Finding a Manufacturer or Supplier for Your Product Idea
When you have a product idea and you are in product development, your next steps will include sourcing a supplier or manufacturer.
Your next steps will also be, choosing between the use of domestic or international sources.
Once you have made your choice, you will have to determine if they are the right fit, to finally seal the deal.
You should determine what type of supplier or manufacturer you are looking for. Google or whatever search engine you use is your friend.
Resources such as;
- and Sourcify are really good directories to start with.
You can get industry insights and learn from the experience of others who may be on a similar path as yours.
See more directories here. One of the big choices with finding product manufacturers or suppliers is deciding whether you will go with a domestic or overseas company. Both have pros that include:
Pros of Domestic Supplier Sourcing
- Reduced or no language barrier.
- Made in the US tags
- High manufacturing quality
- Faster shipping
- Intellectual property rights protection.
- Verify manufacturers without traveling across the world or making an online guess
Pros of International Supplier Sourcing
- Distributors like Aliexpress have multiple suppliers.
- Lower manufacturing costs.
The Cons of Domestic sourcing are:
- Limited product choice
- Higher manufacturing costs.
The Cons of International Sourcing are:
- Labor standards are often very poor
- Sometimes quality is subpar
- Reduced payment and refund security
- Long shipping times.
- Customs can be costly and hassling to clear your products
- Harder to protect intellectual property
- Cultural, language, communication and time zone barriers
- In-person factory visits are costly travel and usually very far
When you decide which option you are going with, you will need to determine if they are the right fit. Determining if a company is the right fit will include:
Visiting their factory/Seeing their test samples
Visiting a supplier’s factory you are able to see in person how the company operates and also their finished products. Having an idea of the quality of their products and business standards is a good place to see who you are getting in business bed with.
Pricing and Minimum Order Quantities (MOQ)
Ask questions about pricing, the cost for samples and MOQs. Keep in mind your budget and all the costs you will have to maintain over a period of time extending into the future.
Find out how long it takes to make your products, so you can work out your reorder points, be timely with consideration of fast pace markets and make other business decisions.
Don’t shy away from contractual payment agreements. Ask how payments will be made, as well as reimbursements in the event there is a need for refunds. If using overseas sources, factor in exchange rates in your calculations.
Ask for References
Self-praise is no recommendation. Find out other businesses that have dealt with the company you have an interest in. Read reviews and seek other's advice on their credibility and business standards and ethics.
Check certifications and ratings
Another way to check credibility and capacity is to check or ask for the certifications they have. Now that we have covered all the manufacturer/supplier needs to have in place, let’s look at the final key things that must be in place on your end. Ensure all communication is clear and understood. Provide proper documentation for your product size, shape, weight, color, smell and any other qualities the factory needs to know to manufacture it.
Protect intellectual property
All your hard work and research has gone into the development of your product. Finding a supplier or manufacturer is the next important step. Protecting your property, will prevent anyone you hire from reproducing your product or using your research and then undercutting you. Seek out the necessary IP protection steps that you need to take so that you can have legal redress if anyone tries to steal your idea. Finding a supplier or manufacturer starts with research that can be done online. You can weigh the pros and cons of sourcing internationally versus domestically and do your in-depth research to see if a company may be the best fit for your startup.
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