8 problems when working with Chinese suppliers and 8 tips how to avoid them
Price always matches the quality
If you think that China is a place where you can buy cheap super quality furniture, you’re mistaken. It is much efficient to buy here than, let’s say, in Europe, but here, as anywhere else, one saying that rules them all: price matches quality. Cheap furniture can look all polished, fresh and neat but will it serve it as long as you expect? Of course not.
If you’re planning to use furniture for a year or two, we'd suggest finding something cheap in your country, and there is really no point coming to China. Because apart of paying for furniture itself, you’ll face more additional expenses such as customs clearance and shipping cost.
Another story, if you want to buy furniture that will serve you for years and decades. Remember, quality solid wood furniture can always be fixed and if cheap furniture is broken is belongs in the garbage.
We recommend not to buy plain cheap furniture from China because it will lead to damaged, defective furniture simply because low-cost factories cannot guarantee stable quality. Before going for a furniture tour, make a shopping list and decide on the budget. Our managers will do their best to find the best quality within a set budget.
Lead time foot-dragging by Chinese manufacturers
Many Chinese manufacturers ensure customers they can meet set deadlines. In reality, very few companies can prove words with deeds. Production speed depends on a season, factory workload, workers skill level, and material availability.
When Chinese vendors promise 1-month production time, add 2 more weeks to calculate the real lead time because it is going to be 1.5 months.
Keep in mind Chinese holidays, for instance, factories are off for a month or 1,5 month during Chinese new year. Not only manufacturers are off on holidays but logistics companies as well. If your container doesn’t ship off before holidays, it will be stuck in China for the entire time. If you buy in bulk to resell, then new furniture arrival in your stores won’t be there to meet customers. If you’re buying for yourself, your home will be empty and lonely expecting the furniture.
We suggest purchasing furniture and other things from China when you have time your hands, to save money and nerves. For a better result, you need a logistics firm controlling the order, lead time, someone who can always notify and inform about upcoming holidays or lead time delay. Apart from furniture sourcing tours, our company has been doing logistics for many years. You don’t need to look for someone else and communicate with different people about logistics and the order progress.
Not providing documents
Chinese suppliers delay providing documents till the last minute. But even when you finally get them, expect to be something wrong with it whether it's an order specification or just wrong calculation.
Working with Chinese suppliers require constant control of documentation. One of the most important files is a Packing List which contains all the order specifications including weight, volume, quantity etc. Our company has a vast experience in proofreading of the documents needed for Chinese customs clearance and know how it should be done.
Packing list information is often far from reality
Those who have ever imported goods from China for business or personal use, know that packing list information — weight, volume, quantity etc. effects customs clearance cost.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Chinese suppliers don't always provide you with correctly filled documentation. Most common mistakes are with weight and volume. It can lead to the following problems: order's total volume is 30 cubic meters and logistics book a 20 feet container for the shipping.
But through the container loading, logistics company finds out the real order volume is 37 cubic meter which means, 20 feet container doesn't fit the order, and we have to book 40 feet container. This simply gives you more expenses for changing a container, or you'll have to send a part of the goods by groupage cargo which can lead to damages during the shipping.
Become a scrupulous documentation control freak when it comes to Chinese suppliers. In our company every client has personal manager. The manager records all specifications through the order placement in order to avoid any mistakes during production, in the Packing List and optimize the lead time.
Bad package from Chinese vendors
Often, furniture made for locals is cheaper also because transportation within China doesn't require some solid packing that needed to be done when shipping furniture abroad. Middle and upper-mid price segment factories always provide quality packing. For others, additional packing or complete repacking is necessary to ensure safe delivery to the final destination.
We suggest discussing with every vendor individually about how you want the furniture to be packed. Only by telling them it all in details will safely get your goods to your country. Our company also provides packing services to save each and every order. Managers personally attend throughout quality control, repacking and container loading.
Bad or absolute no knowledge of English from Chinese suppliers
Most vendors in China don't speak any English. Some of them might use Google translator which in many cases morfs the meaning or change it completely. It leads to mistakes during order placement and production and causes customers' financial loses.
We recommend keeping communication with Chinese vendors strictly through professional translators who not only able to speak but also understands and can use Chinese characters. You will be surprised but many translators can only speak. All of our managers speak English and Chinese. Managers help during discussing order specifications to avoid any mistakes during production and shipping.
Lack or nonexistence of customers service
Don’t wait for a good customer service buying low-cost furniture. Don’t expect low price segment factories to give prompt replies for quotations, shipping or quality questions. Our managers often have to push and hurry even big suppliers.
The reason to that is in the factories' weak management system. Often there are no rules or instructions on how to communicate with clients, so local managers choose to behave according to their understanding of a “good service”. To fight that you’ll have to be persistent and keep complaining to the factory’s higher management.
We suggest you hire an agent or company located in China, that have several professional translators. We try our best to reduce communication between clients and factories to a necessary minimum, so we handle all communication with factories by ourselves in order to save clients' nerves and let them have happy associations with furniture tours in China.
Money transfers $$$
Money transfers are the most important problem with working with Chinese vendors. Most of the clients can’t make transfers in RMB, nor Chinese companies have dollar bank accounts. Money transfer safety is another very sensitive subject because there are still some Chinese companies disappearing after money received.
We advise you to use agent's Chinese bank account to avoid any fraud and lower the transfer fees expenses this way. Our company has RMB and USD Chinese bank accounts which allows our customers to save money and time for international transaction and start production as soon as suppliers receive the money. Transfers within Chinese banks are completed in a couple of hours time.