This post spotlights 5 dangers that come with low quantity orders in China manufacturing.

Low quantity requests, especially for the Promotional Product Industry and in smaller, retail gift merchandise, are sorta, “nature of the beast”. 

The Importance You Place is Not Reciprocated:

Perhaps being new to importing and wanting to really hit a home run with your customers, you approach the job, knowing it’s small..but you are all juiced up anyway.

You email the supplier, requesting this and asking for that and placing a majestic Purchase Order for your order; and they reply something like. “Right now we’re very busy and will answer you as soon as possible.”

The supplier still gets back to you, but their apathy is tangible. It gives you concerns throughout the job. Because of their “seemingly” lack of professionalism on the whole thing, you question bringing them that future windfall business once it comes.

Now a capable supplier, looks like an jerk supplier.

Or is it because they do not appreciate the low quantity run that they grudgingly accepted?

It’s a nasty cycle.

Sampling is Handled with a Ho-Hum Attitude:

They seem to nickel and dime you over every request; but can you expect any different? Many times on smaller runs in the promotional product industry or print projects, after expenses the factory may make around $300 to $700.00.

You see why they balk at covering samples, freights, dinner and a movie?

And speaking of the nasty cycle, once you get the sample, you say:

“Hey, this is not customized as per the specs and quotation.”

The supplier responds:  “yes, we cannot customize until mass production.”

Customization Options Limited:

Speaking of customization options; for smaller order runs, they are scarce. No Pantone matching, no assorted colors and it gets to a take-it-or-leave-it scenario.

As the importer or promotional product distributor, you’ve promised your client that sky-is-the-limit when going offshore but it turns out not to be the case when the order is how to say nicely…pint-sized.

Even if the supplier presents you something from the material market that you agree to, it’s possible that by the time the factory goes to production, that option has already been exhausted. Even worse, the factory doesn’t tell you, because it’s not worth the extra English email and explaining something for a smaller order…so they just go with the difference.

Without your confirmation.

The Risk of Running the Machines 1 Time and It’s Done:

This is when quality starts heavy-duty getting involved. The factory is not going to start production, stop production, present you with samples and ask you if you’d like a refill on your tea. They are going to run that baby through the machines or through the production line and what comes out is what you get.

You possibly won’t have time to set up a physical inspection because the factory will not accurately communicate the timeframes during low quantity orders.

You think they have not started actual production, then one day you get an email saying your order is ready for pickup. You haven’t seen any photos, no indication of quality, nothing…

The Factory Manufacturing the Order, Ultimately Doesn’t Care:

This 5th point basically sums up the whole thing and undergirds all other points.

Buyers think, “Well if they will not rightly handle my small orders, how can I give them big orders?”

It makes sense. But the problem with that logic, is, it’s not taking in to account the buyers that directly place large orders without the lower quantity song and dance.

Low quantity orders lead to poor customer service throughout the process, lack of updates, poor quality and a factory who deems you “annoying” until the bigger job comes.

Also, even if you are longterm customer that places large orders and has to do smaller runs from time-to-time, the difficulty of controlling a smaller run doesn’t change.

It’s not personal.

Your China factory sales contact may very well want to do a good job for you. But they are up against other faceless variables that hinder their desire; limitations on customization from 3rd party vendors, grouchiness from their own production line for bringing the request…it’s internal.

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