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How to avoid supplier issues

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Stone's picture
Submitted by Stone on Fri, 09/20/2013 - 12:34

It’s no secret that you may run into various supplier issues when you import from Yiwu Market, sooner or later. I list the most common problems you may be having with your suppliers, and the countermeasures you may use against those problems, so that you’ll be in a better position to copy with the situation and avoid it.

Perfect/better sample, sub-standard production

You get a perfect approval sample from supplier, you confirm it for production, and you receive sub-standard product in your warehouse. This happens because supplier is unwilling or unable to keep the same quality level as that of the approval sample.

  • The sample sent to you is just a sample bought elsewhere.
  • Sampling guys usually turn out better quality than workers on the production floor, and your supplier picked the best of the sample to please you.
  • You accepted sub-standard product on a discount before.

Here are my recommendations:

  • Make clear in your PO to the supplier that final product has to match every aspect of the approval sample.
  • Ask for production samples during and after production and compare it with the approval sample you had. Never let the goods leave factory without you confirming production sample.
  • Don’t accept below par products unless you’re flexible with quality.

Poor reliability: late deliveries, inconsistent communication…

A few examples of supplier’s poor reliability:

  • You’re not told about a coming shipment delay until the very last minute.
  • Constant breach of schedule and ship dates.
  • Constant failure or neglect to follow instructions.

My advice:

  • Always save a week or two as buffer time when plan your shipment schedule.
  • Ask supplier for regular update on production.
  • Find new supplier in the latter two cases.

Non-respect of IP rights

Your suppliers sell your design to other importers, or sell your product domestically on

Warn your suppliers in the first place that they are not allowed to sell your design and product to other customers or they will lose your business. Write it down in the PO. Sign Non-Disclosure Agreement or OEM Agreement with the factory.

If you find your brand name product is being displayed and sold at, China’s biggest online retail website, file a complaint to Taobao asking them to remove it.

Price increase after a deposit is wired

You approved the sample and confirmed order to supplier, you received invoice and paid deposit, and then you’re told the price has increased. This lack of respect of contract happens but should never be accepted except maybe you asked for some alteration of product specs.

Whatever reasons the supplier may have are their problem and you should hold them responsible for their own mistakes.

However, quotations generally are valid only for certain period of time. You can’t count on your supplier always keeping their prices from last year. Confirm order with them before you send any deposit.

What is the supplier issue you run into but not listed above?

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