Important supplier reminders save a world of headache. The majority of China projects that take a turn for the worst, if you trace the origin of the problem, it’s generally because of a basic point. When a buyer exclaims a supplier “should know this” and “it’s their job to know that”, that’s irrelevant once you’re faced with manufacturing or timing issues. 

This is a continuation to the last post.

Part I: 5 Basic Things to Remind Your Supplier

Incorporate all 10 of these points into your own order control. Remember simply asking “how’s the order going?“, isn’t the best way to monitor your overseas orders.

For the sake of these posts, the term “reminder” is interchangeable with a confirmation or clarification. It’s a touch point with the supplier to bring something to light.

5 Basic but Important Supplier Reminders

1.  When to Send Photos / What to Send Photos Of.

Remind the vendor that you require photos during specific phases of the project.

Let the supplier know what phase you require the photo. “Before we go past such and such point, please send a visual so I can confirm”

You can catch certain errors or discrepancies by viewing a right pic at the right time.

Don’t assume your supplier will provide photos during the process. They may or may not. And by the time they do send photos, it’s too late to make adjustments or to ask questions.

You may want to consider putting your photo requirements down in the Purchase Order and having the supplier give confirmation in writing.

When the supplier does send visuals, take time to discuss with the supplier what you see.

Suppliers, for some reason tend to send distorted images. Keep in mind that a photo that is disproportionate or too-zoomed-in is misleading. If you have a sample or previous photos on-hand, show the vendor what type of image you expect.

“I want this shot, just like this”.

“I need to see this aspect of the product”.

Remember that images are just 1 tool in your bag but not the only way of control.

2.  Documentation: Remind Your Supplier Details and Requirements

If it’s a new vendor, this point is all the more important. But even with repeat orders, you have to be vigilant. Even an important supplier you frequently work with can slip in a clerical aspect.

Remind, check, confirm in advance what information is to be on shipping documents.

When it comes to customs and clearance, as the importer, those documents are going to represent you and your business.

Is there the right consignee?

Does the packing list indeed match up with the BL and what USA customs sees?

Discrepancies on origin side can lead to customs inspections on destination side.

Have the supplier provide you drafts of the documents before you sign-off on them.

A critical or important supplier nudge on the front end can save custom delays on the back end.

3.  Payment Terms and Requirements.

This is a reminder you want to send before it’s time to issue the PO. You don’t want to wait until it’s time to start the order and there be a kerfuffle on payment terms.

Wire Transfer Payment Terms and China Vendors

When you’re in the quoting stages, inform the supplier, “these are the terms we need”. Then it’s during the earlier stages that you negotiate this. Don’t wait to negotiate this towards key phases like starting mass production or finishing mass production.

If the supplier confirms your payment requirements, remind them this later on; prior to issuing your PO and waiting for their invoice. Say once again, “here’s what was confirmed on payment terms, be sure your invoice reflects as such.” (generally it’s on the supplier’s invoice where initial and balance payments take place.)

When balance payments terms aren’t discussed prior to shipment, there’s hang ups before the goods depart. The supplier wants payment once goods leave the factory. The client thinks they confirmed to pay once the goods arrived. You see the issue brewing there? This especially takes place with promo product distributors. They naturally assume that overseas suppliers take the same payment terms as the domestic ones.

4.  Shipping Parameters – When the Goods Need to Leave China

This critical reminder to your vendor should leave your lips every so often in the initial stages. Don’t speak in vague terms of “asap” or “lead time” but speak in brass tax of WHEN.

You need to know the math of once the shipment leaves the China port, when it will arrive to you. This assumes your supplier is quoting you FOB.

For the most part, leaving China is the supplier’s duty, arrival to-door is your duty.

Therefore, remind your supplier of the must-have departure date and be sure this aspect is clearly spotlighted in all quote documentation and invoices.

Speaking about a date requirement early on, but not mentioning it later, causes the supplier to think that perhaps that date is no longer as pressing as it was before.

5-  Quality Control – Remind the Supplier You are Indeed Booking One!

This may be where you need to juggle departure timing and qc booking, but let your supplier know that you will indeed send in a 3rd party QC inspector. Let them know this in the beginning and in the middle.

Beginning:  if you don’t, especially if it’s a new vendor, they may try to give you pushback. They may say this is not necessary and they always QC their own good and no problem, no problem, no problem….right?

Don’t accept this but be adamant that these goods aren’t leaving without an inspection.

Middle:  start talking to your vendor about when’s the best time to send in the QC company. Without properly moving the chess pieces around, the inspector will arrive before the goods are finished and can’t properly inspect.

Or the inspector isn’t booked on time, goods are packed and your supplier tells you if you inspect, you’re going to miss your shipping date.

Not a good situation. Move all this around in advance so the inspection company can properly inspect. This all starts with a supplier reminder.


Keep in mind that an important supplier update isn’t always accompanied with lighting bolts and fanfare. It may be something small and subtle. But it’s the proper nudge at the proper time that can avoid headaches and loss somewhere along the supply chain.