Do You Really Need to Learn Mandarin for Your Export Business?

Eric Pong
Learn Mandarin for Export Business - Floship

In the 21st century, business and economics are global. People may jump on an “America First” bandwagon, but the fact of the matter is America does business with nearly every country in the world. China is one of America’s largest trading partners, so it’s time to learn Mandarin so you can grow your Chinese customer base.

A New Language?

Yes, a new language, and you’re never too old to learn. You can alleviate the frustrations you experience right now with your overseas business through Mandarin fluency. You may think you’re doing just fine with an electronic translator, but Asian languages in particular never translate well over these mediums. Chances are, you misunderstand the information sent to you and your overseas affiliates and customers misunderstand the information you send them. This is problematic, especially with Chinese customs.


To stay out of potential trouble you must understand fully and abide by all Chinese import laws and regulations. You cannot get your product into China if the shipment is stopped at the customs entry point. What happens if there is an issue with the shipment? Can you communicate effectively with the customs authorities, whether electronically or over the phone? Never assume the customs agents speak English. Yes, English is the international business language, but many Asian nations are reticent to adopt it as theirs.

You must communicate effectively with the Chinese government. You will be expected to pay tariffs on certain imports, and value-added or VAT tax is often charged. Depending on where you ship your product, you may need special trade zone consideration and an import license. Your imports may be inspected, and don’t forget about currency exchange controls and packaging. Customs looks at all of these things, and if anything is awry, it’s much easier to rectify a concern if you speak fluent Mandarin.

Third Party Logistics

Your logistics management may be under control in the States, but what about when your product reaches China? Industry is China’s primary economic moneymaker, and if you ship bulk quantities of product to Chinese manufacturers, you need a full-proof logistics stream over there. Your logistics in China is managed by Chinese companies, and you already know how crucial communication is in logistics. Anything can go wrong at any time with a shipment, whether in or out of your control, and you cannot afford miscommunication.

You will speak with overseas shipping companies, warehouse personnel, trucking companies, and your Chinese clients. It’s better to speak with them in Mandarin than in English, but not just because it increases the understanding between the parties. It also speeds up the resolution of any issue. If everyone is on the same page and the conversation is understood quickly and easily, you can switch from communication hardship to problem-solving in a flash. You can easily track your shipments and communicate with managers at each logistics step.

Chinese Post

When you ship to Chinese consumers, you deal with global shipping companies and the Chinese post. You may get a customer purchase overseas using an international shipping company, but the Chinese postal service may take over once the order gets through customs if you offer less expensive shipping options. As with third-party shipping companies transporting your goods off the boat and to the Chinese warehouses and manufacturing facilities, communication is key to ensure your customers’ orders are received from their local postal service.

Customer Service

The reason the above is so important is obvious: Your Chinese customers influence your bottom line as your U.S. customers do, and if they do not receive their order, you’re going to hear about it. Do you understand their concerns? Will your electronic translator make a mistake that could cost you customers? Yes, it likely will, and as an aside, your customers will be even more frustrated if you cannot attend to their concerns fluently. Imagine how you would feel if you couldn’t communicate with somebody from which you ordered a good.

After orders are placed, you need to extend excellent service to your Chinese customers. They want confirmation of their order written in their dialect. They check their order frequently to see when it’s been processed and shipped. They want shipping updates because they’re excited to receive their order. They also want you to help them if their shipment gets lost, damaged, or the wrong item or quantities were sent. They might need to return their order. Can you understand them enough to help them effectively?

Additional Considerations

The above may sound a bit as if “the sky is falling,” but when you have overseas customers, you must learn to communicate with them. For Chinese customers, learning Mandarin is just common sense. It makes your life easier. It makes getting your goods into the country and to your customers easier. It keeps your overseas customers happy, which, in turn, increases your global business and profits. In fact, learning Mandarin to establish a presence in China gives you an edge over your competitor for your share of the global economy.

China is one of the most populated countries in the world, and their customs agents, logistics companies and customers would prefer to speak with someone fluent in their dialect. You will increase your ability to form business partners and take advantage of networking opportunities once you learn Mandarin, which gets your foot into this global economic powerhouse. If you speak their language, you represent your company and its vision much better to Chinese partners and customers.

Within these networking opportunities, you can take advantage of Chinese technology, which is quickly catching up with and, at times, exceeding the rest of the world’s technology. You can also take advantage of trade deals and ideas. You will gain an understanding of the Chinese culture and build relationships with Chinese businesspeople with whom you can bounce product or service ideas that are relevant to Chinese markets. Can you see the business expansion opportunities alone with the added benefit of Mandarin fluency? Good!

The bottom line, learn Mandarin so you can export your goods to China without a hitch. The most important thing in business is communication, whether B2B or B2C, and you cannot afford anything to get lost in translation.

No time to learn Mandarin? We get it.

Floship is a Hong Kong-based Cross-Border Order Fulfillment Provider. We offer a China Solution, helping eCommerce Businesses and Crowdfunding Campaigns export products to Mainland China. Our warehouses are located in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Our software integrates seamlessly with all key eCommerce platforms. When an order comes in through  our automated software, orders are picked and packed within a day and send to China. We help you clear customs and deliver the goods to your Chinese customers’ doorstep. Best part? We speak English and Chinese natively – among 10 other languages. With us, there are no language barriers. We can do the talking for you. Having a Dedicated Account Manager means that you only have one person to address if issues do arise. No going back and forward between several parties, and no need to speak Mandarin yourself.

Are you ready to start shipping to China?

Fill out our form and get your Free, No Strings Attached, Consultation. We will contact you within 48 hours and together we will find the best tailor-made solution for your business.

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