There is no denying that business is being done through online social media. This is one of the benefits of our online presence and the connections we make there.Truly, there is a new world of opportunity these days.
In this rant, I’m going to address an old topic that has been covered in depth before, but now appears with the twist of greater visibility via social media – suppliers/manufacturers selling direct and distributors buying direct. The global marketplace has made working with an overseas factory more commonplace.This has become more prominent with the rise of companies like Alibaba (to name one of many), allowing factories an
easier way to connect directly with both distributors as well as end-user buyers. You have heard it before: the existing lines of distribution in our industry continue to be blurred.
Call me old-fashioned, but as a distributor, I think there is a benefit to working with suppliers with whom we have established a relationship with…especially as it relates to fulfilling large orders. Many suppliers offer direct sourcing options and I consider any additional cost working with a credible supplier as insurance for something going wrong and having it taken care of.
What I find interesting is the number of overseas factories who “troll” for business on the web and in social media forums. There is nothing wrong with this on face value, but with so much at stake, doing business with an unknown entity seems risky. You probably have an overseas address along with a gmail address or generic address as your connection point and an international phone number. But what do you really know about that company? Are they legit? Are they CPSIA compliant? Are they a sweatshop operating on slave labor? How can you have a level of comfort in feeling that things are being taken care of and that commitments will be fulfilled as requested?
Further distressing is a lack of understanding of our language and the industry involved. In one situation, a factory soliciting business in a LinkedIn industry business group was asked if they were a member of PPAI or involved with ASI. There was no reply.
Anyone who has any experience knows that cultural differences also exist and can contribute to a lack of understanding and clarity. And with the details involved in even the simplest order, a simple, legitimate misunderstanding can spell disaster.
English is a difficult language to master. By no means do I want to indicate that someone’s less than perfect grasp of the English language makes them unqualified to do business with. But many of the solicitations are downright laughable in their lack of understanding of even basic language skills. If you can’t communicate even partially effective in a simple correspondence, how can there be a level of confidence that an order will be clearly understood? Do people really want chance doing business this way?
I apologize if some find this line of questioning offensive, but those who follow my writings know that I tend to be candid with my thoughts. That’s one of the reasons the industry resource program FreePromoTips is so popular. I simply am sharing how I feel about things we have all seen. Perhaps you feel the same way I do?
If you haven’t seen or received any of the solicitations I am referring to, here are some UNEDITED SAMPLES of those solicitations.
SAMPLE 1: Is there anything that this supplier doesn’t do? They seem to be trying to cover all bases.
Fuzhou Yongyang Advertising Gifts Co., Ltd:
we would like to introduce ourself as yr qualified promotion gifts supplier.Hope that we have the pleasure.
Lanyard,bracelets, rubber products and pens are our strong product.Our quality is welcome by all of our clients, we accept small quantity order.
And Of course ,we also sell other various promotional items like shopping bag,electronic items and so on.
SAMPLE 2: Here is an "interesting" product spotight.
KAYFOO ENTERPRISES CO., LTD
Here is our hottest Gift for your 2012 marketing.
Model: 328A Vintage Phono Clock Radio
Is it interesting?
So pls let me have your request details and then you will have a satisfactory unit price.
Any more things I can do for you, pls do not hesitate yo contact me any time.
8 Years Gold Supplier of the most famous B2B Alibaba.com
SAMPLE 3: This was part of a Linkedin tread looking for high-end golf shirts.
“hi girls, I'm in China. Our company is a professional gift company. We can supply golf T shirt at good prices. Please contact me at " firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail)" skype " name". Wish to be your friends also. I like your smile on your photo”
SAMPLE 4: This is one from a Linkedin thread on someone looking for kid's products. I was the only one who posted that it’s important that children’s products be CPSIA compliant. Sadly, this is the new reality, especially when dealing with kid’s products. The soliciting overseas factories never responded to the question.
“Jonathan, I am glad to injoin the discussion, and could you please reply our questions:How old are the children? What about the goal of this products?What about the your prepaid, as you know, there is no lowest, there is lower.”
Really!! What is Dara saying? (Remember I'm pasting these in as they were. No editing was done.)
This is not solely about communication challenges. There seems to be a lack of understanding about our marketplace. An example is, someone posts they are looking for high-end golf shirts for realtors. Many of the overseas factories will offer to handle this making custom pieces. The reality is that much of our business is dealing with relatively small quantities that we need in a few weeks…or less. :) Obviously, these factories are not in a position to produce 24, 72 or even 1000 shirts decorated to meet the needs of our clients in the time frame we need, so pursuing this business makes no sense. Threads get derailed all the time with solicitations that are not realistic, which is where many get frustrated.
There are many more examples, but I’m sure you get the point. I often joke that we may only make one mistake; it’s just repeated many times. In the case of a large imported order, something going wrong with it may be repeated thousands of times.
Here is a real-life story. A distributor colleague was working on a large quantity of digital picture frames for holiday gifts.The client ended up going to a direct source, bypassing the distributor. This is a pricey item and I’m sure they saved a bunch of money…or so they thought. When they arrived from the overseas source, the product was defective and not usable. It, of course, became a disaster for the end user buyer and they incurred far greater costs rushing to get quality items from the distributor, who ultimately stepped in and saved the day.
There is value to what qualified promotional products distributors bring to the table, working with quality industry suppliers!
I do wishthat yu reiecved most esteemed hiquality info for u to think of when purchase of item tosell yur favorable customer from this rant.
© 2012 Jeff Solomon, MAS - MASI