First impressions! 

I notice more and more emails from Hotmail, Gmail etc coming through to me from potential suppliers.
I think that the US 1.50 odd a month Gmail offers for a custom email address, is money well spent.
It looks a lot more professional, and people will take you more seriously.
And what’s US 1.50? Nothing! 
Remember, first impressions count for a lot.

Beware the needle! 

A colleague recently showed me some garments that had needle damage.
When I asked him if he discussed needle policy with his supplier, he mentioned that he did not.
Obviously needles need to be replaced at certain intervals by a sewing factory, and very often the factory does not have a good (if any real) needle policy.
However, it is still important for the factory to know, that you know about the importance of a needle policy.

It indicates that you know your business, and indicates to them that this is something you will possibly specifically look for.

Prices, prices, prices! 

Never be reluctant to ask a supplier about a price quoted for a garment, or anything for that matter.
Some people often seem reluctant, especially if the price is good. 
They think questioning it will somehow let it slip, that its a good price. 
But, keep in mind, it could be a mistake on the suppliers part, and when the supplier realises it, you could be in for a shock.
Always double check what a quoted price includes.
Is it for your Incoterm specified? 

Does is include all raw materials and inputs? 

If you have a nominated supplier for trims etc, does it include this cost? 

Does it take into account your payment terms? 

What is the validity of the price? 

How will any exchange rate or commodity price fluctuations impact the price? 

Does it include all sampling required once the order is confirmed? 
I am sure you can think of some more questions, but never be afraid to double check every detail.


See it for yourself! 

Never trust what you see in an apparel factory’s showroom.
See what they are actually making on their line, or what is in finishing, final inspection, or packed in the warehouse. Open a few boxes if neccesary.
On quite a few occasions I have found items in showrooms that were definitely on made by that particular factory. 
In one case a merchandiser from a factory I did business with, opened his own factory, and invited me to visit.
When I commented that he had a lot of garments in his showroom, considering the factory only opened a week before, he admitted with a smile, that the vast majority were store bought. He just needed items to fill his showroom for buyers.
I even once found a sample I sent to a factory to cost, but they never actually produced, at their booth at the Canton fair! 

I am sure many of you have similar stories? 

Excuses anyone? 

Everytime I visit a factory that is not busy, I get the same answer, without even asking the question.”This is our quiet period. In a month, we’ll be full.”
The strange thing is that, I get the same answer no matter what time of the year I visit.
From January to December, I get the same story from about every factory, working well below capacity.

Now we know a lot of business is seasonal, to the extent that there are usually specific times during a year when brands place their bulk orders. 

But, a lot of business is not, where buyers are placing orders throughout the year.
That’s why it was refreshing to get a mail from a Chinese supplier, asking for suggestions to increase business, due to so many buyers moving to lower cost countries, and/or countries with import duty benefits.