Top 6 Supply Chain Mistakes When Working with a China Fulfillment Center

Supply Chain Mistakes

We have had several clients come to us for help scaling their business. Although they already have great marketing and a winning product, the reason they’re struggling to grow is their supply chain is a mess. It doesn’t matter how good of a product you have; if your supply chain doesn’t work, your business doesn’t work. 

EcommOps sees a lot of common supply chain mistakes that businesses make when they work with a China fulfillment center, and, fortunately, there are easy solutions to these problems. Below, we’ll take a look at the top six supply chain mistakes we see businesses make, as well as what you can do to get your supply chain in smooth, working order. 

Prefer to watch a video on this topic? Check out the video below.

EcommOps CEO Dayu Yang

Mistake #1: Poor Communication Across Stakeholders

Before any kind of supply chain strategy can be effective, you must have effective communication across stakeholders. That means your business, your China fulfillment provider, and associated factories all need to be able to easily communicate with each other. This is the only way:

  • You can create effective processes between all parties.
  • Identify issues that need to be resolved.
  • Examine and improve established processes.
  • Build long-lasting business relationships.

A high-quality fulfillment provider will be able to help facilitate this, which is why your choice in a China fulfillment provider is important. 

fulfillment center supply chain mistakes

Mistake #2: Not Seeing Your Supply Chain As A Real Supply Chain

This is a common mistake we see from dropshipping businesses that are trying to scale. Dropshipping has its benefits (for example, it’s a great way to test new products without investing too much), but it’s easy for a dropshipping business to neglect their supply chain. The reason why is because dropshipping:

  • Doesn’t offer control or visibility over your inventory
  • Is vulnerable to huge backlogs and delays (like during the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Offers very little control over product quality
  • Makes it hard to customize products, which means you’ll struggle to stand out from competitors.

All of these factors are crucial to building a supply chain that works. When you start treating your supply chain like a real supply chain, it’s easy to see the need to transition away from dropshipping to a more traditional fulfillment model. 

Mistake #3: Evaluating China Fulfillment Providers Based on the Wrong Factors

supply chain fulfillment service

When businesses start to seriously plan scaling, finding a China fulfillment provider that can meet their needs is an incredibly important step. However, the marketing for fulfillment providers can be a little misleading and can make it easy to choose a provider based on the wrong factors. 

For example, very common selling points we see from fulfillment providers include services like:

  • Fast shipping
  • Automatic fulfillment
  • Bilingual English support
  • After-sales service
  • Quality control

While these services are good, they aren’t unique or high-end options. These are the bare minimum services a provider should offer. If these are the only services a provider offers, then you’ll only be getting the bare minimum of what needs to be done for fulfillment services to run smoothly. 

What Should I Look for in a China Fulfillment Provider?

If you should be looking for services beyond what is listed above, what should businesses be looking for? Some services that are key to helping businesses scale (as well as services not all providers offer) include:

If you find a fulfillment provider offering these services, it’s a good sign they are positioned to help your business scale (and have the resources to keep up with the growth). 

Mistake #4: Not Working With Your China Fulfillment Provider As a Business Partner

A fulfillment provider should be seen as business partners, not as a distant service provider that you throw demands at. Fulfillment providers can make or break your business (especially if they’re managing factories), so since they’re crucial to your business, you should treat them like it!

business partners in a warehouse supply chain

Simple, courteous actions can help to build excellent relationships with providers. For example, are you sitting around 50 orders a day but are in the process to scale to 1,000 orders a day? Then proactively tell your fulfillment provider before they suddenly have hundreds of orders more a day than they’re used to. 

Has your fulfillment provider brought up an issue that needs to be resolved? Don’t get irritated with them and treat them with disrespect (in fact, you should appreciate that they’re willing to bring up issues in the first place). Work to resolve issues that are brought to your attention. 

In the same vein, don’t be afraid to give feedback on something you see that needs to be improved. Work together to build processes and refine processes as you get used to working with each other and as orders begin to scale. 

Finally, pay your fulfillment providers on time. This is an easy way to build good relationships with them and will make it easier to continue a long-term business partnership. 

Mistake #5: Assuming Small Product Quality Issues Can’t Be Fixed

If you started with a fulfillment agent through AliExpress (or another small provider), then you may be used to getting told “no” when a product issue is found. You may have been told that the quality issue can’t be resolved, and that the only solution is to receive a refund. Small quality issues in products, more often than not, can be resolved. 

Good quality reviews for ecommerce

A high-quality fulfillment provider will have experience managing factories, which means they’ll have experience resolving small product quality issues. They know how to communicate the issues to factories and how to develop strategies to resolve quality concerns. 

Of course, it’s possible that you’ll hit a quality issue that really can’t be resolved, but EcommOps has helped countless clients resolve quality issues that they’ve been told are “unsolvable.” You should never shy away from resolving quality issues, since fixing those issues can help your product to stand out from existing, generic, and inferior versions that are already on the market.

Mistake #6: Not Doubling Down on Winners with Branding or Customizations

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with their fulfillment partners that can hold them back from scaling to seven figures and beyond is not doubling down on a winning product. If you get a hold of a product that is successful, then invest in that product! Your business should invest in strategies like:

  • Developing custom boxes and logos.
  • Reviewing customer feedback for product improvements.
  • Otherwise investing resources to improve your branding by associating it with a popular, high-quality product.

Doubling down on winning products like this will help you to get better feedback for even better product improvements, and it will reduce the number of returns you receive (since it will be more likely that customers will be satisfied with their product).  

Aren’t Product Iterations Too Expensive?

Planning and producing product iterations or improvements usually isn’t as expensive as you think (especially if you work with a fulfillment provider that has experience working with factories to customize products). 

Inventory warehousing in China

Minimum order quantities (MOQs) generally won’t be an issue either. You can generally expect around 1,000-2,000 product units to satisfy most factory MOQs, and if you’re already working with a winning product and looking to scale, hitting the MOQ requirements shouldn’t be an issue. 

Improving products creates a more sustainable brand and will help your business get out of the grind of constantly testing and launching new products. Since the upfront cost of doing so is comparatively mild, and the benefits are huge, product iterations are something that almost any ecommerce business should be focused on. 

EcommOps: The Supply Chain Experts

There are a lot of mistakes that businesses can make in their supply chain, and partnering with a fulfillment provider like EcommOps is key to avoiding those mistakes entirely. We offer unique benefits that are hard to find in a fulfillment provider, especially for businesses that are looking to partner with factories in China. Those benefits include:

  • Physical offices in the U.S. and China.
  • Factory management expertise.
  • A warehouse with the resources to scale with your business.
  • A robust team of experts that can handle scaling businesses.

We’re also the experts in direct-to-customer (DTC) China fulfillment, which allows you to fulfill customer orders directly from China instead of shipping them to a local warehouse. That means you get:

  • 5-8 day shipping times to almost anywhere in the world.
  • 50% savings on international shipping, allowing you to break into international markets.
  • Supply chain flexibility that is resilient to disruptions and unexpectedly high or low demand.

If you need help cleaning up your supply chain, or you’re interested in leveraging DTC China fulfillment, we’d love to connect. You can reach out to us here, and we’ll be in touch to examine your business needs and to create a strategy that’s a perfect fit for your business to scale.

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