The world is smaller and developing countries are opening up more and more. Whether you’re a small business or a corporation, everyone can swiftly move import orders via Amazon or whatever solidified channels and outlets. As long as you have a competent supplier, then everything else just sort of falls into place, right? Wrong. You may have a very capable supplier but if you overlook fundamental details of your import orders, the results are mucho complications or failed projects.

Even the factory’s ability to produce on-spec and according to time is intertwined with the importers level of project management. Project success doesn’t happen in a bubble.

The buck still stops with the importer in certain, basic areas.

Fundamental missteps help bring an order tumbling down.

Missing an email

Whether it’s an update the supplier sends to you and you missed it or you sent to them and they missed it, either way, avoid it!

The supplier takes silence as a confirmation. The supplier also takes lack of guidance as agreement with what they’re doing.

If you email a directive, don’t let an ample amount of time pass before you receive some form of acknowledgement. Don’t settle for hazy responses either.

Also if you haven’t heard from your supplier in a while, then follow up. It’s possible key info was missed.

Underestimating communication

Manufacturing in China is not tossing a ton of specs onto a supplier’s desk and then whilst you’re walking away, you’re saying “Holler at me if any questions”.

Suppliers are not very proactive in forming questions and frameworks for hashing out detail. Therefore the tired cliche of “let me know if you have any questions” or “the supplier should have asked” is fruitless.

Find key points from your project to assure supplier understanding. Discuss these key issues with them via phone or the chat services.

Strong communication during your orders is deliberate and to-the-point.

Know the key processes and order phases when you obtain an update. Don’t wait for an update but OBTAIN an update. All the while, you’re training your supplier on the communication you expect to receive on the following orders (if all goes well).

Late payment

This could be late deposit or late balance payment. This becomes detrimental when timing’s a critical factor.

In the promotional product industry, timing is everything in meeting an event or a launch. The importer is stuck on “local mode”, thinks all payments are 30 days net but the China supplier requires the balance payment to catch the vessel.

One day late payment leads to 10-days late departure. Work out payment parameters way in advance with your supplier. A first-time supplier isn’t very sympathetic with the nuances of your accounting department.

They want the wire or they don’t release.

Testing samples

When you get samples, don’t overlook actually making sure the samples work. I remember a case where the importer and the brand confirmed the piece and the branding, but didn’t actually check the functionality.


Yes, but easily overlooked when folks are focused only on appearance and timing.

Being nebulous with confirmations

Be precise in giving confirmations and sign-offs. Also, be adamant and even forceful that the factory is not to move past certain stages until you have give clear sign-off. But in insisting on this method, you have to be accessible and ready to give the green light when necessary.

Signing off on wrong item or passing wrong spec

This happens when an importer loses attention to detail slip. Importers send a wrong specification or the supplier even sends something that was erroneous.

The importer doesn’t catch it, the error flows into the orders and chaos ensues.

A good supplier occasionally watches your back on errors you make…but not on a consistent basis.

Suppliers are largely reactive to directives but not too consultative.

 Underestimating the logistics of your orders

Whether it’s last minute arrangements or leaving it all in the freight forwarder and supplier’s hands, this is a recipe for delays.

To go hand-in-hand with logistics is order documents. Make sure your documents are correct. This includes the proper consignee on the Bill of Lading, proper packing detail on the packing list and your HTS code being precisely applied.

An urgent order that reachs the port on time risks languishing in customs and missing your delivery date if