The global blanket market is experiencing rapid growth, with China being a major player as a key producer and exporter in the global supply chain. However, buyers sourcing blankets from China often face a multitude of challenges, ranging from quality control to supply chain management, which can affect the efficiency and cost of procurement. This article aims to delve into these challenges and provide practical solutions to help buyers navigate difficulties and successfully complete their purchases.
Our focus will primarily be on fleece blankets, excluding knitted blankets.
Challenge 1: Quality Assurance
Problem Description: Quality is the foremost consideration when procuring fleece blankets. Buyers must ensure that the product’s material, durability, and aesthetic appeal meet their requirements. However, remote procurement, language barriers, and varying quality standards often make quality control more challenging.
Solution Strategies: Strengthen the quality control process, including establishing clear quality standards with suppliers, conducting regular factory audits, and performing detailed inspections of samples. Additionally, consider partnering with third-party quality inspection agencies to ensure products meet international standards.
Typically, we send samples as per customer requirements before placing orders to confirm quality. For customer-specified colors, we can customize color samples according to the Pantone color number for selection.
During the mass production process, we have a dedicated quality inspection department to monitor and ensure the quality meets the required standards.
Challenge 2: Supply Chain Transparency
Problem Description: The complexity and opacity of supply chains can lead to production delays, quality issues, and even ethical risks. Buyers often struggle to fully understand and monitor each link in the supply chain.
Solution Strategies: Enhance communication with suppliers and demand detailed information about the supply chain, including the sources of raw materials and the labor conditions at production stages. Implement supply chain audits and certifications to ensure transparency and ethical practices in the production process.
Changshu City in Jiangsu Province is a hub for fleece blanket fabric production. We procure our fabrics directly from manufacturers in Changshu city, purchasing several thousand tons annually, which allows us to secure favorable pricing. We also assign dedicated personnel to oversee critical processes like fabric setting and dyeing, ensuring fabric quality. Our long-term agreements with fabric mills mean that, in the rare event of substandard quality, we can insist on the remanufacture of the fabric to meet our standards.
Challenge 3: Compliance and Certification
Problem Description: Different countries and regions impose stringent regulations on the safety and environmental sustainability of blankets. Lack of knowledge and adherence to these regulations can result in product entry denial or legal risks.
Resolution Strategy: Understand the regulatory requirements of the target market and ensure all products comply with the relevant standards. Collaborate with professional testing and certification bodies to obtain necessary certifications, such as OEKO-TEX Standard 100 or ISO certifications.
In the past, we supplied fleece blankets to trading companies, which submitted our products to the Hohenstein Institute in China, and successfully received the OEKO-TEX standard 100 certification.
Currently, we are preparing samples and related documents for submission to the Hohenstein Institute in China at the beginning of 2024, aiming to acquire the OEKO-TEX standard 100 certification under our own company’s name for our fleece blankets, sherpa fleece blankets, fleece throws, blanket hoodies, fleece fitted sheets etc..
Challenge 4: Design and Customization Capability
Problem Description: As market demands diversify, buyers are increasingly seeking suppliers who can provide personalized and customized services. However, not all Chinese suppliers are capable of offering such services.
Resolution Strategy: When selecting suppliers, prioritize those capable of providing customization services. Work closely with design teams to ensure product designs align with market trends and consumer preferences. Maintain flexibility and respond swiftly to market changes.
Clients can send us their preferred design patterns, and we can arrange for professional designers to handle the design. We can also customize aspects such as gsm weight, size, and more. For blanket hoodies, we typically offer customization in various sizes and styles, usually for adults, children, and toddlers.
Challenge 5: Delivery Time
Problem Description: Delivery delays can severely impact sales planning and market competitiveness. This is especially true for seasonal products, where delays can lead to the loss of an entire season’s sales opportunities.
Solution Strategy: Collaborate with suppliers to plan production and delivery schedules, allowing enough time to address potential delays. Additionally, establish more flexible inventory management and logistics plans to reduce reliance on a single production cycle.
We have a client who was significantly affected by delivery delays. In May 2022, they ordered products in three 40-foot high containers, only receiving the first container in mid-December 2023. As online retailers, their product rankings suffered due to stock shortages, causing their product links to lose their ranking. Initially, these were high-profit, well-ranked products, and now they must spend more on advertising to regain their ranking.
