Review of Guided Imports Service
A Failed Clients Case Study
The following is a unique service review for our Guided Imports A – Z Service. The review has been created as a case study to help identify the benefits of our service. To protect the clients privacy, we have removed their name and their product information.
Our A – Z Service was created to assist a unique type of importer focused on scaling their existing strategies. When we first launched our service as an idea, it was done to fill a void in the market, helping small scale importers get products manufactured in China in a way that lowered their risk and increased their purchasing power.
It is well known that the manufacturing industry in China lacks a lot of transparency, which is frustrating for importers of all levels. Because of this, it has been one of our major focuses to make up for this lacking transparency by offering a sourcing model unlike anything offered today.
We want to be transparent, not only during our service process, but also well before, in an effort to help potential clients determine if we are an ideal solution for their business.
The Guided Imports A – Z Service is not a risk-free method for sourcing in China. it is not backed with guarantees that will reimburse you for your products in the event something bad happens, or if they don’t sell, and it is not a turn key solution for building your business. We are a team of highly specialized sourcing agents and project managers who offer a very systematized service that helps you get your products manufactured. We work towards dramatically reducing your risk and ultimately giving you the potential of saving you a lot of time and money.
The following is a case study review of Guided Imports, that explains how we failed to deliver on a particular client’s expectations and were unable to provide them them a service they wanted.
A Case Study on Failed Products
This one particular client indicated that they had a thriving Amazon business, and wanted to use our service to help them get more products. They signed up for our 3 Pack service to have three different products manufactured. Below is a summary of the events.
The problem we had with this client was their refusal to accept our methods of sourcing. While we can’t confirm or deny this client’s methods were a viable way of sourcing from China, we can confirm they are much different from the ways we advertise our service.
This client had a very difficult time accepting our process because it was not the same as theirs. While we accept the fact that there are multiple ways of handling sourcing, manufacturing and logistics, the process we’ve built and refined over the hundreds of products and clients we have worked with, is a testament to the reason why we are very strict with the way we conduct business.
When our clients hire us, we are essentially taking over a massive portion of their business. As a business owner myself, I too had to accept that the only way to scale my own business was through delegation. We recognize delegation is difficult to overcome, however, we offer a clear set of deliverables and as a business we could not adjust the way we handled our service that were based on the client’s requirements that fell outside of our promises.
Product #1 – Niche: Outdoor
This request was for a type of product that fits in the outdoor niche. The specifications told us the following:
- Non specific add-ons
- Logo placement
The additional specifications only detailed adjective remarks and not quantitative requirements, such as thickness and material. – examples of adjective remarks would be: good quality, feels durable, etc. Despite our warnings and suggestions to clarify, this led to confusion with factories.
We received multiple, different product links, each having their own specifications. This indicated to us that the product and their specifications were not fully planned out.
This client relied on us to act in part, as their personal shopper, helping them define the perfect product. Unfortunately, we are not setup to do this and it goes well beyond our service offerings. We are a sourcing company. We help clients find factories to produce the products they define. While we would love to identify a way where we could feasibly help clients identify products for them, it would be irresponsible for us to take on this endeavor.
Our Recommendation: While we do our best to define this throughout our site, before placing an order and after placing an order, the best time to start using our service is when you’ve defined a product you would like to have manufactured. If you only have a general idea, spend some time at the drawing boards before looking towards China.
The result, despite our explanations, our client had a perception of incomplete work on our behalf.
Product #2 – outdoor niche
This product had clear specifications, however the turnaround time and requirements were too demanding for such a small order quantity.
The requirements for this product were to obtain samples from during, or recent productions of the exact product for no cost to the client.
As an importer, regardless of your experience, it is important to manage your expectations. This means, if a factory asks for a small sample fee, the factory usually is not looking to turn a profit, usually it is the factory vetting you to determine if you are a serious buyer. Oftentimes, our sourcing agents don’t negotiate sample fees if they are inexpensive, as we use it as a show of good faith to suppliers that our clients are serious. For expensive sample fees, we negotiate the fee be refunded in the event an order is placed.
