By Li Zhang
Before the start of manufacturing is a critical time period that’s largely overlooked. As a buyer, you’re waiting to issue the Purchase Order to your vendor or send the deposit wire. This isn’t the time for casualness in your China sourcing project.
Use the time prior to mass production for final communication and checking. Your goal is for the project will start on the right path. In China manufacturing, an order that doesn’t start out well usually doesn’t end well.
Don’t let communication dry up prior to starting manufacturing
You’re waiting to start the order, but the supplier sees a client that’s possibly backed out. Of course we all know the supplier should communicate and find out the status. But imagine how many Chinese suppliers hear that an order’s coming that never comes. Plus, the Chinese aren’t great at proactive communication.
It’s ideal to stay in contact with your supplier prior to starting the order. Let the supplier know the current status every few days. What may seem like a normal passing of time in the West is light years in China. Factories are busy and hungry for the next order.
It could be something as simply as an email saying, that we’re waiting on the brand manager or waiting to make the deposit.
Regardless of what you’re waiting for, if you know that manufacturing is inevitable, let the supplier know.
Have an online meeting with the supplier to go back over final questions and specs.
You want to avoid keeping the supplier in the dark, which causes them to refocus their priorities.
When you keep communication channels open with vendors, you use that time to double-check documentation and emails.
Go back over pre-confirmed specs and review the quote. Make sure you discuss everything in the price quote that’s critical to the supplier’s understanding and success of manufacturing.
Eliminate discrepancies between the Purchase Order and all prior confirmed specifications. Buyers like to throw in specifications at the last minute without really spotlighting it to the supplier.
If there are discrepancies in the supplier’s quote and your Purchase Order, something may be overlooked in the manufacturing phase.
Why? Because the supplier doesn’t consider that you’re requiring something different than the quote.
Know that time is ticking
As you wait to start the order, time hasn’t stopped. Time is money in the promotional product industry. If you worked hard with the supplier to achieve a tight timeframe, don’t blot it by lingering on the front end.
Too often buyers negotiate good timing and then take forever to issue the PO. You may have to restart the timing talks and valuable manufacturing days are lost. Worse than that; the supplier may not tell you that yo lost those manufacturing days while they were waiting for the green light.
Although the actual sign off, PO and wire transfer may not be up to you personally, do what you can internally to nudge the process along.
All the while, keeping communication open with the supplier.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or find her penning manufacturing thoughts at her blog.