In my work experience in the factory in the past three years, the problem I have experienced most is the delayed delivery of the factory.

For factory salespersons, this is the most difficult problem. When this happens, it is inevitable that the customer can only be persuaded to accept it.

I believe this is an even more headache for buyers. Delays in delivery by suppliers will even cause economic losses to buyers.

Delayed delivery by Chinese suppliers is a common problem. Almost every importer has experienced delays in production and delivery.

How do you ensure that your suppliers produce on time and deliver goods on time? The following are 10 methods that each importer can implement to prevent delays in shipments from suppliers. All this information is very helpful for small importers.

Why are deliveries from China delayed?

Dealing with delivery delays has never been an easy task. But these delays usually have recurring causes, which makes it possible to identify them in advance and take steps to help avoid order delays.

There are many reasons for Chinese suppliers to delay delivery, which may be caused by factories, raw material subcontractors, customs, and freight forwarders. But 90% of delays are caused by factories.

The order quantity is too small, the supplier combines multiple orders to produce.

In the communication, many sales staff will give you various promises in order to win your order.

But after winning your order, the factory will produce multiple orders in a unified manner in order to save production costs.

Sometimes the factory does not have an order for the same product as yours, the factory will put your order on hold and wait until there is an order for the similar product before arranging production.

The production capacity of the factory is overloaded

This mainly occurs in the factory’s peak sales season, April, May, September, and October each year.

After the Spring Festival and before Christmas, most buyers will stock up, so the factory is particularly busy at this time.

However, the factory’s machines and employees are relatively limited and cannot be changed in a short period of time.

The orders of most factories are unstable. During the off-season, the workers on the production line are very idle, and the factory will be short of manpower during the peak sales season.

In the peak sales season, the factory will hire some temporary workers to deal with the problem of manpower shortage.

Temporary workers are not as controllable as regular employees, and they may leave at any time. The turnover rate of Chinese factories is generally very high.

And temporary workers will be slower in production speed.

Therefore, the factory’s production volume cannot match the order. At this time, the factory will schedule the buyer’s order according to the order time.

Many sales people will say that I will arrange to insert your order into production. This is just a way for sales staff to stabilize customers.

When he says these things to you, he also says the same things to other customers.

The production plan of a factory is completed by multiple departments. After the sales staff receives the order, they hand it over to the production management department. The production plan formulated by the production management department cannot be changed at will.

It is not a product manufacturer but a trading company that is cooperating with you.

Trading companies purchase from manufacturers and then sell to you, so the purchasing process becomes more complicated.

The quality of your order depends on the communication between the trading company and the factory.

Trading companies are often better at marketing, and purchasing is not their main business. When you place an order from a trading company, they will place the order to the factory.

In the production process, if the trading company does not actively follow the production status of the order, the goods are very likely to be delayed.

The product is found to have quality problems during the production process or after the production is completed.

This reason is very common in actual production, because factory workers usually only perform mechanized work according to the arrangement of the workshop supervisor, and they do not think about the quality of the product.

Therefore, many problems in production are easily overlooked. For example, the product has color difference, the product logo does not match the design draft, the product specification is wrong, and so on.

When these problems occur, the factory can only postpone the production time to resume production.

Untimely supply of raw materials

The factory’s production process is usually:

Procurement of raw materials-production-processing-packaging.

The latter three links are completely controllable by the factory. However, the procurement of raw materials also depends on the delivery speed of the raw material subcontractors.

A product may involve multiple raw material subcontractors, and can only be produced when all the raw materials are available.

Most suppliers only estimate the daily production capacity of machines and equipment. When raw materials or incoming materials are in short supply, they can only do nothing.

Some factories will outsource part or all of their work for various reasons. Delays with subcontractors may delay the entire production.

In addition, there are some objective reasons why you cannot receive the goods on time:

  • Chinese holidays cause the factory production line to be too busy or understaffed.
  • Customs inspection-If there is a problem with the customs, the delay may last for a week or more.
  • Transshipment complications-sometimes when transshipment is needed, it is not uncommon to encounter container rejection due to insufficient space in the ship.

Of course, sometimes buyers are also responsible for delayed deliveries from suppliers. Please remember:

  • Have you clarified all your requirements for the product when placing an order?
  • Does your supplier agree with the delivery date you requested?
  • Did you provide the design draft to the supplier in time?
  • Do you always confirm the supplier’s samples in time?
  • Did you change the product design after placing the order?

If not, that would be great. If so, you should improve your workflow first, and then check whether the supplier has delayed delivery.

How to prevent delayed delivery?

Review the supplier before placing an order

The first step in preventing production and shipment delays is to work with trusted and honest suppliers from the start. But this is often easier said than done.

How do you ensure that your suppliers maintain normal production without first cooperating with them? Although there is no substitute for actual experience working with suppliers, you can take some steps to review suppliers before placing an order.

Not all importers can visit their suppliers’ factories in person before placing orders. Even if you have access, you may not know how to effectively evaluate the production process.

For example, if you visit a supplier who claims to be an electronics factory, perhaps you can easily confirm whether the supplier is actually just a purchasing office.

But what about the supplier’s quality records, production plans, and other more complex processes? For ordinary importers, it may be more difficult to identify these problems during a short visit.

Based on this, if your order is large, we recommend that you cooperate with a local Chinese sourcing company to strictly evaluate the supplier’s strength and credit before placing an order.

Otherwise, you can only understand the supplier in the communication with the supplier based on your own experience, which is always risky.

A review of your potential suppliers before production starts can help you avoid messy suppliers who are prone to unpredictable production delays.

Establish a “standard sample”

Another key part of the review and negotiation phase is to request production samples from your supplier.

Identifying product defects at the end of production almost always leads to delays in shipments as you wait for the supplier to repair and rework the defective product.

