Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Going Cold on Offshore Projects

Avoid going cold on your projects.  Whether it’s a downtime in communication with your supplier, a delay from your brand in approval or whatever the reason, do what you can to avoid it.   
Worker at Material Dying Kiln: This guy is probably not too concerned
with your brand/client and if they had proper time to sign-off on the next campaign. 
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating;  if you don’t seem concerned and motivated over your project, guess who else is not going to be highly motivated? That’s right, the overseas (China specifically) factory and supplier…. 

Going cold or unnecessary downtime on your projects can lead to the following scenarios but obviously not only limited to these.

Losing Your Spot:  This involves your importance to the factory or your supplier.  At one time, they may have been highly energetic on your project and the possible order.  Then you delayed in feedback, delayed in confirming samples, whatever… 

What happens in the meantime? 

More urgent, more important and higher value business comes along. 

The factory is no longer keen to offer the pre-confirmed conditions.  Perhaps the production line is now full and what once was confirmed as being able to quickly produce has altogether changed to a longer schedule. 

Price:  Exchange rate, material prices, China’s food inflation!  Lately market prices are waiting for no man, woman, beast or brand.  You’ve got to move and move quick.   If your supplier tells you that there is a possible price increase, don’t think they are “crying wolf”.  It’s a warning:  wolf is spotted and he’s around the corner

Back to the Drawing Board:  Factories do a poor job of keeping records.  As each day passes, your pre-confirmed specs become a distant memory.  

China's Young People: As they become more and more skilled,
guess what industry they are fleeing? Low-cost goods...
Also as China is hustling to become ruler of world, employee turnover is super high.  Employees come and go.  The sales person in the factory or at the trade company who knows you and cares about your case can be “here today and gone tomorrow”.  With each delay you move closer and closer back to the starting point, making all your previous work in supplier relations and bridge building a waste of time. 

In a country as booming and developing as China, 2 weeks is a lifetime.  Anything can happen in a short amount of time.

Ways to Avoid?

Talk:  Communication is the #1 cure that avoids the above situations.  Overseas buyers, still in this 2011, post-World Economic Crises, they still act as if the factory or the Chinese supplier is resting on their laurels, waiting for their next move. 

Keep your supplier hot on the possibility.  This may include a daily or every 2-day email, that lets them know that the project is still open; you still care and are still working.

Money:  If the order is a for sure conclusion, but you’re still working out details on your end, go ahead and make a deposit to the factory.   Doing a “good-faith” step is not going to kill you and making a small monetary gesture will surely lock in pre-confirmed points.  “Remember money talks and the other stuff walks.” (*only do this if you have somewhat of a previously established relationship with the supplier). 

Control:  Lastly, be a bit more controlling and limiting to your final brand.  Your brand needs to know they don’t have forever to make a decision and the world isn’t waiting on them.   Don’t be afraid to tell them that decision-time is coming or else everything will be off the table. 

Communication on the supply-side and control on the buyer-side can buy you some time.  Show the supplier that you’re working to bring business.  Lastly, let the end-buyer know that “times, they are a’ changin’” and if they don’t make a decision soon, it will be a change that could’ve been avoided!

Related Posts:  click on below title for similar topics


  1. This is more and more true. You are right, some importers have not understood this change yet.
    Not sure China wants to "rule the world". They just want more respect from other countries. Getting the largest GDP number would (will?) help.

  2. Good insight and as you said importers need to understand more and more that they may not be on the top of the factory's list as they were 10 years ago. Local production is keeping many factories sufficiently busy. China is definitely rising in the "respect ranks".

    Thanks for stopping by Renaud.