I once worked for a company the owner of which just did not like to deal with trading companies. If you mentioned the word “trading co.” he would just groan. Still he used them occasionally maybe because he really liked a certain product and he had no way to source the product from the factory directly. But if you were a trading co that was one big strike against you and you really had to have an exceptional sales pitch or product to get an order from him.
And that has always been my way of thinking as well. As a rule I generally don’t like to use trading companies because often they have no control over the factory. If you have a design driven product with a lot of requirements it is imperative that you work directly with the factory because that is the only way you can control quality in production. You simply cannot rely on intermediaries – sometimes individuals who have very little on site factory or product experience – to manage your relationship and product standards with a third party vendor. Trading companies just seem very ineffective to me and they always have.
But as with my former boss so with me. Sometimes your only option is a trading co. Last spring I went to the Canton Fair on behalf of a client. I came across a booth that had the nicest and widest selection of product in my client’s category (home décor). They seemed very responsive and professional. The owner was very nice. I have been in a lot of booths at the Canton Fair over the years and have met a lot of vendors and I liked the owner of this company. But they were a trading co. I had two choices, ignore them because they were a trading company or give them the benefit of the doubt get their info and pass this along to my customer with the caveat that for her product this might work only if she were prepared to monitor the production in China (this is the only way sometimes to ensure the quality of your orders factory or trading co). I decided to pass on the info to her simply because I knew the vendor had product my client would be interested in. I would add that my client has been to China several times and she herself has worked with vendors and trading companies there over the years. As long as I gave her full disclosure and my advice she would know what was involved and she would then be in a good position to make her own decision.
To be continued.