Checking production samples can help you identify any defects or other quality issues before production starts. This allows you to resolve issues before they affect mass-produced products.

When requesting samples, provide your supplier with all relevant product specifications, drawings and quality requirements, possibly in a comprehensive QC checklist. Then, you or a third-party inspector can review the samples according to your requirements and determine any problems with the samples.

You may need to go through several audits to get a 100% sample that meets your requirements.

It pays to invest time in preventing problems at the beginning of production, rather than trying to solve the errors later.

Monitor production progress

The most important thing is to strictly evaluate the supplier before placing an order. After placing an order, the most important thing is to follow up the production schedule of the factory and monitor the progress of the intermediate process.

Although different products have different production steps, the key points are always the same! We usually do: monitoring before production and monitoring during production.

Pre-production monitoring means the confirmation of production plans, material preparation status, personnel status, equipment preparation status, and product information.

You should keep in close contact with the supplier, inquire about the supplier’s progress at these times, and have the supplier take pictures to prove its authenticity.

When you ask the factory how the materials are prepared, if the factory does not give you an accurate answer, on which day the materials will be put into storage, then you should focus on this work. Ask the supplier every few days about the material preparation and force the supplier to take this issue seriously.

Monitoring in production. Pay attention to monitoring progress, inspection status verification, semi-finished product verification, and storage status verification.

You can ask your supplier for the quantity of semi-finished or finished products 10 days after the order is produced to estimate the factory’s daily production capacity and approximate delivery time.

For very large orders, you can even ask the supplier to update you on the order production plan on a regular basis.

The most terrible thing is not the delay, but the supplier will not take the initiative to tell you that there is a problem with the order. They always tell you when the delivery time is almost there that they have to delay the delivery, which will catch you by surprise.

Therefore, it is very important to monitor the progress of the order, so that you can know the real situation of the order, and once there is a problem, you can discuss the solution with the supplier as soon as possible.

The factory prefers to work at the last minute

Although this may seem unfair to the buyer, the supplier usually plans to complete the packaging of the goods 2 to 3 days before the scheduled loading time. This means that if something goes wrong, there is no room for error, and they do it often.

In some cases, even with a delivery period of up to four months, unmonitored factories may be behind schedule, because factories rarely start processing orders as soon as they receive them. You can minimize order delays by following the tips mentioned here.

The most important thing is to keep close communication with your factory while tracking the order status during the production process.

More tips to avoid supplier delays

  • Have a comprehensive understanding of your product-including production procedures and requirements.

Do you know how long it takes to complete each step of the production process? With this information, you can follow up at an appropriate time.

Whether it is a manufacturer or a trader, following up on the production process is the best technique to avoid supplier delays in delivery.

  • What are the capabilities of your suppliers? Is it a big factory or a small factory? Is it always available? What is its production plan?
  • Make sure you fully understand your supplier. The size of the supplier determines its output and can also give you more confidence in the strength of the factory.
  • Be familiar with the time required for shipping-consider the time required to get from the supplier’s warehouse to your warehouse. This is easy to understand if you have ever purchased from China, but be aware that the distance between the supplier and the port will make this time unstable. You’d better always add an extra 10 days to the theoretical shipping time.
  • Does your supplier outsource any part of the production? How did this secondary supplier react? Try to make sure you can control and understand all aspects of the supply chain
  • Determine the delivery date for regular orders-determine a specific delivery date for each order and ensure that the consequences of delayed delivery are clearly stated in writing to all parties.
  • Consolidate orders? If you plan to consolidate shipments to save costs, please consider the additional time required to perform this operation. If your shipment requires full container load (FCL) transportation, how long does it take to consolidate various orders?
  • If possible, be prepared for mistakes-when placing a formal order, try to set a delivery date at least two weeks before the product is actually needed.

Solutions for delayed delivery

Delayed delivery will definitely bring some losses to buyers, such as reduced customer satisfaction, additional logistics costs, loss of customers, missed sales seasons, and so on. In short, it will have a lot of negative effects on the buyer’s business.

So, when delayed delivery is about to happen or has already happened, what should the buyer do to reduce losses and protect their own interests?

Partial shipment

In order to ensure that buyers have enough stock, you can consider the way of split shipment.

Buyers can require suppliers to arrange shipments of completed products within the delivery period, and the remaining unfinished parts will be shipped after production is completed.

If the delay is caused by the supplier’s error, the supplier can be required to pay for the additional shipping costs incurred by the partial shipment.

Optimize the logistics plan

You can ask the supplier to change the shipping method and use a faster shipping method.

For example, sea transportation is changed to air transportation, and air transportation is changed to express. Although the transportation time is greatly shortened, the cost is also much higher.

Therefore, this method is more suitable for small orders. For large orders, this method is usually not a last resort.

Urgently increase production capacity.

Use the remaining time to urgently increase production capacity.

This mainly depends on whether the supplier can do it. It will be best if the supplier can increase production capacity by working overtime and recruiting temporary workers to ensure timely delivery.

But also pay attention to the problem of suppliers lowering quality standards in order to speed up production.

Get in touch with the supplier’s senior management.

In many cases, the salesperson is the person who contacts the customer, and their rights are limited. They cannot interfere with the factory’s arrangements, and the factory will not listen to the sales staff.

The best way at this time is to get in touch with the supplier’s boss. The boss of the Chinese supplier has unlimited rights. As long as the boss agrees, it can be done.

In conclusion

In practice, the situation may be more difficult for the buyer, but the solution is always more than difficulties.

Master the 2 core skills of evaluating suppliers and tracking orders, and there will be no more delays in delivery.

Or, you can choose a reliable sourcing company as your agent in China. The purchasing company can maintain closer contact with the factory and be you eyes&hands in China.

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