If the seller’s offer is right, an order may be expected to follow.
The supplier must maintain the friendly, helpful attitude of his earlier letters
in all letter correspondence. He must show the buyer that his aim is to serve
him well. Difficulties may arise at any time: unforeseen problems may occur
and misunderstandings ensue. All these things need action and explanation, so
that careful wording may be required in a letter to keep a customer in the right
frame of mind.
In other words every letter written to him should be a “silent salesman” and lasting advertising for the writer.
The buyer is able to write without such careful choice of words and language and therefore brief and “to the point”. We are largely dealing with export orders and two things should be mentioned here:
1. Accuracy is essential in the placing of an order –
An error in quoting a catalogue number, or a mistyped figure in the quantity
column can cause trouble which it may be impossible to put right later.
All this is very elementary, but such errors are known to occur; a double check
at all stages is the only prudent course.
2. Clarity is also essential. The buyer must make clear to the seller exactly
what he wants: exact description of the goods-method of transport, packing, delivery and insurance, or possible method of payment.
When ordering goods, a customer will generally include the following in his letter:
1. A reference to a visit by the supplier’s representative, or to an ad, or catalogue, or to a sample, or to previous correspondence. This applies particularly to a first order. In subsequent orders the buyer may begin his letter with:
2. Details of goods requirements: quantity, quality, catalogue number, packing etc.
3. Conditions and qualifications.
4. Alternatives which are acceptable if the goods ordered are not available.
5. A closing sentence, encouraging the supplier to execute the order promptly and with care.
1. Thank you for your order of 1 July, which we accept on the terms quoted.
2. Many thanks for your quotation for stationery. Please send us at once.
3. Thank you for your catalogue and price list. Kindly send us as soon as possible:
4. We enclose our order no. 46215 for…
5. Our indent no. 47791 is enclosed.
6. We have pleasure in ordering the following articles from your winter catalogue.
7. Thank you for your letting us have samples of … we would be glad if you would supply us with…
8. Will you please arrange immediate dispatch of :
9. Please send through our forwarding agents, K. Jones and Co.Ltd., Sunderland avenue, Southampton, the following goods…
Referring to quality etc.
1. The quality must be up to sample…
2. Weight and colour must be as the sample supplied…
3. First class material and workmanship are essential…
4. A medium quality would be suitable…
5. Only fruit packed so as to be in fresh condition on arrival can be accepted.
6. Please send only pure wool. Mixtures are unsuitable.
7. We must point out that the machines must be guaranteed to be to our specifications.
8. The material must match the enclosed pattern.
9. Please supply in assorted colours, preferably 6 dozen each of red, yellow, green, blue and brown.
10. There is no market here for the higher-class cameras. Please send only models in the medium price-range.
11. All grades of cotton (jute, tea, fibre, etc) are acceptable, but we prefer top qualities.
12. The alcohol content must not be under 15%.
13. We enclose a trial order. If the quality is up to our expectations, we shall send further orders in the near future.
14. The material supplied must be absolutely waterproof and we place our order subject to the guarantee.
15. We are arranging for the consignment to be inspected before shipment and must ask you to send only goods in perfect condition.
16. Send us also approximately 1 gross “seconds”; provided that these are not scratched, we can sell them.
17. All length supplied must be cut to the exact dimensions quoted in your offer.
18. Marks of blemishes on the surface may make it necessary for us to reject the goods.
19. A superior finish is important: a rough appearance would be quite unacceptable.
20. The bodywork must have a matt finish inside and a high-gloss exterior.
21. The minimum quantity required is 500 kg, but we would accept up to maximum 800kg if the quality is high.
22. The over-all length must not exceed 2 metres, and the total weight must not be above 25 kg.
1. If pattern no.63A is not available please send 64, 65 and 66A instead.
2. Please supply the nearest you have to the enclosed sample.
3. As we are out of this line, please send the nearest you have in the stock
4. We leave it to your discretion to supply a suitable substitute, should we not have what we want, but the price must not exceed 25 AD per kilogram.
5. If you have a similar article but of better quality, please supply it instead, provided the price is not more than 10% higher.
6. We are prepared to pay up to 8.75 AD, but only for a first class article. Please send us details of other makes, if you cannot supply at or below this price.
7. Please supply in no. 3 Ivory or no. 4 Cream finish if these articles are not available in no. 2 White, as shipment must be effected by S.S.Diogenes, sailing on 3 May.
