Chapter 12 from the book “Chinese - instructions for use” - Chinese adventures and short conclusions about working with this country

Today our guest is Alexey Ryazantsev, product manager of the mobile electronics category. He kindly provided chapters from his book on working with China and Chinese suppliers. The working title of the book is "The Chinese - a guide to application." I liked both the style and the saturation of the book with information; if it had appeared twenty years ago, when I had just started working with China, many mistakes and disappointments could have been avoided. But this book is more relevant than ever today, so I suggest you read separate chapters. This is a book from a practitioner, not a theorist, and this is its special value. If there are those among you who are ready to contribute to the release of the book, then write to Alexei directly, as well as send him feedback, his coordinates are at the end of the material.

12. Two years of head against the wall, or my joint venture with the Chinese (instead of imprisonment)

… My path in private business began with the fact that my Chinese "friend" disappeared with all the money that was sent to him to set up a business, pay for participation in exhibitions and other organizational issues. The office in Shenzhen, too, as it turned out, was not rented, the process of registering a company was not launched, and no one was involved in attracting staff for part-time work.

Before this event, I knew this man for three years, visited his house, knew his wife, was aware of the birth of a child (who in infancy lived with his wife, grandparents in his home province in Harbin (as is often the case in China ).We always exchanged gifts and souvenirs.When difficult issues arose in cooperation with other suppliers, he helped in negotiations, and it was thanks to this quality that we decided to involve him in a joint partnership.

Besides me, self-called Jack robbed my (at that time already former) employer a little, not supplying spare parts for a decent (in terms of the average person's income) amount. This loss had almost no effect on the income side of my employer, and only my own image was spoiled by this trouble. A year later, when the owner of AM and I were having lunch in Barcelona (where tens of thousands of people come to the annual congress of mobile technologies), he dropped the phrase during the dialogue: “Well, renting real estate brings me some million dollars, and so what? ! After that, I finally took root in the idea that the company was doing well, and AM behaved quite friendly towards me. We saw each other more than once and didn’t remember the situation anymore.

We did not return the money, because the person disappeared with the money in China, and the transfer was made to a Hong Kong company. Lawyers, having looked at the documents, said that they did not advise us to spend money on a losing business, since the invoices were sent to us, and it is very difficult to prove the fact of non-provision of services (for which we fully paid in advance). Moreover, the fact of providing services again fell under Chinese jurisdiction.

Collectors who are engaged in the official search for debtors and fugitives (which is relevant for modern China), eventually found a comrade, but said that they could extort money only by a court decision of Hong Kong or China. The amount that had sunk into oblivion turned out to be not very interesting for the bandits, and almost no one recommended me to contact the latter, since there is no guarantee and reliability.

This was the beginning, and with the continuation of the adventure continued.

The most important partnership agreement we signed in Hong Kong after one of the intense days at the Globalsources exhibition, where we exhibited for the first time as an international team. Jack was not the only person I trusted and did business with. There were other partners whose interest in international business was not fake.

We saw business development as follows: a team in Europe and a Russian office are engaged in our traditional business of creating and developing our own brand. The goal of the first year of work was to make at least one of the divisions self-sufficient.

As for the partnership with the Chinese side, we planned to develop and improve their OEM business, develop it in different regions, bringing it to a new level of support and quality. We planned to increase the customer base and order volume for each of the existing brands. I knew the sphere and all the significant mistakes of the Chinese perfectly, so we understood what we had to work with.

The Chinese side, in turn, provided us with services to check the quality of devices under our brand, advised us on the real cost of components and represented our interests at those meetings in China that we could not attend. We also planned to provide consulting services to Chinese manufacturing firms on the development of design and software (which the Chinese themselves do very badly). We also considered the prospect of moving employees to China, but proceeded from the principle of economic expediency (at that particular moment it could have been done without).

A positive result of this cooperation was that we actually successfully implemented several OEM projects in different regions with both existing and fundamentally new customers (some of which became regular customers). We have opened new markets and worked out an effective interaction scheme.

And a different result (which I don’t want to call negative, but it doesn’t fall under the criterion of “positive” either) was that a little more than a year later we left the OEM business, leaving all the developments and the base to the Chinese side, the latter deals with them to the best of its Chinese capabilities.

Long-term and effective cooperation did not work out just for the reasons, most of which are set out in this story. Now you look at all your actions in a completely different and much more critical way, but at that time we still had to put bricks and cobblestones into the baggage of our own knowledge and sift the soil, trying to extract useful (profitable) minerals from it.

One of the most important reasons for our incompatibility can be found in chapter 2 (The myth that China is a country where everything is incredibly cheap). More precisely, this is the third factor that determines the low cost of Chinese goods, namely, the willingness to work with minimal profit. For the Chinese, there was nothing unusual in the scheme of shifting an actually equivalent amount from one pocket to another, but it was completely incomprehensible to us.

When we asked them after the start of the partnership to reveal the cost of the goods, providing the most detailed information on the cost of each component (it was sent, but all the files were in Chinese), we were somewhat surprised that the income from OEM activities was really very small ! Basically, it fluctuated at the level of 4-5% on the device, but often the Chinese were ready to work with minimal profit or no profit at all in order to get themselves a promising client. A prospective client in such cases usually sat on his neck, legs dangling, and did not get off from there until he found an even better offer.

For the new base, which we planned to develop and develop, other criteria were set: at least 10% of income from one device (or at least $0.5 in monetary terms, if the value of 10% does not fit). Only such profitability (in our opinion) made it possible to maintain the existence of the company and ensure the minimum necessary profit. We, of course, logically included in the planned income the labor costs of our team, depreciation of equipment, the cost of international courier shipments and other overhead costs. But in the eyes of the Chinese, this was a mistake. “If calculate like that, not possible to see profit, brother!” (“If you count in this way, you can’t see the income, brother!”) - told me the “great economist” Louis, who in his proposals did not take into account either staff salaries or office rent, but only knew what needed to be sold as much as possible (albeit without profit, but not in the negative).

We adhered to the point of view of "less is better" and that it is not worth wasting time on those customers that Louis himself called shit-customer, but with whom he did not stop cooperation. We, of course, were ready to work "to zero", but only if we saw a prospect in this, and did not receive another insolent client in the portfolio. That is why we did not fall for blackmail with demands to reduce the price, we always had arguments why the client should be satisfied with the offer, and ignored those with whom cooperation was initially seen as doubtful. We also tried to keep track of retail prices for our customer's products in his region, often we could perfectly see how much he earns and whether he really needs a “more interesting price offer”. In the vast majority of cases, the client pushed the discount because of his own greed, so we didn’t fall for it, and the customer often raged.

Even when developing the product and including it in the catalog, we understood that the product was quite competitive, we monitored the competitors' offers and made adjustments if necessary. Moreover, we prepared devices with better software than others offered. Therefore, a similar (or slightly higher) cost (in our opinion) was fully justified.

But most of the customers did not agree with this point of view, and they were tacitly supported by our Chinese division, which carried out its price manipulations behind our backs. For the client, our interaction scheme was as transparent as possible: they knew about the manufacturer in China, and that we are official representatives for sales and project management. Sales Degree 5 Pack Anti Yellow Stains, Anti White Mark went through a company in Hong Kong. When we handed over a client to the Chinese sales department, the client, despite the agreements reached, again raised the issue of price reduction and almost always received a positive decision, even if we tried to prevent it.

What was the point of reducing the total profit that we shared 50/50, I understand from my experience, but I still refuse to accept it! A lot of invoices were redone at the last moment, or without even notifying us of the progress of the transaction. We were “forgotten” to put in a copy of the correspondence on new projects or were generally notified of new orders after the fact. The Chinese listened to our arguments that the current price offer for the client is more than acceptable, looked at the data with price monitoring, charts and calculations, and ... always acted in their own way.

During one of the deals, our partner dropped the price of a product by $2, thus depriving us of several tens of thousands of dollars of income simply because it was “normal” for him to earn less. He said that he had read all our research and saw that the discount was not mandatory for the client. But all the same, he will give it, because the client asks, and we already earn more than he usually earns. It is even strange that we were able to sell the goods so profitably.

In some OEM projects, we did not receive a profit, in some we did not ask for our share, since there was not much to ask for. Conversations, regular calls, correspondence and even personal meetings did not change the situation. The Chinese continued to work as usual.

After another situation, when after the end of the project there was nothing much to share, we conferred and began to curtail the OEM direction. We decided to process only incoming requests and offer only those products that our partner has in stock. We still offer it, and if there is an interest, we transfer the client to the Chinese sales department. What happens next, we are not particularly interested (usually - nothing) and do not ask for commissions for the introduction. Still, a significant income is not expected there.

Another factor hindering the normal development of the OEM business was that purchasing managers ... were strained by the Europeans. The presence of people with good English, who understood the tasks at first glance, seemed strange to many customers, and they immediately began to think that something was wrong here. They had suspicions that the cost was too high (although it was not such, it was enough to compare), that we were a reseller (they responded poorly to calls to visit the production), that there is something strange in our activities, even if it is difficult to formulate.< /p>

A little later, I read about this feature of perception in a good book “The Power of Habit. Why do we live and work this way and not otherwise? If we briefly summarize the content of one of its chapters, then working “as before, as always” (that is, in this case, with the Chinese) was precisely “more familiar” for most clients. Everyone knew about the upcoming problems of such cooperation, about the difficulties in setting goals and communication, but almost everyone was mentally prepared for this. Working with the Chinese is sometimes difficult and tiring, and these Europeans ... who knows what they will do.

A little later, I learned that almost all foreign account managers working for Chinese OEMs (especially if this person speaks the same language as you) are treated negatively. These people are not trusted, they are doing worse, and there is a chance to stay for a long time only if this person has brought his friends to the supplier and lives on a percentage of their orders. The letters of these people are often ignored, and when asked to communicate, they are asked to give the contact of their Chinese boss. It is difficult to find another explanation, except as a habit, for this situation.

We got out of the situation creatively - our team, which conducted OEM deals, began to introduce itself as Chinese. Fortunately, the awareness of the undesirability of Europeans in the OEM business came quickly enough. The specialists responsible for the transactions set up mailboxes on the domain of the Chinese partner or QQ, registered a separate account in instant messengers and started working. How many buyers see their Chinese partners with their own eyes? Yes, almost no one! So we just continued the experience of "phone sex", in which the interlocutor always hears a pleasant voice, but never knows who is really talking to him.

