I’ve encountered many people who have tried with varying levels of success to deal directly with Chinese Wholesale Hospitality Manufacturers & Suppliers. The stories are often the same. ‘They guaranteed to meet the deadline, but were almost a month late’, ‘The quality was nowhere near what we expected and the factory refused to compensate us’, ‘They changed the price after we had already paid the deposit’, and my favorite ‘After we paid the deposit, the website disappeared and they didn’t return any of our messages.’
So why does this happen? One of the things that I see time and time again is the inexperienced buyer coming in with the preconceived notion that they have a legal and moral safety net that will bail them out if something goes wrong. What they don’t understand is that the morality they are basing their assumptions on is societal based and different in different cultures, and the law is a very difficult and expensive thing to enforce without being present in the country you are purchasing from.
Furthermore, many of the smaller factories around China don’t usually operate using contracts for their purchasers (be aware that in China, a contract must be in Chinese to be considered valid). Also, their concept of contract can often be more flexible than how Westerners consider it, creating arguments and misunderstandings that could have been easily resolved in initial stages.
So, what can you do to make the whole process run smoothly? Let’s have a look.
Tip 1 — Research
When searching for Chinese Manufacturers or Suppliers, check their website thoroughly.
Platforms such as Alibaba can provide security and useful background information.
But if you are contacting them from a website, make sure it is detailed and professional (don’t expect the English to be spot on though).
Large sections of cut and paste are a red flag for a site that was hastily put together (and can just as hastily be removed).
Tip 2 — Face-to-Face
Talk to them directly.
Emails are good for developing contact and sorting out details but try a Skype or WhatsApp conversation.
It is best to see the person and hear them. It will give both sides a better feel for the transaction, help in developing trust, and people are less likely to lie to your face. Furthermore, if you do not share a common language, and communication is made possible only through electronic translators, consider how this will affect the chances of you receiving exactly what you want, especially for custom designs or complicated orders.
Tip 3 — Clarity
Be very clear with time frames.
The absolute latest time that you give them will probably be the time they aim for and may miss.
It is better to push them with an earlier date that you can always extend later if need be.
Once you place the order, you will need to push them for updates or they may put your order off till the last moment.
Don’t be afraid to ask for pictures of their progress.
Tip 4 — Specificity
Be specific upfront.
As many details as you can.
Make sure that they truly understand the scope of the project otherwise, after you pay they may tell you they can’t do it that way.
I once heard from a factory owner, ‘It doesn’t matter if you can do it or not, just say you can and work out the details later.’
Make sure that the invoice is clear on the details as well.
You will find that occasionally they will tell you (after the deposit of course) that the quote wasn’t for what you want, and if you want to change it, you will need to pay more.
Tip 5 — Samples
Get samples wherever possible from manufacturers you have never dealt with before.
This can be more costly, both to the wallet and your time, but well worth it in the long run, especially for big orders or custom designs.
It might take them a couple of goes to get it right, but once they have that sample perfect, most factories should have no trouble replicating it.
Tip 6 — Quality Control
Once the final product is done, the factory will probably send you pictures before loading for shipment.
This is rarely enough. If at all possible, you should try to get to China to check the product for yourself.
Obviously, this isn’t always convenient so luckily there are thousands of quality control companies that will do it for you.
Following these tips won’t ensure that everything runs smoothly every time with Chinese Wholesale Hospitality Manufacturers & Suppliers, but it should weed out some of the bigger problems.
If you do it correctly you will find the savings you make on your product are well worth the hassle.
If you need help getting your furniture from China, feel free to send us an email.
Good luck and keep designing!