How do factories in China view promotional products’ inquiries and orders?
Many moons ago, I was visiting a factory during an order to inspect the production line and assure they were adhering to the delivery schedule; standard procedure. As my wife and I were speaking with the bosses, they were saying how there is no way they can respect the confirmed delivery time….and they weren’t overly concerned about it.Their reasoning? They said “these kinds of clients” always cry wolf on their delivery times; factories work super-hard to fulfill and then the goods either sit at port or in a warehouse forever. The factory said they know these goods are not all delivered at once and they are distributed in a step-by-step fashion from a warehouse…so why should they bust their hump when it’s not a true need?
Whether the factory’s reason is legit or not (and I’ve had that conversation more than once with different production facilities), it’s one of the concepts factories have of promotional products and the promo industry. Here are a few more….
Lack of repeat orders for promotional products: A factory knows if someone, in particular a distributor, contacts them for a job and if they are fortunate enough for the job to come to fruition, it’s usually the first and last of said order. Unless the order is a large-value order (and large value to a distributor usually doesn’t mean the same to a factory), there is not much incentive for this factory for long-term business.
Pushy on delivery time: This is connected to the above story of the factory not losing much sleep on the delivery time… When a buyer, who they suspect is “making a big stink” for a one-off order, is also pushing them for an asap delivery time; they think, “why are you just now starting the job? If it was urgent, why are you just now contacting us? Must not be that urgent…”
Understanding of the supply-chain is greatly lacking: China – Distributor – End-User (with many times and ad-agency or some other kind of company in between). To most Chinese factories in low-cost
manufacturing, they still think that all goods are sold off a store shelf. There is not much concept of events, give-aways, GWP, etc… To them, “why are you pushing, just put something else on the shelf.”
Cloudy on specs and lack of expertise evident: I tend to agree with the factory on this one. Many distributors…ok, most promotional products distributors and importers for that matter, are largely naive on the China manufacturing aspects of the project. The attitude, and I’m simplifying, seems to be “token in the machine” attitude. Distributors, who haven’t had a hands-on experience with manufacturing can be in the dark when it comes to what’s feasible and what’s not.
They tend to lead their vendors in to a mine field because they are not knowledgeable on can’s and cannot’s, thus not being able to deftly handle the end-user, thus leading the factory down a bad road…and in turn, the factory usually ends up eating the blame but you may end up eating bad production. All the while the distributor is thinking “What in the world are they doing there…can they not handle something that simple!?” (and many importers do this who are not knowledgeable on what they’re having manufactured)
Obviously I recommend that a distributor who imports have a well-qualified vendor handling your business. Ditch the dream of going factory-direct. For the most part, that’s not realistic for the multitude of projects you handle. Also, many times when you are thinking you are buying from a factory…you’re not. That’s how little is actually known about what’s happening in China.
Aside from partnering strategically with a capable vendor or a few vendors who can handle your array of inquiries under one roof; streamline your offshore work in to a few key product lines.
Once you start focusing on certain lines, then you’ll start excelling in manufacturing those lines. You will garner a purchasing power with those select factories and inside those select materials. Your confidence and ability of navigating China starts to increase.
China never gets “easy” but there are always ways to make it easier.