Invoicing. Packing. Shipping. Payment are considered separately later.
Rejecting an offer.
1. Many thanks for your offer of 3 March. We are sorry to have to tell you that we cannot make use of it at present.
2. We thank you for your offer and will bear it in mind, should we have need of such equipment at any time.
3. Thank you for your quotation for the supply of … but we have been obliged to place our order elsewhere in this instance.
4. Many thanks for your reply to our enquiry to steel furniture. We will keep your catalogue for further reference, but think your products too highly priced for this market.
5. We appreciate your offer of a reduced price, but are of the opinion that the market would not stand an article of this quality at all.
Cancellation. Warning of cancellation.
1. Our indent is enclosed, but we must ask you to cancel any item which you cannot execute by 1 January.
2. Please delete from the order any goods which you cannot ship within 14 days, cannot supply exactly to sample.
1. We agree to your price, but should like to know if you are prepared to grant us a discount of 5% for a quantity of 2,000.
2. What special discount can you offer for orders over 5, 00 Ad net?
3. We enclose our order, but must point out that the failing market here will leave us little or no margin of profit. We must ask you for a keener price in respect of future supplies.
4. As we have now done business with you for a year, we should appreciate quarterly settlement terms.
5. As we propose to run a series of 12 consecutive ads, we should like to know what discount you can allow for this.
6. We attach our order for 3 gross, but could send you much larger orders if you could see your way to bringing your price down to a level comparable with that of your competitors in this market.
1. Your early attention to this order will be appreciated.
2. Please note that delivery is required by 5 April without fail.
3. If this first order is satisfactorily executed we shall place further business with you.
4. We will do our best with these goods, and if sales are satisfactory we shall make your brand one of our standard lines. Kindly advise us when the goods are dispatched.
Now we will turn to the seller and pick up the transaction from his point of view. The order has been received, and the usual practice is to acknowledge it at once. With small routine orders from regular customers this may be done by means of a ready-printed postcard. This tells the buyer that his order has been received and is receiving attention; in addition it saves time and unnecessary correspondence.
More satisfactory is a letter in which the acknowledgement takes the form of repetition of the order. This serves as a check on the accuracy of the description of the goods ordered and turns the order into a firm contract.
In all other cases, a polite letter of acknowledgement is obviously good policy. The seller started by expressing his intention of serving his customer when he made his first order; it is only common sense to show that he appreciates being given the business. This need not take long, but the letter should refer to the actual goods ordered and terms agreed; it should close with an assurance that the order will be carefully attended to and promptly delivered. Of course, the seller will only do this if he is as good as his word. A promise made must be kept, if he wants to keep his customer.
There would be no point in sending our letters of this kind if he proceeded to treat the matter in a casual way: it would become known in time that his letters were a mere formality.
Assuring the customer of your attention.
1. You may rely on us to carry out your instructions in every detail.
2. Your order is receiving immediate attention and you can depend on us to effect delivery at Southampton well within your time limit.
3. We have taken special note of your packing instructions and these will be strictly observed.
4. Special instructions have been given to our despatch department to send your orders on 1 May, 1 June and 1 July respectively. You may be sure that your wishes will be carried out.
5. We note that the goods are to be collected at our works by our forwarding agent, and we shall accordingly notify Carter & Sons when the order is ready to be called for.
6. We cannot guarantee delivery by next Friday as your order was received too late for this week’s despatch, but we are sending your goods by rail, and they will reach you more quickly than if we waited for the next van delivery.
Execution of orders.
1. The goods are nearly ready for despatch and we should be glad to have your instructions.
2. We have not yet had precise shipping instructions and are holding your order until these arrive.
3. As you do not give any special instructions for forwarding, we are passing your order to our forwarding agents in the usual way.
4. As you need the goods so urgently we have arranged transport by road to the port. This will make shipment by S.S.Dinard possible.
5. To avoid storage charges at the port, we are holding your goods here awaiting arrival of your forwarding instructions.
Mentioning method of payment.
1. Please inform us what arrangements you have made for payment. Shipment will be effected immediately we have your reply.
2. As we had not had the pleasure of doing business with you before, we enclose a copy of our invoice, and will be glad if you will arrange payment either by banker’s draft or by opening an irrevocable letter of credit in our favour. Please also state what documents you require.
