A seasoned buyer will probably have all kinds of stories of issues they encountered during their buying process. I’ll share a few common issues – and how to avoid them – for those who are new to buying products from Chinese suppliers. The following are issues that either we’ve personally experienced before or heard about from clients who’ve been buying from China for the past decade:
1. Poor supplier selection
There are many platforms out there you can use to search for suppliers online. But be very careful with the Chinese suppliers you find on these websites. Some of the sites may provide a rating for each supplier they list. But just like everything else in China, these ratings can be bought for the right price.
The solution: In order to ensure a Chinese supplier’s capability, always choose three or more top suppliers and VERIFY them. You can do this one of the following two ways:
- Visit suppliers yourself; or
- Have a trusted friend or qualified third-party visit the supplier and verify them for you.
Making a purchase without verifying the supplier first is never recommended.
2. Failure to meet product requirements
No matter how big or experienced a supplier may appear to be, don’t ever assume they'll follow every detail when making that product for you. When there's no requirement made by the client, suppliers will usually do whatever is easiest or cheapest.
Remember, your supplier will be looking after their own margins. So in order to save money, they’ll do everything they can, unless specified (no matter how well you’re paying them). This could be anything from using sub-standard and cheaper components during manufacturing to eliminating a manufacturing process that you expect but don’t specify.
The solution: Review every detail with your Chinese supplier if your product is expensive and you want high quality. Don’t assume your supplier will use common sense when it comes to expensive products.
3. Delays in production
A Chinese supplier will often tell you they’re able to meet any difficult deadline before you’ve made payment for an order. But once you’ve actually paid the deposit, they’ll hit you with a bunch of excuses as to why the product is delayed. It can be very frustrating and costly, especially if you’re on a tight deadline.
The solution: In order to keep delaying issues to a minimum, always have a buying contract that clearly states the consequences of delays. Require the supplier to provide you with a detailed production schedule which includes everything from material ordering time, all the way to final assembly and packaging.
Finding a Chinese supplier to make a quality product at a reasonably low cost can be tricky. And it’s impossible to prevent the above issues from happening one hundred percent of the time. But you can definitely minimize the chances by making sure you do the following:
- Verify your suppliers, either by visiting them yourself or finding someone qualified to verify them for you.
- Review every detail of your product with your supplier. If you don’t specify it, don’t expect your supplier to do it.
- Require your supplier to maintain and provide a production schedule and hold them accountable by explicitly stating the consequences of not meeting deadlines.
Experienced buyers can offer up their own horror stories of many other issues and the solutions that worked for them. Do your research, before placing an order, to improve your buying experiences in China. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and money in the process!