Thanks to our multiple cooperative factories and years of experience in producing fleece blankets, along with stable fabric suppliers, we almost never face delivery delays.
Challenge 6: Price Competitiveness
Problem Description: In the global market, price is often a key factor in purchasing decisions. However, pursuing low prices can sometimes mean sacrificing product quality or ethical standards.
Solution Strategy: Obtain better prices through long-term relationships and bulk purchasing. Emphasize value over price by considering the overall cost-effectiveness of a product, including its quality, design, and service.
Having been in the home textile industry for many years, we understand the trends in fabric prices, allowing us to order in bulk when prices are at their lowest.
Our experienced workers, with over ten years of experience each, work efficiently to save costs. We also provide some free services to our clients, such as professional product photography and videos.
Challenge 7: Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)
Many Chinese suppliers have Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) requirements, which pose a significant challenge for small buyers or businesses testing the market for the first time.
Negotiate more flexible MOQs with suppliers or look for suppliers willing to accept smaller orders. Additionally, consider collaborating with other buyers to make collective purchases to meet the MOQ requirements while sharing the risk.
Regarding the MOQ for fleece blankets, I will explain from the following 2 aspects:
Typically, the MOQ for weaving yarns is 4 tons. For instance, 300gsm, with a minimum order of 4 tons. For a 150×200 cm fleece throw, the MOQ (4 tons) should be 4500 pieces. If producing both 150×200 cm and 200×240 cm blankets, the minimum (also 4 tons) could be, for example:
150×200 cm, 1700 pieces (up to 8 colors)
200×240 cm, 1700 pieces (up to 8 colors)
All fleece fabrics require dyeing. The dyeing factory’s minimum per color per order is 500 kilograms. However, if some colors do not reach 500 kilograms, it is still possible, share with slightly higher dyeing costs.
Let’s use an example for better understanding. For a 150×200 cm, 300gsm blanket, the MOQ for 500 kg is 560 pieces, and the dyeing cost is approximately $0.77 per piece. However, if you only wish to make 280 pieces, then the dyeing cost would be $1.54 per piece, so that the unit price will be higher.
Challenge 8: Cultural and Communication Barriers
Problem Description: Language and cultural differences can lead to communication inefficiencies, impacting procurement efficiency and product quality.
Solution Strategy: Invest in language training and cultural education to understand and respect Chinese business culture. Additionally, utilize professional translation services to ensure accurate communication.
The most commonly used instant messaging tool in China is WeChat, which also features a translation function. An increasing number of Chinese individuals are now speaking English, steadily reducing the language barrier.
Challenge 9: Logistics and Transportation
Problem Description: International transportation involves complex logistics planning, including transportation costs, timing, and the safety of goods during transit.
Solution Strategy: Choose experienced logistics service providers and optimize transportation routes and methods. Understand different transportation options and insure goods to minimize the risk of accidental loss.
Fleece blankets are generally bulky, especially sherpa blankets, are more suitable for sea transport. Sea transport typically takes longer, so it is essential to allow enough procurement time. Typically, a 40-foot container’s quantity production time is 30 days, transportation to major European ports takes about 30 days, plus time for customs clearance, totaling at least 70 days.
Challenge 10: Market Competitive Pressure
Problem Description: The market competition is becoming increasingly fierce. Buyers need to continually update their products to adapt to the rapidly changing market trends and consumer demands.
Solution Strategy: Maintain a continuous focus on market trends and closely cooperate with suppliers to respond quickly to market changes. Invest in market research and product development to keep your products innovative and competitive.
Generally, we recommend popular styles to customers in their target markets based on our years of experience. Of course, customers’ own designs are confidential. We also support customers in providing their preferred pattern designs, which our professional designers can use to create new styles.
Conclusion: Overcoming the challenges faced when sourcing fleece blankets from China requires strategic thinking and meticulous planning. With the above solutions, buyers can not only improve procurement efficiency and product quality but also establish more robust and sustainable supply chain relationships. Facing the opportunities and challenges of globalization, understanding and addressing these issues will be key to buyers’ success.
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