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5 reasons offshore promotional product orders fail

By Li Zhang

In the promotional product industry, product orders generally fail for the same reasons. Avoid these 5 same mistakes.

A buyer’s nightmare is when the QC company goes to the factory and the order’s a mess. A buyer’s WORST nightmare is when the order arrives and the goods are a mess. Here are 5 reasons a potentially successful promo product order becomes a failure.

 Bad start to the project

If an order starts off bad, chances are it isn’t going to get much better. The initial phases of your project are critical to the success of your mass production orders.

Initial problems:

• Poor communication and lack of supplier understanding from the supplier.

• Slow response time from both sides (buyer and supplier).

• Multiple quoting phases since neither buyer or supplier were ever clear.

• Multiple attempts at getting the sample right.

• Signing off on mass production without a confirmed sample between both parties.

Sure, when manufacturing offshore, there are going to be some obstacles , but when you see that every phase is a burden, this is a sign to change directions.


Poor control during promotional product orders

Lack of monitoring during promo product orders, helps to guarantee a batch of junk will be sent.

Promotional product buyers tend to assume that their supplier will “do the right thing”. China is still low-cost, still developing and still requires control DURING the order. 

• Properly touch base with your supplier.

• Find out key control points (what images or samples should you see to confirm at what time?).

• Arrange factory visits or 3rd party quality inspections. Know what’s shipping!


A casual or hurried factory

Quoting and sampling phases can go smooth as silk. But without the proper control, the factories can have the tendency to either be super casual or hasty in production.


Super casual: the factory is remiss at managing aspects of the order that were discussed and confirmed in sampling.

Rushed production: although not casual they hastily manufacture aspects of the order (not letting print dry, rushed packing, missing components). This is a reason why even in rushed time-frames, it’s important to determine the factory has sufficient time produce a quality product.

In the initial sourcing phases of your promotional product orders, be vigilant to find a supplier that keeps balance.


Key points never established

When presenting specs and requirements to the factory, be precise.

As far as quality, does the factory know what you expect?

Have your supplier detail you on the keys points they will control during the order.

When you don’t hash out key points, there can be radically different points of focus on aspects of the project.

Simply telling a factory, “this has to be perfect”, is not going to cut it as far as proper order control go. An experienced buyer guides their China supplier’s focus.


Lose Control of Timing

Timing is vital in promotional product orders. You may have a razor thin margin of error in missing your dates.

When timing isn’t properly discussed in the beginning, controlled during and brought to a right conclusion, the order fails (and still be good quality!).


Be vigilant during your orders.

Make sure your supplier focuses on the order, from sampling to port. 

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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