Expectations in China; Expect the unexpected

Ben Boterkooper China Import Leads BV.Ben Boterkooper is the owner and founder of China Import Leads B.V. He writes and shares informative articles on a regular basis. These cover various subjects relevant to his buying agency in China, production and importing products from China.  


In the Netherlands we expect our supplier(s) to deliver products of acceptable quality standards. A common expectation has even been adopted into Dutch legislation. This legislation does not only protect consumers but also the shopkeeper who is able to keep his purchasing activities on a domestic scale. But what about protection for importers? Importers which are mainly responsible for the large selection of low priced produce being available on the market. Importers who basically ensure that an individual can purchase a product of acceptable quality for a low price from the shopkeeper. The importer – who in this case sources products from China – can expect virtually nothing from his suppliers. An experienced importer sourcing from China cannot rely on expectations. In China many things happen which are not expected.

What can you expect during sourcing from China?

Actually expect the unexpected. It may seem childish, but if you want certainty about the status of products manufactured in China, you should really consider it as a relationship between a parent and a child. You cannot assume that the Chinese posses the same capacity of interpretation as yourself. So you cannot expect this from a Chinese factory either. The ways of thinking, work methods and manner of approach are as varied as the continents of Europe and Asia. This makes sense of course. I reiterate this to my customers and have mentioned this before in my blog articles. To my opinion, an entrepreneur can only succeed in China as long as he recognizes the differences and acknowledges the risk these represent.

Specifying and documenting every detail

Knowing that a Chinese factory may not be able to interpret your product description at the right level, it is important that you (repeatedly) explain every detail and document these in a production contract. Even though Chinese staff is often able to pronounce the words “Yes, I understand”, you cannot assume that they actually do. When it becomes apparent at a later stage that your specifications were understood incorrectly, it is often too late. Your products have already been manufactured, but the end result is not as expected. Prevention is better than cure. This certainly applies to the procurement of products in China. With a highly specified production contract or a detailed sales order you provide the supplier with a manual for the manufacturing of a product. It cannot be assumed that a supplier will manufacture your products correctly left to their own devices. You can however expect a correct end product with adherence to the production contract. Read more about specified sales orders or other subjects? Check out our blog: http://www.chinaimportleads.nl/blog