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The Internet's positive impact on global supply chain management is undeniable. The speed and ease with which the three tiers of product distribution can now communicate and do commerce is simply breathtaking.
However challenges remain for retailers and other buyers when ordering products from overseas. For starters, there are barriers that concern language, culture, customs and law. Most buyers today are looking for the best values by purchasing from China, and to a lesser extent, India. How can you protect your business while engaging in worldwide commerce?
Here are 6 cautionary practices to consider:
1) Get it in writing
If you are speaking with a rep overseas by phone, it is likely there may be language-based miscommunication. Even the subtlest misunderstanding can ruin the integrity of a deal. Therefore, always get the specifics of the proposed deal in English writing. Tell the overseas rep that an email or fax must be exchanged before inching any closer to a transaction. This way, both parties can see it in writing and have the communications time stamped for the sake of record keeping.
2) Use credit cards
Every once in a while, one hears a story about a buyer in the U.S. who found some incredibly hot products at great prices, but the overseas seller wanted the money wired, and so then the buyer actually wired the money. In short, never wire money overseas, no matter how enticing the offer. It is imperative to create a money trail, so in the even of fraud there is some recourse to recovering the cash. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to only buy with a credit card. If the products do not arrive or are damaged, at least there is an opportunity to lean on the credit card's fraud protection policies for help.
3) Heed counterfeit products
The issue of counterfeit product with Chinese manufacturers is both cultural and legal. On both levels, counterfeit products are accepted in their country, while in North America they are not. When negotiating with product sellers from China, it is always wise to ask directly: "This product is not counterfeit, correct?" Make sure that you receive a clear answer. Otherwise, a buyer risks getting stuck with the counterfeit items, and the money sent will not be coming back.
4) Expect the unexpected
There is a misconception that business and trade is largely conducted the same way around the globe. However, when it comes to trading in China and Asia as a whole, it is advisable to expect the unexpected. Specifically, these obstacles usually rear their ugly heads:
- Product samples are often unavailable, which can be frustrating for marketers who are used to them.
- Distributors often keep outdated and unavailable product models on websites.
- The time zone difference is 11 to 13 hours, depending on your location.
5) Turn your locale into a global resource
If possible, do regular business with or even befriend a Chinese-American who speaks the main language of that country, Mandarin. That associate can become a valuable translator in times of need. Start communicating with him or her to get a better understanding of Chinese culture - it can only help. Next, get to know the other global traders in your community. Meet the international entrepreneurs who have been successful, as their experiences can be a valuable resource.
6) Use secure online marketplaces
There are secure marketplaces on the web that keep a close eye on their international sellers and ban any entity that looks fraudulent - use them. On the most basic level, they help close the gap between American buyers and the explosion of Asian sellers, making it easier to communicate and trade at the best prices.
WholesaleCentral.com is particularly vigilant when it comes to security, overseeing its seller community on a daily basis in order to protect the interest of the site's buyers. It is the most target rich and secure marketplace for retailers to facilitate their global trading.
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