Manufacturing and importing from China is fraught with peril.

Let me say that less dramatically.

Manufacturing and importing from China is can be tedious.

If you don’t control it right, it’s prone to mix-ups and problems.

These mix-ups and problems aren’t something that simply causes an inconvenience.

The result is missed deadlines and poorly manufactured product.

This is synonymous with large money loss. Or reputation loss. Or both.

I think “fraught with peril” is a better description.

Moving pieces require observing, handling and tweaking.

Suppliers vary.

There’s great suppliers, horrible suppliers and everything in between.

Because of all the moving pieces, even the best supplier requires a level of control.

Importing isn’t like winding a watch. You don’t do a few initial steps, let ‘er rip and then expect accuracy in 45 to 50 days.

A more modern analogy; importing isn’t like Amazon Prime one-click ordering.

The entire process of China manufacturing has a high level of human input.

Thus, there’s a high level possible human error.

From sampling to manufacturing processes.

From packing to shipping.

You have people.

People reading communications on a screen. Mostly in a second language.

Workers passing along directives.

Messages sent, calls made, communication missed.

3rd party vendors being booked and controlled.

Trucks scheduled for pickup.

Weather that can impede a truck from arriving on time.

Hot weather stresses electrical grids; factories shut down because of the power.

And consider all the ignorance from the buyer’s side

Buyers who import tend to be like spoiled children. Forgive me if the analogy offends.

They don’t try to understand to the “whys” and the “wheretofores” of the process.

Suppliers try in their own way to explain processes and why things result as they do.

Buyers simply stamp their feet and scream “I need my product and I need it right!!”

The buyer screams, “Why didn’t you tell me earlier!?”

Another ol’ standby finger-pointing sword is, “if the factory couldn’t do the project, they should’t have agreed to it?!”

There may be a humility involved.

Soft skills are a plus to any industry, even in China manufacturing.

Remember, the supplier sees the production line on a frequent basis.

I’ve seen many a case where the supplier endeavors to show the buyer a different method.

The buyer refuses to listen. They just assume the supplier’s trying to cheat them.

If you really cannot trust them on even a basic level, why work with them?

An importer who thinks they know all there is to know may need to listen to what the supplier is saying.

It’s interesting how the same soft skills necessary for successful sourcing and importing sorta permeate all through life.

You’ve got to be ready to play chess…it ain’t checkers

Successful importers go in with a different mentality.

It’s thinking marathon, collaboration and guidance. It’s not “sprint” and “do this right” simply because I waived a wand.

The project, the supplier and even yourself are pieces to a puzzle.

The pieces have to fit together.

Both sides need to clearly define the goals.

Goals being quality and timing points.

Both sides require a level of observation and seriousness.

In dealing with China culture, the supplier is going to be  passive on certain aspects. This passivity often results in poor communication and not expressing key details.

The burden of updates and facilitation (i.e. moving things along) lay on the buyers’ shoulders.

A buyer needs to have a readiness of mind.

Ready to think thought what’s not being said.

A willingness to guide and explain repeatedly if necessary.

Ready to make quick corrections and look for solutions.