One Buyer’s Trip in China.. and a Few Takeaways

Sunday, March 11, 2007 20:19
Comments Off on One Buyer’s Trip in China.. and a Few Takeaways

I would like to thank my friends at the Federation of International Trade for passing on the article To China for the Holy Grail: A Price of 99p Business (reporter Michael Sheridan)

The story is a roundup of events surrounding on man’s efforts to execute a successful buying trip in China. Sheridan’s access looks to be pretty open and the story he portrays is one that is in my opinion fairly representative of a portion of trips made to China, and of a number of the buyers.

The basics are this. A buyer comes to China and with jack-of-all-trades Chinese guy in tow, visits the Yiwu market and a number of factories to but the cheapest stuff he can find (his clients are apparently the U.K. version of the U.S. dollar store). The focus is simple. Price. No need for anything of quality, and the shopping list is no based on products, but on products that can be purchased at or below the 22p price level

Note: I would like to mention that the type of business the subject is transacting really is not sustainable as (1) platforms like Alibaba and GS avail manufacturers of these products to showcase their products around the world; (2) the only service this guy offers is getting on a plane and finding a Chinese guy who speaks English; (3) he doesn’t do any QC or any other value add service (client actually pay up front in full)

Regardless, the story is interesting as it shows the pace at which he is moving and just seeing from his perspective what is imporant inthe eyes of a buyer who is only trying to get the lowest price.

Where the author loses me is by giving this guy a medium to feel better about his drinking and other activities. After nearly 2 years, I have never been with a supplier to a KTV or massage parlor, and our products are still running at less than a half percent failure. Of course, that is because we perform QC services in country rather than get loaded on our trips…

And as for the buyers’ lore of disaster being legion:

the consignment of blue colanders that arrived a lurid yellow; the container of gel-based air fresheners out of which poured a molten mass of purple sludge on arrival in Britain; the toy weighted with toxic mud as ballast. Goods can be short, broken or defective.

Again, the majority of these buyers are just not performing any service at all. Were they on the ground visiting the factories, inspecting containers, pulling production samples for final approval by client’s, etc, etc, etc,… then these stories would not exist.

I would be interested to see if Michael does keep in touch with the buyer to see if in 18 months he is still up to the same pace.

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