More buyers falling into the same China sourcing pitfall

Perhaps in response to reading my recent post “Seconds from Sourcing Disaster”, I received the following story from a US buyer who also suffered dearly for not checking their suppliers out in detail before placing an order.


“We spent almost two years working with China via 2 separate sourcing agents/companies in the United States. Both made huge promises, then did not deliver or provide the product or the quality we required. The most frustrating issue in both cases was that they would only offer us 1 choice of fabric – which we found unbelievable that in all of China, there was only one option of cheap Polyester stretch fabric.  Naively, we believed our “agents” that we had a reliable manufacturer in place. Unfortunately, they were not able to deliver most of our orders, and we had to cancel huge orders for clients like COKE.


Since then we have found out that our last agent in China was working with at least 4 other middlemen before the actual manufacturer, and the actual manufacturer was the family of one of the middlemen with no experience working with stretch textiles.


Frustrated with China, we were assisted by the Colombian SA Government to move our manufacturing to Colombia SA, where we partnered with one of the larger activewear/swimwear manufacturers. Within 2 weeks, including a 2-day face-to-face meeting with the manufacturer, we were able to resolve all the issues that took us 2 years to resolve with China. We were also able to develop a fabric that was specific to the characteristics that we required. What is great about this manufacturer was that, except for the imprinting, everything, from weaving the fabric, to dying, to sewing, is done “in-house” and under one roof.


When we moved to Colombia, we were fully aware, that this was only a temporary solution to fulfill our back log of orders and manufacturing there would be a “loss-leader”. Even the South Americans agreed and advised up that they cannot compete with Asian prices. Likewise, our current Colombian facilities cannot fulfill our projected demand since we are planning a soft-launch of our Retail Line this Christmas with a full launch for next summer (we have two lines – a corporate line as well as the upcoming retail line). Consequently we needed to find a reliable manufacturer in Asia, ASAP.”


Since submitting the letter above, this buyer found a reputable buyer’s agent and 3rd inspection company on the CSIC’s endorsed service providers list. This time around they are dealing with professional agents to get it done right. They would be happy to know that due diligence as performed by companies like is both affordable and comprehensive.



As these tips would have prevented much of the drama in the case study above, let me repeat the summary of lessons from the recent post “Seconds from Sourcing Disaster”:

1.       If you are going to use a trading company or broker rather than going factory direct, make sure they have excellent reputation and track record of success.

2.       Link payments to performance/ inspections.

3.       Do multiple inspections at various key phases of production.

4. Find the right supplier in the first place is the best way to avoid drama in the long run.


Wishing you successful China Sourcing!

Best Regards,

Mike Bellamy

Author, “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing” (

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