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Why do many Chinese suppliers ignore my inquiries?

Posted: 2013-01-10

Full Question

Why is it that many Chinese suppliers do not reply to our inquiries on goods needed? Is it because of poor English or some other communications problem?


This is a great question. As a buyer it is very frustrating not to hear back from a potential supplier. There are many reasons, ranging from the supplier is no longer in business, to the buyer is not perceived as professional. To help ensure good communications with your potential suppliers, I have the following tips for you.

1. Contact appropriate sized suppliers. For example, if your order is for a few 100 USD, it is not realistic that you will be able to go factory direct due to minimum order quantities and they may not even bother to reply to your email.

2. Make a good first impression. If your initial email to the supplier is from a free account like or, the supplier may think you are a small trader and not a professional buyer. If you don't want to use your business email, at least tell about your company, offer a website and present to the seller why the seller should take interest in you as a buyer. Spellcheck your email and present communications in a professional manner. You may be a fortune 500 buyer, but if you write to the factory from a account stating too casual something like “I wanna buy your stuff, what is the price”, don't expect an answer.

3. If a potential supplier can't manage the sales communications well, don't expect them to do any better when it comes to order management and updates.

4. In some cases the suppliers may be great factories in terms of product, price and quality, but lack English skills. Consider engaging a 3rd party sourcing agent to represent you in China to find and manage potential vendors.

The following short videos may also be of interest to you.

Video1: Finding suppliers
Video2: Evaluating suppliers
Video3: Negotiations
Video4: Project management and quality control
Video5: Protecting your intellectual property
Video6: Leveraging Global Sources
Video7: How to find and manage partners for logistics services
Video8: Avoiding Scams
Video9: Returning defective merchandise to China
Video10: Resolving a dispute

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