Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, offers tremendous resources. However, it can often be difficult for foreign investors to find or make contact with Indonesian suppliers.
In this article, we will point out the most common barriers foreign companies face when looking for suppliers in Indonesia, and explain how it is possible to overcome these obstacles.
We will also list the requirements you need to fulfill if you intend to export goods out of Indonesia.
Communication barriers with Indonesian suppliers
Challenges of finding Indonesian suppliers online
The first roadblock of your supplier search in Indonesia will likely emerge when you discover that it is quite hard to find Indonesian suppliers online.
The majority of Indonesian companies are still in their infancy when it comes to the internet. Even if the company does have a website, it may have outdated contact information, or it may not be found easily through Google.
Insufficient or old information on websites
Businesses in Indonesia do not place a lot of emphasis on making themselves visible online or keeping their existing web information updated. If you find a site for a supplier that seems to match your criteria, the chances are that the information on it is incomplete or outdated.
Pay attention to the time the website was created and the information added. If possible, it also helps to crosscheck the information from other sources too.
Difficulty getting a reply
Even if you manage to get the contact information of the vendor you are interested in, the odds are that you won’t get a response after submitting your inquiry. Unfortunately, most Indonesian businesses are not eager to reply to emails, especially from senders they don’t yet know.
It is partly a technical issue – they don’t have proper lead management systems in place – and partly a matter of trust. Indonesians are generally very cautious with people they don’t know well and thus are likely to assume that you are not serious.
Communication via email can work well but only if you have already been in contact. We recommend that instead of sending unsolicited emails, try to reach the supplier via phone first, or better yet, aim for a face-to-face meeting.
If you are not able to frequently travel to Indonesia yourself, Emerhub can act as your local representative. We can arrange and conduct meetings with suppliers you have already selected or search for suppliers on your behalf.
Lack of English skills
Other difficulties that are likely to arise are all sorts of communication issues – from lack of knowledge regarding the local culture to language barriers from both sides. Foreign investors are used to getting things done using English. Most Indonesians, however, don’t learn much of it at school, especially outside of the big cities. For this reason, we strongly recommend involving a local advisor when doing business in Indonesia. This way you will avoid any linguistic ambiguities from occurring.
A local partner will also help you understand the local business culture better, by interpreting the unwritten habits and expectations of doing business in Indonesia.
Don’t assume that “Yes, Boss” means that you have a deal
The term “Yes, Boss” is a widespread and somewhat automatic expression in the Indonesian way of things. Don’t take it at face value when discussing business and make sure you always reconfirm everything before you celebrate a deal too early.
There is no doubt that the Western way of doing business differs from Indonesian business customs considerably. To provide some more insight, we have discussed the topic in more detail in our previous article about the diverse business culture of Indonesia.
Poor quality standards
Another frequent issue is the poor quality of products. Foreign investors often find that the products they ordered don’t comply with their quality requirements and they are forced to revoke their orders.
It is also not uncommon that even if the first shipment is compliant, the subsequent ones may not keep up with the standards. Such hassles can be avoided by conducting frequent quality control. In the end, you get what you demand.
Benefits of using supplier search service in Indonesia
Easier than finding suppliers in Indonesia on your own
The process of using our supplier search service is quite simple and straightforward. All you need to do is provide us with details about the product you are looking for, and we handle the rest.
The time frame from contacting us to sealing the deal depends on the complexity of the product you are looking for and how easy it is to contact the suppliers. In general, it takes 3-6 weeks to find suppliers that match your criteria. Get in touch with Emerhub either in Bali email@example.com or Jakarta firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can assist you further with your needs.