An email from a prospective client. Problems and answers

I had an email last month from a prospective client seeing if I could help him source some indigo yarn in China. He told me that he had a vendor lined up with whom he has had discussions over the past ten months. But he complained that the vendor would not give him a sample and also that the vendor had recently raised their prices by quite a bit. A few things came to mind quickly.

1.) No vendor should be unwilling to do samples. Even for yarns and fabrics most vendors can do strike-offs or hand looms. Of course there may be set-up and sample charges, even to do a strike off, but you should not do any business with a vendor who says that they cannot give you a sample. And do not give any vendor an order until you have approved a sample. Do not accept vendor reassurance that something will be corrected in production, even if it is a very minute problem. If you don’t want it in your production make sure it is not in your sample.

2.) It is unreasonable to expect vendors to hold costs over ten months (though some will do so). Many cotton yarn suppliers in China have to source yarn from other countries like India and Pakistan now because domestic cotton in China is about double the price of imported cotton. And many spinning mills have gone out of business simply because they do not have the channels to import cheap cotton from the US. In fact China’s importation of foreign yarn rost about 56 % from Sept to Nov last year. It is not realistic then to expect that the vendor would be able to hold prices.

3.) Sourcing a yarn supplier in Northern China does not seem like the way to go. When you source in China you should identify the areas where your vendors are in the greatest number. You will have more of a choice of vendors and lower MOQs. Costs may also be lower. Just as a test I went to alibaba and did a search for yarn vendors in China. Results returned 94 pages of yarn vendors. When I did an advanced search for Jiangsu Province (Eastern China) I got 54 pages. When I did the same for Shandong Province (North) I got one page. In all fairness to the person who emailed me, he told me that he was working with a vendor in the North because they have better environmental controls. Clean production t is definitely something you want to look for and emphasize with vendors. But I am sure there are other vendors in China who have the same controls and are in more strategically located areas. It is worth doing the research to find them.

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