By Manuel Becvar
Today I wanted to walk you through the process of placing the order with your factory and which steps you need to take to guarantee safe delivery.
The following is crucial when you start out and are looking to save costs because of a tight budget or wanting to learn the ropes when it comes to working with factories in China.
I actually recommend that you handle your first order with factories in China yourself so that you are aware of all the steps that need to be taken.
As time passes and you enlarge your assortment you should be focusing on developing your business, adding new products, travelling to exhibitions and you will have less and less time to manage your factory orders.
At this point I recommend you to let professionals in China take care of your orders who have been doing this for years, actually sitting in China, easing the communication with suppliers because of the same time zone and local language but many more reasons.
Without further ado here are the steps to be taken that I go trough once we I am ready to place an order to a factory:
Step by step guide when shipping directly to Amazon:
Once you have agreed on all terms with the factory (price, MOQ, etc.) you should request the Proforma Invoice and below details.
STEP 1: Creation of Product Listing
1. Supplier must send you all details concerning the product and its packaging in order for you to create a listing on Amazon (if you haven’t done that yet) This includes:
– Product pictures (if they don’t have good ones you should ask for a final sample to be sent to your photographer of choice)
– Product measurements and weights
– Packaging unit measurements and weights
– Export carton measurements and weights
– Factory address and contact details (needed to create the shipment plan on Amazon)
– Die-cut of the packaging (in order for you to create an artwork –if needed)
2. With these details you then need to go onto Amazon Seller Central and click “add a product”. Ideally your items are unique therefore we recommend you to create a new listing.
3. Latest at this stage you will need to purchase either an UPC (for the US) or EAN barcode (for Europe).
4. Create the general product listing with the details that you have from the supplier. Please note that you do not need to enter all bullet points or descriptions at this point. You can do so while the product and order is being placed.
5. Once you have finished the product listing Seller Central will automatically take you to “send & replenish” meaning that you are now in the process of creating the shipment labels and plans for this product. If it does not take you there automatically please go to: “Manage FBA Inventory” in the tabs on Seller Central. Tick the product listing and select “send/replenish”. If the product is not there yet give it about an hour before the listing shows up.
6. Now you will have to create the shipment labels for the factory to apply to your cartons.
7. To do so you will have to follow the instructions of Seller Central and populate the fields accordingly.
8. Enter the units per case (export carton) and number of cases (export cartons). You can gather this information from the packaging & units per packaging that the supplier sent you under step 1).
If you order 1000 pieces of a garlic press. The supplier will give you the unit per packaging and number of export carton. For example the supplier packs 50 pieces in an export carton meaning there will be a total of 20 export cartons (1000 units in total). Enter this information in the fields.
9. Under “prepare and label products” choose “Merchant” in both cases. Meaning the supplier will apply the labels for you at the factory.
10. The next step will be to “complete shipment”.
11. Once you press complete select: “work on shipment”.
12. You will now be asked as to how things will be shipped.
13. Select SPD (Small parcel delivery) if cartons are below 20 pieces and or weight of total shipment is LESS than 150LBS (75KG).
14. Choose Shipper as “other”.
15. Select LTL (Less than truckload) if shipment is more than 20 cartons and or total shipment weight is MORE than 150LBS (75KG)
16. Select “multiple boxes” under shipment option or “more than one SKU per case”.
17. Select “webform”.
18. Enter the units per case (per export cartons) and number of cases (export cartons) as well as the weight. Again this is the information that you receive from the supplier under Step 1.
19. Check all information is correct and confirm shipment.
20. You will now be able to print shipment labels.
21. Click on “print labels” and save the PDF on your computer.
22. Send this PDF together with further documents under Step 2 to the supplier. (send once you have completed all steps to avoid dripping information to the supplier as this irritates them).
STEP 2: Logo’s/barcodes/insert card
1. If you have your own logo or artwork for the unit packaging send the logo in .AI or .EPS file to the supplier.
2. Advise the supplier where you would like to have your logo placed onto the packaging. E.g. if you want your logo on top of the packaging and the barcode underneath tell them so.
3. If you have no logo advise the factory only to print the barcode on the unit packaging. However I recommend you to have at least a written company name on the unit packaging.
