by Li Zhang
Buyers that tackle promotional item sourcing generally make the same mistakes. Sure, there are a ton of possible errors. But the core problems remain the same. I hope these tips shine some light on your offshore buying adventures and help you to avoid pitfalls.
A vague inquiry. Loose specifications. A humdrum brief. All this leads to a supplier providing the same thing in return.
In other words, a casual inquiry leads to a casual quote…and problems stem from there.
Include the right amount of information when you send the supplier the RFQ.
Think about the excellent, top-notch quotation you hope to receive. What information would a vendor require in turn to meet that need?
The truth is, is that in the promotional merchandise realm, the manufacturing is generally done from low-cost factories. We’re not talking Boeing here but lower-end items in the grand scheme of things.
Therefore, consider the ultimate production factory is going to be less international. This is why the large majority of promotional product orders done from China are done via trading companies.
These trading companies don’t understand the nuances of the industry from the buyer’s perspective.
Be mindful of who you are working with. Your Chinese supplier may have great cultural differences and not understand your industry, but they are eager and willing to do business.
This isn’t rocket science. After you benefit from a vendor’s a quotation and product information, then FOLLOW UP.
Let the vendor know if something is still pending.
Let the vendor know why the order didn’t come to fruition.
Let the vendor know when an order is on the horizon.
Frequent quoting and running can cause vendors to not quote you in the future or not quote you seriously. Either way, a bridge is burning.
Promotional product distributors are accustomed to domestic purchases. In offshore manufacturing they tend to conduct themselves in the same manner as when buying domestically.
This leads to problems such as assumptions on the supplier’s understanding, preconceived notions of service and lack of product guidance from the buyer’s part.
Remember, once you start importing, you aren’t just “ordering” but are now taking part in product development. You are no longer simply a passive buyer but are taking part in a very active process.
When you receive your quotation, realize that something is probably missing.
Carefully go through the supplier’s quotation with a fine-toothed comb.
Ask yourself questions, look for key points and prepare a list of follow-up questions to ask the vendor.