It may seem like too-broad or even elementary of a topic for importing and sourcing. But missteps and poor interpretation of photos (from both supplier or buyer) have ruined many an order. Here are more considerations on sending and receiving photos in your sourcing endeavors.

This post doesn’t widely vary from Part I, but the intention here is even more practical application when considering the back-and-forth transaction of images between buyer and vendor.


  • Are how importers in fast-production turn around times confirm aspects of a product.
  • Are how buyers relay specs to suppliers and vice versa. Nothing saves a lot of tedious wording than simply attaching a pic with a big red arrow pointing to what you are talking about.
  • Are how buyers view the factory. Yes it’s good to visit. Yes visiting opens a world of ideas and face-to-face communication can solve a lot of problems. But the truth is, simply seeing a solid image for a small to medium size order and providing a sign-off, saves a world of time.
  • Sending Photos to Vendors

    Size:  Be mindful of your image sizes. For many suppliers they have trouble receiving an email larger than 10mb. Ask the supplier in advance to meet you on WeChat or one of the chat services and send the images here.

    Label:  Label your images. This does not take a long time and if you are a professional and attempting to relay detail your manufacturing orders, you should not have a problem with changing the name of an image. It takes more time to tell your supplier to refer to image, “DSC00319”

    Purposeful:  Send photos in a deliberate fashion. Some buyers seem to attach an entire folder thinking “more the merrier”. This can confuse the supplier and actually if you attach too many photos, there may be some form of discrepancy between the pics.

    Mention:  Mention in your email what you want the supplier to notice from the photo. “This photo is for purpose of…”.  Also, mention in your email if your photo differs in some way from the inquiry at hand. Back to discrepancy. If there is a difference and you need to use a certain photo, be sure to tell the supplier what point to disregard.

    List:  Give a brief list of what you’re attaching. “Attached are 4 images that show…”.

    Buyers Receiving Photos

    Inspect Closely:  Look for inconsistencies. These could be inconsistencies from what was confirmed to what is being produced. For example if you confirmed a certain color or look and you see something different in the photo, don’t assume it’s a problem with the lighting.

    Tell the supplier to confirm the outstanding concern asap.

    Intention for Sending:  There may very well be something in the photo that the supplier isn’t clearly stating. Frequently a supplier will send a photo that has a “hidden meaning”. Check the picture thoroughly and ask yourself if the supplier is attempting to show you something that they have not verbalized.

    If it’s not clear after you’ve considered the images, tell the supplier to further elaborate on their purpose for sending the images.

    Check photos quickly: My belief is that when your supplier sends an email, you should check it sooner than later. Many times they’re waiting on a confirmation. If timing is tight, they will take your non-confirmation as either a confirmation or permission to delay the order. It’s the same with photos. If something is off-base in the photo, catch it quickly and let the supplier know.

    Brainstorm questions to ask concerning the pics:  If time allows, ask questions on the pics. Not necessarily questions because you don’t know the answers, but questions to get the supplier talking. You can either learn more about the process or double-check that the supplier knows what they’re talking about. Basically, this is just another way to listen and learn.

    Keep Perspective:  The supplier, when they do send photos, can send awkward images. When you’re inspecting the images, keep in mind that the perspective may be off; too zoomed in, awkward angle, poor lighting. Keep calm and simply ask for clearer images before you’re able to sign-off. Also, it helps to send the supplier a standard set of product images and tell them that similar shots are what you expect.

    It’s all part of growing a relationship with your supplier. The more a buyer patiently trains the supplier, processes start improving. The more long-term business a buyer brings, the more incentive your sales contact has for improvement.