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Make it easy for your supplier in China to contact you

by Jacob Yount

Remember, during this summer season, make it easy for your supplier in China to contact you.

This goes without saying, but you need to make it easy for your supplier to receive email responses and confirmations from you, especially if you have open projects.

And an “ALL CAPS ESPECIALLY” if you have orders on the production line.

Probably for the majority of you that deal directly with Chinese suppliers, your main form of communication is email.

I know what you’re thinking…

“Hey, I’ve got a smart phone, they can email me anytime”.

Yes, they can email anytime, but if they have a question or need a confirmation are you in a position to give them the proper response? Are you able to check back over the data and give a constructive answer to a spec question they may be asking?

Notice I said “constructive answer“.

None of this “same as we’ve already confirmed” stuff.

Don’t Let Other Folks’ Vacations Cause a Delay:

If you are working with a team, management or your customer, have you made sure communication lines are open to get the confirmations and sign-offs that you need from your side?

Remember, one scary thing with Chinese suppliers is that if they cannot get an answer or if some detail is missing, many times, they don’t stop the show, but they choose the answer for you. And more times than not, that choice is not one you would’ve agreed to but is usually based on getting these goods as quickly out of their door as possible and getting the payment in hand…quality being an afterthought.

I should’ve named the post:

“Make it easy for your supplier in China to get whatever they need from you!”

Whether it’s a sign-off, a confirmation or an answer to a question about a specification.

If you are the Chinese supplier’s main contact, be sure your other contacts are available for whatever may come up.

You may find out the goods are packed and ready to ship….but you were still waiting on QC photos…Be proactive and think about what stage the project is in; if there will be sample sign-offs, or when will I get the photos of the production to go over and give my go-ahead? Or when will the factory need my confirmation to ship the goods? – you get my point. That way, everyone is not caught off guard with pool parties and road trips.

Here is another one…payment! Make sure that the “summer lull” doesn’t make everyone forget that all important matter called “making a payment and making it on time”.

I’ve seen orders delay because the buyer says that “Jane in accounting is on vacation” or  “only the boss can sign off on payments.”

And the supplier is thinking, “nice story, these goods are not going anywhere”.

Answer emails promptly. If the supplier needs to have a Skype chat, then be ready for a Skype chat. When importing from China, it’s wise to be available even during down time to check emails and give confirmations. Many factories are pushing forward on weekends.

Think about it? How can buying side push and push for a prompt delivery but not be available to field questions or provide insight when needed?

Don’t allow your lack of availability as a possible reason for the supplier to delay or bump you off the production line.

Believe me, they will take one inch of a possible slack point from your side and allow it to be the cause of a major problem.

“We tried to ask you for confirmation but you didn’t answer. We must delay for 2 weeks. Thank you for your understanding. Pay balance invoice asap”

This is the kind of news that can ruin that beach trip.

Have an awesome summer!

PS: If you need any help in your China importing endeavors, feel free to contact me directly and I will help brainstorm ideas or point you in any direction I can. I’m not talking about anything where I’m going to sell you something, but just providing insight so you can avoid some of the mistakes that many buyers make. It will give me an opportunity to help and share some of my 13-years of China-work experience.

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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