At the moment, “when we became Chinese”, I felt that customers communicate with this category of sellers more frivolously and even boorishly. Potential customers themselves did not shine with knowledge of the English language, communicating rather primitively, with an abundance of such blunders as “thank you so match!” & "let me now". Particularly distinguished clients began to flirt with their virtual sales managers, invited to dinner (at our expense) when they were in China, and openly hinted that they would like to spend more time together in an informal atmosphere. At the same time, they did not even see photos of these same girls - faceless silhouettes or cats stood on the avatars.

Once I replaced an employee of my department, who, in addition to her main duties, moonlights as a Chinese sales manager Lee Xi Ya. Since just at that very moment the client actually asked me for a date and most of the dialogue demanded to send a personal photo. But since in China sending a photo means almost the beginning of a personal relationship, Xi Ya referred to the fact that she is a decent girl and that sending a photo is possible only after a personal meeting. Fortunately, the meeting never happened. Although my friends ironically suggested that I come to that very date and look at the face of the bawdy man after he finds out the whole truth.

It should be noted that since the "Chinese" began to work in our team instead of Europeans, the tension has largely subsided, communication has improved, and our presentations, in which nothing has changed at all, have become more eagerly watched. Unfortunately, this had almost no effect on the income component.

Whether by force of habit or by the realization that they are not in the business of selling quality products, clients did not pay much attention to either the absence of problems within the framework of the project, or the quality with which it was implemented. The terms were more or less like the standard ones. Only if during a standard project with the Chinese a lousy product was being prepared during this time, then with us it was possible to make a better product in the same period. However, this was not an advantage for the client. The client still wanted faster and cheaper, albeit with traditional Chinese shortcomings.

The client also did not pay attention to a small number of problems (or lack of them) in the preparation of the product. Apparently, problems from other orders blocked everything else. And indeed, when you are constantly working in a madhouse mode, something normal does not seem to be something out of your usual routine.

It should be noted that our decisions, expertise and proposed improvements to finalize the product often remained unanswered or were not agreed upon, even if this did not affect the project timeline in any way. The customer was not concerned about the use of better materials, more energy-efficient analogues, he was indifferent to the well-developed and intuitive interface of the device. He paid much more attention to the issues of the ability to bring down the price before shipment itself and his personal motivation (and he also refused to trace the relationship between the first and second).

Despite the fact that we tried on the "Chinese skin" for ourselves, we did not want to finally accept the fate of the Chinese and stamp standard products of low quality. Moreover, the material prospect of this activity would hardly cover the internal discontent and resistance.

Of course, not all clients were like this. There were also representatives of those brands that put forward such requirements for quality and customization that we either could not meet or met with difficulty. We ourselves adopted a number of these requirements and standards when preparing our own devices. But these clients were the exception. Most of the B-brands wanted a C-quality product at a D-price, and "the best price" remained a fundamental factor when choosing a supplier.

The third type of proposed activity - consulting for Chinese firms - was even less successful than the attempt to engage in OEM. According to our plan, we were supposed to consult Chinese developers in the field of device design, following the latest trends (rather than just copying and modifying models of famous brands). We also provided advice in the field of device interface development, which was simply terrible for 90% of Chinese products.

When talking about the number of implemented projects in terms of design development, it would be better to remain silent. But since I promised myself and my readers that this essay would be as honest as possible, I will say that we never launched a single project and did not bring it to perfection.

The brain of the Chinese boss is arranged according to the principle “I know better”, therefore, Chinese OEM products are copies of the developments of Western companies or clones of designs peeped from competitors. They were interested in my idea and samples of devices created by me and even asked for advice when developing new cases. But they refused to pay for this work. In return, they offered me to order the very device that I would create for them, since everyone understands that it turns out to be good and interesting. The fact that the design was then offered to the rest of the client base was somehow omitted. The Chinese stopped asking for advice just at the moment when the free consultations on my part ended.

For ourselves and for our own money, we could conduct any kind of experiments, but when developing an OEM device that was planned to be sold in different regions, the Chinese trusted only their own taste and what they considered expertise. Considerable investments were made in the development of the device: the design of the board cost several tens of thousands of dollars, and 3D modeling of the case, followed by casting and modifications, cost no less. These investments had to be returned, and it is clear that not every development was successful. But, even with a portfolio of dozens of original and "spy" designs, the Chinese refused to experiment with us. Sometimes they sent the upcoming models for a free examination, listened to our opinion and disappeared, most often remaining indifferent to our opinion (even if it turned out later that it was true).

As for the quality of software preparation and interface creation, despite the fact that these are different types of activities, they had a similar fate - these activities were also completed without really starting. The Chinese listened to information about the capabilities of our programmers and designers, looked at the work that we did as part of our own projects, more than once showed enthusiasm for obvious improvements, and ... that was it. They bought their products anyway, but they did not see any advantages in the stable operation of a device with a more understandable shell.

Projects that involve detailed preparation of software and interface were held with customers in Eastern and Central Europe, in the CIS (as part of the presentation of our company, I talk about some of them with pride, and some are closed for disclosure by the terms of contracts), but never in China and with the Chinese themselves.

The main reason for the failure of this project, of course, is that for the vast majority of customers, the fundamental criterion when choosing a product is its price (for the Chinese, this means making a cheap product that can be sold more, for buyers, finding an offer cheaper than the average market price) . All other features pale in comparison. It is simply impossible to make a cheap and high-quality product, as I have already mentioned more than once.

The attitude of the Chinese to the products that they offer for production, and the attitude of purchasing managers to the products that they offer under their own brand, is best evidenced by the fact that in fact not a single OEM seller and representative of a local brand does not use his products in everyday life. Manufacturers of phones and tablets go with iPhones or flagship models on Android, manufacturers of accessories go to branded electronics stores for headphones and cables, and so on. Well, poorly developed products of quality B are put on the shelves for the low-income segments of the population, whose user experience almost no one thinks about.

At the moment, the Chinese and I have returned to a model of not partnership, but cooperation. There is no more talk about a joint business, we work separately, but we help each other if the need arises. The Chinese still do quality inspections for our products (not that they are required, but rather an element of intimidation for our well-known suppliers), we help them with certificates and legal issues in our regions. This interaction model is more familiar and logical.

What's next? Perhaps the readers of my story will think that I am disappointed in doing business with China, that I do not want to have anything to do with the Chinese and that I will look for another occupation for myself. I was really disappointed, I lost time, but I made valuable conclusions that I share with all of you as part of this story. Perhaps this will save you time and money that my company lost.

Cooperation with the Chinese is both a job and a favorite thing to which it is pleasant to return, regardless of all its specifics, so I will not stop doing this. I will say more - I WANT to continue this activity, overcome difficulties, engage in "training" suppliers, successfully complete projects and produce good products under my own brand (and under the brand of those brands / retail chains with which we work), develop new models and interesting solutions .

Not so long ago, our Chinese partners asked us to help with the certification of products under their own brand in the territory of the Customs Union and even to deal with distribution. The project promises to be interesting. True, when the certification was completed, and our proposal was sent to distributors and retail chains, we almost immediately received an answer that other agents offer the same models at a more attractive price. In response to our indignant claims, the Chinese replied that “their friend” is really involved in the sale, but they do not mind if we do this too, and the fact that a friend has already filled up all prices below a reasonable minimum is nothing more than technical overlay. And a friend has already made a website, the information and instructions for which were clearly translated by the Chinese, who study Russian at the university, and the partner categorically does not understand why we do not want to send a link to anyone for review.

For our brand, we again have a delay due to the fact that last year's software was loaded into a new batch of devices (after three notifications and confirmations by the Chinese side that they understood everything), and we think where it is easier to change it - in China (having delayed shipment) or already in Europe.

Another batch of goods is flying on a pallet in a cargo plane without the necessary markings. The supplier forgot to put the necessary signs, and the carrier sent the cargo without our agreement, as he really wanted to catch the flight. Let's hope that the cargo will not be delayed, but, one way or another, the logisticians will have a lot of work.

I'm not very willing to wait for new photos from the supplier, as I was informed in advance that the plastic was ordered from a new manufacturer and, despite the most complete information on the pantone, the shade turned out to be slightly different, but "almost the same".

We will definitely not be bored. As part of our work with China, we are ready for almost any difficulties and surprises. What they will be is also beyond doubt. We can constantly work on ourselves, honing our skills and professionalism, but as for the Chinese, it is more likely that they will change us than we will change them. The reasons for the Chinese attitude to doing business, production, and problems in the “vicious circle” format lie outside the framework of our logic and decision-making system. Therefore, all possible answers about the absurd actions of manufacturers from the Middle Kingdom, the failure to meet deadlines and marriage, which might not have happened, fit into a capacious phrase that does not require translation - This is China.

The table of contents of the future book looks like this:

Content

  • Intro
  • First visit to China (the one that changed me and my life forever)
  • 1. How B-brands work, or modern OEM business.
  • 2. The myth that China is a country where everything is incredibly cheap.
  • 3. Visit to a Chinese factory.
  • 3A* Andy, aka Vivian, or the Chinese we work with.
  • 5. The worst sales team in the world is Chinese.
  • 6. Not a step to the right, not a step to the left, but still not going there - a project with a Chinese supplier.
  • 7. A contract is like a coaster for a cup, or how relationships with the Chinese are built.
  • 8. Chinese routine.
  • 9. ... and the factory will stand, or Chinese holidays.
  • 10. b instead of s - not so big difference, or a collection of real Chinese suppliers.
  • 11. In China Everything is Possible.
  • 12. Two years of head against the wall, or my joint venture with the Chinese (instead of imprisonment).
  • Supplement - utilities, programs and services that will be useful to you in working with China

* - the number four in China is considered unlucky, as it is consonant with the word "death". In ordinary life, the Chinese try not to use it and avoid it. As part of this story, I decided to go the traditional Chinese way.

