In this mini-series, we will provide a primer for those who are looking to take an idea and make it into a reality. The process can be daunting—so here’s a roadmap to get you started.
Step II: Identifying a Supplier
At this point, you should know exactly what you want your product to be. You should have drawings with detailed and exact specifications, a workable prototype, and a clear idea about the quantities you are looking to produce. If you don’t have any of this information, you should refer back to STEP I: CONCEPTUALIZING. If all that is done and done well, it is time to start thinking about whom your supplier is going to be.
This next step is where many people stumble. There is an incredible amount of nuance to selecting your supplier, particularly if you are planning on seeking a supplier abroad. Clicking around a search engine results page is simply not enough. The issue is that a supplier’s ability to market effectively online does not necessarily translate to them being the best choice for you (you can read why here). This is a time where you need to be considering the more technical side of the business. Things like Minimum Order Quantity (or MOQ), different types of inspections, and sourcing should all be considered. This can get pretty confusing, and there can be a strong desire to just choose a supplier that looks ok online and settle for them. Please, don’t do that. If you break the issue down into manageable pieces, not only can it seem more manageable, but it can also become pretty obvious that there is a right way and a wrong way to find a supplier. It ends up being a safer (and ultimately more cost-effective) way to go about bringing your product to market.
The best place to start is with manufacturing blogs. When you read blogs like ours, you begin to get an understanding of what the different factors at play are. You also begin to understand manufacturing as a whole a little better. Manufacturing is an industry where quality and value reign supreme. We have a number of blog posts that can explain why quality is important. What we want you to focus on right now is value. When it comes to value, it is important to understand that cheap costs per unit does not necessarily equate to value. Value is a complex intersection between price, MOQ, quality control, and sourcing. Any one of these factors can seriously degrade the value on offer by a supplier.
Luckily, this is one of the places in this process that we can really start to shine. To find the best suppliers, you need to know all the suppliers. You need to understand that supplier x is cheap because they source cheap materials, or do shoddy quality control, or have astronomical MOQs. All of these things will ultimately reflect (poorly) in your bottom line. You need to be able to consider all of the variables, and find the sweet spot, and you need to be able to hold suppliers accountable. For all of this, the key is relationships. We have relationships with suppliers around the world, and we can help find the best value for you, so you can focus on your product.
Once you have done all that it is time to start thinking: What comes next?