Which Chemical Material Sourcing Strategy is Best for Your Chemical Business?

9 min read

In today’s globalized economy, businesses are presented with a myriad of choices when it comes to sourcing raw materials. Should you procure them from a local distributor or opt for global sourcing? This dilemma is at the heart of strategic planning for companies in the chemical industry. This choice can influence costs, lead times, product quality, and even customer satisfaction. Understanding the pros and cons of each option is essential for optimizing your supply chain and maintaining a competitive edge in the market.  We will explore the key factors you need to consider, including cost implications, logistical challenges, quality control, and the potential impact on your brand’s reputation.

What is local Sourcing?

Local sourcing refers to the practice of procuring  goods, materials, or services from suppliers that are typically within the same country or region where the business operates. This approach prioritizes proximity over other factors such as cost or variety, emphasizing the benefits of shorter supply chains.

Advantages of Buying from Local Distributors

Shorter Lead Times: One of the most significant advantages of buying from local distributors is the reduced lead time. Local suppliers can typically deliver raw materials faster than overseas suppliers, which can be crucial for maintaining production schedules and meeting customer demands.
Easier Communication & Documentation: Working with local distributors often means dealing with fewer language barriers and time zone differences. This can simplify negotiations, order placements, and problem resolution. Usually, when buying locally, extensive documentation is not needed and the process is relatively smoother.
Support for Local Economy: Purchasing from local suppliers helps support the local economy and can enhance your brand’s reputation as a community-oriented business.

Disadvantages of Buying from Local Distributors

Higher Costs: Local distributors might charge higher prices for raw materials compared to international suppliers. This can be due to higher labour costs, taxes, and other operational expenses. Local distributors would also take advantage of lack of know-how of procuring from international suppliers and hence charge higher prices.
Limited Selection: Depending on your location, the variety of raw materials available locally might be limited. This can restrict your ability to source specific or high-quality materials required for your products.
Quality Assurance: Since local distributors are importing goods from a different geography, it is usually difficult for them to provide quality assurance services due to being far away from the manufacturing site.
Opaqueness: Local distributors would hide information about the real manufacturer or manufacturing country due to risk of disintermediation. This lack of transparency leads to lower trust levels.

What is Global Sourcing?

Global sourcing is a strategic practice where businesses procure goods, services, or materials from suppliers located around the world. This approach leverages international markets to find the most cost-effective and high-quality options, often resulting in significant competitive advantages. By extending their reach beyond domestic borders, companies can access a diverse range of resources, enhance innovation, and improve their supply chain resilience.

Advantages of Global Sourcing of Raw Material

Cost Savings: Importing raw materials from global sources will result in significant cost savings. International suppliers, particularly from countries with lower production costs, often offer more competitive prices than local distributors. In addition to this, local suppliers take advantage of the lack of enough knowledge of the supplier base and charge hefty margins. However, dealing with a transparent supplier of products, like Elchemy, can help you save up to 25% in overall procurement costs.
Wider Variety: Global sourcing opens up a broader range of raw materials, including specialized or higher-quality products that may not be available locally.
Local Support: The supplier being close to the manufacturer, can provide on ground support including quality, inspections and other certifications. In case of any dispute, a global supplier is always better positioned to provide an amicable resolution.
Economies of Scale: Importing in bulk allows you to take advantage of economies of scale, reducing the per-unit cost of raw materials and improving overall profit margins.
Supplier Diversification: By sourcing from multiple international suppliers, you can diversify your supply chain and reduce the risk of disruptions. Having sourcing strengths in multiple countries de-risk you from global supply chain shocks. Read more about the benefits of supplier diversification.

Disadvantages of Global Sourcing of Raw Material

Longer Lead Times: Importing materials from overseas typically involves longer lead times due to shipping, customs clearance, and potential delays. This can impact your production schedule and ability to meet customer demands. However, with the world becoming more interconnected, lead times for global procurement are constantly coming down. At Elchemy, lead times is a key metric that we track and are trying to constantly reduce the lead times for our customers. We’ve successfully been able to reduce lead times by 10 days in the past 1 year of our operations and are on track to reduce it even further.
Shipping Costs Fluctuations: Due to global supply chain issues like COVID-19 or Red Sea crisis, shipping costs over the past 3-4 years have been frequently going up and down. This hampers the planning for buyers and impacts their bottom line.
Complex Logistics: Importing involves navigating complex logistics, including customs regulations, import duties, and compliance with international trade laws. This can add to the administrative burdens and require specialized knowledge or external consultants. Elchemy has built a tech platform that streamlines international trade documentation and compliances in a single place along with features like real time shipment tracking, process transparency and visibility. It reduces the buyer’s headache and saves their time by 20%. Buyer’s love placing repeat orders due to these advantages.
Currency Fluctuations: Changes in currency exchange rates can affect the cost of imported raw materials, adding an element of financial risk.
Making the Choice: A Strategic Perspective

