An India vendor in the hand is worth two China vendors in the bush

I had a call a few weeks ago from a woman who runs a small home décor company here in the US. She has built her business sourcing in India and I guess has had some measure of success judging from what she told me about her business and her list of retail customers. But now she is growing weary of India. I asked her why and she replied that Indian vendors are raising prices all the time and have become difficult to deal with. I asked her why she expects things to be different in China, adding that she really should not expect a whole lot of difference between India and China, for both places present their own challenges when it comes to sourcing. She replied that she knows China is a difficult place to do business but that she wanted nevertheless to leave India and start sourcing in China. I really could not say much to that but my thinking has always been that if you have built your business with one vendor it is probably a good idea to stick with that vendor as long as you are still turning a profit. Only when things really start turning south should you start looking for another supplier. Similarly, if you have done well over the years in India my advice would be to stay in India and maybe just make some brief forays into China.

After telling me about her business the woman told me that she wanted to attend the Canton Fair this spring which at the time she called was only a few weeks away. That is not, I thought to myself, how one attends an international trade fair. I explained to her that attending the Canton Fair usually involves a few months of preparations e.g. emailing vendors you want to visit, ordering samples, scheduling visits not to mention flights and hotel reservations. If you do not do all that you are really just wasting your time and money because the fair is just too massive to go unprepared. And there are just so many bad vendors that an initial screening of vendors is really necessary.

Anyway, the call concluded and I did not hear from her again. Not even a note after I sent her a follow up email. For some reason people don’t like it when I discourage them. But as I see it if I don’t tell it like it is then I am not giving good advice.

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