With the advent of Alibaba and other portals into Chinese manufacturing, it has become commonplace for folks to search for the availability of what they need and then contact the manufacturer directly. However, there are many pitfalls to buying products from people you don’t know and trust, and you must be very careful to avoid these common problems:

Manufacturer Identity

When you look at an ad from a purported manufacturer, you must read their claims and then verify them. Most ‘manufacturers’ are simply buy-and-resell brokers, who will wait for an order and then go source the material from a factory they have a relationship with. They will be unlikely to resolve a quality issue, a delivery issue, or even answer a detailed technical question. It will be totally up to you to navigate through the relationship, as the broker will take no responsibility for making things right. Intellectual property violations or patent infringement will be your sole responsibility to figure out.

Golden Samples

Initial samples supplied will be cherry-picked so that they are perfect; sometimes built by hand and subjected to intense scrutiny to make sure that they pass all acceptance criteria – but they will not represent the production-grade product. It will be up to you to inspect every incoming shipment and verify that you are receiving what you’ve paid for.

Up Front Payment

Almost no Chinese supplier will extend terms in the initial engagement period. You will have to gamble that you will pay first and receive what you want. In some cases you may receive a literal box of rocks (yes, we have witnessed this!) and in others you may receive a product vastly different than what you wanted and thought you ordered. You will then have to manage a very difficult return and refund process, if in fact you can even get a refund.

Quality Fade

After initial acceptance and shipments, over time the quality of the product will start to degrade, and you will have to remain vigilant that the product is still being built with the same specifications and standards that you have agreed upon. Things like plating thickness, quality of plastic formulation, coating and surface cosmetics; to name but a few things that will start to degrade as the supplier tries to lower their manufacturing costs.

Holiday Impacts

China takes many national holidays, during which all factories are shuttered. If you do not know their schedule you may be caught needing product and having no one in the factory to produce it. You will have to manage the holiday schedule (and even power outage schedule) with every factory and be proactive in placing orders and scheduling shipments, or your customers will be impacted because you cannot obtain goods on a promised commitment.

All of these issues (and more) are the reasons why you should consider Summitech as your portal to the Asian manufacturing market. We create and maintain direct, long-term relationships with factories that build the products you are looking for. We will bring your requirements directly to the factory, manage the sample programs, and then manage the ongoing quality systems through our own quality engineers, based both in US and Asia. We will provide transparent communication and proactive support to keep your products flowing at a cost-effective price point. Before you send that email to the random China source, please consider emailing us here at Summitech!

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