What does a buyer look for when reviewing clothing manufacturers proposals?


Last week, we did a blog post on what suppliers want in a project. As buyers sometimes post really bad projects, with missing information, and this can be very frustrating for suppliers.

We know this and when we come across projects like these, we will contact the buyer to help them improve their project. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.

In this blog we are going to look at what buyers want. Buyers that post great projects with the right information for suppliers! As we often mention, we want both suppliers and buyers to have the best possible sourcing experience on Sourcing Playground.

One thing that often detracts from this experience, is when suppliers ignore what the buyer wants. Unfortunately, this tends to happen often.

Every project receives quotes that ignore some of the buyer’s requirements.

Not only is this frustrating for the buyer, but when the supplier gets ignored, they also feel some frustration. Keep in mind that a lot of this frustration is self-inflicted.

In fact, we sometimes get suppliers complaining to us about the fact that they are getting no response from buyers. Some have even used language that is totally unacceptable to our team, and we need to ban them from the platform.
However, when a supplier does raise the issue that they are receiving no business or response from buyers, we always investigate this in order to determine what the problem is. As mentioned, we want our suppliers to have a great experience on our platform.

We look in detail at their profile, and every quote they send. This sometimes takes a few hours. But we are happy to do this. Our suppliers are very important to us.

The good thing is that there is a very common pattern between all these suppliers who do not get responses. The bad news is that it’s not really a good thing at all.

This is what we usually find.


On an online platform, buyers only know a supplier via the supplier’s profile on the site. If a supplier’s profile is not good, it will create a negative impression with the buyer. This is simple human nature.
Buyers have no other terms of reference about you. So, if your profile is not good, do not expect good responses.

Like anything, the more you put in, the more you get out. The same applies to your supplier profile.

Some specific areas that we feel are important to mention, are;

  • Bad grammar and punctuation. Whether we like it or not, English is the official language of international business. Therefore, the English used in your profile needs to be at a level that shows a buyer that communication will not be a problem if they do business with you. It is critical suppliers get this right in their profile, even if it means hiring someone with good English writing skills for an hour or so to complete this section for them.
  • Poor company information / description. This is an area where many suppliers fall short. They do not give this critical section much thought. This is the part of your profile that buyers see first. It’s here where you need to catch their attention.

Remember, you are competing with up to 20 other suppliers, so it is here where you need to differentiate your company. How you can add value to a buyer’s project needs to be the first thing the buyer sees.

  • No cover photo. If you do not have one, don’t expect to be seen. Remember the importance of caching the buyer’s attention we mentioned earlier?

When you add your user information, you can also add a photo of yourself. Never underestimate the power of a great photo. It personalises your profile. This is important as it adds a bit of a personal connection.

However, what we see are many photos that look like they are passport photos. Just head and shoulders, blank expression, no smile. This is not inviting at all. Try to use a photo that shows you as calm and inviting.

  • Suppliers also have to write about their company and products. Again. This is another area where we see a lot of suppliers fall short.

Not only do they fall short, but many of these descriptions of the company are almost exactly the same. They usually begin with, “We are one of the leading manufacturers………….” BORING. Try to begin with something a little different. Give it a bit of thought.

  • No photos in the product gallery, or very poor-quality photos. Worse than this is no photos of the product the buyer is looking for. If you quote on knitted V neck t shirts, ensure that you have some in your gallery.

We had a supplier quoting on a variety of knitwear, who received no positive responses. When we checked their profile, we saw they were a denim manufacturer, and as such they only had photos of denim products. No knitted items like t shirts or hoodies (very common items on our platform).


When we investigate supplier issues, another thread that connects them is almost always poor quotes. By this are not referring to prices, but how the supplier presents the quote to the buyer.

The presentation of the quote is often more important than the price.

Just the other day I personally checked ten quotes of a supplier claiming he was getting no business or even any replies from buyers. All his quotes were introduced in exactly the same way. One sentence. “we are garment exporter”

On our site, there is a section that suppliers must fill in, called “Why work with us?”. Yes, you guessed it, “we are garment exporter”.

On top of this, the supplier in question was quoting on items that had zero correlation with his supplier profile. For example, quoting on fabric, when it was apparent the supplier was a CMT. So, when the fabric buyer checked his profile, they saw he was not a fabric mill. Many buyers also have MOQ requirements, certification requirements, and even location requirements.

If a buyer wants 50 T shirts, and a supplier gives a MOQ of 500 in their quote, do you think the buyer should respond?

What about if a buyer specifically requests a GOTS certified factory, and some suppliers who quote are not GOTS certified. Do you think they are going to get a response?

We had a recent buyer who clearly stated that they wanted a European factory. To all those suppliers outside Europe that sent them quotes, do you think they deserve a response?

The bottom line is that if you cannot meet a buyer’s stated requirements, do not quote. Buyers do not like their time wasted. Not only is the unsuitable supplier wasting the buyers time. They are also wasting their own time.

Unfortunately, this is common with what we refer to as “Cut and Paste” suppliers. They do not respect the buyer at all. They do not even read the details, just the heading, and then simply copy and paste the same quotes to fifty different buyers. Buyers want you to show that you have read the details.

This relates to another common thread that connects poor supplier performance.

This issue is not personalizing quotes, or showing a buyer how your factory stands out from all the others.

This is similar to the “Cut and Paste” issue.

When you send a quote, spend some introducing yourself, so that the buyer can see you have read their requirements in detail.

For example,

“Hi there, I’m John, a merchandiser at XYZ factory. I saw that you are a start up streetwear brand looking for some printed hoodies. Our factory always supports start up buyers, as we see the value in this. Our last start up buyer started off buying small quantities, and has done really well and is now ordering much larger quantities. Let’s discuss how we can cooperate.



The same applies for the “Why work with us” section. Why should a buyer work with you as opposed to one of the other twenty suppliers that have quoted?

Give the buyer some good reasons. That’s it.

This blog is in no way meant to be insulting to any of our suppliers. Its meant to provide some insight into what differentiates successful and unsuccessful suppliers.

We also hope that it helps suppliers that are not getting the response they expect, gain some better insight into the “why”.

Here’s to successful business!

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