Chapter 12 from the book “Chinese - instructions for use” - Chinese adventures and short conclusions about working with this country

Today our guest is Alexey Ryazantsev, product manager of the mobile electronics category. He kindly provided chapters from his book on working with China and Chinese suppliers. The working title of the book is "The Chinese - a guide to application." I liked both the style and the saturation of the book with information; if it had appeared twenty years ago, when I had just started working with China, many mistakes and disappointments could have been avoided. But this book is more relevant than ever today, so I suggest you read separate chapters. This is a book from a practitioner, not a theorist, and this is its special value. If there are those among you who are ready to contribute to the release of the book, then write to Alexei directly, as well as send him feedback, his coordinates are at the end of the material.

12. Two years of head against the wall, or my joint venture with the Chinese (instead of imprisonment)

… My path in private business began with the fact that my Chinese "friend" disappeared with all the money that was sent to him to set up a business, pay for participation in exhibitions and other organizational issues. The office in Shenzhen, too, as it turned out, was not rented, the process of registering a company was not launched, and no one was involved in attracting staff for part-time work.

Before this event, I knew this man for three years, visited his house, knew his wife, was aware of the birth of a child (who in infancy lived with his wife, grandparents in his home province in Harbin (as is often the case in China ).We always exchanged gifts and souvenirs.When difficult issues arose in cooperation with other suppliers, he helped in negotiations, and it was thanks to this quality that we decided to involve him in a joint partnership.

Besides me, self-called Jack robbed my (at that time already former) employer a little, not supplying spare parts for a decent (in terms of the average person's income) amount. This loss had almost no effect on the income side of my employer, and only my own image was spoiled by this trouble. A year later, when the owner of AM and I were having lunch in Barcelona (where tens of thousands of people come to the annual congress of mobile technologies), he dropped the phrase during the dialogue: “Well, renting real estate brings me some million dollars, and so what? ! After that, I finally took root in the idea that the company was doing well, and AM behaved quite friendly towards me. We saw each other more than once and didn’t remember the situation anymore.

We did not return the money, because the person disappeared with the money in China, and the transfer was made to a Hong Kong company. Lawyers, having looked at the documents, said that they did not advise us to spend money on a losing business, since the invoices were sent to us, and it is very difficult to prove the fact of non-provision of services (for which we fully paid in advance). Moreover, the fact of providing services again fell under Chinese jurisdiction.

Collectors who are engaged in the official search for debtors and fugitives (which is relevant for modern China), eventually found a comrade, but said that they could extort money only by a court decision of Hong Kong or China. The amount that had sunk into oblivion turned out to be not very interesting for the bandits, and almost no one recommended me to contact the latter, since there is no guarantee and reliability.

This was the beginning, and with the continuation of the adventure continued.

The most important partnership agreement we signed in Hong Kong after one of the intense days at the Globalsources exhibition, where we exhibited for the first time as an international team. Jack was not the only person I trusted and did business with. There were other partners whose interest in international business was not fake.

We saw business development as follows: a team in Europe and a Russian office are engaged in our traditional business of creating and developing our own brand. The goal of the first year of work was to make at least one of the divisions self-sufficient.

As for the partnership with the Chinese side, we planned to develop and improve their OEM business, develop it in different regions, bringing it to a new level of support and quality. We planned to increase the customer base and order volume for each of the existing brands. I knew the sphere and all the significant mistakes of the Chinese perfectly, so we understood what we had to work with.

The Chinese side, in turn, provided us with services to check the quality of devices under our brand, advised us on the real cost of components and represented our interests at those meetings in China that we could not attend. We also planned to provide consulting services to Chinese manufacturing firms on the development of design and software (which the Chinese themselves do very badly). We also considered the prospect of moving employees to China, but proceeded from the principle of economic expediency (at that particular moment it could have been done without).

A positive result of this cooperation was that we actually successfully implemented several OEM projects in different regions with both existing and fundamentally new customers (some of which became regular customers). We have opened new markets and worked out an effective interaction scheme.

And a different result (which I don’t want to call negative, but it doesn’t fall under the criterion of “positive” either) was that a little more than a year later we left the OEM business, leaving all the developments and the base to the Chinese side, the latter deals with them to the best of its Chinese capabilities.

Long-term and effective cooperation did not work out just for the reasons, most of which are set out in this story. Now you look at all your actions in a completely different and much more critical way, but at that time we still had to put bricks and cobblestones into the baggage of our own knowledge and sift the soil, trying to extract useful (profitable) minerals from it.

One of the most important reasons for our incompatibility can be found in chapter 2 (The myth that China is a country where everything is incredibly cheap). More precisely, this is the third factor that determines the low cost of Chinese goods, namely, the willingness to work with minimal profit. For the Chinese, there was nothing unusual in the scheme of shifting an actually equivalent amount from one pocket to another, but it was completely incomprehensible to us.

When we asked them after the start of the partnership to reveal the cost of the goods, providing the most detailed information on the cost of each component (it was sent, but all the files were in Chinese), we were somewhat surprised that the income from OEM activities was really very small ! Basically, it fluctuated at the level of 4-5% on the device, but often the Chinese were ready to work with minimal profit or no profit at all in order to get themselves a promising client. A prospective client in such cases usually sat on his neck, legs dangling, and did not get off from there until he found an even better offer.

For the new base, which we planned to develop and develop, other criteria were set: at least 10% of income from one device (or at least $0.5 in monetary terms, if the value of 10% does not fit). Only such profitability (in our opinion) made it possible to maintain the existence of the company and ensure the minimum necessary profit. We, of course, logically included in the planned income the labor costs of our team, depreciation of equipment, the cost of international courier shipments and other overhead costs. But in the eyes of the Chinese, this was a mistake. “If calculate like that, not possible to see profit, brother!” (“If you count in this way, you can’t see the income, brother!”) - told me the “great economist” Louis, who in his proposals did not take into account either staff salaries or office rent, but only knew what needed to be sold as much as possible (albeit without profit, but not in the negative).

We adhered to the point of view of "less is better" and that it is not worth wasting time on those customers that Louis himself called shit-customer, but with whom he did not stop cooperation. We, of course, were ready to work "to zero", but only if we saw a prospect in this, and did not receive another insolent client in the portfolio. That is why we did not fall for blackmail with demands to reduce the price, we always had arguments why the client should be satisfied with the offer, and ignored those with whom cooperation was initially seen as doubtful. We also tried to keep track of retail prices for our customer's products in his region, often we could perfectly see how much he earns and whether he really needs a “more interesting price offer”. In the vast majority of cases, the client pushed the discount because of his own greed, so we didn’t fall for it, and the customer often raged.

Even when developing the product and including it in the catalog, we understood that the product was quite competitive, we monitored the competitors' offers and made adjustments if necessary. Moreover, we prepared devices with better software than others offered. Therefore, a similar (or slightly higher) cost (in our opinion) was fully justified.

But most of the customers did not agree with this point of view, and they were tacitly supported by our Chinese division, which carried out its price manipulations behind our backs. For the client, our interaction scheme was as transparent as possible: they knew about the manufacturer in China, and that we are official representatives for sales and project management. Sales Degree 5 Pack Anti Yellow Stains, Anti White Mark went through a company in Hong Kong. When we handed over a client to the Chinese sales department, the client, despite the agreements reached, again raised the issue of price reduction and almost always received a positive decision, even if we tried to prevent it.

What was the point of reducing the total profit that we shared 50/50, I understand from my experience, but I still refuse to accept it! A lot of invoices were redone at the last moment, or without even notifying us of the progress of the transaction. We were “forgotten” to put in a copy of the correspondence on new projects or were generally notified of new orders after the fact. The Chinese listened to our arguments that the current price offer for the client is more than acceptable, looked at the data with price monitoring, charts and calculations, and ... always acted in their own way.

During one of the deals, our partner dropped the price of a product by $2, thus depriving us of several tens of thousands of dollars of income simply because it was “normal” for him to earn less. He said that he had read all our research and saw that the discount was not mandatory for the client. But all the same, he will give it, because the client asks, and we already earn more than he usually earns. It is even strange that we were able to sell the goods so profitably.

In some OEM projects, we did not receive a profit, in some we did not ask for our share, since there was not much to ask for. Conversations, regular calls, correspondence and even personal meetings did not change the situation. The Chinese continued to work as usual.

After another situation, when after the end of the project there was nothing much to share, we conferred and began to curtail the OEM direction. We decided to process only incoming requests and offer only those products that our partner has in stock. We still offer it, and if there is an interest, we transfer the client to the Chinese sales department. What happens next, we are not particularly interested (usually - nothing) and do not ask for commissions for the introduction. Still, a significant income is not expected there.

Another factor hindering the normal development of the OEM business was that purchasing managers ... were strained by the Europeans. The presence of people with good English, who understood the tasks at first glance, seemed strange to many customers, and they immediately began to think that something was wrong here. They had suspicions that the cost was too high (although it was not such, it was enough to compare), that we were a reseller (they responded poorly to calls to visit the production), that there is something strange in our activities, even if it is difficult to formulate.< /p>

A little later, I read about this feature of perception in a good book “The Power of Habit. Why do we live and work this way and not otherwise? If we briefly summarize the content of one of its chapters, then working “as before, as always” (that is, in this case, with the Chinese) was precisely “more familiar” for most clients. Everyone knew about the upcoming problems of such cooperation, about the difficulties in setting goals and communication, but almost everyone was mentally prepared for this. Working with the Chinese is sometimes difficult and tiring, and these Europeans ... who knows what they will do.

A little later, I learned that almost all foreign account managers working for Chinese OEMs (especially if this person speaks the same language as you) are treated negatively. These people are not trusted, they are doing worse, and there is a chance to stay for a long time only if this person has brought his friends to the supplier and lives on a percentage of their orders. The letters of these people are often ignored, and when asked to communicate, they are asked to give the contact of their Chinese boss. It is difficult to find another explanation, except as a habit, for this situation.

We got out of the situation creatively - our team, which conducted OEM deals, began to introduce itself as Chinese. Fortunately, the awareness of the undesirability of Europeans in the OEM business came quickly enough. The specialists responsible for the transactions set up mailboxes on the domain of the Chinese partner or QQ, registered a separate account in instant messengers and started working. How many buyers see their Chinese partners with their own eyes? Yes, almost no one! So we just continued the experience of "phone sex", in which the interlocutor always hears a pleasant voice, but never knows who is really talking to him.

