The Risk versus The Reward

Nearly everyone has faced budget pressures, both professionally and personally, over the past few years.  Purchasers of promotional products are no exception as this portion of the marketing budget is often one of the first to be reduced.  These budget pressures have led some individuals to attempt to get closer to the source in an effort to eliminate the markups along the supply chain.  But is eliminating companies along the supply chain always worth the potential risks?  As the old adage goes, “buyer beware”.

When you buy direct, you are often not given all of the information up front. If you don’t know the questions to ask, you may be surprised to know that the price quoted is “ex-factory” which is the price at the factory and doesn’t include any subsequent shipping, brokerage, and duty or tax charges.  It’s also possible to save money when buying directly from a manufacturer but it may be because they are not testing their products and maintaining compliance with industry regulations; they cut these corners but it’s not actually in the best interest of the end user.

The supplier is often focused on making the sale, not on developing a future relationship.  If something goes bad, for example a botched logo or a virus on each and every digital frame you just bought (a real $20,000 error we heard about from a supplier recently, yikes!), they are not inclined to care, particularly when they already have your money.  Already having your money is often the case since deposits are required for overseas purchases!  When purchasing locally you are getting local support for any potential issues that may arise.

Earlier this year Alibaba.com Ltd., an on-line B2B marketplace based in China, disclosed that about 100 of its salespeople had assisted fraudulent businesses to set up on-line storefronts on its site to intentionally defraud global buyers.  While not linked to the fraud allegations, the CEO and COO resigned after this disclosure to “take responsibility for the systemic breakdown in our company’s culture of integrity”.

Contemplate this, is price the most important factor to consider when purchasing promotional products?  We don’t think so.  We’re sharing these scenarios because they actually happen.  Working with an industry professional who is knowledgeable about quality and safety and compliance can actually prevent mistakes that would otherwise prove costly.

When you deal with a distributor with whom you have a relationship, who knows and cares about the success of your business, they can take on issues or challenges and resolve them, often without you even knowing there was an issue.  With the internet and Google search, it’s easy to feel like the world is at your fingertips and you can source everything yourself.  On the other hand, sometimes it is better to leave things to the experts.

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