In a recent trip to Yiwu (not the place where one will find high-quality products!), I noticed several interesting things.
When an importer prepares a specifications sheet, I always recommend being ultra-specific (“include what tools to use, what tolerance to follow, and so on”). Same thing when preparing a list of potential defects: show a lot of photos, try to think of everything that can go wrong.
Here is a good example to follow: an airport board that shows a list of knives and guns that are forbidden!
Can you be more specific than that? Probably not.
Is it overkill? Unfortunately, not in China.
When I reached the hotel, I noticed they took extra precautions to ensure I understood their warning:
And the same hotel even showed a map of its premises at the back of the key envelope. Nice!
I think there is a lesson here for importers.
Bad communication with Chinese suppliers
- Send information at different times, in different formats.
- Use email, then Skype, then email again, then the phone…
- Count on the supplier to glue the pieces together (after all it’s their job, right?).
- Give feedback on pre-production samples, and use the samples you approved as “the standard”.
- Send pdf files or jpeg images that the supplier cannot modify.
Every time something changes in your specifications, update your master spec sheet and send a new version to the supplier.
- Make the last changes obvious (for example, in another color).
- Keep it in Word or Excel format, so that the salesperson can easily translate it and pass it to her colleagues in engineering or production.
- Use less text and more images whenever possible. For example, green “ticks” and red “crosses” are excellent symbols.
Any other tips?