At the moment, “when we became Chinese”, I felt that customers communicate with this category of sellers more frivolously and even boorishly. Potential customers themselves did not shine with knowledge of the English language, communicating rather primitively, with an abundance of such blunders as “thank you so match!” & "let me now". Particularly distinguished clients began to flirt with their virtual sales managers, invited to dinner (at our expense) when they were in China, and openly hinted that they would like to spend more time together in an informal atmosphere. At the same time, they did not even see photos of these same girls - faceless silhouettes or cats stood on the avatars.

Once I replaced an employee of my department, who, in addition to her main duties, moonlights as a Chinese sales manager Lee Xi Ya. Since just at that very moment the client actually asked me for a date and most of the dialogue demanded to send a personal photo. But since in China sending a photo means almost the beginning of a personal relationship, Xi Ya referred to the fact that she is a decent girl and that sending a photo is possible only after a personal meeting. Fortunately, the meeting never happened. Although my friends ironically suggested that I come to that very date and look at the face of the bawdy man after he finds out the whole truth.

It should be noted that since the "Chinese" began to work in our team instead of Europeans, the tension has largely subsided, communication has improved, and our presentations, in which nothing has changed at all, have become more eagerly watched. Unfortunately, this had almost no effect on the income component.

Whether by force of habit or by the realization that they are not in the business of selling quality products, clients did not pay much attention to either the absence of problems within the framework of the project, or the quality with which it was implemented. The terms were more or less like the standard ones. Only if during a standard project with the Chinese a lousy product was being prepared during this time, then with us it was possible to make a better product in the same period. However, this was not an advantage for the client. The client still wanted faster and cheaper, albeit with traditional Chinese shortcomings.

The client also did not pay attention to a small number of problems (or lack of them) in the preparation of the product. Apparently, problems from other orders blocked everything else. And indeed, when you are constantly working in a madhouse mode, something normal does not seem to be something out of your usual routine.

It should be noted that our decisions, expertise and proposed improvements to finalize the product often remained unanswered or were not agreed upon, even if this did not affect the project timeline in any way. The customer was not concerned about the use of better materials, more energy-efficient analogues, he was indifferent to the well-developed and intuitive interface of the device. He paid much more attention to the issues of the ability to bring down the price before shipment itself and his personal motivation (and he also refused to trace the relationship between the first and second).

Despite the fact that we tried on the "Chinese skin" for ourselves, we did not want to finally accept the fate of the Chinese and stamp standard products of low quality. Moreover, the material prospect of this activity would hardly cover the internal discontent and resistance.

Of course, not all clients were like this. There were also representatives of those brands that put forward such requirements for quality and customization that we either could not meet or met with difficulty. We ourselves adopted a number of these requirements and standards when preparing our own devices. But these clients were the exception. Most of the B-brands wanted a C-quality product at a D-price, and "the best price" remained a fundamental factor when choosing a supplier.

The third type of proposed activity - consulting for Chinese firms - was even less successful than the attempt to engage in OEM. According to our plan, we were supposed to consult Chinese developers in the field of device design, following the latest trends (rather than just copying and modifying models of famous brands). We also provided advice in the field of device interface development, which was simply terrible for 90% of Chinese products.

When talking about the number of implemented projects in terms of design development, it would be better to remain silent. But since I promised myself and my readers that this essay would be as honest as possible, I will say that we never launched a single project and did not bring it to perfection.

The brain of the Chinese boss is arranged according to the principle “I know better”, therefore, the Chinese OEM products are copies of the developments of Western companies or clones of designs peeped from competitors. They were interested in my idea and samples of devices created by me and even asked for advice when developing new cases. But they refused to pay for this work. In return, they offered me to order the very device that I would create for them, since everyone understands that it turns out to be good and interesting. The fact that the design was then offered to the rest of the client base was somehow omitted. The Chinese stopped asking for advice just at the moment when the free consultations on my part ended.

For ourselves and for our own money, we could conduct any kind of experiments, but when developing an OEM device that was planned to be sold in different regions, the Chinese trusted only their own taste and what they considered expertise. Considerable investments were made in the development of the device: the design of the board cost several tens of thousands of dollars, and 3D modeling of the case, followed by casting and modifications, cost no less. These investments had to be returned, and it is clear that not every development was successful. But, even with a portfolio of dozens of original and "spy" designs, the Chinese refused to experiment with us. Sometimes they sent the upcoming models for a free examination, listened to our opinion and disappeared, most often remaining indifferent to our opinion (even if it turned out later that it was true).

As for the quality of software preparation and interface creation, despite the fact that these are different types of activities, they had a similar fate - these activities were also completed without really starting. The Chinese listened to information about the capabilities of our programmers and designers, looked at the work that we did as part of our own projects, more than once showed enthusiasm for obvious improvements, and ... that was it. They bought their products anyway, but they did not see any advantages in the stable operation of a device with a more understandable shell.

Projects that involve detailed preparation of software and interface were held with customers in Eastern and Central Europe, in the CIS (as part of the presentation of our company, I talk about some of them with pride, and some are closed for disclosure by the terms of contracts), but never in China and with the Chinese themselves.

The main reason for the failure of this project, of course, is that for the vast majority of customers, the fundamental criterion when choosing a product is its price (for the Chinese, this means making a cheap product that can be sold more, for buyers, finding an offer cheaper than the average market price) . All other features pale in comparison. It is simply impossible to make a cheap and high-quality product, as I have already mentioned more than once.

The attitude of the Chinese to the products that they offer for production, and the attitude of purchasing managers to the products that they offer under their own brand, is best evidenced by the fact that in fact not a single OEM seller and representative of a local brand does not use his products in everyday life. Manufacturers of phones and tablets go with iPhones or flagship models on Android, manufacturers of accessories go to branded electronics stores for headphones and cables, and so on. Well, poorly developed products of quality B are put on the shelves for the low-income segments of the population, whose user experience almost no one thinks about.

At the moment, the Chinese and I have returned to a model of not partnership, but cooperation. There is no more talk about a joint business, we work separately, but we help each other if the need arises. The Chinese still do quality inspections for our products (not that they are required, but rather an element of intimidation for our well-known suppliers), we help them with certificates and legal issues in our regions. This interaction model is more familiar and logical.

What's next? Perhaps the readers of my story will think that I am disappointed in doing business with China, that I do not want to have anything to do with the Chinese and that I will look for another occupation for myself. I was really disappointed, I lost time, but I made valuable conclusions that I share with all of you as part of this story. Perhaps this will save you time and money that my company lost.

Cooperation with the Chinese is both a job and a favorite thing to which it is pleasant to return, regardless of all its specifics, so I will not stop doing this. I will say more - I WANT to continue this activity, overcome difficulties, engage in "training" suppliers, successfully complete projects and produce good products under my own brand (and under the brand of those brands / retail chains with which we work), develop new models and interesting solutions .

Not so long ago, our Chinese partners asked us to help with the certification of products under their own brand in the territory of the Customs Union and even to deal with distribution. The project promises to be interesting. True, when the certification was completed, and our proposal was sent to distributors and retail chains, we almost immediately received an answer that other agents offer the same models at a more attractive price. In response to our indignant claims, the Chinese replied that “their friend” is really involved in the sale, but they do not mind if we do this, and the fact that a friend has already filled up all prices below a reasonable minimum is nothing more than technical overlay. And a friend has already made a website, the information and instructions for which were clearly translated by the Chinese, who study Russian at the university, and the partner categorically does not understand why we do not want to send a link to anyone for review.

For our brand, we again have a delay due to the fact that last year's software was loaded into a new batch of devices (after three notifications and confirmations by the Chinese side that they understood everything), and we think where it is easier to change it - in China (having delayed shipment) or already in Europe.

Another batch of goods is flying on a pallet in a cargo plane without the necessary markings. The supplier forgot to put the necessary signs, and the carrier sent the cargo without our agreement, as he really wanted to catch the flight. Let's hope that the cargo will not be delayed, but, one way or another, the logisticians will have a lot of work.

I'm not very willing to wait for new photos from the supplier, as I was informed in advance that the plastic was ordered from a new manufacturer and, despite the most complete information on the pantone, the shade turned out to be slightly different, but "almost the same".

We will definitely not be bored. As part of our work with China, we are ready for almost any difficulties and surprises. What they will be is also beyond doubt. We can constantly work on ourselves, honing our skills and professionalism, but as for the Chinese, it is more likely that they will change us than we will change them. The reasons for the Chinese attitude to doing business, production, and problems in the “vicious circle” format lie outside the framework of our logic and decision-making system. Therefore, all possible answers about the absurd actions of manufacturers from the Middle Kingdom, the failure to meet deadlines and marriage, which might not have happened, fit into a capacious phrase that does not require translation - This is China.

The table of contents of the future book looks like this:

Content

  • Intro
  • First visit to China (the one that changed me and my life forever)
  • 1. How B-brands work, or modern OEM business.
  • 2. The myth that China is a country where everything is incredibly cheap.
  • 3. Visit to a Chinese factory.
  • 3A* Andy, aka Vivian, or the Chinese we work with.
  • 5. The worst sales team in the world is Chinese.
  • 6. Not a step to the right, not a step to the left, but still not going there - a project with a Chinese supplier.
  • 7. A contract is like a coaster for a cup, or how relationships with the Chinese are built.
  • 8. Chinese routine.
  • 9. ... and the factory will stand, or Chinese holidays.
  • 10. b instead of s - not so big difference, or a collection of real Chinese suppliers.
  • 11. In China Everything is Possible.
  • 12. Two years of head against the wall, or my joint venture with the Chinese (instead of imprisonment).
  • Supplement - utilities, programs and services that will be useful to you in working with China

* - the number four in China is considered unlucky, as it is consonant with the word "death". In ordinary life, the Chinese try not to use it and avoid it. As part of this story, I decided to go the traditional Chinese way.

