Much like international relations, international procurement is a matter of cost and benefits. When you decide to buy from overseas, your only objective is to benefit from the competitive markets existing in other parts of the world. Harvard Business Review says that certain countries have an inherent advantage in succeeding in particular industries. This is because their home environment favors those industries.
However, international buying can be very challenging and involves a lot of risks as every country has its subjective way of doing business. It can be very different from how things are done in your home. Amongst other risks, quality assurance remains the biggest concern as you cannot monitor and manage the manufacturing process in a foreign land. It’s wise to partner up with a reliable sourcing company as they have import and export agents that have expertise in cost reduction and quality assurance. Otherwise, you have to be extra vigilant to ensure that you are delivered what you were promised.
Here are some tips to ensure quality when buying from overseas.
An important part of selecting suppliers is to first make sure that they can provide what your business needs and what you want to achieve, rather than just picking suppliers who want to sell you. A good way to get a reliable supplier is by seeking recommendations from your business acquaintances or you can also look for online reviews about different suppliers. Your business acquaintances are likely to give you an honest review of the quality management and the strengths and weaknesses of that supplier.
One way to gauge the supplier’s capacity to cater to your quality requirements is by asking for a physical product sample before placing a real order. Most of the suppliers cater to sample requests as it demonstrates their seriousness and depicts that they are truly up to the task. If the supplier is unable to send samples as it’s expensive to ship smaller quantities of products, you can consider virtual product samples. It can either be a 2D rendered image created in Photoshop or sophisticated 3D product samples that can be tested in a digital environment.
Ask for quotes from various suppliers. If a quote from a certain supplier is too good to be true, you may need to think twice about that deal. What would you expect from a steak priced at $4? The supplier that is quoting way too low is likely going to compromise on quality. This may not be the case always but we recommend that you be extra careful with suppliers that offer unreal quotes.
Once a supplier is on board, make sure there is no communication gap. Talk to their representative regularly and tell them about your expectations. Deploy a technical member of your team on the communication front. Talk to the supplier’s engineers and relay your requirements clearly. Language can often be an issue when buying overseas so make sure that both parties (you and the supplier) can easily understand every detail.
Many suppliers offer discounts on paying the total amount upfront but if you are dealing with a certain supplier for the first time, it’s better to obtain credit terms from the supplier. It will encourage the supplier to ensure quality and make the deliveries on time. While developing the contract, clearly mention the specifications and expectations.
At Blink Global, we provide sourcing consultancy. We have agents in all parts of the world to give you access to the leading suppliers and get the best rates. Contact us for more information.