Working with international suppliers

Advantages of sourcing overseas


Sourcing overseas refers to buying materials, products or services from manufacturers or suppliers that are located outside of your home country. While domestic sourcing typically allows for quicker logistics, better production control and shorter time to market, sourcing overseas is generally considered cheaper.

Benefits of sourcing overseas

Cost-savings are one of the main advantages of global sourcing. Many foreign suppliers and manufacturers offer their services at a competitive price, especially in low-cost regions.

Manufacturing costs are generally lower and businesses can often buy goods at a lower unit price. For businesses with tight budgets, this can be a great way to maximise their bottom line. However, keep in mind that other factors can affect any potential cost-savings, such as costly international administration or communication, transport costs or duty rates.

Besides the often-cheaper unit price, other things can tip the scale in favour of sourcing overseas. For example:

  • availability of world-class technology that exists in certain markets
  • access to cutting-edge research, design or specialised knowledge
  • proximity to raw materials that may be unavailable domestically
  • manufacturing capabilities that may unavailable domestically
  • higher quality goods compared to domestic products
  • a great number of potential suppliers you can choose from

In addition, businesses that source overseas are often able to enhance their competitive position in the supplier's home country by getting to know the market.

See how to find an overseas supplier.

Disadvantages of sourcing overseas

Global sourcing is typically more complex than purchasing supplies domestically.

While the advantages of sourcing overseas can be obvious, you must carefully consider and manage the unique issues and increased risks. For example, dealing with increased rules and regulations that apply in international markets, the various customs requirements, cultural and language differences, quality risks, currency fluctuations, complicated logistics, etc. These obstacles are often the reason why many businesses decide to remain with local suppliers.

To overcome the common challenges of sourcing overseas, take steps to scrutinise and understand all of the complexities involved.