Purchasers and procurement officers are typically very busy people. When you do not need to place a purchase order to a supplier, it is tempting not to communicate with them. What would it bring? Time spend for you and time spend for them, in an overloaded schedule.
While this might work with most Western supplier, it can have some unexpected consequences with Chinese suppliers.
Here is a good example.
A few months ago, we were contacted by one of our client from a few years ago. We had assisted them in the qualification and audit of some specific electronic component, then we have provided supplier management and quality management for the first few purchase orders.
Late last year (2008), we incidentally heard from the supplier that they had not received any order for more than 18 months.
Suddenly, we receive a “Mayday” signal from our former client:”We sent an order to the supplier, and I am very worried by the answer. The sales representative is telling me that the former person in charge has left and she is asking me all sorts of questions about our order that make me think she does not know what we want. Can you contact them to review our standard requirements with them and ensure that they provide the right goods on time?”
Of course, we could do this, as this is one of the things we routinely do for our clients.
But this is a very good illustration of how reality at the Western buyer’s side and the Chinese supplier’s side evolve at different speeds. Half a year with no order and no news from a buyer will lead the supplier to assume the account is cold or lost. When a sales representative leaves the company, he or she will not hand over the specific of that “dead” account. But had the buyer sent a simple email once per quarter (or even once per year for that matter) to the supplier, confirming that even though no orders were issued, the supplier was on the AVL and would eventually receive an order, much time would have been saved.
Keep in mind that China move very fast, much faster that any person who does not live here can comprehend.