Don’t drop a good supplier over trivial reasons.
Buyers, from the novice to the experienced, tend to view suppliers as a dime-a-dozen.
Especially when so much of the communication is online, faceless, names you cannot pronounce, there’s an underlying attitude that, “We can always source a new one. We’re doing you a favor anyway!”
Alibaba, LinkedIn, the constant barrage of salesy emails from suppliers you’ve met a trade shows. This all presents a vast sea of selection. If one supplier doesn’t work out, we can always change.
But then you never gain traction.
A good supplier may be good for one buyer and can be good for you. But it takes time to cultivate.
Some suppliers start off awesome and everything fits like clockwork.
Other suppliers, you have to work with for a while. Learning each other’s ebb and flow. You have to establish communication and rapport.
A potentially good supplier may have all the capability in the world, but it takes a few back-and-forth sessions to get sampling and the production line just so to fit your needs.
Impatience or lack of knowledge are reasons for bad perceptions
In the beginning phases, an obstacle or misunderstanding arise and the buyer gets a bad perception.
Or doesn’t know how to react.
This bad perception may be a result of impatience or lack of knowledge.
Buyers quickly pivot to another supplier, losing time and traction.
It’s possible the new supplier isn’t as good.
It’s also very possible the new supplier brings their own batch of problems. Bigger problems.
Don’t let these reasons cause you to quickly jump ship
1.) A supplier doesn’t answer your inquiry as quick you’d like.
Suppliers receive a ton of inquiries.
They receive incomplete inquiries.
And they flood suppliers with inquiries that don’t point to the goal of the entire thing….business (ordering, money changing hands).
If your inquiry doesn’t paint a picture of eventual business, the supplier may ignore you.
A new customer’s inquiry may also be ignored.
This doesn’t mean the supplier is worth ditching.
It’s nothing conspiratorial, just practical reasons the supplier doesn’t answer. They may be busy and they don’t know who you are!
If the supplier seems to be worthwhile, then you, as the buyer may need to spend some energy in following up.
2.) An initial high price causes buyers to keep Alibaba-ing it…
Buyers see prices they perceive to be “high” and they walk away.
Instead of rushing to judgment, first consider the “fluidity” of the initial pricing when working with Chinese suppliers.
Are the buyer and supplier discussing the same thing? If the supplier understood it one way and the buyer’s talking about another way, then that can sway the price one way or the other.
Does the price include something it DOESN’T NEED to include?
Keep discussing and hashing out detail.
Lot’s of time, a supplier will increase price to cover an “unknown factor”. You may find there was a miscommunication and the price can come down considerably.
The initial quote is always the key to open the door to discussions.
The supplier quotes first and then attempts to understand second.
A supplier that initially quotes lower, does so for different reasons. It’s to “get you in the door”. I’ve heard them say this; it’s common knowledge with a percentage of Chinese suppliers. They get you in and then change the price later. By then, you’re too far along to pull back.
3.) Buyers get irritated because they feel a new supplier owes them free sampling.
When something is free, it has no value.
Buyers push for a free sample and the supplier sends a stock sample. Many of my posts speak of the worthlessness of a stock sample.
Buyers want the supplier to make a fresh, custom piece.
They ask for a fee.
Being cheap isn’t a reason to ditch the supplier. I’m not talking about the supplier being cheap, I’m talking about the buyer being cheap.
I’ve said this before. I’ve seen multimillion dollar companies pay for extra parts…on pieces the supplier forgot to include!
So if suppliers charge their multimillion dollar clients for extra parts, what’s in it for them to give away custom freebies to a newbie starting their Amazon FBA journey?
4.) The supplier is argumentative.
The supplier is responding and answering messages. This is a good thing.
But they’re seemingly making excuses and balking at every request.
This too is actually a good thing.
It means they’re contemplating the inquiry. This is shows they’re taking time to put pencil to paper and think about what you’re asking.
Some of the best suppliers are argumentative suppliers. For the Chinese to argue, means they care. If they’re just saying “yeah yeah yea” or not answering, means they haven’t heard a blinking thing you’re talking about.
An argumentative supplier is a thoughtful supplier.
When a supplier argues, dig deeper into their argument, they may have better direction. Don’t be quick to dismiss them.
In China sourcing, you cannot be too quick to react.
You have to withhold judgment until clarity comes.
Just like life…