Being in between suppliers in China and overseas buyers, we often see the same common mistakes made over and over by both sides.

While many issues are caused by the vendor side, importers themselves aren’t entirely blameless either. As such, we thought it is about time to clarify what sort of mistakes importers tend to make and how they can be prevented.

Keep reading and learn how you can prevent severe quality issuesmisunderstandings and delays when buying from Chinese manufacturers.

1. Don’t treat your supplier as a price database

Responding to quotation requests from buyers is part of a sales rep’s job. However, calculating production costs take time, and may require multiple subcontractors. If you keep submitting RFQs or changing the specifications, without ever placing an order, the supplier will eventually lose interest and stop talking to you.

2. Always provide swift feedback and status updates

Buyers are often quick to complain about excessive lead times, long holidays and prototype development spanning several months.

However, it’s common that buyers wait several days, or even weeks, to provide basic feedback to the supplier. This may relate to feedback on quotations, quality options or even product samples.

If you have a deadline, always try to respond to emails within 24 hours, and keep the supplier informed.

3. Provide overly clear instructions. Not written paragraphs.

There are few things that are more frustrating to an engineer than a product specification that is written like a novel. Yet, it’s common that importers write long, and often vague, paragraphs, describing the product’s design, quality and functions.

This leaves the sales person interpreting what your product is supposed to be, which is extremely likely to cause misunderstanding, which in turn may result in disastrous quality issues. Instead, a product specification must be on point, and crystal clear. Below follows a more precise take on the paragraph written above:

4. Don’t be too aggressive in your price negotiations

While price negotiation is part of the game and even expected, many buyers go way too far in their attempts to cut pricing. There are two problems that stem from overly aggressive price haggling:

  1. Contract manufacturers need to make money too
  2. You’ll always end up getting what you pay for

While a supplier may eventually give in to price pressure from their buyers, this comes at a cost for the latter. Forcing a supplier to cut unit pricing may leave them with only one option: to reduce production costs. As explained below, there are several methods the supplier can apply to achieve that:

Procure cheap raw materials and components of lower quality.

Procure cheap raw materials and components that are non-compliant with overseas substance restrictions.

Cut corners during mass production.

What may be perceived as a victory for the buyer, can therefore quickly result in a total loss.