Everything appears to be in order.

The supplier seems cooperative and sent over the quotation just fine.

They’re eager to manufacture the samples. Maybe the samples arrive and everything is ready to move forward.

Perhaps mass production is underway and you’re sitting back waiting for a smooth delivery.

Whatever phase, in your overseas manufacturing project, problems can arise.

Something is now WRONG.

You find out the supplier won’t or can’t produce as per the agreement.

The delivery time is shot.

Maybe the QC team went in and found problem after problem.

Did the problem happen in a vacuum?

Or is the problem connected to something you didn’t consider?

Seemingly problems can enter an overseas manufacturing order like a slow poison.

At first it just seemed like normal quips or wrinkles to smooth out.

Little by little the problem rears it’s ugly head.

Now you’ve got a full-blown issue on your hands.

What phenomena can corrupt an overseas manufacturing order?

It’s like a virus into a software…it creeps in and then nothing works right since.

Not knowing anything about your supplier: 

Are they a trade company or a factory? Not knowing how long a supplier has been in business may not be the wisest thing.

You decide to visit the factory and get to the heart of an issue.

But they are just some intermediary who won’t disclose the factory location.

What happens if they close down suddenly and your deposit is in their hand?

Remiss in discussing a quotation:

When you receive the supplier’s quotation, you proceed to the next step, with very little to no discussion.

“So what. I didn’t take the time to discuss the quotation. How big of a problem could that be?”

Big problem.

How do you know you’re talking apples and apples?

Buyers and suppliers speak a different language.

And I’m not talking about spoken language. I’m talking about culture, context, understanding.

A quotation, especially for new vendors and new products should be hashed.

After all, when the supplier quoted the project, they weren’t really sure whether you were going to order or not. So they didn’t put a whole lot of focus on the case from the beginning (this happens!)

Multiple discussions should take place to assure both sides are simpatico on meanings and requirements.

Being overly happy about a low price instead of actually considering reality:

“Hey this price looks great, let’s rock n’ roll”.

Sample arrives and the buyer thinks, “What in the world is this?”

But this is what the quoted price produces.

If you want better then the price is now __.

When the client goes into the RFQ process and doesn’t provide a proper specification sheet or a physical example, this is usually the fruit.

The list of reasons this happens:

  •  The supplier is a low-end supplier and they’re simply unable to achieve needed quality.
  • The buyer didn’t take time to compare what the market at large quotes for this same product. A quick google search may show the quote was severely under price.
  • The supplier isn’t clear on needed material or quality. When everyone’s just reading words on a brief, it isn’t always crystal clear. That’s why a picture/sample/mock-up can be worth a 1000 words.
  • Low prices dazzle a buyer. An inexperienced buyer marches forward with dreams of low margin instead of being grounded in reality.

Taking too long on the samples:

The sample process takes longer than it should have.

“So what, so they took too long, the sample is fine, let’s proceed”.

But it’s more than “they took a long time”.

Why did they take a long time?

Because sometimes this is a sign that they’re going to have a worse time in mass production.

It took the supplier forever to get the sample right.

And consider this; sampling processes are done in a smaller, more controlled production line dedicated for samples. If it took them a long time to get the sample right, can you assure mass production goes flawlessly?

Many an order I’ve seen fail was because the supplier couldn’t fulfill requirements on a mass production scale.

Sampling, no problem.

Doing it right at mass volume, problem.

Neglecting specifications and requirements:

You’ve been confirming samples and ordering from the vendor. Perhaps you’ve done a few orders now.

But then a problem turns up. Maybe there’s a recall for material used.

Or there’s a new regulation in California (imagine that) and you’ve got to describe your material.

But you have no idea how to do this!

You don’t know what material is being used.

You’re not sure the grade, the chemicals involved, whatever the case may be.

This comes from not establishing a firm specification and material sheet with your vendor.

Relaxing once prototypes are confirmed but not actually controlling the order

Too often orders fail from the start of mass production until shipment.

In other words the feeling out process, quoting, sampling…all went well.

But the buyer is complacent to monitor mass production.

Or the supplier doesn’t control their production line.

Since there was no proactive control during mass production, the final quality inspection is like a bucket of cold water.

Major problems turn up in the final quality inspection. You could rework them or get a discount or have the supplier send you an apology letter…but either way, it’s a bad situation.

What about logistics timing?

Being casual about the logistics leads to timing headaches.

Shipping delays happen because buyers don’t book their shipment properly.

Properly means on time, documents complete and working to get truck to port before the sailing date.

It’s tempting once you confirm the sample to let out a big sigh of relief and think production is smooth sailing.

Don’t fumble on the 1-yard line; finish strong in your overseas manufacturing order.