Four Questions to Ask Before Signing with a Manufacturer

Have you found your dream manufacturer in China? Are you ready to confirm your first order? Here at CPG we suggest you ask yourself four quick questions before you sign on the dotted line.

Are they communicative and responsive?

Right now, you and your prospective factory are in the early stages of dating, and you are the catch. They should be doing all they can to make you feel like a priority, including answering your calls and replying to your emails in full.

Pro Tip: Communicate briefly and simply. Consider breaking your points into numbered paragraphs. If your requests for information are consistently ignored or you find yourself waiting more than 24hrs for a response, you might want to swipe left.

Do they respect my time?

As a new client, it is unlikely you will be able to impose penalties if a manufacturer fails to meet your deadlines. This means you need to look for other signs that they will deliver on time.

How quickly did you receive your samples? Did they promise to have them to you in two weeks, but take two months? Gather clues and decide if you think this manufacturer respects your deadlines.

Pro Tip: Make sure your quote includes a lead time in writing and emphasis that you are on a tight deadline. Also ask if there are any public holidays that might cause delays. Delays can happen; it is how they are handled that is important. Does their response inspire your confidence?

Am I really happy with the samples?

It is not until you hold a sample in your hand that you know the true quality of your prospective manufacturer’s products. What you see here is what you will get, so inspect samples thoroughly for spots of glue, funny smells, poorly sewn seams, etc. How did they factory respond to your feedback on the samples? Were they willing to make any changes you requested, or did they brush off your concerns? Anything less than a total willingness to fix your concerns should set off warning bells.

Pro Tip 1: Request an additional sample if you are not satisfied. Many manufacturers will ask you to pay for this and we advise that you do so, asking that the fee be factored into the cost of the final order. Any sample fee will be a fraction of the final order and your willingness to pay for samples sends the message that you care and you will be paying close attention to the quality of the finished product.

Pro Tip 2: Remember that pre-production samples are usually not made on the production line.  To be sure of quality consistency, you must ask for production samples when the time comes.

Does the price cover that?

Wait, didn’t we agree on this already? Make sure there are no miscommunications when it comes to what is included. Is the price per unit, per color or per design? Is it FOB, EXW or CIF? What is the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity), and does your order meet it? Does the price include all packaging? What exchange rate was used to calculate your price, and has it changed since?

Pro Tip: Ask for all of the above information in writing to avoid any nasty surprises down the line. Sometimes, there are many additional costs behind that attractive first price.

Seeing your dream product come to life is such a thrill. Check your excitement for just a second and ask yourself these four questions – they are sure to make your sourcing process a whole lot easier.


By Nathalie De Clercq

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