This is, unfortunately, a rather common issue with Bangladeshi suppliers…here’s an example and some comments from us.
Where are my garments!?
You place an order for a couple of garment styles through a trader who selects a suitable cut-and-sew factory. You need these garments quickly, so you pay a higher advance payment in order for the factory to ‘rush’ your order.
One style ships on time which is good.
However, the second was not shipped and when the agent is questioned they come back with the answer that the factory is snowed under with orders and had to delay the shipment by a few months!
The trading company says nothing can be done and the only option is to wait.
Preferably the factory will expedite the order and pay to fly it to you via air freight out of their own pocket, but is this realistic?
The bad news…
Unfortunately, paying for an order and then it being unexpectedly delayed is an all-too-common scenario in Bangladesh.
Why does it happen?
Maybe the factory is very busy, or maybe they are short on cash so they took the money even though they were unsure if they could ship on time… Also, they might have another customer who is more “significant” to their business (they place more/larger orders) or might have paid even more cash upfront.
Do you have a legally enforceable agreement against the agent or against the factory? If neither, then it will be quite difficult to push the factory to make progress on the missing order.
For example, without the protection of an enforceable contract, if you demand that they pay for air freight and it looks like you will never order from them again (because you are clearly unhappy with the situation), this might spur them to completely stop responding to you.
How can you proceed?
This is a very tricky situation. Some buyers would initiate the same order with another manufacturer, and (maybe) count that already-placed order as a repeat order for later when/if it finally arrives. This means even more money to get the same order, but if you have selected the new supplier carefully and have signed an enforceable manufacturing contract with them, it’s a better option than…sending the original supplier even more money to incentivise them to give you priority and produce your order ASAP.
In this case, you’re really risking a lot and could be throwing good money down the drain because this supplier has already proven themself to be unreliable for whatever reason. Given that the trading company says that they can’t do anything with the supplier they selected that’s a good indication not to keep sending more payments to them and to consider not using them in future.
We suggest you can do the following:
- ‘Go direct’ and buy from factories instead of using a trading company/agent if you can
- Source factories that are suitable for your needs
- Run a background check on your shortlisted suppliers before you work with them to assure that they’re legitimate factories and trustworthy businesses
- Audit the factory/ies to make sure that they do actually have the capability to produce your orders as and when required
- Create an enforceable manufacturing agreement that includes penalties for late delivery (which would be ideal in this case) and sign it with them before sending payments – you may wish to work with a lawyer who is experienced in Bangladeshi business law for this
- Organize a pre-production meeting at your supplier’s factory to start the production off on the right foot and reduce the risks of mistakes and quality problems
- Perform product inspections before, during, or after production depending on your needs.
For particularly important productions, you may also choose to set up an Apparel Production Monitoring Program in Bangladesh which is a comprehensive solution where our QA team act as your boots on the ground there, following up on the progress of development and manufacturing for you, sending someone on-site when needed to gather first-hand information, and reviewing samples in our office. We report the results regularly back to you. It is a combination of off-site project management and communication, off-site sample reviews, and on-site inspections.
If you have no joy when communicating with the supplier, you may also consider approaching one of these associations that might be able to help: