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How To Source Products Internationally

Sourcing products around the globe is a much easier task than in years gone by. Jumping on to Google, makes it much easier and quicker and is certainly the first port of call but there are still other avenues that shouldn’t be ignored.

Finding An Edge

We once had an importer and retailer of pine furniture sign up to our online course as he wanted to learn other methods of sourcing and increase his options of suppliers and not be limited to his sole supplier in China.

This entrepreneur had seven furniture retail outlets throughout the UK and his business was growing. He felt he was vulnerable having just one supplier and for security needed to look at other options potentially in other parts of the world. At the same time, he wanted to gain a competitive edge being that all his competitors were selling the same furniture designs as him, so all he could compete on was price which was squeezing profit margins.

After some consideration and research with his customer base, he decided he needed to develop bespoke designed furniture, which he felt would give the needed edge and these designs would be marketed as exclusively his. After listening to his customers, he catered for their needs and desires and went about drawing up a range of furniture.

He approached his Chinese supplier and manufacturer and inquired about producing this range of bespoke pine furniture but they were unable to accommodate this request because of the large cost involved to them in retooling their machinery for a comparatively small order.

Sourcing New Suppliers

With this, we advised on sourcing alternative manufactures and looked closer to home. On doing some initial research, we suggested Cyprus as a first point to finding new sources as we found it to be a pine furniture manufacturing base and pine wood was in abundance, lowering the price of the raw material.

The next step was of course to find a supplier and manufacturer there, so we decided to contact the Cypriot embassy in London and ask them if they would be able to recommend any reputable and established companies. They were very helpful and of course, happy to promote Cypriot furniture makers and we were pleased to receive credible recommendations.

The Embassy made several introductions to manufacturers that were fit for purpose and eager to win the contract. Our entrepreneur discussed his needs for his bespoke pine furniture to be manufactured and exported to the UK which were well received and two reputable and established companies submitted quotations, both within the same ball park figure.

Both companies invited our entrepreneur to visit and have a tour of their factories, see firsthand the quality and craftsmanship of the furniture and discuss his final requirements.

Keeping It Competitive

After reviewing both proposals, further negotiations and being impressed with the manufacturing process of both companies, the order was actually split between the two companies giving our entrepreneur further security in having two reliable manufacturers but also being able to gain an air of competitiveness between them, ensuring that price would remain competitive.

The Chinese supplier was kept and continued to ship furniture and was offered to customers as a lower priced range, keeping this target market but putting our entreprenuer in a position to up-sell the bespoke range when possible.

All Your Eggs

The saying goes, “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” and in this case it was great advice to follow. The result was an increase in customers, sales and profits due to people being unable to buy this range of furniture anywhere else and the retail business has gone from strength to strength.

The Internet is without doubt the easiest and fastest way to find suppliers and manufacturers but there are alternatives. In this case, it was beneficial to make contact with people that we were able to trust in the Embassy and use their knowledge and credibility to find these reputable manufacturers.

Keep Thinking Outside the Box

When starting of growing your business, it’s worth keeping your options open and checking all avenues as well as continuing to ask yourself, how can I keep my edge?