Giving your vendors enough time on orders

It is very important when you give an order to a China vendor to know exactly what you need and when you will need it.  A case in point is a company I am working with now.

This company has been developing some new products for a big US trade show at the end of February. Up to this point we have been working primarily on designs and approving prototype samples.  I sent my customer an email at the beginning of the New Year telling him that we had to take an overview of all the projects because of Chinese New Year,  when we could expect a significant slowdown in activity.  In reply, my customer told me that he will need a very large number of samples for the show.  I was a bit surprised by the large QTY of samples as was the vendor to whom I had passed on my customer’s request. Fortunately I had inquired of my customer well ahead of time.  Had I not asked him about his show-sample requirements I don’t think he would have told me until it was too late.  There are sometimes so many parties involved in a China production order that you really need to be aware of this and give the vendors plenty of notice so that they can plan accordingly. For this particular order the CMT FTY has to get the fabric from the print mill which as it turns out is on a different holiday schedule than the CMT factory.  Things will be tight but we should get the samples in time. 

Another problem with this current project is the packaging.  I raised the issue of packaging a month ago with my customer but with six weeks until the show the packaging specs are still not complete. The result is that it may be very hard for my customer to have his packaging printed in China in time for his show.  He may very well have to print in the US at far greater cost.  Many customers tend to neglect packaging as they focus on product but the fact is that packaging can take a lot of time and sometimes needs just as much attention as the actual product(s).  

So where we are now is that we are slightly rushing vendors to get everything ready for the show.  Rushing vendors is not a good idea because as my customer, from his own experience,  has acknowledged quality tends to suffer.  I would add that price also can go up – especially when you are dealing with first-time vendors.  In short, give yourself plenty of time. In my customer’s own words: “the earlier we convey our needs for the show, the better off we will be !!!”


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