Chapter 12 from the book “Chinese - instructions for use” - Chinese adventures and short conclusions about working with this country

Today our guest is Alexey Ryazantsev, product manager of the mobile electronics category. He kindly provided chapters from his book on working with China and Chinese suppliers. The working title of the book is "The Chinese - a guide to application." I liked both the style and the saturation of the book with information; if it had appeared twenty years ago, when I had just started working with China, many mistakes and disappointments could have been avoided. But this book is more relevant than ever today, so I suggest you read separate chapters. This is a book from a practitioner, not a theorist, and this is its special value. If there are those among you who are ready to contribute to the release of the book, then write to Alexei directly, as well as send him feedback, his coordinates are at the end of the material.

12. Two years of head against the wall, or my joint venture with the Chinese (instead of imprisonment)

… My path in private business began with the fact that my Chinese "friend" disappeared with all the money that was sent to him to set up a business, pay for participation in exhibitions and other organizational issues. The office in Shenzhen, too, as it turned out, was not rented, the process of registering a company was not launched, and no one was involved in attracting staff for part-time work.

Before this event, I knew this man for three years, visited his house, knew his wife, was aware of the birth of a child (who in infancy lived with his wife, grandparents in his home province in Harbin (as is often the case in China ).We always exchanged gifts and souvenirs.When difficult issues arose in cooperation with other suppliers, he helped in negotiations, and it was thanks to this quality that we decided to involve him in a joint partnership.

Besides me, self-called Jack robbed my (at that time already former) employer a little, not supplying spare parts for a decent (in terms of the average person's income) amount. This loss had almost no effect on the income side of my employer, and only my own image was spoiled by this trouble. A year later, when the owner of AM and I were having lunch in Barcelona (where tens of thousands of people come to the annual congress of mobile technologies), he dropped the phrase during the dialogue: “Well, renting real estate brings me some million dollars, and so what? ! After that, I finally took root in the idea that the company was doing well, and AM behaved quite friendly towards me. We saw each other more than once and didn’t remember the situation anymore.

We did not return the money, because the person disappeared with the money in China, and the transfer was made to a Hong Kong company. Lawyers, having looked at the documents, said that they did not advise us to spend money on a losing business, since the invoices were sent to us, and it is very difficult to prove the fact of non-provision of services (for which we fully paid in advance). Moreover, the fact of providing services again fell under Chinese jurisdiction.

Collectors who are engaged in the official search for debtors and fugitives (which is relevant for modern China), eventually found a comrade, but said that they could extort money only by a court decision of Hong Kong or China. The amount that had sunk into oblivion turned out to be not very interesting for the bandits, and almost no one recommended me to contact the latter, since there is no guarantee and reliability.

This was the beginning, and with the continuation of the adventure continued.

The most important partnership agreement we signed in Hong Kong after one of the intense days at the Globalsources exhibition, where we exhibited for the first time as an international team. Jack was not the only person I trusted and did business with. There were other partners whose interest in international business was not fake.

We saw business development as follows: a team in Europe and a Russian office are engaged in our traditional business of creating and developing our own brand. The goal of the first year of work was to make at least one of the divisions self-sufficient.

As for the partnership with the Chinese side, we planned to develop and improve their OEM business, develop it in different regions, bringing it to a new level of support and quality. We planned to increase the customer base and order volume for each of the existing brands. I knew the sphere and all the significant mistakes of the Chinese perfectly, so we understood what we had to work with.

The Chinese side, in turn, provided us with services to check the quality of devices under our brand, advised us on the real cost of components and represented our interests at those meetings in China that we could not attend. We also planned to provide consulting services to Chinese manufacturing firms on the development of design and software (which the Chinese themselves do very badly). We also considered the prospect of moving employees to China, but proceeded from the principle of economic expediency (at that particular moment it could have been done without).

A positive result of this cooperation was that we actually successfully implemented several OEM projects in different regions with both existing and fundamentally new customers (some of which became regular customers). We have opened new markets and worked out an effective interaction scheme.

And a different result (which I don’t want to call negative, but it doesn’t fall under the criterion of “positive” either) was that a little more than a year later we left the OEM business, leaving all the developments and the base to the Chinese side, the latter deals with them to the best of its Chinese capabilities.

Long-term and effective cooperation did not work out just for the reasons, most of which are set out in this story. Now you look at all your actions in a completely different and much more critical way, but at that time we still had to put bricks and cobblestones into the baggage of our own knowledge and sift the soil, trying to extract useful (profitable) minerals from it.

One of the most important reasons for our incompatibility can be found in chapter 2 (The myth that China is a country where everything is incredibly cheap). More precisely, this is the third factor that determines the low cost of Chinese goods, namely, the willingness to work with minimal profit. For the Chinese, there was nothing unusual in the scheme of shifting an actually equivalent amount from one pocket to another, but it was completely incomprehensible to us.

When we asked them after the start of the partnership to reveal the cost of the goods, providing the most detailed information on the cost of each component (it was sent, but all the files were in Chinese), we were somewhat surprised that the income from OEM activities was really very small ! Basically, it fluctuated at the level of 4-5% on the device, but often the Chinese were ready to work with minimal profit or no profit at all in order to get themselves a promising client. A prospective client in such cases usually sat on his neck, legs dangling, and did not get off from there until he found an even better offer.

For the new base, which we planned to develop and develop, other criteria were set: at least 10% of income from one device (or at least $0.5 in monetary terms, if the value of 10% does not fit). Only such profitability (in our opinion) made it possible to maintain the existence of the company and ensure the minimum necessary profit. We, of course, logically included in the planned income the labor costs of our team, depreciation of equipment, the cost of international courier shipments and other overhead costs. But in the eyes of the Chinese, this was a mistake. “If calculate like that, not possible to see profit, brother!” (“If you count in this way, you can’t see the income, brother!”) - told me the “great economist” Louis, who in his proposals did not take into account either staff salaries or office rent, but only knew what needed to be sold as much as possible (albeit without profit, but not in the negative).

We adhered to the point of view of "less is better" and that it is not worth wasting time on those customers that Louis himself called shit-customer, but with whom he did not stop cooperation. We, of course, were ready to work "to zero", but only if we saw a prospect in this, and did not receive another insolent client in the portfolio. That is why we did not fall for blackmail with demands to reduce the price, we always had arguments why the client should be satisfied with the offer, and ignored those with whom cooperation was initially seen as doubtful. We also tried to keep track of retail prices for our customer's products in his region, often we could perfectly see how much he earns and whether he really needs a “more interesting price offer”. In the vast majority of cases, the client pushed the discount because of his own greed, so we didn’t fall for it, and the customer often raged.

Even when developing the product and including it in the catalog, we understood that the product was quite competitive, we monitored the competitors' offers and made adjustments if necessary. Moreover, we prepared devices with better software than others offered. Therefore, a similar (or slightly higher) cost (in our opinion) was fully justified.

But most of the customers did not agree with this point of view, and they were tacitly supported by our Chinese division, which carried out its price manipulations behind our backs. For the client, our interaction scheme was as transparent as possible: they knew about the manufacturer in China, and that we are official representatives for sales and project management. Sales Degree 5 Pack Anti Yellow Stains, Anti White Mark went through a company in Hong Kong. When we handed over a client to the Chinese sales department, the client, despite the agreements reached, again raised the issue of price reduction and almost always received a positive decision, even if we tried to prevent it.

What was the point of reducing the total profit that we shared 50/50, I understand from my experience, but I still refuse to accept it! A lot of invoices were redone at the last moment, or without even notifying us of the progress of the transaction. We were “forgotten” to put in a copy of the correspondence on new projects or were generally notified of new orders after the fact. The Chinese listened to our arguments that the current price offer for the client is more than acceptable, looked at the data with price monitoring, charts and calculations, and ... always acted in their own way.

During one of the deals, our partner dropped the price of a product by $2, thus depriving us of several tens of thousands of dollars of income simply because it was “normal” for him to earn less. He said that he had read all our research and saw that the discount was not mandatory for the client. But all the same, he will give it, because the client asks, and we already earn more than he usually earns. It is even strange that we were able to sell the goods so profitably.

In some OEM projects, we did not receive a profit, in some we did not ask for our share, since there was not much to ask for. Conversations, regular calls, correspondence and even personal meetings did not change the situation. The Chinese continued to work as usual.

After another situation, when after the end of the project there was nothing much to share, we conferred and began to curtail the OEM direction. We decided to process only incoming requests and offer only those products that our partner has in stock. We still offer it, and if there is an interest, we transfer the client to the Chinese sales department. What happens next, we are not particularly interested (usually - nothing) and do not ask for commissions for the introduction. Still, a significant income is not expected there.

Another factor hindering the normal development of the OEM business was that purchasing managers ... were strained by the Europeans. The presence of people with good English, who understood the tasks at first glance, seemed strange to many customers, and they immediately began to think that something was wrong here. They had suspicions that the cost was too high (although it was not such, it was enough to compare), that we are a reseller (they responded poorly to calls to visit the production), that there is something strange in our activities, even if it is difficult to formulate.< /p>

A little later, I read about this feature of perception in a good book “The Power of Habit. Why do we live and work this way and not otherwise? If we briefly summarize the content of one of its chapters, then working “as before, as always” (that is, in this case, with the Chinese) was precisely “more familiar” for most clients. Everyone knew about the upcoming problems of such cooperation, about the difficulties in setting goals and communication, but almost everyone was mentally prepared for this. Working with the Chinese is sometimes difficult and tiring, and these Europeans ... who knows what they will do.

A little later, I learned that almost all foreign account managers working for Chinese OEMs (especially if this person speaks the same language as you) are treated negatively. These people are not trusted, they are doing worse, and there is a chance to stay for a long time only if this person has brought his friends to the supplier and lives on a percentage of their orders. The letters of these people are often ignored, and when asked to communicate, they are asked to give the contact of their Chinese boss. It is difficult to find another explanation, except as a habit, for this situation.

We got out of the situation creatively - our team, which conducted OEM deals, began to introduce itself as Chinese. Fortunately, the awareness of the undesirability of Europeans in the OEM business came quickly enough. The specialists responsible for the transactions set up mailboxes on the domain of the Chinese partner or QQ, registered a separate account in instant messengers and started working. How many buyers see their Chinese partners with their own eyes? Yes, almost no one! So we just continued the experience of "phone sex", in which the interlocutor always hears a pleasant voice, but never knows who is really talking to him.

