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Sample communication with your suppliers. An in-depth guide

I ll cover three topics in this post about sample management:

  • Sample costs
  • Communication
  • Supervision

Sample costs

Once you have settled on a supplier for your new product it is time to purchase a sample.

Most suppliers will charge you for sending a sample. There is usually no way around this unless you have worked with the supplier for a longer time.

Even for me, being here and dealing with suppliers on a daily basis I can’t guarantee that I don’t have to pay for a sample.

Here are some Insider tips to “try” to get a sample for free.

  • Introduce yourself as an assistant of a large company. Suppliers tend to smell money when a large company is interested and are more likely to give away samples for free.
  • State that if the sample is OK you will place a large order
  • State that you have especially chosen this supplier to be your exclusive supplier for this product and he has the chance now to do business with you.
  • Ask him to put the sample cost on top of the official order that may follow if the sample is what you are looking for.
  • State that it is company policy that you/your company don’t pay for samples and if he wishes to do business he should agree to your sample terms.
  • Split the costs. Offer to pay for either the samples or the freight costs.

If none of these work I recommend you to agree with the supplier to deduct the sample costs from the official (larger) order. At least this way you save the sample costs if you decide to order from this particular supplier.

Be wary of sample costs in general

On one occasion I was sourcing for a textile accessory. The item itself can be made for approx 2 USD.

I screened around 10 suppliers and eventually narrowed my selection down to 5 suppliers. They were all in a similar price range.

When it came down to ordering samples one of the suppliers (who was also the most expensive) asked me for a sample fee of 100 USD to be transferred to his bank account. That didn’t make sense.

I immediately knew it must be a trading company with no factory background.

They probably outsource the work to a factory because they have no own facilities. Eliminate suppliers that have high sample costs right in the beginning.

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Lessons learned. Re-cap of the Global Sources & Electronics show in Hong Kong

As most of you know I exhibited at the Global Sources Electronics show from 11-14th of April with my brand “Mandarin-Gear” and I went to source at the HKTDC Electronics show on 15th of April.

Here is a re-cap and lessons learned from the shows.

Global Sources show (exhibiting part)

 

 

  • When you exhibit, make sure you get a corner booth or a booth in the middle of the hall where people pass by.
  • Create some buzz on your booth and show enough of your products or just the packaging, play some music if the venue allows it and have some banners that quickly show what your booth is all about.
  • Make sure you have friendly and approachable people ready to explain what your product is all about at your booth.
  • Ask your friends to come visit you. It gives the booth a crowded feeling and people will want to know what’s going on.
  • Have enough marketing material ready (catalogues, business cards etc.)
  • Know your products and make sure any assistants or other people at your booth know everything as well. Be prepared for questions that are unusual. Study your products that you are displaying and make sure that you fully understand them.
  • Take notes and follow up immediately after the fair. Buyers tend to forget who they have visited.
  • Take photos with people that visit you at your booth and send it to them afterwards. Create a relationships. A fair is not just about sales it is more than anything else a networking event.

 

Hong Kong electronics show (sourcing part)

Prepare an introduction for yourself before you go sourcing at a trade fair.

This comes across as more professional and people will be more willing to invest time and resources into you if they feel they deal with someone professional who knows how to do business properly.

You are more likely to build a good relationship if you leave a good first impression. Here is an example how you could introduce yourself:

Hi, I am Manuel and I am the Managing Director of Mandarin-Gear Limited in Hong Kong. I run a Sourcing & Buying office for many large retailers worldwide such as COMPANY X, COMPANY Y. My customers are looking for product “X” and I am interested in discussing more details or to receive a quotation based on my customers requirements.

After the introduction ask questions and once you are satisfied ask him to provide a quotation based on your requirements. Hand him your business card and MAKE SURE that he wrote down everything you discussed.

  • Prepare an introduction of yourself and / or your company
  • Bring name cards, your own catalogue (in case you have one), comfortable shoes and a trolley to carry all the collected catalogues.
  • Pre-register online often saves you money and time
  • Look at freely available maps to find out where the products you are looking for are located before you start walking around. Plan your way through the fair systematically. This is especially important for bigger trade shows.
  • Take photos of products that you are interested in.

Prepare and ask the suppliers questions such as: