Selling wholesale to foreign buyers

Jan writes:

A nice woman from Singapore contacted me recently about wholesale distribution in her country as well as other SE Asian countries (specifically Malaysia ); she has also requested to be the contact/sales rep for other inquiries in her geographic area. Upon requesting verification of her company, she gladly gave me a synopsis of her business in fashion accessories and mentioned all the positive points about doing business in her country. She seemed legitimate, so I then sent her links to my line sheets and order forms. She’s also accepted my terms of having everything paid up front. So it *seems* everything is as it should be…that she’ll be placing a wholesale order, paying for it and selling/marketing the handbags as she said to boutiques and department stores. What percentage is appropriate to pay her for the work she does as a sales rep? 12-15%? What questions should I be asking before anything is ordered/paid for? Like I said, I just have a weird feeling I’m missing something…..maybe that’s due to my lack of experience with sales reps in general. I am new to wholesale order-taking as well.

I don’t have any experience with this although I know there are some convoluted scams going on. Also, I wouldn’t mess with having her rep the stuff; I think she should just buy it herself and resell it (long story). Visitors: what are your experiences with regard to selling and shipping to overseas buyers? Any tips?

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  1. Mike C says:

    I’ve dealt with wholesale in Singapore.

    Our Singapore account was very excited about carrying the goods in her boutique and then reselling to others and then maybe selling into other Asian markets. She became far less excited once she understood that we weren’t going to sell to her at half wholesale pricing.

    In limited experience, I’ve not had any fraud issues with Singapore. I usually require PayPal dealing with Asian markets and limit my exposure by not allowing large orders. If any orders reached the level that would hurt if it turned out fraudulent, I require wire transfer to a bank account that we have that’s only used for international incoming/outgoing transfers.

    Singapore has been a nice little retail/direct market for us though. For small packages, its quicker/easier/cheaper to ship goods to Singapore from the US than it is to Canada. Go figure.

  2. J C Sprowls says:

    My opinion (cuz you know I got one…) is re: how much the DE should pay the overseas distributor.

    IMO, you have 2 options:
    discount the wholesale ‘out-the-door’ price for her, or
    have her make up her fee by passing it along to the retailer.

    In any event, you’re most secure bet is to use a “pass-through” business model. By this, I mean that you’re only supplying goods at fair market value. Any other downstream event is beyond your control and responsibility. Shipping, Import Fees, Taxes, Commissions, etc are passed through to the consumer (in this case, the distributor).

  3. jessie says:

    Well, I’m from singapore and used to have a retail and wholesale set up there so I think I should give u my two cents worth.
    She might be really good at what she’s doing but please emphasize to her about your return policy and that $$$ is settled upfront before you send it out. best to find out about her background and retail experience. you have to be aware that anything that sells well might be sent up to China and copied- it has happened to me. Not that everyone does it, but the risks are there.

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