For each product that you want to buy overseas you need to create a file of information about your product.
There are multiple uses of this information.
First is to create clear expectations for the supplier. The major reason, in 90% of the cases, that the customer is unhappy with product bought overseas is that they (the customer – you) did not clearly communicate your product details.
Secondly, you will need to have correct information for the paperwork required by the shipping company, insurance brokers, bank, customs, etc.
It’s important to gather this information before you even start trying to buy your product.
We are also going to guide you through some high-level cost analysis. You can use that to decide whether or not you are going to proceed with importing this product. Once you decide to move forward you will need to get all of your final costs. This will be addressed later in the training.
I want you to imagine that you are going to drop this document into an envelope and mail it around the world in 1990. The recipient has no way of contacting you to ask questions, they have only this document to understand what you want from them. How would write that, so that you would be fully and completely understood?
If that analogy doesn’t work for you- imagine if you handed it to a 12 year old, could they build it without asking you any questions?
My point being if you don’t include the information on the document – you are not going to be satisfied with the product. You can’t expect the supplier to act on information they have not given them.
Now let’s take a look at what you need to do.
You have two options for the format of your product information.
The first option is the Request for Quote (RFQ). This is the correct format if you are ordering something that the company makes already, if you are not modifying it. So…if you are buying off the shelf products that are in their catalogue / inventory – you should use the RFQ.
The other option is a Product Specification sheet (Spec sheet). This is the correct format if you are ordering something that you have designed, or if you are modifying one of the suppliers products.
The RFQ format doesn’t have as much information about the basics of the product – the materials used, the details on how its made, etc. Because you are buying something they make. You still want to be specific enough that you can hold them accountable for any mistakes, but not as detailed as if you were telling them how to make something from scratch.
If you are making something new, or you are changing their product – then you need to be much more detailed. That is when you use the Spec sheet.
This excel spreadsheet can be downloaded here.
Any RFQ form should include the following information:
You can find an example Spec Sheet here.
Think of your Product Specification Sheet as an internal document that occasionally gets shared with suppliers. It should have the following information:
Now this is where the Spec sheet really shines! You want there to be a lot more details in the Product Description. Your product information should be organized into sections and have very detailed information. You don’t want them making decisions, you want them to get every detail from you. What you need in this section:
This section could be 2 or 3 or more pages long. This is your insurance that the product meets expectations. Include lots of very specific details.
Quality & testing requirements are just as important as the product manufacturing / function details. You are going to be more detailed here than in the RFQ. Why? Because in the RFQ you assume they make their product all the time and they have developed good QC (Quality Control) systems. So with the RFQ you want to mention some, but not in excruciating detail. But now that you are asking them to make something for you – you don’t want to assume anything. So you need a lot of detail in the Spec sheet for quality.