The quality of the questions you ask suppliers will determine the quality of your results. The right question can help give you a jumpstart on your negotiation and set the tone and direction for your relationship with them. Here are a couple of questions carefully curated by summit speaker Kian Golzari that will help you understand supplier capacity, compliance, relationship, cost, and product development.
- Are you a trading company or factory?
The answer to this question doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Trading companies do offer very good services. Even if they can be a little expensive, they can assure smaller MOQs than a factory and have a better handle on communications with factories than you would directly. While factories give you more direct control and say over the production. Either ways, it’s an important question to ask for your own understanding.
- How many workers do you have in your factory?
There’s no correct answer with this you just want to be able to determine who you’re working with and what their capability is. There are advantages to having different sizes of workers based on how big your business is and what your product is.
- Who is your biggest customer?
You want to know how much attention is going to their biggest customer, 1 customer could be taking up 50% of their attention or most of their orders so you want to know that they can accommodate you as well.
- Which products does your factory really specialise in? What is your strongest item?
In trade shows they want to catch your attention with a bunch of different products but maybe they only specialise in one or two of them so you want to find out what their core competencies are.
- Which markets/countries do you supply?
You want to know where their attention is going and if they know how to supply in your market. If they’re supplying to your market, chances are they have the right certification and know what testing needs to be done.
- Have you supplied any big retailers or department store?
Big stores generally mean the supplier has had to put the product through rigorous testing and tried to minimize cost as much as possible. Build a good relationship with this supplier and leverage that relationship by trying to piggy back on the same product. With this, you can benefit from their economies of scale.
- Has your factory completed any 3rd party audits?
Crucial that your factory has been audited at some point. When your factory gets pulled up you have that certification ready to show that you’ve done your due diligence. Many factories have usually already completed a 3rd party audit as a requirement from other companies sourcing with them.
- Does your factory have in house testing?
It just shows that your factory does care about the quality of your product and that they want to make sure their product is alright first before submitting it to get certified.
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- When would be the best time to visit your factory?
It shows you’re serious and helps build a relationship with the supplier even if you don’t plan on visiting the factory. It also helps you determine what time periods to avoid placing orders i.e. CNY
- Can you email me a full specification quotation sheet of the items we discussed by the end of the fair?
Both you and the supplier will be taking notes during discussions. You want to make sure you don’t leave the booth without asking them to send their notes on everything discussed. This ensures that both parties are on the same page and curbs any possible misunderstandings early on.
- Pick up a product and ask for specifications.
If you’re at a booth you don’t necessarily want to do business with, ask questions about the specs of the product to build your knowledge base and take that information to another booth. Now you know exact specs like the materials you use and industry lingo to make you look like a pro. Do this and watch the supplier immediately take your seriously and treat you like expert and someone who means business.
- Which port do you ship from?
It’s important to know which port they ship from especially if you have multiple factories. If you have multiple factories shipping from the same port, you’ll find that you won’t have to fill up your container anymore. You can split the container and reduce your order quantity.
- How many units can you produce per month (and why)?
It’s important to not only ask what their MOQ is but also why that’s their MOQ for the product. They might have a higher MOQ for certain specifications like colours or materials or designs and if these are things you can adjust on, you might be able to get yourself a better deal.
- What new products have you been working on?
Suppliers are constantly working and developing new products because they want your orders and they want to be in the forefront. However, they’re not necessarily going to display these at the trade shows while their competitors are right next to them. But if you build the right rapport with them and ask them what they’re working on, they’ll most likely pull something up from the back to show you.
- Which products here are new for Global Sources? Exclusivity?
If you find a product that’s new in the market with the supplier you’re talking to, try to get an exclusive deal and guarantee a certain number of orders in exchange for that exclusivity. This will give you the first mover’s advantage because they won’t sell that to anyone else.
You can learn more negotiation tactics and sourcing tips at Global Sources Summit. Apply your new-found knowledge from the conference directly at the co-located trade show and source like a pro.
Meet Kian Golzari at Global Sources Summit
Kian Golzari is one of the world’s leading product development and sourcing experts who has personally sourced over 2,500 products for some of the leading brands in the world whilst working with more than 500 factories. Kian has been manufacturing private label products for many of the world’s largest retailers such as Bed, Bath & Beyond and Tesco as well as large corporations like Proctor & Gamble, Visa, Panasonic, United Nations and many others. He has also manufactured under license for the Olympic Games, the NBA and some of the world’s top athletes such as Neymar Jr and Kobe Bryant.
What is Global Sources Summit
Global Sources Summit is a 3-day conference for online and Amazon sellers sourcing private label products from China. The conference will be held 27-29 October 2019 in Hong Kong.
The Summit is co-located with Global Sources Fashion and Lifestyle trade show so you can also meet thousands of China suppliers at the same time.
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