It can be very frustrating when a Chinese supplier isn’t responding to your messages when you have an order that you’ve already paid for in production, have urgent issues to discuss, or simply want to place an additional order.
Unfortunately, this isn’t unusual and in this post, you’ll see an example of this scenario and some guidance on the next steps you could take to improve the situation.
We’ve ordered around US$8,000 of parts and plan to order an additional $2,000 making a total of $10k, however, our contact at our supplier has disappeared for over a week (supposedly they’re on a course).
In addition, a recent order was not the quality we expected and we also want to discuss changing them and re-ordering at a higher quality level. We have already agreed to pay for the re-order to be made, too.
But since our contact has disappeared we’re in the dark about our current order that’s supposedly in production now, can’t increase the order, and can’t place the re-order for the poor quality parts. This means we’re delayed and don’t know when we’ll get products onto the market which is damaging for our business.
Does the supplier not care about our business or getting new orders?
Unfortunately, orders below 10,000 USD are usually considered small orders by Chinese suppliers and you are probably considered as a ‘small client’ by them. In some cases, it means they get to your orders after they have finished following up on other orders (from their higher-priority clients).
That’s the sad reality.
Remember, most salespeople in Chinese factories get most of their income from commissions (X% on the volume of business they follow). It absolutely drives their behavior!
That’s even more evident if you request some adjustment to samples they sent to you. They might see you as a “difficult customer” who’s not very easy to please. The key people (the engineers who put your samples together, the manager who has to allocate capacity, etc…) may categorize you in the “low priority” bucket. Sad, but also typical.
They may tell you they appreciate your business and be very positive when talking to you. And that might be true.
The salesperson who spoke to you wants your business as it means more commission for them. But he/she might have trouble getting the right attention from the “key people” I mentioned above. Those “key people” like production engineers often can’t speak English, so you won’t see them on a Zoom call and may never encounter them at all.
Suggestions on how to improve the situation
- You need to have “deeper” communication with your salesperson. If possible, schedule some weekly calls, even if it’s just 10 min. Try to understand the real situation.
- If you feel you might go nowhere with this supplier, look for another one. Now. It probably won’t get better later. This eBook we created about switching to a new Chinese supplier will help you get started.
- When you look for a new supplier, try to find one that is not very large, otherwise, your orders will again be seen as very small. This is about finding the ‘right fit’ as a supplier, and we discussed this in more detail in this episode of our podcast: DIY Sourcing From China Part 1: Good Fit, Sourcing, Vetting, & Backups [Podcast]
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