Sourcing products online from a seller overseas can seem like an intimidating task. You can’t get to know them face to face or test out the product in person, but there are ways to navigate these challenges. There are a few questions you should ask a seller before sourcing a product to ensure they are trustworthy and can meet your specific needs.
1. Can you provide a copy of your business license and any necessary certifications?
When reaching out to sellers, it’s your responsibility to make sure they are trustworthy. Asking for proof of their business and copies of any applicable certifications will help you narrow down the search.
2. What are the product details?
Ask for as much information about the product as possible. Ask for details about the specifications, packaging, and materials used. See if they can send you some pictures of the product. Be specific about your questions so you don’t miss anything.
3. How much do samples cost?
Sellers should have no problem with you requesting samples — it’s a standard part of B2B sales. You’ll want to inspect one or two samples of the product before placing a larger order with the seller to ensure quality. You should also ask what their pricing is for samples. The unit price might be higher than ordering in bulk because of shipping costs for such a small order.
4. What is your minimum order quantity (MOQ)?
The MOQ is the lowest number of items you can purchase at one time. Always ask the seller for their MOQ even if it’s listed on the product detail page. The MOQ is typically negotiable. If it is more than you can afford, see if they are willing to meet your price. Keep in mind that purchasing a larger order will likely lower the cost per item.
5. What are the shipping terms?
Agreeing to the wrong shipping terms, or incoterms, regularly causes confusion. These acronyms significantly impact your shipping process and define who handles each part of the delivery and when the risk of damage transfers from the seller to the buyer. Do your research and agree upon the incoterms that are best for you.
If you receive vague answers to any of your questions, keep pressing. Don’t take a chance. Either wait until you get the answers you need to make a decision or move on. Asking these questions will help you decide if this seller is someone you want to do business with and if they can make your product according to your exact specifications.