From the few years work experience i have, the biggest procurement and logistics challenges that i have ever had to work through come up when you have to deal with international sourcing, more so when they do not speak English. Most of these suppliers are trying to break into the international markets yet they do not fluently speak English, it can be more than frustrating. I have sourced from a German supplier and Chinese who speak minimal English and are not able to understand complex words.
- Be very straight to the point in your emails, don’t go into too much detail, sometimes out emails would be a one liner, but in smaller doses its easy to get the information you want;
- Use diagrams, pictures and catalogues as much as possible;
- Prepare the shipping documents for the supplier on a spreadsheet and send it to them, this way you have control over details which you need included, helps reduce your stress levels;
- Clarify your insurance details and whether it is included in the cost or not; and
- Verify your home country requirements on inspection certificates from you own local agent or customs officers.
Overall its important to be patient when sourcing internationally. You may not be in the same time zones or you may be in a rush to get delivery done ASAP, but buying the wrong thing especially when it comes from out of the country and then having to retunr it could be a hassle too.