China Sourcing Projects: Do You Know the Key Points?

  • China sourcing projects have key points and the more those key points are spotlighted, the more the supplier understands client expectations.

Are your China sourcing projects successful because the supplier did everything right? What if you have a supplier that misses a key point? You can get to where, in your China sourcing projects, you are able to proactively avoid problems and success not being based on “the supplier doing everything right”. 

Many China sourcing projects go off without a hitch because the supplier didn’t drop the ball.

That’s not a bad setup. If you have a supplier like this, you do a minimal product range, and manufacture the same references over and over, then you may be in good hands.

Usually this approach of hands-off importing fails whenever:

  • You handle many references or SKUs.
  • You work with many different vendors.
  • You work work for the promotional product industry or are a retail buyer across multilines.

    In the above cases, you’re going to have a wide-range of suppliers and therefore a wide-range of possible human error from the supplier sales contact and the production factory.

    Operating in hopes of “the factory doing everything right” becomes risky.

    Know the key points of your China sourcing projects:

    “Key points” are aspects of a China sourcing project that could make or break the success of the project.

    Each project, each product will have different areas of focus.

    As you start a project, you brainstorm a list of critical aspects of the project that you are going to monitor and control before, during and after the order.

    These points are specific and the experienced importer avoids generalities such as “everything has to be perfect.

    The level of control you place on these points may vary, but these are points and aspects your eyes and mind will always float towards.

    You look for these points

  • In the original RFQ you send to the vendor.
  • In each photo you receive.
  • When samples arrive, you check to make sure it is there.
  • In the supplier’s communication. Do they word the process right? Do they seem to grasp this aspect?
  • When you send in the QC team: these are the points you give to look for.
  • A key point is never “too obvious”. Remember these aren’t necessarily points of higher-end technique, but the points that make that project what it is.

    Points the supplier may overlook, points that culturally didn’t translate, points that may be contrary to the suppliers normal path.

    Avoid “Where Waldo” in your projects

    Here’s the simplified scenario:

    Client request price, sampling or places an order.

    Supplier executes the directive.

    Client receive receives sample / product, etc.. and SOMETHING IS WRONG.

    The client exclaims, “why didn’t you (fill in the blank)?”

    Supplier says, “why didn’t you tell us to (fill in the blank)?”

    So here’s the question, instead of waiting for the supplier to mess up or leave something out, why didn’t you tell them in advance to be mindful of that point?

    Or, and this is more probable, you hadn’t even thought of that as a control point until they made the perceived error, right?

    This is a result from not establishing and communicating key points from the beginning.

    Keep in mind to keep balance in your control. This does not mean listing 99 order control points. You have to defer a level of professional judgement to the supplier.

    But deferring judgement to the supplier is not at the expense of only reacting after the fact when it comes to key detail.

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    • Well written post, Jacob. Thank you for the insightful tips.