Setting up Positive relationships with international suppliers

Many purchasers of international-made items have difficulties obtaining the things they desire at the quality that their clients anticipate from them.

You need a sourcing strategy that has been properly thought out in order to discover the best provider to meet your objectives. To ensure that you obtain a decent bargain in terms of price, quality, functionality, or prompt delivery, make sure that you conduct out the necessary research and due diligence.

  • Typical components of effective strategies for sourcing include every one of the following:
  • locating potential suppliers using many mediums, including the internet, social media, and trade shows
  • checking and vetting vendors
  • making sure payments are made and overseeing quality control
  • determining which form of sourcing (direct purchase, commission-based sourcing agent, sourcing provider, or trading company) will serve your requirements best, and picking between those four options.

Decide on some clear guidelines before beginning your search for suppliers. This will allow you to evaluate how successful your efforts are in finding providers. After you have determined the expectations you have of your providers, you should only approach those suppliers who can meet these requirements. You will be able to maintain your concentration and avoid future problems and conflicts if you do this.

Finding a manufacturer overseas?

The first thing you need to do is locate a broad pool of potential suppliers and have access to the information about their companies. You have a number of choices, including the following:

It’s possible that someone in your career or social network knows someone who’s had experience working with international vendors. It’s possible that your local Chamber of Commerce and trade organisations in your field can supply information or insights that are pertinent to your situation.

What are your next steps once you have found a manufacturer?

After you have narrowed your search to a select few vendors, you can send an email to each of them. Use the email address associated with your company, and be sure to include both the name and URL of your website. It is essential to make a positive first impression in order to elicit a response. It’s possible that the provider is getting multiple emails from potential customers every single day. It is common practice for competitors to send inquiry emails in an effort to acquire some information; hence, suppliers may thoroughly screen queries.

The most important factor for a supplier to consider is the volume of business you do with them. Provide them with a ballpark figure for the quantity of each product that will be purchased annually. Always be explicit and tell the truth. The manufacturer may conduct an internet profile on you in order to ascertain whether or not you are a serious buyer; suppliers originating from Africa, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are subject to the greatest amount of scrutiny.

Make it clear and specifically identify the market you intend to compete in. The items and the production quality may be altered for the Indian or African markets, despite the fact that Chinese suppliers may state that they are capable of making the things that you are selling. In the West, audiences are accustomed to a specific degree of quality, which the processes of the providers may not be able to support. By being explicit about your target demographic, you may prevent moving forward with vendors that aren’t a good fit for your company and save time and money.

Be clear, kind, and professional in your communication. Inquire about the length, width, and weight of the packaged goods, as well as the method of packaging, the price per item, the minimum order quantity, and any other relevant information.

After you have received all of the responses, you can evaluate the providers based on how quickly they responded to you. You can gain valuable insight into their level of expertise and the legitimacy of their experience based on a number of variables, including how effectively they speak English, whether or not they directly answered your questions, and whether or not they offered you evasive responses.

How to manage communication and cultural differences?

It is always a challenge when communicating with another country, especially one that may not speak English as their first language. 

While this does take some practice and if you have the time and patience to navigate overseas supplier relations and communication, it is a great skill to have in your arsenal. 

The second thing is to understand that most likely your vendor is typing in broken english. This can often be misconstrued as being rude or giving you a feeling like they might not fully understand what you are trying to explain. The best way to combat this is to ALWAYS provide clear visuals. The value of having a company like ours is that we will provide full renderings and tech packs so that the intention of the item is very clear from the start.

Humanising the manufacturer

Finally – sometimes it can be easy to not realize that the person emailing you from China or Vietnam or any other country is an actual human being. That may sound harsh but most overseas work is done via email or whatsapp. So it is rare that you will actually speak to a supplier on the phone or via zoom etc although it does happen every once in a while. It might feel like that human element is missing.  It is important to remember that just like us they have their own lives, their own families and hobbies.  Using a company like ours allows you to be ahead of the game as we have personally met all of our overseas colleagues face to face on numerous occasions. We have stood on the factory floor where your products are being produced. We have been to the export ports and we have a deep understanding of the person we are speaking to via email. We have done various overseas sourcing trips to visit some of the world’s largest open material markets. It is only with experience and time that you learn the nuances of how to speak to your overseas vendor in a way that works for you both. 

How does Pop Creative make this easier for you?

However, like most busy people whose job responsibilities don’t usually include speaking with overseas vendors, they would likely have a hard time navigating the international trade language such as meanings, terms and other types of cultural nuances. Most of our client’s jobs entail so many other things that they hire a company like POP Creative to do all the heavy lifting in ideation, sourcing, sampling, overseas negotiations and manufacturing. 

In our 20+ years of experience working with overseas vendors and suppliers, the first thing to do is provide them with all relevant information and as many visual references as possible at the onset of your project. This allows little room for movement by the vendor who might think some types of fabric is very beautiful, but to our client, it may not be. This sets you apart from other product development agencies OR individual requests because it shows you do know what you are doing. This will likely get your request handled quicker. And it will likely allow a quicker turn time. As most other countries are very literal, it only makes sense to show versus tell to get your true needs clearly communicated. 

Soon you will strike the perfect balance between your visuals and communication ways if you are willing to take the time to learn, provide visuals and visit overseas manufacturing hubs. If you can’t do that then WE GOT YOU! WE did all the heavy lifting for you. 

If you are interested in learning more about how cultural differences happen, specifically between American buyers and Chinese factories, we recommend reading this extremely interesting and knowledgeable book .

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