Often people have a business idea but have no idea where to start it can be quite overwhelming thinking of how you are going to turn your product idea into a reality. I hope the following blog post is of use to anyone trying to figure out how they can have their business idea made into a physical product.
STEP 1: Creating a Sample / Porotype
The very first step in getting your product made is to create a prototype or create samples. For instance, if you wish to start a clothing line and you have design and sewing experience you can do this by creating samples of your collection yourself or you can find someone who can do this for you. There are many cut and sew businesses that offer prototype services to new entrepreneurs. If it is within your budget it can be of great benefit to invest in such a service. If you are creating prototypes for a clothing business I would recommend you create atleast 2 of each in each size you wish to stock. I would also recommend you wash, dry, pull, stretch, zip, unzip and wear to make sure your product is fit for purpose. You will want to send your manufacture two samples of your product for them to use as reference. However step 1 can sometimes be skipped depending on the product you are trying to be made for instance when I had my package made I worked with an amazing Chinese packaging manufacture and I essentially showed them a collage of ideas of the type of packaging I wanted and they were essentially able to recreate it with my logo and colour scheme.
STEP 2: Finding a manufacture
The first decision in finding a manufacture you need to make is whether you want a domestic or oversees manufacture. Domestic manufactures are manufactures based wherever you live. Overseas can refer to any location overseas but usually, and for the purpose of this post, refers to Asian countries like China, India and Taiwan.
You likely already know that it’s almost always cheaper to source your products overseas but there's a lot more to that decision than just the upfront investment and cost per unit. I wrote a blog post on How to Source Products Safely from China which may be interest to you if you want more information on how to work with overseas manufactures. Both domestic and overseas sourcing have their advantages as well as disadvantages which we will take a look at below:
- Higher manufacturing quality and labour standards
- Easier communication with no language barrier
- Marketing appeal of being made in the UK
- Easier to verify reputable manufacturers
- Faster shipping time
- High intellectual property right protection
- Greater payment security and recourse
- Higher manufacturing costs
- Less product choice
- Lower manufacturing costs
- High number of manufacturers to choose from
- One-stop services like Alibaba have made it easy to navigate suppliers
- Lower perceived quality from customers
- (Usually) lower manufacturing and labour standards
- Little intellectual property protection
- Language and communication barrier can be difficult to navigate
- Difficulty/costly to verify manufacturer and visit on-site
- Longer shipping time
- Cultural differences in business practices
- Product importation and customs clearance
- Less payment security and recourse
Once you’ve decided what kind of manufacture you want you are probably wondering where on earth to find manufactures. We have an ecommerce directory that you can purchase here with a mixture of domestic and overseas directories.
Online Domestic Directories
Online Overseas Directories
However I would recommend you just google whatever product it is you want made followed by manufacture and see where google takes you. However, many suppliers haven’t kept pace with the internet and in particular, Google’s algorithm changes. Their websites are usually old, sparse on information and most certainly are not search engine optimized. So how do you find suppliers on Google? For the first time ever, you’ll need to explore page ten of Google search results, and beyond. You'll also want to use a variety of search terms. For example, words like wholesale, wholesaler and distributor may be used interchangeably so you should search for all of them.
It may help you make yourself familiar with Google's search shortcuts to improve the quality of your searches, thus the results.
STEP 3: Asking for a quotation
How to ask for a quotation (RFQ)
Here are some things you might consider including in the Email:
- Minimum order quantity (MOQ)– If the minimum quantity is larger than what you want or can afford, you are going to have to ask the supplier if he is willing to renegotiate the minimum quantity. It’s also a good idea to inform them of your budget. You should know that, as a general rule, MOQ is negotiable!
- Sample prices –Like we mentioned before, samples are important to determine the quality of the product. Suppliers receive a lot of petitions and tend to have a wide range of prices for their samples. Some, offer discounts or will even give you samples for free depending on the supplier.
- Product price –Knowing the price of each unit is one of the most important questions you should make when buying wholesale. In most cases you will be given a price range however knowing the exact price will help you negotiate better.
- Production time –Especially if time is an issue for you, make sure to ask how long they will take to make your order ready.
Here you have a template you can copy and paste to contact the different sellers. All you have to do is edit the sections marked in bold and then copy it onto the contact page of supplier you are interested in. Here it is:
My name is NAME and I work for NAME OF THE COMPANY. I am interested in placing an order for your NAME OF THE PRODUCT product. Before, I have a few questions:
What is your minimum order quantity?
What is your cost per unit and at what order volume do you offer quantity discounts?
What are the payment terms for a new customer?
I would also like to order a sample of NAME OF THE PRODUCT before placing a full order. Can you please send me the cost for the sample including shipping to.
NAME and COMPANY WEBSITE
After you’ve negotiated your price and MOQ, you probably want to know how you can pay the supplier. There are several methods in which you can pay the supplier, each have their pros and cons and some are safer than others.
STEP 4: Getting the Ball Rolling
Depending on the manufacture you choose to work with they have different payment terms. In my experience with Chinese suppliers I have always opted to pay 50% pre-production and once the item has been manufactured I would either request a sample or depending on my relationship with the supplier once the item has been made and they have sent production photos or videos I would pay the rest via paypal.
If you need a list of verified suppliers from the UK and China check out our eCommerce Directory!