Manufacturing in Asia isn’t without challenges. We’ve listed the top five issues companies face when manufacturing goods in Asia and how Lone Star can help.
There are many reasons European or northern American companies choose to source goods in Asia. In recent years, China has earned a reputation as ‘the factory of the world’ as more and more companies outsource production in a bid to lower costs. China is known for its mass production capabilities and even has hubs for specific industries, which gives western companies a plethora of experienced manufacturers to choose from. Likewise, Taiwan is known for its OEM manufacturing experience, with some of the world’s largest brands relying on Taiwanese manufacturers to make their products.
Despite the advantages of outsourcing production, there are also many challenges. Here are some common issues companies face when manufacturing in China or Taiwan.
1. Language barriers and poor translations cause confusion
Chinese is a difficult language to learn, so it’s no wonder many prefer to do business in English. But relying on a factory production staff’s high school English may have a detrimental impact on production. Many things get lost in translation, and it’s hard to know whether everything is translated back correctly. Manufacturers may only translate things that benefit them, leaving out details that could influence your business decisions. It’s crucial to have someone on your side to sniff out misinformation or disadvantageous suggestions on your behalf.
Hiring an interpreter is an attractive alternative, but it comes at a cost. Business trips are expensive as it is, and hiring an interpreter to be there during meetings or factory audits will only push costs higher.
2. Is the company I’ve contacted a manufacturer or an agent?
The world is smaller than ever before thanks to globalization and the internet. Companies can sit in Europe or north America and easily converse with suppliers in Asia. But how do you know the supplier you’ve contacted is a real manufacturer? Companies often think they are dealing with a product manufacturer only to find out it’s actually an agent or reseller sitting in a small room in a large city somewhere. Agents also add their own margins onto selling costs, which means you buy from them at a higher price. Building and maintaining strong business relationships with manufacturers is vital to gain competitive prices and advantageous purchasing conditions.
3. Have I been scammed?
Sourcing platforms like Alibaba are great for companies to connect with sellers in China. But there is much room for misunderstandings, especially if parties aren’t conversing in their first language. When purchasing from a new supplier, companies should find ways to protect themselves and mitigate risk as much as they can. One way to do this is by ordering a sample, but even this can cause misunderstandings. Manufacturers often take samples from a bundle of pre-screened best-quality products. Companies may be shocked to learn that mass-produced goods are different from the sample, causing them to question whether they have been scammed. While this type of situation is common, it isn’t a scam but a misunderstanding between the supplier and the purchasing company.
4. Unexpected quality issues are expensive to fix
Just because a company has provided design specifications and received a flawless sample doesn’t mean there won’t be quality issues with the mass-produced order. It’s crucial to fully understand each manufacturer’s quality control process and product failure rate before placing an order to avoid problems down the line. Opening a container of goods only to discover unexpected quality issues is more than disappointing — it’s costly and can be burdensome to fix. The key to handling unexpected quality issues is to build a strong relationship with manufacturers. Pointing the finger and demanding answers as to what went wrong causes offense and can make manufacturers unwilling to help. Calmly discussing how to resolve the current issue and prevent future problems creates productivity out of chaos.
5. Different calendars can mean long lead times
Manufacturers in Taiwan and China run on different calendars and production schedules than companies in Europe and north America are used to. Western countries may turn on their out-of-office notification a week before Christmas, only to continue receiving emails and notices from manufacturers in Asia. Companies expecting business as usual during certain weeks in January and February will be unpleasantly surprised to discover manufacturers closed for Chinese New Year. Moreover, factories in China experience high employee turnover immediately after Chinese New Year and then enter a training period for new staff. Companies should not place orders during this time to avoid long lead times and unanswered emails. Requesting and understanding their manufacturer’s work calendar is the first step to avoiding schedule clashes and wrongly assuming factories have disappeared overnight.
Lone Star is your voice in Asia
Working with Lone Star gives you a voice in Asia. With teams on the ground in China and Taiwan, we are there to resolve issues when they happen. Our experienced team has a deep understanding of the manufacturing process, so projects run smoothly and on time. We never work with a factory unless we audit them according to our specifications and industry regulations first, so you’ll never question whether your products are made by a reputable supplier.
We are fluent in the local language, which adds credibility to your brand when dealing with suppliers in China and Taiwan. We take our role as an extension of your company seriously, and your problems are our problems. You wouldn’t want your reputation ruined by poor-quality, faulty goods, and neither would we. Let Lone Star handle your projects in China or Taiwan, and leave nothing to chance.