How to Find an Overseas Supplier for Your Product Idea
Finding the right supplier for your product idea may prove challenging. If possible, you should find one that you like working with, and they should also provide you with a quality product at a fair price.
Here are the steps involved in finding a supplier, and some of the many considerations you will have to navigate along the way.
Define What You are Looking for in a Supplier
What kind of supplier are you looking for? From manufacturers to wholesalers and distributors, different suppliers manage different aspects of the operation. Some handle all of the tasks we’ve mentioned, while others specialise in specific areas.
The 3 most common types of suppliers include:
- A manufacturer that will produce your product idea.
- A supplier that also functions as a manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor and purchases products from existing brands.
- A drop-shipper that fulfills orders of existing brands and products.
Make sure that you know what you are looking for in a supplier before making use of their services.
The Main Advantages of Overseas Suppliers
Sourcing your products overseas is generally more affordable, as manufacturing costs can be cheaper in other locations. There is a high number of manufacturers to choose from, and there are integrated services (such as Alibaba.com) that enable you to find a suitable supplier with ease.
Going with overseas suppliers can also lead to better products. Different areas in the world have different specialties for manufacturing and for supplies. You might find that one country is great for producing fine leather while another country is perfect for creating shoes or apparel using that leather.
On a similar note, by going with overseas suppliers you bring in potentially new and better technology and processes, which can lead to better products and more efficient and cheaper ways of doing business. New partners might also have ideas for better marketing, sales and other practices to help you.
Going with an overseas supplier also increases the total pool for your supply and manufacturing needs. When you limit yourself to one supplier there is risk. A supplier might run out or run low. They could have trouble delivering on their promises. By widening your pool you give yourself more options and lessen the risk.
The Main Disadvantages of Overseas Suppliers
It’s also important to understand some of the disadvantages of overseas suppliers if you are considering them for your product idea.
Because overseas suppliers sometimes have lower manufacturing and labor standards, the perceived quality of your products may be lesser in the eyes of your customers. Language and communication barriers can also arise, and the cultural differences in business practices can be challenging to navigate.
In addition, shipping times can be longer, and goods also have to be imported and cleared by Customs.
Where to Find Overseas Suppliers
In addition to Alibaba.com, you can also find overseas suppliers on sites like AliExpress and eBay. Google can also be used to search for prospects, but suppliers haven’t necessarily kept up with the times, so you may need to go deeper into search results than you’re used to doing in order to find them.
You can often work directly with suppliers. However, many of the suppliers work with independent local agents that can help you with finding the right suppliers. These agents can steer you toward the right supplier. Some may have bias toward a particular company, but most will have the knowledge to help you find what you need.
Confirm if they’re willing to give you references. It’s always good to double check that you’re working with a reputable supplier.
Asking for a Quote
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential suppliers to contact, you’re going to want to send them a request for quotation.
However, before asking them how much your product idea is going to cost, it would be wise to plan your communication. Make a list of the question you need to ask, and what information you require to make a decision.
Minimum order quantity, sample pricing, production pricing, turnaround time, and payment terms are all good items to inquire about. Don’t be too hasty in getting all of your questions answered, but as you develop a relationship with suppliers, make sure that you have a clear understanding of how they work.
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