At the moment, “when we became Chinese”, I felt that customers communicate with this category of sellers more frivolously and even boorishly. Potential customers themselves did not shine with knowledge of the English language, communicating rather primitively, with an abundance of such blunders as “thank you so match!” & "let me now". Particularly distinguished clients began to flirt with their virtual sales managers, invited to dinner (at our expense) when they were in China, and openly hinted that they would like to spend more time together in an informal atmosphere. At the same time, they did not even see photos of these same girls - faceless silhouettes or cats stood on the avatars.

Once I replaced an employee of my department, who, in addition to her main duties, moonlights as a Chinese sales manager Lee Xi Ya. Since just at that very moment the client actually asked me for a date and most of the dialogue demanded to send a personal photo. But since in China sending a photo means almost the beginning of a personal relationship, Xi Ya referred to the fact that she is a decent girl and that sending a photo is possible only after a personal meeting. Fortunately, the meeting never happened. Although my friends ironically suggested that I come to that very date and look at the face of the bawdy man after he finds out the whole truth.

It should be noted that since the "Chinese" began to work in our team instead of Europeans, the tension has largely subsided, communication has improved, and our presentations, in which nothing has changed at all, have become more eagerly watched. Unfortunately, this had almost no effect on the income component.

Whether by force of habit or by the realization that they are not in the business of selling quality products, clients did not pay much attention to either the absence of problems within the framework of the project, or the quality with which it was implemented. The terms were more or less like the standard ones. Only if during a standard project with the Chinese a lousy product was being prepared during this time, then with us it was possible to make a better product in the same period. However, this was not an advantage for the client. The client still wanted faster and cheaper, albeit with traditional Chinese shortcomings.

The client also did not pay attention to a small number of problems (or lack of them) in the preparation of the product. Apparently, problems from other orders blocked everything else. And indeed, when you are constantly working in a madhouse mode, something normal does not seem to be something out of your usual routine.

It should be noted that our decisions, expertise and proposed improvements to finalize the product often remained unanswered or were not agreed upon, even if this did not affect the project timeline in any way. The customer was not worried about the use of better materials, more energy-efficient analogues, he was indifferent to the well-developed and intuitive interface of the device. He paid much more attention to the issues of the ability to bring down the price before shipment itself and his personal motivation (and he also refused to trace the relationship between the first and second).

Despite the fact that we tried on the "Chinese skin" for ourselves, we did not want to finally accept the fate of the Chinese and stamp standard products of low quality. Moreover, the material prospect of this activity would hardly cover the internal discontent and resistance.

Of course, not all clients were like this. There were also representatives of those brands that put forward such requirements for quality and customization that we either could not meet or met with difficulty. We ourselves adopted a number of these requirements and standards when preparing our own devices. But these clients were the exception. Most of the B-brands wanted a C-quality product at a D-price, and "the best price" remained a fundamental factor when choosing a supplier.

The third type of proposed activity - consulting for Chinese firms - was even less successful than the attempt to engage in OEM. According to our plan, we were supposed to consult Chinese developers in the field of device design, following the latest trends (rather than just copying and modifying models of famous brands). We also provided advice in the field of device interface development, which was simply terrible for 90% of Chinese products.

When talking about the number of implemented projects in terms of design development, it would be better to remain silent. But since I promised myself and my readers that this essay would be as honest as possible, I will say that we never launched a single project and did not bring it to perfection.

The brain of the Chinese boss is arranged according to the principle “I know better”, therefore, the Chinese OEM products are copies of the developments of Western companies or clones of designs peeped from competitors. They were interested in my idea and samples of devices created by me and even asked for advice when developing new cases. But they refused to pay for this work. In return, they offered me to order the very device that I would create for them, since everyone understands that it turns out to be good and interesting. The fact that the design was then offered to the rest of the client base was somehow omitted. The Chinese stopped asking for advice just at the moment when the free consultations on my part ended.

For ourselves and for our own money, we could conduct any kind of experiments, but when developing an OEM device that was planned to be sold in different regions, the Chinese trusted only their own taste and what they considered expertise. Considerable investments were made in the development of the device: the design of the board cost several tens of thousands of dollars, and 3D modeling of the case, followed by casting and modifications, cost no less. These investments had to be returned, and it is clear that not every development was successful. But, even with a portfolio of dozens of original and "spy" designs, the Chinese refused to experiment with us. Sometimes they sent the upcoming models for a free examination, listened to our opinion and disappeared, most often remaining indifferent to our opinion (even if it turned out later that it was true).

As for the quality of software preparation and interface creation, despite the fact that these are different types of activities, they had a similar fate - these activities were also completed without really starting. The Chinese listened to information about the capabilities of our programmers and designers, looked at the work that we did as part of our own projects, more than once showed enthusiasm for obvious improvements, and ... that was it. They bought their products anyway, but they did not see any advantages in the stable operation of a device with a more understandable shell.

Projects that involve detailed preparation of software and interface were held with customers in Eastern and Central Europe, in the CIS (as part of the presentation of our company, I talk about some of them with pride, and some are closed for disclosure by the terms of contracts), but never in China and with the Chinese themselves.

The main reason for the failure of this project, of course, is that for the vast majority of customers, the fundamental criterion when choosing a product is its price (for the Chinese, this means making a cheap product that can be sold more, for buyers, finding an offer cheaper than the average market price) . All other features pale in comparison. It is simply impossible to make a cheap and high-quality product, as I have already mentioned more than once.

The attitude of the Chinese to the products that they offer for production, and the attitude of purchasing managers to the products that they offer under their own brand, is best evidenced by the fact that in fact not a single OEM seller and representative of a local brand does not use his products in everyday life. Manufacturers of phones and tablets go with iPhones or flagship models on Android, manufacturers of accessories go to branded electronics stores for headphones and cables, and so on. Well, poorly developed products of quality B are put on the shelves for the low-income segments of the population, whose user experience almost no one thinks about.

At the moment, the Chinese and I have returned to a model of not partnership, but cooperation. There is no more talk about a joint business, we work separately, but we help each other if the need arises. The Chinese still do quality inspections for our products (not that they are required, but rather an element of intimidation for our well-known suppliers), we help them with certificates and legal issues in our regions. This interaction model is more familiar and logical.

What's next? Perhaps the readers of my story will think that I am disappointed in doing business with China, that I do not want to have anything to do with the Chinese and that I will look for another occupation for myself. I was really disappointed, I lost time, but I made valuable conclusions that I share with all of you as part of this story. Perhaps this will save you time and money that my company lost.

Cooperation with the Chinese is both a job and a favorite thing to which it is pleasant to return, regardless of all its specifics, so I will not stop doing this. I will say more - I WANT to continue this activity, overcome difficulties, engage in "training" suppliers, successfully complete projects and produce good products under my own brand (and under the brand of those brands / retail chains with which we work), develop new models and interesting solutions .

Not so long ago, our Chinese partners asked us to help with the certification of products under their own brand in the territory of the Customs Union and even to deal with distribution. The project promises to be interesting. True, when the certification was completed, and our proposal was sent to distributors and retail chains, we almost immediately received an answer that other agents offer the same models at a more attractive price. In response to our indignant claims, the Chinese replied that “their friend” is really involved in the sale, but they do not mind if we do this too, and the fact that a friend has already filled up all prices below a reasonable minimum is nothing more than technical overlay. And a friend has already made a website, the information and instructions for which were clearly translated by the Chinese, who study Russian at the university, and the partner categorically does not understand why we do not want to send a link to anyone for review.

For our brand, we again have a delay due to the fact that last year's software was loaded into a new batch of devices (after three notifications and confirmations by the Chinese side that they understood everything), and we think where it is easier to change it - in China (having delayed shipment) or already in Europe.

Another batch of goods is flying on a pallet in a cargo plane without the necessary markings. The supplier forgot to put the necessary signs, and the carrier sent the cargo without our agreement, as he really wanted to catch the flight. Let's hope that the cargo will not be delayed, but, one way or another, the logisticians will have a lot of work.

I'm not very willing to wait for new photos from the supplier, as I was informed in advance that the plastic was ordered from a new manufacturer and, despite the most complete information on the pantone, the shade turned out to be slightly different, but "almost the same".

We will definitely not be bored. As part of our work with China, we are ready for almost any difficulties and surprises. What they will be is also beyond doubt. We can constantly work on ourselves, honing our skills and professionalism, but as for the Chinese, it is more likely that they will change us than we will change them. The reasons for the Chinese attitude to doing business, production, and problems in the “vicious circle” format lie outside the framework of our logic and decision-making system. Therefore, all possible answers about the absurd actions of manufacturers from the Middle Kingdom, the failure to meet deadlines and marriage, which might not have happened, fit into a capacious phrase that does not require translation - This is China.

The table of contents of the future book looks like this:

Content

  • Intro
  • First visit to China (the one that changed me and my life forever)
  • 1. How B-brands work, or modern OEM business.
  • 2. The myth that China is a country where everything is incredibly cheap.
  • 3. Visit to a Chinese factory.
  • 3A* Andy, aka Vivian, or the Chinese we work with.
  • 5. The worst sales team in the world is Chinese.
  • 6. Not a step to the right, not a step to the left, but still not going there - a project with a Chinese supplier.
  • 7. A contract is like a coaster for a cup, or how relationships with the Chinese are built.
  • 8. Chinese routine.
  • 9. ... and the factory will stand, or Chinese holidays.
  • 10. b instead of s - not so big difference, or a collection of real Chinese suppliers.
  • 11. In China Everything is Possible.
  • 12. Two years of head against the wall, or my joint venture with the Chinese (instead of imprisonment).
  • Supplement - utilities, programs and services that will be useful to you in working with China

* - the number four in China is considered unlucky, as it is consonant with the word "death". In ordinary life, the Chinese try not to use it and avoid it. As part of this story, I decided to go the traditional Chinese way.

Chapter 12 from the book “The Chinese - instructions for use” - Chinese adventures and short conclusions about working with this country

Today our guest is Alexey Ryazantsev, product manager of the mobile electronics category. He kindly provided chapters from his book on working with China and Chinese suppliers. The working title of the book is "The Chinese - a guide to application." I liked both the style and the saturation of the book with information; if it had appeared twenty years ago, when I had just started working with China, many mistakes and disappointments could have been avoided. But this book is more relevant than ever today, so I suggest you read separate chapters. This is a book from a practitioner, not a theorist, and this is its special value. If there are those among you who are ready to contribute to the release of the book, then write to Alexei directly, as well as send him feedback, his coordinates are at the end of the material.