4. If you have UPC or EAN barcodes that you purchased under point 3) above send these barcodes in .AI or .EPS file to the supplier.
5. If you have your own artwork design of the entire packaging send the entire artwork including barcodes, logos, photos and description. The supplier should be able to send you the die-cut that you need to create an artwork under point 1) above.
6. If you have no artwork designed and only wish to ship the product in a white box with logo and barcode on it advise the supplier of this.
7. If you wish to include an insert card that for example has your company name and instructions on how to use the product send the insert card to them.
STEP 3: Order placement and order instructions
1. Before you place the order and get started with production I advise to send all files as described above in one go. Again, this should include:
– UPC or EAN barcode
– Export carton shipping labels
– FNSKU barcode that you can print in the shipment plan under “prepare and label products”. This is only needed if for example you are re-ordering or listing your product under an existing item on Amazon.
– Artwork design (if any)
– Your own logo (if any)
– Insert card (if any)
2. If any of the above is applicable but missing from your side I recommend to collect/prepare all information first. However in most cases you can send artworks and insert card to the factory at a later stage but should not later than 25 days before production.
3. An example email of how to instruct a supplier with labels can be found here: http://importdojo.com/how-to-properly-place-an-order-with-factories-in-china/
STEP 4: Order placement
1. If you have not placed the order yet now is the time to place the order together with all your documents as described above and instruct the supplier accordingly.
2. FNSKU/UPC’s etc. need to go onto the gift box/unit box. Usually at the bottom of the box or a small side
3. Shipping labels need to be put onto the outer side of the export carton. Seller Central will give you a PDF with a number of all labels (according to your order quantity)
4. Pallet labels apply when you ship by pallets. This is usually recommended above 20-30 cartons.
5. The supplier should now arrange the order and production with your above instructions.
6. Follow up your order and book inspection, shipment and final samples if necessary
Most importantly: Have an inspection!
I know, I know I keep saying it but yet I still hear so many horror stories in Facebook groups that people didn’t have an inspection. When you book an inspection (and those services start at 100$) you can instruct the inspector to check all of the above to make sure the supplier followed them through.
If your supplier forgot labels, barcodes or insert cards for example this can be found during an inspection. You want a hassle free delivery to Amazon’s warehouse and an inspection is therefore a must.
Monitoring your order is very important to keep the supplier engaged with your order and not to miss important deadlines.
Here is an overview of how we at ImportDojo handle order follow up after Step 4:
STEP 5: Follow up
1. We will now keep you updated with the order completion date as well as any inspection date
2. We will keep you informed on the shipment booking and arrangement
3. We will advise you when inspection will be done and when the result is out
4. We will advise you when inspection is pass, shipment picked up and on its way to Amazon. If inspection is not pass we will inform you immediately and work together with you to find solutions. In 90% of all cases if the inspection is not pass it is only because of minor defects like scratches.
5. If inspection is pass we will inform the shipper to pick up the goods.
6. The final payment of the order is now to be made to the supplier (usually the remaining 70%) before shipment is released from the supplier.
7. A shipping company that we recommend will now pick up the goods and arrange the transport as well as appointment booking with the Amazon warehouse. If you wish to have the goods delivered to your own warehouse or other address please tell us once we place the order to the supplier.
8. We will inform you once goods have landed in the US and are to be delivered to Amazon.
9. You should get a notification from Seller Central as soon as goods are being checked-in.
Please note that you should advise your supplier before hand that he has to print labels and stickers to be put on your packagings export cartons BEFORE receiving the Proforma Invoice.
If you tell the supplier at a later stage that there will be labels and stickers to be applied they might charge you more.
More information and email templates on how to properly place orders in China also here:
Hope this helps you guys in determining what you need in terms of labels, insert cards etc.
Manuel Becvar is the founder of "Mandarin-Gear Ltd Hong Kong" a sourcing company based in Hong Kong. Previous to founding his own company Manuel had been working with large retailers as a buyer in Hong Kong for over 10 years. Apart from Mandarin-Gear, Manuel runs a blog that focuses on helping buyers to import from China; especially for Amazon FBA buyers. He has also written 4 best sellers books about importing from China that are available on Amazon as well as in his online course on www.importdojo.com.