5 Tips for Avoid Language Misunderstanding When You Importing From China

Did your supplier misunderstand your product specifications?

Many importers had experienced that when they were importing from China, the supplier misunderstands the specification because of a different description. We call it language misunderstanding.

You might query the supplier for the problem, but it would delay the shipping schedule and break the relationship sometimes. One reason is that you contact your Chinese supplier, not in high ability level of English. They are English-speaking staff to work with foreign customers. But there’s no guarantee of the English ability level to fully understand your importing requirement, especially in some professional languages and regulations.

So even when you’re communicating with someone who seems to have a firm grasp of English, it’s best not to send them product specifications by Skype or WhatsApp, then expect them to understand your requirement fully, you’d better improve something like emails, phones, etc. that don’t make the importing down.

5 Tips for avoid language misunderstanding when you importing from China

The key to avoiding language misunderstanding by your Chinese supplier is clear, simple, and open communication. Don’t rely on spoken or written correspondence alone to relay your expectations. Every import should know how important with this, here are 5 tips of tangible ways to achieve:

Download apps like Skype, WeChat or Whatsapp

Use them to contact your Chinese supplier quickly. Most of the sale representative from the factory knew how to use Skype, Whatsapp to work with the customer. They might also have questions that need to discuss with you and hope to get the answer rapidly instead of lately like email. For the most popular chat app in China, over half of the Chinese people are using WeChat every day. WeChat can help you contact your supplier quickly and reliably. The free app also has a translate function, in case your supplier has trouble expressing something in English.

Creating a QC checklist for your product.

A QC checklist is one of the most valuable tools for clarifying product requirements for your supplier and any staff that will conduct quality control inspection. By working with your supplier directly to develop this document, try to make it as detail as you can. You can ensure that workers manufacturing your product clearly understand expectations.

Keep your emails short and simple.

Try as possible as you can to avoid technical jargon. For easily understanding, write short sentences and keep the email in one subject, do not mix up all your requirements in emails, then the supplier will easy to confuse what’s topic and requirements

Important emails with a phone call.

Chinese that can speak English tend to be more comfortable with written, rather than spoken, English. You can’t assume your suppliers clearly understand requirements in your phone calling. But it’s respect and proper way to call your supplier shortly after sending an important email to confirm their understanding. Getting them on the phone also reduces frequently repeated dialogue through complicated emails, gives a chance to discuss your requirements, and shortens the development time.

Translator with you if visiting your supplier.

Maybe not always necessary to take a translator with you, but please do realize that translator can help you in extra value, like evaluate the factory, clear up the confusion with deal rules, technical requirements, and discuss more detail with the project schedule, etc.(AQI Service can provide engineering service and representation office service.)


We all knew not just language but also cultural differences lead to misunderstandings with Chinese suppliers, product details, and other specifications that can get lost in translation between the communication. But don’t you see the communication and the meeting with you for technical requirements get easier than years before? Welcome to share your comments