The only thing that an Asian vendor cares about is whether you can purchase a product in volume and on a consistent basis.
- Never contact them as the boss or owner. Instead pretend that you are a buyer or a subordinate for your company
- Never tell them that you don’t know what you are doing. Instead, project confidence in your emails and your correspondence. Do not ask stupid questions that could easily be looked up with a simple Google Search.
- Never tell them that you are just getting started. If they ask for your website and you don’t have one, tell them you primarily sell your goods in retail stores or mall kiosks.
- Never show them an incomplete website. There’s no real point in showing off your website if it’s not ready. If you tell your vendor about your website and it’s empty or incomplete, then they will not take you seriously.
You have to be decisive, know what you want and convey to the vendor that you would like to feature their products for your business.
If they think you are just a newbie, they will not reply to you or give you the time of day. In some cases, they may even give you inflated prices so you’ll just go away.
Ask About Minimum Order Quantities
Assuming your vendor carries items you want to sell, I usually try to address the minimum purchase or minimum order quantity question first.
Before you initiate contact, you should have an idea of how much you are willing to buy and how often. While this is a difficult question to answer if you don’t have any customers, the reality is that you need to make an educated guess and not be wishy washy about it.
One time my wife and I spent a few hours talking to a vendor only to discover at the end that their minimum purchase was 50k worth of merchandise which was well beyond our means.
There are different vendors and distributors that deal with different classes of customers. Make sure that you are dealing with the right one that fits your business.
If the vendor is way beyond your league, they’ll tell you. But if the vendor is within this range, you won’t come across as a newbie for asking the question.
Once you’ve determined that your purchasing power is a match, you should always ask for samples to evaluate product quality.
- What are the lead times for manufacture? – Typical lead times will usually be on the order of months
- What are your payment terms? – How much payment is required up front. Usually you will have to put 30% down and pay the remaining upon completion
- How long have you been in business? – You generally don’t want to work with brand new factories
- How large is your facility? – Sometimes I’ll ask for a Skype tour of the factory floor
- What other related products do you manufacture? – If they sell a bunch of disparate items, that’s generally a bad sign that they are not really a factory.
- Who are some of your existing customers in the US? – I prefer vendors who are used to working with western countries.
And it’s essential to figure out if you and your vendor are a good match up front so that you don’t waste any time
The important thing to realize is that there are a wide variety of vendors who cater to different classes of customers.