Global Sources
Ready to import from China? Find verified suppliers on Global Sources.
Share / Recommend:

Suppliers and client emails

by Jacob Yount 

In the world of China manufacturing, friction with suppliers and grasping client emails never goes away. Is it that suppliers don’t read emails, suppliers read and don’t understand the emails or clients do a shabby job of composing emails? I say it’s all 3…

Suppliers Not Reading

The cold fact is that the typical supplier when reading an email, doesn’t thoroughly read the message.

The typical supplier doesn’t stop what they are doing and say, “this is an English email, from my buyer, I need to be even more cautious in my reading”.

They breeze through the email as if they are reading a mobile text. They glean certain key words, create their own call to action…and BOOM, they go.

There is little consideration that perhaps the client made an error. That this client is prone to specification discrepancies and as their supplier, they should watch the client’s back.

No, they basically fly through the message to move on to the next task.

Suppliers Not Understanding

Even if the supplier does read the email, there are 2 principal obstacles that remain:

  • Nuances of the language aren’t understood.
  • Suppliers don’t know what they are missing. They don’t ask themselves questions and check their own understanding. It’s a bit deeper than simply not reading the email.

It’s young sales contact zeal. It’s too busy to slow down. It’s the supplier legitimately having to prioritize time towards other things, whether right or wrong.

Client Shabby Communication.

Proper communication is an art. Proper communication with a person in another country who is using a 2nd language isn’t only an art but a task that requires precision and a ton of patience.

Not only do clients communicate in a shabby way but their expectation is very unrealistic.

I ask this to Western buyers; when you receive an email from a person you’ve never met to spoken to before, in another country, do you stop everything you are doing to understand it to the fullest?

Imagine receiving that email in a blobby format, without a clear spotlighting of specs and no indication of immediate business?

Imagine receiving that same email in a 2nd language. Would you decipher every word to make sure it was clear?

Kinda puts things into perspective, huh?

Improper communication can very well lead to incorrect mass production.

In 15 years of manufacturing, I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

Quality errors begin in the initial communication with suppliers.

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.


Want to know how to work with factories to produce your unique products?  Join the Smart China Sourcing Summit to learn sourcing best practices, April 17-19, 2016.  Co-located with Global Sources 3,000-booth trade show in Hong Kong.  Learn more at

Keep updated on sourcing best practices and the Summit.  Join the Smart China Sourcing Facebook group at

Add comment

Security code

Stay Connected

Get Import from China Headlines by E-mail

Attend the Global Sources Summit

  • For online & Amazon sellers
  • Interactive training led by sourcing & Amazon experts
  • Learn how to source profitably, avoid pitfalls
  • April 17 - 19, 2017 in Hong Kong
  • Co-located with Mobile Electronics and
    Gifts & Home shows

Learn More

Join the Smart China Sourcing Facebook Group
  • Connect with other buyers
  • Ask questions
  • Get advice from experts

Join Group

Join Global Sources on Facebook

Be our fan now for the latest sourcing news, practical sourcing guides and expert advice.

Follow Global Sources on Twitter

We'll keep you updated with tweets on sourcing news, trade resources & more.