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How To Find the Right Manufacturer or Supplier for Your Product Idea

June 30, 2021 Published by

forklift moving products into warehouse rack

Coming up with a viable product idea is exciting. Your product gives your business a foundation brings with it the promise of growth. However, when it comes time to bring this product to life, new challenges surface. Choosing the right manufacturer or supplier can be an incredibly difficult decision as deciding on the wrong one can result in a poor product and wasted funds.

We’ve assembled a guide to help you find the right manufacturer and/or supplier.

What Is A Manufacturer?

A manufacturer is any enterprise that produces finished products from raw materials. They sell these products to retailers, wholesalers, distributors and other manufacturers looking to create more complex goods.

Manufacturers usually tend to create one type of product. For example, a ceramics manufacturer might make only clay jars and bowls.

What’s the Difference Between a Manufacturer & Supplier?

The difference between a manufacturer and supplier is:

  • A manufacturer is the company that produces a good
  • A supplier provides the products from the manufacturer. Sometimes, the manufacturer is the supplier, too.

Methods for Finding the Right Manufacturer and/or Supplier

Finding the right manufacturer and supplier for your business is critical. They control the cost and quality of your inventory.

Here are several methods you can use to find the right ones:

1. Use Online B2B Marketplaces

Online B2B marketplaces can be a great place to look for existing products to sell. For example, Alibaba connects you to manufacturers and suppliers based in China. Simply look up the items you want to sell and browse through their manufacturers.

When researching these manufacturers, be sure they meet the quality standards set by the site. For instance, Alibaba gives each of its manufacturers the following qualifications:

  • Verified: This means a third-party company or Alibaba has visited the manufacturer’s factory
  • Gold supplier: This signals the manufacturer pays for their Alibaba membership
  • Trade assurance: A free service that protects your orders from the manufacturer from payment to delivery

2. Comb Through Directories

Free online supplier directories are a great place to look for manufacturers and suppliers. They contain listings for thousands of wholesalers, manufacturers, and suppliers. A few of the most popular domestic directories include ThomasNet, MFG, and Kompass.

3. Look For Referrals

Not all research has to be performed on the web. Some of your best options for manufacturers could come from referrals. Be sure to ask your professional network if anyone has recommendations or knows someone who might. Look for people who’ve found success in your line of business and see if they are willing to share their connections.

Once you’ve found manufacturers or suppliers that interest you, start asking questions.

Questions To Ask Your Manufacturers or Suppliers

Now that you have a few manufacturers or suppliers on your list, start getting quotes. Set a goal of acquiring at least 3 quotes so you can weigh your options.

Here are a few questions to ask to help create a better outcome:

  1. Can the manufacturer perform custom orders? Determine whether the supplier or manufacturer can create the item you want.
  2. What are your manufacturer’s lead times? You want to avoid working with companies that take too long to deliver your products. If you run out of stock, you don’t want to leave your customers waiting months to receive their purchase.
  3. What is the manufacturer’s defect policy? Be sure to find out who pays the costs for defective products.
  4. What are the shipping costs? Shipping can consume a large portion of your funds. Be sure to learn how your manufacturer’s shipping costs will affect your bottom line.
  5. Does the manufacturer practice sustainability and ethics? Research the manufacturer’s factory and conditions and learn how they’re impacting the environment and their workers.

Your Product Won’t Ship Itself

Once you’ve brought your product to life, be sure to invest in quality order fulfillment. Third-party logistics providers like Fulfillment Works can help with fulfillment and ensure the products you’ve worked hard to source are delivered to your customers on time and in good condition.