In manufacturing promotional product orders, there is a wide-range of professionalism when it comes to buyers. For the sake of quality manufacturing and smooth importing, buyers should always maintain a sense of professionalism.

At the risk of sounding like I’m giving a lesson, this post is to remind importers and distributors who handle promotional product orders, that their own actions can actually affect the quality of the mass-production order.

  • Promotional products are the main industry in which we serve, thus we have an illustrious background of seeing this first-hand.
  • Forgive me if I’m pointing fingers, but promotional product distributors and importers have a bad habit of treating their own offshore work with a sort of “casual disdain”. Perhaps this casualness is unintentional, but it permeates over into the suppliers’ thinking and then permeates into the quality of the order.

Overseas promotional product orders are different than domestic orders

Many promotional product buyers are accustomed to processing their lower-volume orders from domestic vendors. Much of that process is fairly straightforward and involves simply “placing an order”.

The problem is, is when the buyer then works with Chinese or offshore vendors, the buyer has the same mindset that they are “placing and order”.

Manufacturing promotional products offshore is more than simply “placing an order”.

Manufacturing offshore requires more of a partnership mentality with the supplier. Dealing with a low-cost suppliers in a developing country, requires proactive order management and cultivating a supply chain.

Do you see how this is more than simply placing an order via an electronic ordering system and expecting the order to come out right?


If a buyer is hot and emailing frequently and then goes cold and disappears for 1 week, not answering emails, this gives a bad sign to the Chinese supplier. This is telling the supplier that the buyer is treating their orders very seriously.

Promotional product buyers should take on the burden showing an EVEN higher level of consistency and professionalism.

Give the factory the idea that what they are handling, even though it is a give-away, or even though it is a one off order, is highly important. Let the factory know that you are a serious buyer and looking to establish longterm business or even have the ability to give referrals.

Avoid poor-mouthing your own project or buyer

As you read promotional product industry insight on the internet and talk to folks in the industry; many want to get away from the concept of “order takers” or “tchotchkes”.

But then, when they manufacture in China, the treat the order with the same disdain they want to avoid. If I may say, they act like order takers who are waiting for their tchotchkes to hurry up.

“I don’t know what my buyer wants, can you just present some ideas?”

“This buyer is being very difficult”?

“Hey we received this job and didn’t have much of an idea but thought we’d try to send it offshore?”

Those are the types of comments that show a supplier a project and buyer are not serious. Also, as many Chinese suppliers have 1-track minds, this also causes confusion.

For example, when the supplier provides the price quote, are they going to take it seriously?

Or if it comes to an order and NOW the buyer cares about quality and exactness whenever they were casual at the beginning.

Be patient to learn processes

Because promotional product buyers are more accustomed to sales, there seems to be a low-tolerance for learning why things are the way they are on the manufacturing side.

When suppliers try explaining processes or reasons why something cannot be accomplished, buyers become frustrated and unwilling to understand. This causes an awkwardness with the supplier and they pull back in trying to educate the customer.

All of these types of conflicts can impair an order’s quality. Suppliers will no longer ask questions, they will simply make decisions or tell the buyer after the fact.

Don’t give the supplier any reason for less effort or to justify production errors.

If buyers don’t uphold the importance of their own projects, why should they expect the factory to do so? If you answer “because I’m paying them” is not enough when dealing with Chinese culture. Right or wrong, the Chinese require inspiration and continual motivation to achieve many aspects of their own job.

Show professionalism, inspire the supplier and as an importer, be an ambassador for your brand and promotional product orders.