Mike came to Asia in 1993 and is now responsible for sourcing $200 million of product on behalf of his clients at his boutique sourcing agency - PassageMaker.
Here are key takeaways from his presentation:
1. Have a clear understanding of what attributes you want in your supplier. Every buyers’ needs are different, so right from the beginning know what kind of supplier you’re looking for.
2. Instead of sending an email to 100 suppliers asking them for their product details, shortlist 10-15 suppliers and have deep discussions with them.
3. Instead of asking a supplier “Can you make this?” ask “Have you made this product before? When did you last make it? Are you running parts now? Can you show me a sample? If the supplier doesn’t have ready samples at hand, it probably means they haven’t done the product in the past.
4. Ask for references: If the seller can’t come up with at least one happy customer that they can trust to talk to you, that’s a big red flag.
5. Do not focus on price alone: If you focus on price, the supplier may adjust the quality level to meet your pricing.
6. Place a small test order before placing a full order. This will tell you how well the supplier can make your product, identify customs hiccups, and help get feedback from customers.
7. Write a detailed Purchase Order before placing an order: Ideally, this should be a bilingual PO that has been chopped by the factory. By signing a contract, you’re showing the supplier you’re not an inexperienced buyer and you want to do things the right way. That alone could protect you.