In China importing, when something is urgent, this typically corresponds with the suppliers’ side and what they need to accomplish.

But don’t forget immediate tasks where the “urgent” label falls at the buyers’ doorstep.

The buyer has a call to action from the supplier and if the buyer does not act in an immediate fashion, then something will delay.

When buyers scream urgent, they expect the factory to blow the steam whistle and start bumping in to one another like the keystone cops.

On the other hand, when the factory, lets the buyer know something is urgent, the buyer’s mindset is typically one of “Yawn, I’ll get to it, when I get to it.”

This work habit leads to mass production delays, incorrect production or goods not even reaching you.

If your supplier says something is urgent, you need to listen.

This is the unofficial Part III to these 2 previous posts:

When Your Supplier Speaks…Listen!
Listening to Suppliers: What’s Not Being Said

If your supplier is telling you something is urgent and giving you a timing parameter; don’t take that lightly. 

Even if the supplier is casually declaring the timing parameter, YOU need to read what’s being said and consider the consequences.

The supplier’s casualness does not detract from the reality of the situation.

If your factory tells you something, then listen. Importers needs to pay attention to factories' signals

China factories are like big machines. If you do not listen to a big machine’s warnings, the machine may continue its path…and you may get hurt (ie bad order results)

In other words, just because the supplier may be passive in their wording and not turning something into a 4-alarm fire, still analyze what’s being said and react accordingly.

Remember, your supplier is a supplier, not a virtual assistant whose job it is to keep you on your tippy-toes.

Ignoring Urgent Timing Parameters & Warnings from your China Vendor

In my line of work for the promotional product and retail industries, this non-listening to urgency from the buyer usually happens in the following scenarios:

Signing off samples:

These are samples where you need to give the green light for production to proceed.

If the factory sends the samples and there is a large down time before you get back to them with confirmation, then there is a large chance that the previously confirmed production time has been extended.

Buyers tend to think that once the factory sends the sample, then the factory enters some sort of carbon freeze mode and timing stands still.

If you do not confirm the samples, the factory continues to work on other projects, quote other buyers and take other orders.

Here’s another gem: if you do not confirm the sample on time but have been super excited and pushy about the production time then there is high chance the factory will NOT wait on your confirmation.

They may proceed with our without your signoff and that can lead to disastrous results.

Many times the factory will tell the client that “we need your confirmation asap whenever you receive the samples”. This means, that you should confirm quickly!

If you need a precise time to confirm: you should ask the factory:

By when do you need my confirmation in order NOT TO DELAY the previously confirmed production timing?

It is understood that if there is a delay in confirming the sample, the confirmed timing dates are not fluid (or more fluid than they were before).


Here’s a doozy. When payment is due, payment is due.

Suppliers will tell buyers that the buyer needs to make the payment to ship on time.

Buyers read the email. They understand what is being said…but it’s like they don’t really believe this one.

Orders frequently delay because the buyer did not make payments in a timely fashion.

I get why buyers do this. The buyer assumes they have enough “credit” and integrity in the vendors eyes, that “of course they’re going to make the payment”.

It does not cross (most) buyers’ minds not to make the payment.

But as a buyer, just as you should not allow your vendor to operate on “of courses” and “sure I will’s” but facts and evidences, you should do the same for your vendor, right?

If the deposit is needed to start the production and deliver on time, then have the deposit to the supplier whenever they say to do it.

I’ve seen buyers get bent out of shape because the factory “delayed” but not considering that the deposit wasn’t made on time.

These same buyers who pay late and still expect the confirmed timing may get the timing they were pushing for; but the goods will be rushed, not properly dried, or assembled… you see how all actions are connected to other actions?

Consider that even a late payment from your side can affect the quality. It’s like the butterfly effect in China manufacturing…or something like that.

Consider the timing parameters DO NOT START until your factory has the payment in their bank account.


An order went well, quality was checked and confirmed, the factory has the goods ready to leave the factory on time….but logistics cause the project to delay.

The factory informs the buyer that the buyer needs to provide the factory with their shipping company’s contact detail – the factory never receives it. (With FOB China port, you have to provide your domestic shipping partners’ China counterpart contact detail to the factory. This should be done waaaay in advance)

Recently I saw a case of a vendor sending to a developing nation. Typically the developing economies can have more stringent or even inefficient customs clearances. Although the goods were going to one nation, the buyer was from the States.

Vendor told client that customs in recipient nation has stopped the goods and you have to provide a document to customs asap or the goods will be returned.

Buyer lagged, goods were returned.

I’m sure the buyer believed the original warning.

But, and I’m only speculating (but an experienced speculating), the buyers do not think anything can really happen.

I mean, they are the buyer and timing is their servant.

That’s not how it works.

The supply chain, once it starts moving forward, is a very impatient beast.