When deciding between local sourcing and bulk imports, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The optimal approach depends on a myriad of factors, including the nature of the business, market dynamics, and strategic objectives. Here are some guiding principles to inform your decision-making process, illustrated through a case study of BASF, a global leader in the chemical industry:

Case Study: BASF’s Strategic Sourcing Decisions

BASF, a prominent player in the chemical industry, faced a strategic choice in its sourcing strategy. They needed to decide whether to continue relying on global suppliers for their raw materials or to strengthen their local supply chains. Their decision-making process and subsequent actions offer valuable insights into the principles of risk mitigation, total cost of ownership, and collaborative partnerships.

Risk Mitigation

BASF recognized the importance of a resilient supply chain to withstand disruptions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company experienced significant challenges due to global supply chain disruptions. To mitigate future risks, BASF adopted a balanced sourcing strategy, increasing their reliance on local suppliers without entirely abandoning global sourcing. This diversification allowed them to reduce vulnerability to geopolitical risks, transportation delays, and other unforeseen events while ensuring continuity in their operations.

Total Cost of Ownership

BASF conducted comprehensive cost-benefit analyses to understand the long-term financial impact of their sourcing strategies. Initially, global sourcing appeared more cost-effective due to lower raw material costs from international suppliers. However, a deeper analysis revealed hidden costs such as transportation, tariffs, and potential delays, which could significantly impact their bottom line. By considering the total cost of ownership, including procurement, logistics, and potential risks, BASF found that in some cases, local sourcing offered better long-term value, contributing to a more stable and predictable cost structure.

Collaborative Partnerships

Building strong relationships with both local and international suppliers was crucial for BASF. They fostered transparent communication and established mutual trust with their suppliers, ensuring that both parties were aligned in their objectives. For local suppliers, BASF provided support to enhance their production capabilities and quality standards, creating a more robust local supply chain. With international suppliers, BASF negotiated long-term contracts that included clauses for flexibility and contingency planning, securing the necessary raw materials and promoting innovation and shared growth.

Case Study: Conclusion

BASF’s strategic sourcing decisions highlight the importance of a balanced approach to risk mitigation, total cost of ownership, and collaborative partnerships. By learning from their experience, businesses in the chemical industry can better navigate the complexities of local and global sourcing. The key is to thoroughly evaluate the specific needs of your business, conduct detailed analyses, and foster strong relationships with your suppliers. In doing so, you can build a resilient and efficient supply chain that supports your long-term strategic objectives.

Why should you buy from Elchemy?

Elchemy, a tech-enabled chemical distribution company from India, offers unparalleled advantages to global customers. Leveraging operational efficiencies and economies of scale, Elchemy provides competitive pricing and the shortest lead times. Our digital platform simplifies documentation and offers live shipment tracking, enhancing procurement efficiency. Additionally, we ensure quality assurance and support at every step.

Our strong partnerships with Indian and global suppliers enable us to meet worldwide demand effectively. Elchemy’s commitment to customer-centric solutions drives us to continuously revolutionize the chemical industry. Choose Elchemy for a reliable, efficient, and cost-effective solution for your chemical sourcing needs.


In conclusion, the decision to buy raw materials from a local distributor or import in bulk is a strategic choice that requires careful consideration of various factors  including cost, lead times, quality control, and supply chain resilience. Both options have their merits and challenges, and the optimal choice will vary based on your specific business needs and strategic goals.

For businesses prioritizing quick turnaround times, quality assurance, and local economic support, sourcing from local distributors may be the best option. On the other hand, companies looking to minimize costs, access a wider range of materials, and benefit from economies of scale might find importing in bulk more advantageous.

Ultimately, a balanced approach that combines local and international sourcing can often provide the best of both worlds, ensuring a robust and flexible supply chain. By carefully weighing the pros and cons outlined in this blog, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your business objectives and positions your company for long-term success.



Elchemy is your high-trust gateway to the Indian chemical manufacturers. We offer best payment terms, seasoned chemical consultants, fastest turnaround times and minimum supply chain risks.

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