For promotional product sourcing from China suppliers;  here is a list of check points to watch  during the quoting process.

Rule #1 in quoting a job, don’t assume.

[Scenario] The factory should know how to pack “item x”.

Look, I’ve seen “item x” packed in a shipping carton before, with ZERO packing, no individual bag, no bulk packing bag – raw product crammed in a box.

But” you may say “the factory should know how to pack an item for event giveaway!!“.

Yes, but they don’t know… now what?

That same energy you spend in assuming and thinking the factory should know…throwing around the shouldas, you can spend that same energy on controlling your quote.

Quality expectations & budget:  Unless you tell the supplier the expected quality, they are most likely quoting the lowest cost material possible.  If a Chinese supplier does understand the ad specialty business (which isn’t very often), they associate it with low-cost junk.  On the flip-side, if you think you’ve been quoted too high, it could be because the supplier is including extra aspects and apples aren’t being compared to apples.  Instead of just letting out a vague “Price is too high“, inform budget expectations.

Understanding the Key Point of the Job:  If a long-life item is necessary, if the branding is of most importance, if it’s for kids, executives, make it clear.  You assume the factory should know, you shoot self in the foot.  By not telling the factory the key points for the job, by default you allow them to choose the key points and most likely, their selection is related to low cost and scrimping on material.  What’s the purpose of this promotional product?  Who is the intended audience?  Did you give the supplier sufficient understanding?

Print requirement:  If something requires a higher-end or just a different print process, check and control this.  The supplier will quote silk screen when something requires heat transfer.  When you are ready to move forward, that will be added, surprised cost later on.

Individual packing: How is the product distributed to the end-user?  Do you need each piece in a presentation, sealed baggie, is there a display box?  Clarify this during the quoting process otherwise the factory, like the above point, will quote the cheapest, most standard packing.

Don’t Expect the Vendor to Watch Your Back on Details

3rd Party Processes:  Is there a process by another vendor?  The print or an accessory, for example.  Is your principal supplier including this in the quote?  I know you told them to include it and they said in typical fashion “yeah, yeah, yeah” but is it really included?  Have them show you the cost breakdown, otherwise when it’s time for rubber to meet the road, they will say that’s not included.  You will say I told you to include it and then it’s the same old story, he said, she said… in conclusion, what you can double-check, then quadruple-check.

Export Cartons for Air Pricing:  I’ve written a previous post on the importance of controlling an air-shipping quote.  If you don’t tell the supplier it’s for air shipping and then control it to the maximum, they are going to give their standard sea or even local distribution packing.  This packing, without properly controlling it, isn’t “air-efficient”.  Then your quoting is going to be skewed and when it comes time for shipment, you’ll pay more for air than necessary.

Lead Time:  Urgency of promotional products – did they include transit time from factory to port?  Does the closing date come in to play??  Many promotional product importers will mention an in-hand date, factories talk in terms of factory departure date (not sailing date) – so are both parties on the same page?

Promotional products, done right from China, take fast-paced and precise quoting.  Chinese factories in their quoting process are not precise and if you rush them, this further destroy the precise column.  It takes just as much control (some may say micro-management) to make sure you are correctly quoted.  One solution to this is narrowing your production line and build a repertoire with a few key suppliers.  Eventually you will find your stride.