The China Supply Chain & Covid19 Travel Restrictions
August 14, 2020
To successfully import from China, travel to the country is essential. Even with the most experienced team on the ground, at least one trip is crucial for numerous reasons: revealing the complexities of China importing, meeting your suppliers face-to-face, forging trusting partnerships, understanding the myriad cultural differences that impact all aspects of relationship building, just to name a few. With a least one trip under you belt and the basic knowledge of your China sourcing fundamentals, you can then hand off the management of your China supply chain to your team on the ground, who, assuming they understand your needs and objectives, can act in your stead.
Enter COVID – 19. If sourcing from China was difficult before, the inability to travel to China and around the globe has further complicated importers’ sourcing programs. (See our previous blog about the effects of travel restrictions on the China supply chain: Covid19 and Global Travel.)
Perhaps the even larger concern is the fact that nobody knows how long these travel restrictions will last. Luckily, your core business doesn’t need to suffer. A professional team in China can help you overcome the challenges of restricted travel by executing your objectives, protecting your interests, and negotiating terms on your behalf.
Some of the most essential tasks that a China team can manage for you include the following:
– Qualifying and meeting suppliers: Verifying and qualifying suppliers is one of the first steps to setting up a successful, stable supply chain and it is nearly impossible to be done from afar. It requires establishing solid relationships built on mutual trust and understanding. A sourcing team would be able to establish and maintain these relationships on your behalf.
– Inspections/Audits: Inspections and audits of manufacturing facilities require in-person visits, which importers are obviously not able to do in our current environment. A sourcing company with a good network of contacts could either conduct these inspections and audits themselves, or, arrange for them to be done by a trusted third-party.
– Quality Assurance processes: Establishing and implementing control measures to ensure your goods conform to your desired specifications and quality is nearly impossible without a person on the ground to carry-out the required inspections and assessments. A local China team could manage the implementation of your QA procedures to ensure they continue consistently and reliably, preventing you from ever having to worry about receiving a bad shipment.
– General Management: Managing an offshore team or office is a difficult and time-consuming task as it requires establishing procedures and systems that enable efficient and repeatable processes. And, implementing these processes requires a constant presence, to monitor productivity and limit non-compliance. Hiring an experienced sourcing team with a proven and well-established management system already in placewould not only save time, it would also obviate the need to travel and give you the freedom to manage your home operation.
For those importers faced with the challenge of travel restrictions, there is a solution. Having an experienced team on the ground in China can help you successfully navigate these uncertain times. A good China team could serve as an extension of your home office, executing tasks on your behalf, but without sacrificing efficiency and effectiveness. And, once travel restrictions are lifted, you might even find that travel to China is no longer required.
Have the travel restrictions caused disruptions in your supply chain? How have you mitigated these disruptions? Share your thoughts and solutions with us in the comments below.
By Jocelyn Trigueros