Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why is Your Inquiry (RFQ) Important to a Chinese Factory?

News flash** Just because you brought an inquiry to a factory or supplier doesn’t mean they are going to fall all over themselves to quote you. 

Many overseas buyers act as if there is an empty factory over here, all the machines are turned off, all the workers are playing cards, leaning against the wall and sleeping.  The boss is wringing his hands and pulling his hair out.  As soon as your email comes through, somebody blows the steam whistle and everyone runs into action, diligently working to make sure you get a perfect, detailed and exact quote as soon as possible.  Of course we all obviously would answer that we know that’s not how it works….. 
but after reading some of the emails that are sent and after working with overseas buyers for 8+ years, it sure seems they’ve got this impression.

Here’s the bare bones facts:  the factory doesn’t care about you.  They don’t care who you say you are, they don’t care how much you say you will order, and many times they don’t care if you have ordered from them before.

They want your business but from their perspective you’ve got to you show you are worth working for.  In the traditional Chinese mind, any respectable client would visit the production facility, would visit the supplier, and would have some face-to-face time.  And then inquiries wouldn’t be rushed, it’s something that any respectable buyer would take time to work out slowly and accurately.  Because of course they cannot be expected to quote you correctly the first time (see previous post on “Doing Things Right”)  

From their mind, why should they invest legwork and time into quoting, when they don’t know you and don’t know if you’re going to order? 

This is a rich topic and surely this has brought up some questions.  Will discuss further in following posts and also discuss how to get in good with the factory and establish the credibility.  


  1. Great post Jacob. I don't think this attitude is only limited to factories in China. I dealt with the some type of customers with my business in the UAE. The quote was never fast enough, they would sit on it for weeks then want the products or services yesterday.

  2. So I am wondering if there is a way to get the Chinese factory to care about you? Hypothetically, if you had representatives come over from the States to view the factory and have dinner with them, would this change things?

    Do the factories not like Westerners and this is why they get treated like this, or are they the same to their fellow Chinese?

  3. Thanks for stopping by Tom. Ways for factory to care? Place lots of consistent orders. It's a business and if you are a small demanding client that brings big headaches and low payoff, they don't's that simple. The overseas customer may think, "they should see long-term potential", but the Chinese factory has heard those kinds of promises, from a multitude of buyers.

    A rep coming from the States for visit, dinner and review...cannot help, is the first step towards sincerity but is not a seal of "good service to be provided"...

    It's not that the factories don't like Westerners; it's just business. Think about your home-town area - isn't it easier for people from that area, who have the same cultural backgrounds to make a quicker connection and possibly close quicker deals? Same in China; the Chinese prefer to deal with the Chinese (I speak from the low-cost manufacturing standpoint)....

    The Westerner from their point of view tends to be needy (certifications, requirements, contracts, English), much more laid back when dealing with buyers they know - not 100% laid back, but more so.