It’s not a secret that countless products are built in China. They can produce many amazing products. There are a few things you should know though, before diving head first into producing a product. Here’s our top 10 Things to Know About Chinese Factories:


  1. The US and China have very different cultures.

The United States is based on a little over 200 years of culture. It’s a culture based on the rights of the individual and the American Dream. China, on the other hand, has a culture over 7,000 years old, steeped in rich tradition and unique customs. The personalities and mindsets of each country’s people are very different. If you grow to understand and embrace the differences, then it can make it easier for you to work with your factory and get the results you are looking for.


  1. We speak different languages.

English is a second language for the Chinese. Moreover, we don’t speak Mandarin (or at least not most of us). Certain phrases or complicated sentence structure can make it more difficult for them to understand. You will be most effective if you keep your communications clear and simple.


  1. China is working a day into the future.

People believe they understand this concept, because of their knowledge of timezones, but the time difference is quite significant. If you want to convey something to China before the end of their work week, then you need to make sure to send it Thursday, not Friday. And of course, their Monday is our Sunday. So keep an eye on your communication and be aware of the time and day differences.


  1. Keep all details recorded in emails.

There can be times when a mistake is made or a price is misquoted when you ask for it again. In order to keep agreements in check, it is best to be sure to submit all details and/or changes in writing. Also, make sure that they confirm the points in the email. Then, if there is ever any dispute regarding an aspect of a project, you can always refer them back to the email. Many headaches can be dissolved quickly by following this routine.


  1. It doesn’t hurt to re-emphasize key points.

Whenever you have a gut feeling that  a concept or specific part of a project might be tricky, be sure to follow up again with the factory. It’s best to re-emphasize your details on a project, than to let things go and just hope they understood it. And again, be sure that they confirm their understanding of all your key points.


  1. Producing a product from scratch takes months, not weeks.

Many people assume that they can build a custom product in China in a matter of weeks. They procrastinate on the prep work and then try and get something made last minute. It is important to keep in mind that a custom product can take several months to build and then produce in China. And keep in mind, there is also pre-production time here in the U.S. before prototyping and production can start in China.


  1. Testing your product is important.

Independent testing is always important to do, especially for products designed for children. Once your item ready for production, it is smart to have samples sent to an independent testing company in China, to check your materials, paints, etc. for safety. With all the product scandals over the years, it’s best to be wise and avoid any scandals by testing right away.


  1. It takes a ship 14 days on the Pacific Ocean to reach the US.

So, your production run is finished, that means you will get your product in a few days, right? Wrong. You need to remember that most products will be packaged in a shipping container and loaded onto a ship for transportation across the Pacific Ocean. There’s time involved with loading and unloading the shipments, and also, keep in mind that once the ship leaves China, it’s 14 days on the water before it reaches California.


  1. Important to push for maintained quality on future orders.

Once you are ready to reorder a product for a second or third run, it’s always important to emphasize that the same quality seen on the first order is expected for all subsequent orders. Sometimes factories can get lackadaisical on repeat orders. A strong stance on quality can curb any issues that may arise.


  1. Respect and professionalism is always appreciated.

Lastly, remember that they are human beings as much as you are. Try not to just think of them as factory workers, but remember that they have families, stresses, and emotions too. The Chinese value respect and professionalism very highly. It is imperative that you maintain a very professional and responsible attitude in all of your communications.


Factory Photo Credit: Robert Scoble, Flickr