Disputes with Chinese suppliers Volume 5Q: We use a manufacturer in China for our products and packaging and have had a good relationship for years, but recently product and packaging quality has gone downhill. What can we do?

We’re supplied by a Hong Kong company that has their factory across the border in Shenzhen.

Overall we’ve had a good relationship for the past couple of years, but the last order was terrible as product quality had really suffered and it’s almost like they didn’t perform QC at all.

To make matters worse, they’re also using thin and flimsy cardboard for the product’s outer packages and we’re getting a lot of damage to the products by the time we receive them, too. This is unacceptable as we’ve requested them to stop doing this and use more suitable packaging on a number of occasions.

In addition, even our logistics company is making mistakes when shipping the products, too.

I know the owner and have spoken directly with him and have placed a new order in the hope that they now start getting it right.

What should we be doing to improve the situation?


Yes, poor product quality and bad packaging that ruins the products is a major source of frustration for many importers!

Here are a couple of questions:

  • Could it be that they are subcontracting the production of your products to a different factory (perhaps a friend of theirs) without your knowledge? This would explain why errors that should be easy to fix are being made despite you having a good relationship with the supplier.
  • Are the owner and the top management in Hong Kong right now?
    Due to COVID travel restrictions, it’s very difficult to go between Hong Kong and China these days, and we’ve seen many factories run into issues when their top management became unable to travel there to keep an eye on things.

Based on your situation here are some suggestions about how to put the situation right

Project Management

Sending someone in to manage your project on the ground in Shenzhen will help find, analyze, and correct the issues.

How Sofeast can help 👉 Supplier Management:
We can have one of our supply chain management technicians communicate directly with the people at the factory, repeat your requirements, request photos in order to ensure things are well addressed, etc. We invoice 38 USD per hour for that (consumed in small increments, but invoiced in blocks of a minimum of 5 hours).

Product Inspections

To take control of the product and packaging quality problems it’s wise to send in a quality inspector when production is well underway or products are being packed before shipping. The inspector will alert you as to whether it is not good before it’s too late to make changes, and you can request improvements to the product quality or new outer cartons (which should be both strong and dry).

How Sofeast can help 👉 Product Inspections:
In Shenzhen, the price is 299 USD for 1 man-day of work for product inspections.

Off-Site QC and Fulfilment

Another approach to solve all of the issues would be to send your products to a separate 3rd party facility, where the QC, packing, and fulfilment are managed by specialists without the involvement of your suppliers. Your supplier often wants to ship ASAP to get payment, whereas a third party is being paid to get the packing and fulfilment right and doesn’t have external pressures to skip the time it takes to be extra careful.

How Sofeast can help 👉 100% inspection, repacking, and shipping:
Your supplier delivers products (usually without final packing) to our facility, we check these products and sort out the ‘bad ones’, we pack them, and we ship them to you.
We can also kit or assemble several components together. We provide a quote based on your specific situation.
Other services from our China 3PL may also be suitable here, for instance, if you do not need to perform 100% inspections, but do want co-packing of your products at our 3rd party facility.


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  • How to set the right expectations from the start
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