3. In view of the urgent nature of your order we suggest that you arrange payment be banker’s transfer, confirmed to us by telegram.
4. As requested, we shall draw on you at 60 days for the amount of our invoice, one copy of which is enclosed, the draft to be accepted by your bankers as arranged.
Price sand payment queries – replies.
1. Our terms are net. You will appreciate that our low prices make it impossible for us to grant you any discount.
2. We are grateful to you for your order, but regret we cannot allow a further discount of 5% as requested.
3. Our prices are ex-works; should you wish us to undertake shipping arrangements we will gladly do so, adding the costs involved to our draft to you.
4. We are accepting your order at the prices quoted in our letter, but cannot guarantee that they will hold good for further orders.
5. Prices of raw materials have risen steeply since our quotation of 1 May, and we could not accept your order only at the rates quoted on the attached list. We await your confirmation before the executing your order, but we shall be pleased to give you priority if your reply reaches us within 3 days.
Delays in execution of orders.
We will not find the acknowledgements of orders and the advising of despatch very difficult when you have studied the specimen letters and phrases given today or later. But explaining matters such as delay in despatch, inability to supply the goods ordered, or possibly even accepting an order, calls for a little more care in phrasing:
1. Much to our regret, your order has been held up at the docks by a strike of stevedores. You will appreciate that these circumstances are beyond our control.
2. Owing to delay in the delivery of raw materials, we fear we may be unable to execute your order before 23 January. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused – we are working to capacity to catch up with schedule.
3. A slight delay in the execution of your order will now be unavoidable, but we are giving it priority and you will not have to wait more than 3 days longer that the original delivery date. We regret this and can only hope that it will not seriously inconvenience you.
4. The recent exceptional demand for this line makes it impossible to promise delivery of any further orders before 15 June.
5. We very much regret that our earliest delivery date is now 1 January, as we find it impossible to keep pace with the rush of orders this season. Will you kindly confirm your order for this date?
6. We think it is fair to point out that recent changes in import quotas may cause us difficulty in executing contract orders and that some delay is inevitable.
Refusing an order.
1. We will be unable to accept any more orders for this item until further notice.
2. Regarding item no. 6 of your order, we regret that we do not manufacture this in stainless steel.
3. In this instance we are unable to accept your order, as we cannot match your pattern.
4. Much as we should like to do business with you, we fear we cannot turn out brushes of reasonable quality at the price you ask.
5. supplies of raw materials are becoming difficult to obtain and we have no alternative but to decline your order.
6. As our factory is at present fully occupied with contract orders, we regret having to decline your order.
7. As we would not be able to promise delivery before next spring, we feel we must return your order, with our apologies and thanks.
8. We have a waiting list of several hundred for these machines and can give no guarantee of delivery this year.
9. Production difficulties force us to decline further orders for this model for the time being.
10.The political situation has caused supplies of bristle to “dry up”.
Asking for instructions.
1. Will you kindly let us have an early decision.
2. Please send us your instructions by cable, telex.
3. Please wire, cable, telephone your order.
4. Kindly confirm your order at the price quoted.
5. We await your instructions by return.
6. If you accept our quotation, please advise us by telex.
7. Your reply by return would be appreciated.
8. Please let us know your wishes by Friday next, Friday without fail.
9. Please quote catalogue no. and colour required when you order.
10. Kindly use the enclosed order form when you make out your order as this will facilitate prompt and accurate execution.
11. If our proposal is acceptable to you, please confirm by return.
1. Our whole experience is at your service. We hope you will make use of it.
2. We think we have covered every point of your enquiry. If not, please do not hesitate to write to us again. It will be a pleasure to give you an immediate reply.
3. We should appreciate the opportunity of showing you how efficiently we can serve you.
4. Words alone will not prove what we claim for our products: only a trial can do that, and a trial will convince you.
5. The enclosed catalogue will give you all the essential fact about our lines, but it cannot answer all your personal questions. It will be a pleasure for us to do that if you will write to us.
6. You may rely on us to give your requirements immediate attention.
7. We are sure that these goods will meet your requirements, and we look forward to your first order.
8. We will hold a quantity in reserve for you, as we feel sure you would not wish to miss such an opportunity.
9. We look forward to the pleasure of serving you.
10. An early reply would help us to help you.
11. If you think our offer meets your requirements, lease let us have your order at an early date, as supplies are limited.
12. As we execute all orders in strict rotation, we strongly advise you to order early.