The fact is, that when overseas buyers source promotional products, they rarely deal factory direct. Because promotional product buyers deal in such a wide range of merchandise, it’s impossible for them to directly contract a factory for each inquiry and each order. But, in the instances when they do contact directly with a factory or their intermediary partner contacts with the factory, how do many China factories view potential promotional product business? 

Many China factories have stable product lines, they produce their lines, their buyer’s designs and there are repeat orders.

China factories know, when contacted for promotional product campaigns they have to jump through hoops for:

  • Timing:  for a custom item they’ve never produced before, the factory is now asked to rush. This request to rush, many times, is now demanded by a client that’s a first-time or low-level customer.
  • Customization and quantity: the promotional product buyer brings to China factories a balance of high customization and low quantity inquiry requests.
  • Lack of product knowledge: I’m not being mean but a bulk of promotional product buyers have little product knowledge. When a buyer has low product knowledge, it leads to more pitfalls on the left or the right-side of the road.

Assumed it’s going to be 1-off

China factories, when knowing something is coming from the promo industry, it’s a safe assumption that it’s going to a 1-off order. Think about it, if it’s a custom  item for a certain brand event, chances are, that same brand is not going to keep offering the same item for different events. They’re always offering something different to entice they should.

A negative aspect of 1-off orders is that you invest learning, tweaking and costs and once the order finishes, all of that momentum does not build with the same buyer. Because that buyer, that handles the brand, will offer something new for the next campaign. It may be umbrellas this season and next season it’s going to be backpacks. Thus the factory may spend time and energy doing a kick-ass backpack, but the likelihood of that same brand coming back and doing backpacks anytime soon isn’t very high.

Low feedback on inquiries and working arm-in-arm with factories

China factories and the sales people that work on the quoting and service get frustrated when they quote and quote and there is little to know feedback. Because of language and communication barriers it’s difficult for the China factories to tell the buyer that we’re able to to discuss the quote and tweak the price and specs to fit the campaign.

The quote, in the Chinese mindset, is not the end of price talks, but the door is open to now discuss the project. The Western mind thinks that the quote brings finality to the price process and it either is or isn’t usable. The western buyer doesn’t consider the need to go back to the factory and spend time discussing.

In a following post, we’ll discuss ways to combat this view held by a large chunk of China factories and also how to be a buyer that brings more value to your factories.

You mean I have to bring value to my factories? I thought that I was the customer???