China vendor communication – how to evaluate

I have a project now sourcing some BOPP packaging. I have reached out to between 10 -15 vendors with whom I have been communicating over the past couple of weeks. Some of these vendors I have met and some are brand new to me. There are often multiple emails in a day as I have a lot of questions – all part of my screening process. I have noticed that there are certain vendors who are very enthusiastic at first, answering every question I ask of them. But then after a week or two, their replies do not come in as fast. It is as if they have lost some interest in the project – after providing me with initial costs – and they just don’t feel like answering all the questions I throw at them. Other vendors are very good and answer everything. These are of course the vendors you probably want to deal with although there is no guarantee that at some point they also will not become unresponsive. In any case, there is tremendous value in this exercise because in just a few weeks you can get a pretty good idea of which vendors are responsible and which vendors you simply want to eliminate. Those of us who have done orders in China know how important, in fact how critical good communication is.

So I have gotten in the habit of making a list of questions that I ask vendors e.g. shipping terms, printing and mold charges, QC process etc etc. that I like to disperse over several emails, the goal being to drag out the process a bit just to see who are the best communicators among the 10-15 vendors I have targeted. You would be surprised how well this works. As I tell my clients, if it is this difficult communicating with vendor x when just requesting prices, imagine how difficult it will be at production time !

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