Do you have an amazing product idea but don’t know where to start? First of all, that’s great – plenty of people have ideas, but few actually look into how to make it happen.
The process of getting an idea ready for manufacturing is by no means straightforward. And unfortunately this is where many entrepreneurs-to-be lose momentum and sometimes even give up, since it’s simply too confusing to know which direction to take.
However, if you’re prepared with the right knowledge, you will be equipped with everything you need to make the right decisions.
List Down Your Product Specifications
The first step before looking for a manufacturer is to make a list of the product specifications.
This will help the prospective manufacturer understand how the product will look and function. The product specification sheet will include details of the material, dimensions and components of the product.
If possible, develop a prototype that you can show the manufacturer. A prototype is like seeing your idea in 3-D – since manufacturers can’t see your thoughts, showing them a prototype guarantees that they understand exactly what it is that you want. And of course having built a prototype, you can work together with the manufacturer to refine it before production.
What To Consider When Looking For A Manufacturer
When looking for a manufacturer, one of the first major decisions to make is to decide between a domestic or an overseas manufacturer.
You likely already know that it is almost always cheaper to work with an overseas manufacturer. But other than cost, there are also other factors such as shipping durations, shipping costs, ease of communication and differences in business practices to take into account.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to find a manufacturer is through online supplier directories such as Zipfox. They will help to link you up to many manufacturers that specialize in your product. From here, you can browse profiles of different manufacturers and form relationships from the comfort of your home.
Alternatively, you can find a manufacturer through other routes such as referrals, social media or even a good old fashioned google search.
Getting Quotes From Manufacturers
Once you’ve found a suitable supplier, plan out the questions you have for each of them. It is advisable to use the same template so that you can compare between manufacturers easily. Think of it like a job interview – after all, it essentially is.
Here are some important questions that you can consider including in your email:
- What is your minimum order quantity
The minimum order quantity (MOQ) is the minimum order the manufacturer is willing to accept. This may vary from different manufacturers, so make sure you can handle the minimum quantity of your prospective supplier. There’s little point in talking to a manufacturer about your first product run when their minimum order is a million units.
- What is your price per unit?
The product price is the basis of your expenses and will affect your profit margins directly. Inquire if there are different prices for different order sizes so you can decide which is the most cost effective way.
- What is your turnaround time?
The turnaround time refers to the time required to manufacture your order. Knowing this can help you plan ahead and manage your inventory.
- How long will shipping take?
Especially when dealing with overseas manufacturers, shipping duration may be longer. If possible, choose a manufacturer in your country, or one that shares a border with yours. This will cut the shipping times down to a minimum.
- What are your payment terms?
Be sure to know how much you will be paying before ordering. Some manufacturers may allow partial, incremental payments while others require full payment upfront.
It is usual for suppliers to get a lot of emails and some may be not as responsive. If you’re contacting a supplier from overseas, some may use translating programs to read and reply to you. To avoid getting ignored, be short and concise in your emails.
Deciding on the Right Manufacturer
The biggest concern when manufacturing products for the first time is the credibility of the manufacturer, and the quality of the final product.
There are many ways business owners can verify the quality of their manufacturer:
- Reading reviews
Reviews are an easy way to find out the reputation of a business but they may not always be available. Unbiased reviews can be found on social media or even foreign websites, which you can translate with google.
- Inquire about product experience
To ensure that the manufacturer can really understand your product needs, don’t be shy to ask them questions. Some suppliers can even refer you to satisfied customers of theirs.
- Ask for product samples
Before placing a large order, request for a product sample. This will help to ensure the product quality and make sure that there are no flaws in your product design.
- Request a copy of their business license
If your manufacturer can produce a valid business license, it tells you that they are legitimate business and can legally participate in their business operations. Also, you can do further research with their license number and other details.
Moving Forward with Product Manufacturing
And finally, you are ready to start manufacturing your product! When you first begin, order small batches at a time until you are certain that your inventory can sell out quickly. At that point you can start leveraging those sales into retail contracts, and begin scaling up production.
The process of finding suppliers and manufacturers is not straightforward. And very often, it can be challenging to find suppliers that are a good fit for your new business.
Many of us find ourselves hitting a brick wall when it comes to finding the right partner for our business. But with a little perseverance, you can find the right fit for your business.