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:
- 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.
- Instead of sending an email to 100 suppliers asking them for their product details, shortlist 10-15 suppliers and have deep discussions with them.
- 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.
- 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.
- Do not focus on price alone: If you focus on price, the supplier may adjust the quality level to meet your pricing.
- 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.
- 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.