Leaving certain aspects OUT of a promo item RFQ leads to a less than accurate quote from your China vendor. Vital information in the RFQ gives vendors what they need for accurate quoting.

The more accurate the promo item RFQ, the higher the possibility the vendor is able to provide an accurate price quote.

Accuracy in the quoting process leads to a smooth sign off and start to mass production.

This is the ideal way to start a project.

Do you see how all aspects of the process connect and that nothing in China sourcing happens in a vacuum?

Target price in promo item RFQ

When you send an RFQ to a vendor, provide an indication of how much you’re hoping to pay for the item.

“But they’re a professional factory, shouldn’t they know how to accurately quote the item?”  One may ask…

Different quality levels and various expectations on customization across industries, this all can greatly vary.

One supplier may interpret an RFQ in 1 way and another supplier may interpret it in another.

There’s also a myriad of  helpful indicators included when giving a target price in your promo item RFQ.

That price is an indicator of:

  • Quality level.
  • Depth of customization.
  • Gives the vendor an indication if this is a project they’re able to pursue.
  • Gives both sides insight on if your expectations are reasonable.

Your goal is a precise quote and without help, the vendor can’t read your mind on the price realm you’re expecting.

They’re focused on the level of customization that’s needed and how much this is going to cost.

If you provide the paradigm, the vendor, to the best of their ability, will work inside of that paradigm.

That’s one of the great advantages of China manufacturing. The vendors, although are not bastions of creativity, if you give them leads and direction, they’ll normally run with it.

Spotlight customization requirements

Send a spec sheet in your promo item RFQ that includes:

  • Product measurements
  • Material
  • Color of body of item or material in question
  • Branding

Put a heavy spotlight on what exactly the supplier should customize.

Ask yourself this, what aspect of the product is the “make-or-break” focal point of the item? In other words, if the supplier doesn’t consider this 1 thing or few things in the quote, then the quotation will be completely off.

You require custom material, not existing, stock fabric – alert the supplier in the RFQ.

You won’t accept available colors and must have a special PMS # – spotlight this in the initial RFQ.

What if display packaging is a major part of your item? Don’t tell the supplier after the fact. Make this a very clear part of your RFQ.

Without drawing huge attention to the product’s core elements, the supplier may simply quote what’s readily available or cheap.

Or the supplier may quote what they did for the last buyer…which is completely different that what you wanted.

To correct all of this, you now have to back track and tell the vendor the quote’s wrong and clarify what you need.

They give a bit of pushback then you give pushback…time is lost, attitudes are soured.


Give the vendor timing parameters. Urgency is a factor in promotional product sourcing more times than not.

A buyer assumes the factory can produce in 20 days, because another factory did an order in a similar time frame. The factory assumes the buyer knows it’s the busy season and that it’ll take at least 40 days.

Do you see the disconnect?

Give your vendor the date that the goods must depart from China. Then calculate the transit time to get your own idea of the in-hand timing.

You could have a line in the RFQ email that says, “I need the goods to be ready for departure by this date. Confirm you are able to meet this date and if not, then tell me the earliest date you can have the goods ready”.


Suppliers aren’t necessarily well-versed in industry requirements. Whether child safety, CPSIA, plastics, bag cords, a large portion of factories aren’t up-to-speed. If they’ve dealt with certification in the past, it’s not necessarily at the forefront of their thinking during your case.

Their mindset is more along the lines of, “if you won’t bring it up, they won’t either”.

Don’t let the requirement become an unaddressed afterthought. Frequently, buyers will bring up certification requirements and then it’s not touched on again until it’s too late.

Continually bring safety to the forefront of the supplier’s thinking until they’ll cooperate accordingly.


China sourcing is already problematic in missed information, low-effort in seriousness from the supplier when it comes to quoting and all sorts of misunderstandings. Don’t add to the chaos by sending half-baked RFQ’s that create more confusion than clarity.

RFQ accuracy won’t eliminate problems.

But accuracy starts the project out on the right path of professionalism.