As you set the stage to begin producing and selling, there are several considerations to keep in mind. These can help you to select a solid vendor with whom you can have a strong relationship for years to come.
DOMESTIC VS. OVERSEAS
One of the first questions you must answer is if you want to work with a supplier that is based within the United States or abroad. Each option has its pros and cons.
Domestic companies provide high-quality products, easier communication, faster shipping times, intellectual property rights protections and the appeal of American manufacturing. However, with these pluses come higher manufacturing costs. In addition, there are certain materials that simply are not made in the U.S. anymore.
Overseas suppliers offer lower costs. In addition, there are numerous manufacturers from which to choose. However, quality may not be as high, shipping can take longer and it is harder to solve problems effectively given language and time zone barriers. In addition, customs delays and lax security protocols can lead to obstructions and interruptions.
CONSULT SUPPLIER DIRECTORIES
Now that you have weighed the advantages and disadvantages of stateside and foreign suppliers, the time has come to find specific options. Online supplier directories contain hundreds of profiles of various vendors for all manner of materials and products. Four major U.S. directories are the following:
- Maker’s Row;
Some popular overseas directories are:
In addition to searching online, your local library can be a rich source of options since many purchase monthly subscriptions to manufacturer directories.
In addition to directories, the internet also is a springboard for social media contacts. Join commerce-oriented groups made up of people selling products similar to yours. These communities can be valuable forums where you can discuss challenges and solutions. In addition, find out what suppliers they use, and solicit their opinions of those companies.
APPROACH YOUR SUPPLIER
Once you find a company you are interested in working with, your next challenge is to go to them with questions that will help you to get the information you need. Be sure that you ask the following:
- Do you have a minimum order quantity (MOQ) and what is it?
- What is your sample pricing? Do you offer free or discounted samples?
- How much do the particular parts I want cost (This is an important question you need to ask before you buy your entire BOM with one click.);
- What is your turnaround time?
- What are your payment terms? (DO I need to pay for the full cost of the order up front?)
As you shop around for the perfect parts supplier, comparing the answers to these questions can help you to narrow down the field.
Taking the time to ensure that the vital components that are crucial for the manufacture of your products arrive as expected and on time must be one of your highest priorities as you set up your business. Obtaining vendors you can rely on will furnish your business with the essential underpinnings you need as you continue to manufacture and even improve the items you sell. Although the process of finding suppliers can be arduous and frustrating at times, a successful relationship with vendors will be the springboard that your business can use to prosper in even the most difficult times.