Before beginning your search for the perfect supplier, first you need to identify exactly what you’re looking for and the best solution for your business.
What type of supplier are you looking for?
1. Manufacturers: they are at the source of the supply chain. Manufacturers physically make products. Manufacturers will tend to have the lowest prices as they produce in such large volume the cost per unit will usually be at it’s lowest. (Ordering directly from the source). There are usually two two types of manufacturers:
– ODM (Original Design Manufacturing) is a manufacturer that designs and manufactures a product as specified by another business who eventually rebrands it as their own. The manufacturer is then making a product for the customer as per their specifications.
– OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is a manufacturer that develops and produces products as per their own specifications, then allowing other businesses to purchase and distribute under their own brand. Often with OEM the product has already been developed and you as the purchaser would not need to invest into set up, tooling costs etc. Often this can be know as ‘white label goods’.
2. Drop shipping: is where you promote and sell a manufacturer’s / supplier’s product usually on an e-commerce website without holding any stock. Drop shipping is a retail fulfillment method which allows a retailer to sell third party goods without having to invest into the stock. When the end consumer purchases a product, the order will get sent directly to the supplier who will fulfill the order directly to the end consumer. The retailer will take a commission from the sale. This has become a very good way to start an online businesses as there is little initial investment needed however you need to research the supplier and ensure that the fulfillment and delivery process is handled well.
Local supplier or overseas?
Depending on your requirements you may want a local supplier, i.e. within your own country. Or you could be looking to locate the production overseas. Typically there are certain countries that produce certain products. For example India is well known for it’s clothing manufacturing capabilities. The work force, infrastructure and logistics will be well established for these types of products and industries.
Overseas suppliers including the Far East and Asia having a lower cost for production and the cost of manufacturing goods is a lot cheaper than most Western manufacturing.
Research the supplier
1. Check out their website or online profiles to see their capabilities i.e how many workers / employees do they have, are they investing into different product areas etc)
2. Are they on Amazon and selling their products direct online
3. Research their portfolio of products:
– Quality manufacturers tend to specialise in their area of expertise. This will reflect in their product portfolio range. I.e. if you can see they have a wide range of products all within a specific category of products then this suggests they have invested into designing, developing and tooling a good range. (Request their product catalogue / price list and this will give you a good indication of what they offer).
4. Contact a few suppliers and start to build up your knowledge on the cost of manufacturing the products. Question how much individual components cost and cross reference this with other suppliers. This will give you more confidence in your area and the true cost of what you are purchasing
5. Get an understanding of their terms and requirements and does this work for you. (payment terms / incoterms / delivery etc) All suppliers have their standards and you will need to identify if this is workable for your venture.