In global promotional product sourcing, the buyer that’s prone to success is the buyer that asks questions. Learning to listen to what the offshore supplier says or doesn’t say is part of precise order control,
In promotional product sourcing, questions will:
Be the main update channel:
This shouldn’t necessarily be the case. But when dealing with Chinese vendors, you won’t find a whole lot in the area of proactive communication.
Because of cultural characteristics, Chinese suppliers tend to be tight-lipped and information doesn’t freely flow.
If you want sample updates, feedback on the order progress, or news on timing, normally, YOU the buyer will have to ask questions. You may say that asking questions is a habit of a successful importer.
Catch quality problems:
Asking questions and then gauging the suppliers’ responses can be a way that you catch discrepancies.
You ask a question and they answer something that’s fishy or off base. If this is the case, then chances are, there is a misunderstanding somewhere down the line and hopefully you can put out a fire before it starts.
Sometimes it’s frustrating that YOU as the buyer must ask questions to get communication going…but in this case, be glad you did!
Gain insight into your vendor:
What they know, don’t know and how they communicate. This is especially pertinent when sourcing from China.
If you find yourself working with a supplier that cannot cohesively answer basic questions on the project, that’s a possible red flag that it’s time to abort mission before you get too far along.
Help “train” your supplier:
If your supplier’s a good supplier your questions, in a sense, train them to better serve you.
They’ll start to realize what you and your customers expect as far as updates go and hopefully. Keep in mind this will take time and if you’re accustomed to working with your suppliers in just 1-off orders, then it will be all the more difficult to gain momentum in this area.
Running To-do list:
Your questions should always be in writing and specifically email so that you can have a clear record. If you make your questions deliberate and precise, then your questions can become an ongoing to-do list of what needs to be done for the project.
Keep track of open questions from your previous emails. If the supplier doesn’t give a clear answer to the pending question, don’t let it lie.
Keep following up until you get an answer.
Always brainstorm pertinent questions.
Keep the assumption that every piece of communication, quotation, photo, sample and every document you receive, deserves follow-up questions from your side.
This is skillful promotional product sourcing.