chinese market? For export countries? What is its main market?
Any certification?


In-depth product information

Extra points for you if you have defined a product quality checklist.


Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast Quality Control and helps importers to improve and secure their product quality in China. He writes advice for importers on the Quality Inspection blog. He lives full time in Shenzhen, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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