Want to Source From China?? Make the Effort.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 12:38

GreetingsI would like to know if your company is a manufacturer of ceramic plates We are a supplier in (CITY) California have been in business 5 years

We currently are looking for 5000 product about 5 1/2 inches in diameter white color with a 2 color imprint Price below $2.00 each with imprint Delivery by July 2007

Please provide your price quote to product@bestprice.company name.com


Contact Name and details.

Following up on previous posts about how NOT to source in China, I thought it would be a good idea to provide an example of what I am talking about when I mention that there are good ways to identify a source.. and there are bad ways.

The above email is one I received twice this week (Note: I have cleaned it of product and contact information, but not altered in and other way):

Now, I know that by writing this blog I am exposing myself to the world, and as such, I have had a number of inquiries that are not only serious in nature but have also resulted in good business for myself and the client.

In receiving the above, I immediately recognized that the buyer is someone that I would want to work with for the following reasons:

1) Their only constraint is price – the 2.00USD product

2) The product being requested is one that has 1000 different possible characteristics, yet the only ones that matter is the diameter and color.

3) They are looking to go direct to manufacturer

4) Delivery time of July 2007 – given it takes 3 weeks door to door, that would give me 3 weeks to get the samples approved, the order punched out, and put onto the boat

5) Is that price FOB? CIF? Landed?

6) PAckaging requirements?

For the last 2 1/2 years, I have been working with a number of clients on sourcing, and as time goes on I have come to see which inquiries are going to result in business, and which are just going to result in spent time.

The above is the later, and I would be highly surprised if the “buyer” actually found a supplier will to respond to this.

If the buyer who sent me this is reading (you never know..), please read my post (Save Money in China GUARANTEED!!) to see what you should do to improve your response rate. I suggest anyone looking to source in China read it as many of the things you need to prepare are on there.

Sourcing in China is a tricky thing sometimes, and buyers need to understand that the key to success is being specific. VERY Specific. Send samples, drawings, and artwork EARLY…. provide volume data and target pricing EARLY. If your product needs to have a tool made, calculate that into the equation (2-6 weeks depending on the size of the product)… and do not think that any of this happens quickly.

Again. Be specific early on and make your time count. Some of the project that I have worked on and have failed took weeks away from both sides, and in hindsight all the projects could have succeeded had everything been prepared ahead of time.

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4 Responses to “Want to Source From China?? Make the Effort.”

  1. China Law Blog says:

    May 9th, 2007 at 7:08 am

    Right on all counts. But with the melamine issue out there, I would add that there are also countless issues that must be resolved that go beyond just the visual specs on the product. I know your post is not meant to address those, but I think the melamine thing is a good seque into what can happen when buyers are not careful enough.

  2. rbrubaker says:

    May 10th, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Hi Dan,

    You make a good point, and I am feeling a bit sorry for that guy they have drug out for the pres (call me skeptical, but he looks too young, and his teeth are not yellow enough, for him to have been in charge???)

    I had this debate with a friend of mine a week or so ago, and he and I disagreed, however I think that the blame needs to be shared here between the U.S. buyers and these factories. What happened is just a complete breakdown of a QC process.

    Were it just one batch of dog food, in one area, then you may chalk it up to a manufacturer trying to put one over… but the scale of this is too big.

    Why the U.S. companies are not testing this stuff on a shipment by shipment basis I have no idea. Was no one wondering why the raw material equation was so cheap? did anyone actually visit the factory, or speak to anyone in the industry.

    Apparently, this little “open secret” went “unnoticed” by the foreign buy side… and I am sure that all the follow up investigations will prove that fault lies squarely in China.

    All this aside, I have met with several groups recently that have made the conscious decision to get away from the price issue and start buying quality. Maybe it comes from fear of ending up in the newspapers (again)… but there is a genuine shift in some managers that I have spoken to, and in the case of 2 industries, it will FORCE Chinese manufacturers to remain compliant.

    For anyone that suspects that their supply chain is at risk, I HIGHLY suggest you get a third party involved like Control Risks for a complete DD of a supplier… and beef up your QC team on the ground in China.

    This goes double for anyone in food, pharma, etc where public health issues may be involved should there be any serious issues in your supply base.

  3. Etienne C. says:

    May 24th, 2007 at 10:53 am

    It really strikes me how some people are naive about sourcing from China. Even when you know the supplier well, you need to reconfirm every parameters of an order before confirming it. Not necessarily because the supplier is malicious, but most often because they have no idea of the untold expectations by their customers. I have heard stories after stories of people that tried to improvise or take the easy way in their purchasing from China, and who regretted it afterwards.

  4. Howard Crabtree says:

    November 15th, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Dear Sir or Madam:
    My Chinese-born spouse is a former sourcing specialist from Wal-Mart’s Shenzhen office and desires to apply her expertise here in the U.S. Would you have any suggestions regarding how to find and approach potential distribution channels here in the U.S.? As you would imagine, she was well-trained to source a wide variety of products and maintains a formidable list of supplier contacts.
    Howard Crabtree