Reply To: Sourcing Agent / Factory Search – need a sounding board

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Amanda Tucker

Hey Kevin,  Thank you for your detailed post and guiding us through the situation and key issues.

To respond to your thoughts – see your questions copied below and my response in bold:

  •  If the factory can’t produce nearly perfect samples, they won’t even come close for the production run.  Would you give them a second chance? First things first, I would recommend you set up a skype call with Sourcing Agent to discuss this process.  It is important to try to decipher if the Sourcing Agent misunderstood the spec or did the factory. If the Sourcing Agent misunderstood, then how can you help explain what is required?  I always first ask myself, if someone misunderstood me, how could I have communicated better or differently.   I also ask the agent to summarise and repeat back to me what spec is to ensure understanding.  With that aside, if the Sourcing Agent knew what was required, I would just ask, was there any reason they did they not reject the samples when she received them or alert you.  Advise that you would like her to alert you if samples arrive that do not meet the spec.
  • I think Susan should have picked up on these defects and had them fixed before even sending to me.   She had a sample from my current supplier to compare the new samples against.  She also should have packed the samples in a box to avoid them from being crushed and bent during shipping, and she will next time.  These two facts are causing me to question her experience level but I know other clients have had a good experience with her.  Am I being unreasonable here? Again, before you jump, just ask, via skype call,  if she noticed anything different from the samples vs the sample of your current supplier, then go from there.   For the sample delivery, show her, via skype how the product arrived.   And ask her how she can pack the samples differently.  Not knowing the product or seeing an example of the packaging or state of the product that was delivered is difficult for me to comment further, but I would always be inquisitive first before you jump right in.
  • Susan seems resistant to restart the search for another factory, but she assured me that the job wouldn’t be complete until she was successful in finding a supplier who meets the needs.  Should I insist on looking for a different factory?  Set up a skype meeting –  email communication can appear abrupt from a non-native English speaker, so just find out what are her concerns for finding another supplier
  • Meanwhile the clock is ticking… we’ve been working on this since March and it doesn’t feel like I’m getting anywhere.  Does it normally take this long in your experience?  Did you discuss timelines when you first engaged your Sourcing Agent?   Were there delays due to factory closures?  Again, hop on a skype call and discuss the process and how to move forward and agree a timeline moving forward.
  • She asked for payment in advance… which I sent.  Is this typical?  I’ve also paid for the samples that were produced. Personally have had a Sourcing Agent on a  retainer vs a project basis, but it depends on your agreement.   But you will always pay for samples from the factory regardless.   If you have paid up front, then it is worth your while to continue to complete the process by connecting via skype this week to complete the sourcing.

I know you must be frustrated at the bumps in the road but I truly believe you can capture issue quickly with a conversation and together you can work through.  No Sourcing agent wants to disappoint their client, so take the time to investigate the issue before you jump in.