Compass: What to ask?
You got this important event and need some great corporate gifts. You have limited time, budget and ten other things to do. Sounds familiar? Now, with thousands of suppliers, traders, retailers, marketplaces, wholesalers, stockists, distributors from 200 countries, sourcing can be a nightmare. A simple search on corporate gifts, promotional items or such many keyword variations will spit out millions of pages.
Where do you start? Who do you trust your brand (and money) with? Will you spend weeks reviewing them ? How do you tell the difference between an overnight or fly-by-night company? What about painful paperwork? Have they dealt with international, regional customers like you before? What if something goes wrong? You get the drift.
Whether its Desert Road or a similar firm, we believe every customer should make an informed choice and take that decision for granted.
Before you sign the dotted line, with us or anyone, use our compass and ask these 14 questions.
- How long have they have been in 'this business'? One or 10 years? Longevity and focus says something. Would you bet on a start-up (fact: 95% of startups fail), or a company that's in business for years and will work with you for years?
- Do they have an office or like 'Del boy' do it 'on the side' (amongst other things), peddling a catalogue, hustling for 'cuts' and commissions?
- What are their credentials, who are their clients, references? Do they understand 'your' business needs?
- Does their website have an office address listed, are they reachable, do they speak English?
- What partnerships, unique, exclusive products do they have? Can they provide honest recommendations, new ideas, good alternatives or smart suggestions? Or will you be stuck only with what they have?
- Do they have a valid trade license, bank account, TRN? Is their cost all inclusive with no surprises and includes shipping, customs, customization, packing, duty, freight, insurance, octroi, VAT with simple, clear, fair terms?
- Can they deliver in hours, same day or urgently? If needed, are they available on weekends, after hours, holidays as working days and time zones could vary with where you are based.
- You are also paying for support & service. Is there an Account Manager you can talk to for quotes, advice, help or escalation? Can they be reached 24/7 for emergencies by mobile, email, live chat, conference call? Or do you have to be stuck with a junior sales guys who can't lift a finger with approvals and only work 9-5, five days a week?
- Can they sign a NDA, SLAs to ensure service standards? Can they provide air-tight contracts, certifications and paper trails for compliance or audits?
- What payment options do they offer? Can you pay securely by any major credit card, currency, PayPal, equal monthly instalments (EMI), 30-45 days credit terms, cash, cheque, wire (Western Union), or bank transfer?
- Do they have enough 'stock on the ground' to deliver the quantity and quality you need soon? Or do they have to ship from 10,000 miles and take weeks?
- If the product is not as agreed or there's a genuine issue will they own-up, compensate, replace, help or fix it without creating a fuss or hassle?
- Can they customize it the way 'you want'? Can they provide samples, options, digital mockups, 3D prototypes, design, translation, copywriting, production help as you don't have those skills?
- Do they have a creative mindset to suggest new, innovative ideas, think out of the box and work with your agency and team like partners? Or is it a 'trader mindset' who just wants to move stock, push boxes?