Welcome to the first PDW Blog – hopefully this tells you a bit about how we work with our Chinese suppliers and the benefits we bring to the table when it comes to printed products

The mistakes I made on my first trip to China

About February 2007

One of my major clients asked me to see if I could source some of his printing requirements offshore, and what the savings might be. Having no experience in offshore procurement I simply went to the web and started a google search of printers in China. I introduced myself, via the web to about 20 what looked like respectable print factories in China and sent them some specifications for a book that I needed printing. From memory I received about 3 replies and the cost savings were staggering about 30%. I was of course very skeptical but the savings were too big to ignore.

To cut a long story short it took a couple of months with numerous emails back and forth to the different print factories, I selected the factory that I felt most comfortable with and sent the file via ftp for proofing, much the same as I would do if sending an order to a local print factory.

First concern – 50% deposit.

Second concern balance on shipping.

Having been in the print game for more than 20 years my first thoughts were “what am I paying for” and “what am I going to get?” Then more importantly “what will I say to my client when a whole lot of crap shows up and he has lost all this money?”

Easy decision lets go and have a look first. Off to Shanghai, WOW!

I paid the 50% deposit without ever meeting the printing company’s people, and hoped that when I arrived in Shanghai someone would be there to meet me and that the book would be near completion.

That was probably my first mistake in that I should have traveled to China and met them before paying the 50% deposit, but I was lucky – I was met at the airport (second mistake) and the job was almost complete and looked pretty good (quality control from one shop to the next is another concern– I will devote a blog to that shortly).

That lead me to my second mistake – don’t have your supplier meet you at the airport. Have the Hotel pick you up and do a bit of research on the Hotels – good Hotels are relatively inexpensive and you don’t really want to stay in a cheap hotel especially if you are in one of the lesser known cities. (If you want to discuss Hotels give me a call or email me ben@pdwglobal.com, as I have stayed in Hotels in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Fuzhou, & Putian).

The mistake being I was met by about 6 people and they did not leave my side for the next 3 days, or so it felt.

They kindly drove me to the Hotel – I always book and pay for my own Hotel – the suppliers offered to book and pay but I feel a bit strange about that. I indicated that I needed some time, as I wanted to change and make a couple of phone calls, check emails. etc, and I needed a couple of hours. They said no problem that they would wait for me in the lobby – and they did, all six of them. That is why I suggest if you ever go to China, have the Hotel pick you up from the airport and arrange for your contact to meet you at the Hotel at a time convenient to you.

My next mistake (i did make a few!) – I assumed that the person I was dealing with worked for the factory that was producing the book. Probably not and you may never know (more about that in my next blog).

First impression of Shanghai was wow, and how different, yet the same. The city is modern, the Hotel was modern, the cars were modern, the print factory had the same presses the same pre-press equipment, and the same brand names that I would find in Sydney.

I came back to Sydney with plenty of samples thinking how much I had learned from the trip, and how easy it was to order print from China. For about the next 10 trips I would always come home and think how much I learned on that particular trip and how little I had learned on the previous trips.

I look back now 7 years later, and think I was probably a bit lucky on that first trip – maybe my initial emails sorted out the print factory from the fakes, I’m not sure. I do know that visiting and establishing the relationships was essential and that I would never use a factory again that I did not visit first.

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