By Jacob Yount
Around the Lunar New Year holiday, tis the season for uncertainty and large margins of error when it comes to your China sourcing projects. Any time of the year, you need to double-check your quotes, right? Any time of the year, orders require control, right? Even more so during this holiday season.
Any quote you’re working on prior to the holiday season.
When the factory comes back to work, realize that the quote you have in-hand, is subject to change.
- It’s safe to keep in mind that any quote from before the holiday is fluid and has the strong possibility of changing post festivities.
- After a big holiday in China is when your supplier may come back and say, “prices have gone up on such and such material”.
- As you keep a fluid quote in mind, you’ll be less likely to be caught off guard after the break if / once the factory tells you something changed. Not saying you shouldn’t negotiate for what’s right, but only warning so that you won’t be caught off guard.
- When it comes to quotes, a large chunk of time between when the factory quotes and forward movement causes the factory to lose record. This rings ever true for large holiday periods.
- Similar with samples, the line workers who made your samples, may not return after the holiday.
- The lead time in the pre-New Year quote may be completely different once you reignite talks with the factory.
Remember, you avoid being “caught of guard”, by better scrutinizing your quotes. Let’s say the factory tells you they can do such-and-such after the holiday. After scrutinizing your quote, you realize they didn’t really think that aspect through and were just rushing you an answer.
You then make a mental note to yourself to retouch on that point after the break, instead of going forward full-force.
You have something on the table, but also know it may not be “in stone” and the safe bet is to double-confirm post holiday.
Before the holiday, if you know when you’re going to order, remind the supplier of when you hope to move forward. Ask them to specifically look for you once they come back to work. Avoid making a deposit too close to the holiday. You’ll risk the vendor holding your deposit and still the possibility of something suspect happen (i.e. changing a pre-confirmed specs, sales contact who made the invoice not returning to work, etc..)
As the holiday starts winding down, reconfirm quotes and specs with your vendor.
Have an email report ready that you send to the supplier once they are back in their office. Ask them to reconfirm “what we talked about before the Chinese New Year”. The update should simply be a path showing all previous steps.
If the sales person is back in the office but a bulk of the factory workers are not back yet and timing allows, ask your sales contact to carefully double-check specs.
If you give the impression that you are in a rush and are in hyper-need of detail, they’ll throw something your way, right or wrong, just to get you off their back.
Read more: Timing Before and After Chinese New Year
For orders preparing to ship out right before the holiday.
Your vendor may likely rush the order. Vendors want to get paid before the break. They want the order to dispatch and they want you to be out of their hair. In other words, if something is on line and something is under works, they want to come back from the holiday with a clean slate.
On top of that, chances are, the buyer is riding the supplier to make sure the order leaves before the holiday.
If it’s a promotional product order, you may be working against a critical timeframe. There’s absolutely no way you could accept the item leaving 2 weeks later.
So if you’re rushing the factory and the factory is rushing themselves, the chances for error abound.
- Rushed orders are synonymous with bad production. If the factory didn’t have sufficient time for proper steps, then proper steps be damned!
- Prints don’t have time to dry, hand processes are rushed and sloppy, packing isn’t to spec; these are all possible results of rush shipments. If you can accept the order finishing up and shipping after the holiday, then inform the supplier. The supplier may try to push it on your regardless and you may have to put your foot down that the order cannot ship until you have the confidence that it’s done right.
- Be sure you contact your 3rd party Quality Inspection company way in advance. Move the chess pieces around. Make sure your inspection company gets to the factory early enough so you have time to thoroughly examine the report.
- An order may go off without a hitch but get stuck in port. Remember there’s a large bottle neck this time of year.
Let me know if there’s anything I missed.
Remember to sincerely wish your vendor a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
They are real people with real families and are looking forward to their breaks as much as you look forward to yours.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or find him on his blog.