The Seven Deadly Sins of Importing From China
August 17, 2023
Importing from China never comes easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Despite difficulties, there are a number of ways importers can make their sourcing supply chain run more smoothly. At the same time, there are a number of ways to make China sourcing seem impossible. One good way to understand this is to think of the 7 Deadly Sins of Importing from China.
We’ve all come across the type of companies that refuse to admit that they are having issues. In some ways, we are all guilty of that. Pride keeps us from a lot of things, including successfully purchasing products. No sourcing program is perfect, even if you have put a lot of effort into it. Recognizing areas for enhancement is the inaugural stride toward progress.
Is the grass really greener on the other side? Do you know someone who is buying directly from China and appears to be doing it effortlessly? Don’t fool yourself. Yes, it may look easy, simple, and perfect, but there is no doubt that the other guys put in the work and did some heavy lifting. They achieved results by putting good systems, procedures, and processes in place.
Many importers have been there. You receive a shipment of poor-quality goods. You realize you can’t sell the goods, have no recourse to the factory, and have basically thrown your money down the drain. To put it lightly, you’re angry. Instead of lashing out, examine what went wrong, and how, and use this experience to learn how to put together a better supply chain management system to make sure this never happens again.
You’ve learned that importing from China can save you 20% and double your margins. So you want to source every single item you sell to maximize your return on investment. But you’re eyes are bigger than your stomach. It does not always make sense to import everything, even if all the products you target are of China origin. Focus on the 80/20 rule (i.e. import first the 20% of your products that deliver 80% of your profits). For those who are just beginning a sourcing program in China, it is better to start small and get established with major items before addressing the rest of your products.
Most factories will do anything to get your business, to impress you, the buyer. And often times, companies that buy direct from China are impressed by manufacturing promises. Procurement officers are eager to place orders and look to receiving their product as quickly as possible. However, lust does not do anyone any good. It is better to stay calm, allow time to prepare and test – set up good contracts with the factory, discuss timetables, develop the specifications and expectations of your product, etc. Don’t rush into things too fast.
Sourcing from China never comes easy. It may look easy when you look at platforms like Alibaba, but direct buying is hard. You have to put the work in. From benchmarking factories to a quality assurance program, being idle won’t pay here. A little hard work, in the beginning, pays off in the long run when your goal is to have a well-rounded sourcing program that runs like a well-oiled machine and delivers the results you seek.
Money, money, money…
One of the main reasons companies today are buying from China is because it delivers just that – money. In terms of getting greater market share and improving your bottom line, being able to buy goods that conform to your quality for a lower cost makes sense. But you want to be careful about this. Are you being greedy or logical? Make sure you have evaluated all aspects of the equation prior to launching a buying program in China.
Navigating the complexities of importing from China requires acknowledging the seven deadly sins that can hinder success. Don’t underestimate the importance of humility over pride, strategic planning over envy, thoughtful analysis over wrathful reactions to setbacks, focused sourcing over gluttonous expansion, patient preparation over hasty lust for results, diligent effort over slothful complacency, and balanced decision-making over unchecked greed. This is the roadmap for successful importing, reminding us that mastering the intricacies of China’s sourcing landscape demands careful consideration, continuous improvement, and a commitment to both financial and ethical success.