If request samples that are from actual production lines is a requirement, this can take time. Factories are not fulfillment houses and don’t always have samples immediately ready. If your request is unique, it may take a couple of weeks to fulfill, depending on the availability of the sample.
Our Recommendation: If you have unique requirements you would like factories to fulfill, it can help to understand that special requests take time. Factories are often busy with existing orders, and as a low quantity buyer, special treatment right from the door is rare, so patience is helpful.
Product #3 – hobby niche
The client refused to take into account our manufacturing cost analysis (Product Validation stage), and as a result, was unhappy with the price point during the Sourcing stage.
Our Product Validation stage is designed to save you time by explaining estimated manufacturing costs from the very beginning. We produce this report within three days of receiving your order. This way, you can determine if the costs make sense to manufacture.
Our Recommendation: Unfortunately, we can’t force anyone to read anything, but our team is always on standby to answer questions and concerns. The information we provide in our reports are as accurate as the specifications you provide us. If you have plans to invest money in a new production run, we suggest taking the time to understand the costs we define for you.
Because this feat was rightfully unsuccessful, it was determined a failed attempt by the client.
Our process is clearly defined throughout our marketing material and service descriptions. While we advertise the ability for us to act as an extension of your team, we are not employees capable of performing work that falls outside of our agreed up terms. Here are some examples of requests we were unable to fulfill:
- Provide a list of 50 quotations from different factories
We source a lot of factories, but detailed vetting occurs where we rule out a large majority of suppliers before communicating with them one on one to get quotations. If we were to deliver a list of 50+ factory quotations, not only would we not be doing our job properly, but we’d be creating more work for our client than necessary.
- Expectation of sourcing before the Product Validation stage
The main reason we include a Product Validation report is to allow the client to understand the estimated costs and requirements before we begin sourcing. This allows everyone to save time determining if it makes sense to source a product, or if a product change or specification adjustment might be necessary.
- Assume factories will accept any price or term offered
We are not miracle workers and our focus is getting our clients the products they define. Assuming a factory will drop their quoted price significantly, or be able to produce products they already identified as not being able to will only set you up for disappointment.
- We shipped one box of samples to the wrong address, wasting our clients time
This was a first for us, with so many shipments being sent out of our office on a given day and no defined process for how we ship out samples, I am surprised this didn’t happen sooner. We have no excuse for this mistake, it was honest and genuine. – We covered the costs of new samples and expedited shipping.
- We didn’t identify the client’s issues as one major problem, thus allowing more to pile up
At the time these orders were taking place, the service itself was a year old. Old enough for us to know better, but not old enough for system to be put in place where we identify difficult clients. – We understand that as the maturing process of doing business.
What We Learned
Our service is not perfect. As long as we continue to manage the process of working in China, we will never be able to please everyone. The most we can hope for is to ensure all of our clients clearly understand what it is we offer and how we handle orders.
We’ve since set up a new system for sending samples that reduces the risk of mixing addresses. We have also built a stronger internal system for identifying projects that have multiple problems and working together with the client to resolve them immediately.
We also work to rule out potential clients that don’t fit out mold, in an effort not to waste anyones time. We do this by identifying our service clearly through marketing material and clear service pages, but then again through phone calls and early consultations, and then ensuring our clients agree upon clear terms of service.
If we don’t think it would make sense to use us, we will happily save all parties the headache and inform them immediately.
As a service that is constantly growing in the public spotlight, we cannot look for excuses for our failures, rather, we have to grow from them. While this case study may seem slightly unorthodox, whereas most companies like to highlight their success, we hope it will provide value to those seriously considering working with us, as transparency is more important than increased orders.
If you would like to chat with us about this situation to learn more how you can avoid it, or you would like to see if Guided Imports is the right fit for you, you can send us a message us via our contact page.