12. Two years of head against the wall, or my joint venture with the Chinese (instead of imprisonment)

… My path in private business began with the fact that my Chinese "friend" disappeared with all the money that was sent to him to set up a business, pay for participation in exhibitions and other organizational issues. The office in Shenzhen, too, as it turned out, was not rented, the process of registering a company was not launched, and no one was involved in attracting staff for part-time work.

Before this event, I knew this man for three years, visited his house, knew his wife, was aware of the birth of a child (who in infancy lived with his wife, grandparents in his home province in Harbin (as is often the case in China ).We always exchanged gifts and souvenirs.When difficult issues arose in cooperation with other suppliers, he helped in negotiations, and it was thanks to this quality that we decided to involve him in a joint partnership.

Besides me, self-called Jack robbed my (at that time already former) employer a little, not supplying spare parts for a decent (in terms of the average person's income) amount. This loss had almost no effect on the income side of my employer, and only my own image was spoiled by this trouble. A year later, when the owner of AM and I were having lunch in Barcelona (where tens of thousands of people come to the annual congress of mobile technologies), he dropped the phrase during the dialogue: “Well, renting real estate brings me some million dollars, and so what? ! After that, I finally took root in the idea that the company was doing well, and AM behaved quite friendly towards me. We saw each other more than once and didn’t remember the situation anymore.

We did not return the money, because the person disappeared with the money in China, and the transfer was made to a Hong Kong company. Lawyers, having looked at the documents, said that they did not advise us to spend money on a losing business, since the invoices were sent to us, and it is very difficult to prove the fact of non-provision of services (for which we fully paid in advance). Moreover, the fact of providing services again fell under Chinese jurisdiction.

Collectors who are engaged in the official search for debtors and fugitives (which is relevant for modern China), eventually found a comrade, but said that they could extort money only by a court decision of Hong Kong or China. The amount that had sunk into oblivion turned out to be not very interesting for the bandits, and almost no one recommended me to contact the latter, since there is no guarantee and reliability.

This was the beginning, and with the continuation of the adventure continued.

The most important partnership agreement we signed in Hong Kong after one of the intense days at the Globalsources exhibition, where we exhibited for the first time as an international team. Jack was not the only person I trusted and did business with. There were other partners whose interest in international business was not fake.

We saw business development as follows: a team in Europe and a Russian office are engaged in our traditional business of creating and developing our own brand. The goal of the first year of work was to make at least one of the divisions self-sufficient.

As for the partnership with the Chinese side, we planned to develop and improve their OEM business, develop it in different regions, bringing it to a new level of support and quality. We planned to increase the customer base and order volume for each of the existing brands. I knew the sphere and all the significant mistakes of the Chinese perfectly, so we understood what we had to work with.

The Chinese side, in turn, provided us with services to check the quality of devices under our brand, advised us on the real cost of components and represented our interests at those meetings in China that we could not attend. We also planned to provide consulting services to Chinese manufacturing firms on the development of design and software (which the Chinese themselves do very badly). We also considered the prospect of moving employees to China, but proceeded from the principle of economic expediency (at that particular moment it could have been done without).

A positive result of this cooperation was that we actually successfully implemented several OEM projects in different regions with both existing and fundamentally new customers (some of which became regular customers). We have opened new markets and worked out an effective interaction scheme.

And a different result (which I don’t want to call negative, but it doesn’t fall under the criterion of “positive” either) was that a little more than a year later we left the OEM business, leaving all the developments and the base to the Chinese side, the latter deals with them to the best of its Chinese capabilities.

Long-term and effective cooperation did not work out just for the reasons, most of which are set out in this story. Now you look at all your actions in a completely different and much more critical way, but at that time we still had to put bricks and cobblestones into the baggage of our own knowledge and sift the soil, trying to extract useful (profitable) minerals from it.

One of the most important reasons for our incompatibility can be found in chapter 2 (The myth that China is a country where everything is incredibly cheap). More precisely, this is the third factor that determines the low cost of Chinese goods, namely, the willingness to work with minimal profit. For the Chinese, there was nothing unusual in the scheme of shifting an actually equivalent amount from one pocket to another, but it was completely incomprehensible to us.

When we asked them after the start of the partnership to reveal the cost of the goods, providing the most detailed information on the cost of each component (it was sent, but all the files were in Chinese), we were somewhat surprised that the income from OEM activities was really very small ! Basically, it fluctuated at the level of 4-5% on the device, but often the Chinese were ready to work with minimal profit or no profit at all in order to get themselves a promising client. A prospective client in such cases usually sat on his neck, legs dangling, and did not get off from there until he found an even better offer.

For the new base, which we planned to develop and develop, other criteria were set: at least 10% of income from one device (or at least $0.5 in monetary terms, if the value of 10% does not fit). Only such profitability (in our opinion) made it possible to maintain the existence of the company and ensure the minimum necessary profit. We, of course, logically included in the planned income the labor costs of our team, depreciation of equipment, the cost of international courier shipments and other overhead costs. But in the eyes of the Chinese, this was a mistake. “If calculate like that, not possible to see profit, brother!” (“If you count in this way, you can’t see the income, brother!”) - told me the “great economist” Louis, who in his proposals did not take into account either staff salaries or office rent, but only knew what needed to be sold as much as possible (albeit without profit, but not in the negative).

We adhered to the point of view of "less is better" and that it is not worth wasting time on those customers that Louis himself called shit-customer, but with whom he did not stop cooperation. We, of course, were ready to work "to zero", but only if we saw a prospect in this, and did not receive another insolent client in the portfolio. That is why we did not fall for blackmail with demands to reduce the price, we always had arguments why the client should be satisfied with the offer, and ignored those with whom cooperation was initially seen as doubtful. We also tried to keep track of retail prices for our customer's products in his region, often we could perfectly see how much he earns and whether he really needs a “more interesting price offer”. In the vast majority of cases, the client pushed the discount because of his own greed, so we didn’t fall for it, and the customer often raged.

Even when developing the product and including it in the catalog, we understood that the product was quite competitive, we monitored the competitors' offers and made adjustments if necessary. Moreover, we prepared devices with better software than others offered. Therefore, a similar (or slightly higher) cost (in our opinion) was fully justified.

But most of the customers did not agree with this point of view, and they were tacitly supported by our Chinese division, which carried out its price manipulations behind our backs. For the client, our interaction scheme was as transparent as possible: they knew about the manufacturer in China, and that we are official representatives for sales and project management. Sales of Degree 5 Pack Anti Yellow Stains, Anti White Mark went through a company in Hong Kong. When we handed over a client to the Chinese sales department, the client, despite the agreements reached, again raised the issue of price reduction and almost always received a positive decision, even if we tried to prevent it.

But most of the customers did not agree with this point of view, and they were tacitly supported by our Chinese division, which carried out its price manipulations behind our backs. For the client, our interaction scheme was as transparent as possible: they knew about the manufacturer in China, and that we are official representatives for sales and project management. Sales Degree 5 Pack Anti Yellow Stains , Anti White Mark Degree 5 Pack Anti Yellow Stains, Anti White Mark while going through a company in Hong Kong. When we handed over a client to the Chinese sales department, the client, despite the agreements reached, again raised the issue of price reduction and almost always received a positive decision, even if we tried to prevent it.

What was the point of reducing the total profit that we shared 50/50, I understand from my experience, but I still refuse to accept it! A lot of invoices were redone at the last moment, or without even notifying us of the progress of the transaction. We were “forgotten” to put in a copy of the correspondence on new projects or were generally notified of new orders after the fact. The Chinese listened to our arguments that the current price offer for the client is more than acceptable, looked at the data with price monitoring, charts and calculations, and ... always acted in their own way.

During one of the deals, our partner dropped the price of a product by $2, thus depriving us of several tens of thousands of dollars of income simply because it was “normal” for him to earn less. He said that he had read all our research and saw that the discount was not mandatory for the client. But all the same, he will give it, because the client asks, and we already earn more than he usually earns. It is even strange that we were able to sell the goods so profitably.

In some OEM projects, we did not receive a profit, in some we did not ask for our share, since there was not much to ask for. Conversations, regular calls, correspondence and even personal meetings did not change the situation. The Chinese continued to work as usual.

After another situation, when after the end of the project there was nothing much to share, we conferred and began to curtail the OEM direction. We decided to process only incoming requests and offer only those products that our partner has in stock. We still offer it, and if there is an interest, we transfer the client to the Chinese sales department. What happens next, we are not particularly interested (usually - nothing) and do not ask for commissions for the introduction. Still, a significant income is not expected there.

Another factor hindering the normal development of the OEM business was that purchasing managers ... were strained by the Europeans. The presence of people with good English, who understood the tasks at first glance, seemed strange to many customers, and they immediately began to think that something was wrong here. They had suspicions that the cost was too high (although it was not such, it was enough to compare), that we are a reseller (they responded poorly to calls to visit the production), that there is something strange in our activities, even if it is difficult to formulate.< /p>

A little later, I read about this feature of perception in a good book “The Power of Habit. Why do we live and work this way and not otherwise? If we briefly summarize the content of one of its chapters, then working “as before, as always” (that is, in this case, with the Chinese) was precisely “more familiar” for most clients. Everyone knew about the upcoming problems of such cooperation, about the difficulties in setting goals and communication, but almost everyone was mentally prepared for this. Working with the Chinese is sometimes difficult and tiring, and these Europeans ... who knows what they will do.

A little later, I learned that almost all foreign account managers working for Chinese OEMs (especially if this person speaks the same language as you) are treated negatively. These people are not trusted, they are doing worse, and there is a chance to stay for a long time only if this person has brought his friends to the supplier and lives on a percentage of their orders. The letters of these people are often ignored, and when asked to communicate, they are asked to give the contact of their Chinese boss. It is difficult to find another explanation, except as a habit, for this situation.

We got out of the situation creatively - our team, which conducted OEM deals, began to introduce itself as Chinese. Fortunately, the awareness of the undesirability of Europeans in the OEM business came quickly enough. The specialists responsible for the transactions set up mailboxes on the domain of the Chinese partner or QQ, registered a separate account in instant messengers and started working. How many buyers see their Chinese partners with their own eyes? Yes, almost no one! So we just continued the experience of "phone sex", in which the interlocutor always hears a pleasant voice, but never knows who is really talking to him.

At the moment, “when we became Chinese”, I felt that customers communicate with this category of sellers more frivolously and even boorishly. Potential customers themselves did not shine with knowledge of the English language, communicating rather primitively, with an abundance of such blunders as “thank you so match!” & "let me now". Particularly distinguished clients began to flirt with their virtual sales managers, invited to dinner (at our expense) when they were in China, and openly hinted that they would like to spend more time together in an informal atmosphere. At the same time, they did not even see photos of these same girls - faceless silhouettes or cats stood on the avatars.

Once I replaced an employee of my department, who, in addition to her main duties, moonlights as a Chinese sales manager Lee Xi Ya. Since just at that very moment the client actually asked me for a date and most of the dialogue demanded to send a personal photo. But since in China sending a photo means almost the beginning of a personal relationship, Xi Ya referred to the fact that she is a decent girl and that sending a photo is possible only after a personal meeting. Fortunately, the meeting never happened. Although my friends ironically suggested that I come to that very date and look at the face of the bawdy man after he finds out the whole truth.

It should be noted that since the "Chinese" began to work in our team instead of Europeans, the tension has largely subsided, communication has improved, and our presentations, in which nothing has changed at all, have become more eagerly watched. Unfortunately, this had almost no effect on the income component.

Whether by force of habit or by the realization that they are not in the business of selling quality products, clients did not pay much attention to either the absence of problems within the framework of the project, or the quality with which it was implemented. The terms were more or less like the standard ones. Only if during a standard project with the Chinese a lousy product was being prepared during this time, then with us it was possible to make a better product in the same period. However, this was not an advantage for the client. The client still wanted faster and cheaper, albeit with traditional Chinese shortcomings.

The client also did not pay attention to a small number of problems (or lack of them) in the preparation of the product. Apparently, problems from other orders blocked everything else. And indeed, when you are constantly working in a madhouse mode, something normal does not seem to be something out of your usual routine.

It should be noted that our decisions, expertise and proposed improvements to finalize the product often remained unanswered or were not agreed upon, even if this did not affect the project timeline in any way. The customer was not concerned about the use of better materials, more energy-efficient analogues, he was indifferent to the well-developed and intuitive interface of the device. He paid much more attention to the issues of the ability to bring down the price before shipment itself and his personal motivation (and he also refused to trace the relationship between the first and second).

Despite the fact that we tried on the "Chinese skin" for ourselves, we did not want to finally accept the fate of the Chinese and stamp standard products of low quality. Moreover, the material prospect of this activity would hardly cover the internal discontent and resistance.

Of course, not all clients were like this. There were also representatives of those brands that put forward such requirements for quality and customization that we either could not meet or met with difficulty. We ourselves adopted a number of these requirements and standards when preparing our own devices. But these clients were the exception. Most of the B-brands wanted a C-quality product at a D-price, and "the best price" remained a fundamental factor when choosing a supplier.

The third type of proposed activity - consulting for Chinese firms - was even less successful than the attempt to engage in OEM. According to our plan, we were supposed to consult Chinese developers in the field of device design, following the latest trends (rather than just copying and modifying models of famous brands). We also provided advice in the field of device interface development, which was simply terrible for 90% of Chinese products.

When talking about the number of implemented projects in terms of design development, it would be better to remain silent. But since I promised myself and my readers that this essay would be as honest as possible, I will say that we never launched a single project and did not bring it to perfection.

The brain of the Chinese boss is arranged according to the principle “I know better”, therefore, Chinese OEM products are copies of the developments of Western companies or clones of designs peeped from competitors. They were interested in my idea and samples of devices created by me and even asked for advice when developing new cases. But they refused to pay for this work. In return, they offered me to order the very device that I would create for them, since everyone understands that it turns out to be good and interesting. The fact that the design was then offered to the rest of the client base was somehow omitted. The Chinese stopped asking for advice just at the moment when the free consultations on my part ended.

For ourselves and for our own money, we could conduct any kind of experiments, but when developing an OEM device that was planned to be sold in different regions, the Chinese trusted only their own taste and what they considered expertise. Considerable investments were made in the development of the device: the design of the board cost several tens of thousands of dollars, and 3D modeling of the case, followed by casting and modifications, cost no less. These investments had to be returned, and it is clear that not every development was successful. But, even with a portfolio of dozens of original and “peeped” designs, the Chinese refused to experiment with us. Sometimes they sent the upcoming models for a free examination, listened to our opinion and disappeared, most often remaining indifferent to our opinion (even if it turned out later that it was true).

As for the quality of software preparation and interface creation, despite the fact that these are different types of activities, they had a similar fate - these activities were also completed without really starting. The Chinese listened to information about the capabilities of our programmers and designers, looked at the work that we did as part of our own projects, more than once showed enthusiasm for obvious improvements, and ... that was it. They bought their products anyway, but they did not see any advantages in the stable operation of a device with a more understandable shell.

Projects that involve detailed preparation of software and interface were held with customers in Eastern and Central Europe, in the CIS (as part of the presentation of our company, I talk about some of them with pride, and some are closed for disclosure by the terms of contracts), but never in China and with the Chinese themselves.

The main reason for the failure of this project, of course, is that for the vast majority of customers, the fundamental criterion when choosing a product is its price (for the Chinese, this means making a cheap product that can be sold more, for buyers, finding an offer cheaper than the average market price) . All other features pale in comparison. It is simply impossible to make a cheap and high-quality product, as I have already mentioned more than once.

The attitude of the Chinese to the products that they offer for production, and the attitude of purchasing managers to the products that they offer under their own brand, is best evidenced by the fact that in fact not a single OEM seller and representative of a local brand does not use its products in everyday life. Manufacturers of phones and tablets go with iPhones or flagship models on Android, manufacturers of accessories go to branded electronics stores for headphones and cables, and so on. Well, poorly developed products of quality B are put on the shelves for the low-income segments of the population, whose user experience almost no one thinks about.

At the moment, the Chinese and I have returned to a model of not partnership, but cooperation. There is no more talk about a joint business, we work separately, but we help each other if the need arises. The Chinese still do quality inspections for our products (not that they are required, but rather an element of intimidation for our well-known suppliers), we help them with certificates and legal issues in our regions. This interaction model is more familiar and logical.

What's next? Perhaps the readers of my story will think that I am disappointed in doing business with China, that I do not want to have anything to do with the Chinese and that I will look for another occupation for myself. I was really disappointed, I lost time, but I made valuable conclusions that I share with all of you as part of this story. Perhaps this will save you time and money that my company lost.

Cooperation with the Chinese is both a job and a favorite thing to which it is pleasant to return, regardless of all its specifics, so I will not stop doing this. I will say more - I WANT to continue this activity, overcome difficulties, engage in "training" suppliers, successfully complete projects and produce good products under my own brand (and under the brand of those brands / retail chains with which we work), develop new models and interesting solutions .

Not so long ago, our Chinese partners asked us to help with the certification of products under their own brand in the territory of the Customs Union and even to deal with distribution. The project promises to be interesting. True, when the certification was completed, and our proposal was sent to distributors and retail chains, we almost immediately received an answer that other agents offer the same models at a more attractive price. In response to our indignant claims, the Chinese replied that “their friend” is really involved in the sale, but they do not mind if we do this too, and the fact that a friend has already filled up all prices below a reasonable minimum is nothing more than technical overlay. And a friend has already made a website, the information and instructions for which were clearly translated by the Chinese, who study Russian at the university, and the partner categorically does not understand why we do not want to send a link to anyone for review.

For our brand, we again have a delay due to the fact that last year's software was loaded into a new batch of devices (after three notifications and confirmations by the Chinese side that they understood everything), and we think where it is easier to change it - in China (having delayed shipment) or already in Europe.

Another batch of goods is flying on a pallet in a cargo plane without the necessary markings. The supplier forgot to put the necessary signs, and the carrier sent the cargo without our agreement, as he really wanted to catch the flight. Let's hope that the cargo will not be delayed, but, one way or another, the logisticians will have a lot of work.

I'm not very willing to wait for new photos from the supplier, as I was informed in advance that the plastic was ordered from a new manufacturer and, despite the most complete information on the pantone, the shade turned out to be slightly different, but "almost the same".

We will definitely not be bored. As part of our work with China, we are ready for almost any difficulties and surprises. What they will be is also beyond doubt. We can constantly work on ourselves, honing our skills and professionalism, but as for the Chinese, it is more likely that they will change us than we will change them. The reasons for the Chinese attitude to doing business, production, and problems in the “vicious circle” format lie outside the framework of our logic and decision-making system. Therefore, all possible answers about the absurd actions of manufacturers from the Middle Kingdom, the failure to meet deadlines and marriage, which might not have happened, fit into a capacious phrase that does not require translation - This is China.

The table of contents of the future book looks like this:

Content

  • Intro
  • First visit to China (the one that changed me and my life forever)
  • 1. How B-brands work, or modern OEM business.
  • 2. The myth that China is a country where everything is incredibly cheap.
  • 3. Visit to a Chinese factory.
  • 3A* Andy, aka Vivian, or the Chinese we work with.
  • 5. The worst sales team in the world is Chinese.
  • 6. Not a step to the right, not a step to the left, but still not going there - a project with a Chinese supplier.
  • 7. A contract is like a coaster for a cup, or how relationships with the Chinese are built.
  • 8. Chinese routine.
  • 9. ... and the factory will stand, or Chinese holidays.
  • 10. b instead of s - not so big difference, or a collection of real Chinese suppliers.
  • 11. In China Everything is Possible.
  • 12. Two years of head against the wall, or my joint venture with the Chinese (instead of imprisonment).
  • Supplement - utilities, programs and services that will be useful to you in working with China

* - the number four in China is considered unlucky, as it is consonant with the word "death". In ordinary life, the Chinese try not to use it and avoid it. As part of this story, I decided to go the traditional Chinese way.