How To Find A Manufacturer For Your Ecommerce Products

Guides & Advice
July 9, 2020
Guides & Advice
How To Find A Manufacturer For Your Ecommerce Products

You have written an ecommerce business plan, chosen a business model, and come up with the perfect product idea. Creating an idea for a product is pointless if you can’t properly produce it. So the next step is to turn this idea into reality. 

Finding the right manufacturer for your ecommerce business can be quite challenging. That is the part where most merchants fail, as they don’t have a clear understanding of where to start looking for a manufacturer.

Business owners need to find a manufacturer that can turn their idea into a high-quality product at a reasonable cost. The manufacturer will have an impact on many aspects such as the overall product quality, ability to ship orders on schedule and top up the stock at an appropriate date. 

So, how to find a manufacturer for your digital product?  In this article, we will look at some places to search, and try to figure out how it is better to manufacture locally or overseas.

How to locate manufacturers: domestic vs overseas

For most ecommerce businesses, one of the most challenging decisions to make when finding a manufacturer is whether to source domestically or overseas. There are pros and cons to both. Let’s dig deeper.

Domestic sourcing

Ecommerce businesses that decide to source locally ( the United States ) have more control over their supply chains, averting supply chain problems. When Chinese supply chains were disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that sourced locally were able to operate without major problems. 

Pros of sourcing domestically:

  • Shipping is faster and cheaper
  • Much easier to check if the manufacturer is reputable
  • No language or cultural misunderstandings
  • Great variety of payment options 
  • Higher perceived marketing appeal (made in the U.S). The customers often believe that the goods that are made in the U.S. are of higher quality than those that are made in China, thus they tend to buy local products. This can translate to more revenue if you source domestically
  • Easier to check the product quality (better quality control)
  • Fewer possibilities of intellectual property theft
  • Simpler to obtain legal protection in case of disputes
  • High-quality production and labor standards

Cons of sourcing domestically:

  • Production costs are dramatically higher
  • Fewer product-types options (especially for low-tech products )
  • Higher production costs 

Overseas sourcing

Generally, overseas manufacturers are situated in Asia, particularly in China, and Taiwan.

Pros of sourcing overseas:

  • Lower manufacturing and labor costs
  • A large range of manufacturers 
  • A much larger variety of products
  • Easier to place a large number of orders
  • A great variety of online directories available to determine a credible manufacturer

Cons of sourcing overseas:

  • Little legal protection in case of intellectual theft
  • Not so easy to check the product quality
  • Shipping is more costly and much longer
  • Language barriers and cultural differences in doing business
  • Turnaround time is much longer
  • Lower perceived brand value (made in China). Many customers think that products that are made in China are of poor quality, which can damage your brand reputation and negatively affect the value of your product. However, it all depends on the manufacturer. There are many top manufacturing powerhouses in Asia.
  • The time-consuming process to check if the manufacturer is credible
  • You will have to address customs clearances and tariffs
  • Typically lower manufacturing and labor standards

Our recommendation

If you are new to the market, it’s better to source your products overseas. Once you have high product demand and ongoing money flow you can find a manufacturer in the USA (or other countries where you come from) or move to more expensive manufacturers overseas. The choice depends on your budget and business objectives. 

Where to find a manufacturer for your product?

Now that you have a clearer picture of the pros and cons of domestic vs. overseas sourcing, the next question to answer is where to find a manufacturer for your product? Certainly, the Internet is one of the best places to start, but there are a few other approaches that can help with your search. We’ll look at all these places below.

Search on the Internet

Google is a helpful resource to start looking for potential manufacturers. It can generate a wide range of search results based on your product niche. You just need to filter through different categories to find what you are searching for. 

So how to find a manufacturer for your product on Google? Finding a manufacturer to make your product is really simple. You need to type on Google your product name e.g. “backpack” and search terms such as ‘supplier’, ‘wholesaler’, ‘distributor’, or ‘manufacturer’ depending on your business model. Explore the first 2-5 pages of Google search results. Manufacturers’ websites that are ranking high are verified by Google to be credible and trustworthy. 

Search on Google
Search for manufacturers on Google

Some of the best tools available for product manufacturing are online directories. The massive marketplaces enable you to browse the manufacturer brand and come in contact with suppliers globally, all in the same place. These directories contain profiles for many manufacturers,  trading companies, and wholesalers. 

Alibaba is the biggest online wholesale manufacturing directories that have a vast diversity of producers. The problem is there are a number of counterfeit accounts. However, Alibaba provides manufacturer verification categories to protect buyers from frauds and make sure that financial transactions are secure. 

You can sift search results by companies that have Trade Assurance and Gold Supplier badges or apply Inspection Service to find if the manufacturer is credible enough to start business cooperation.

Search for Alibaba suppliers
Search for Alibaba suppliers

Other well-known online directories include:

  • AliExpress
  • Thomas Net
  • MFG
  • Oberlo

Sourcify is one more automated sourcing platform that provides an excellent source to find potential companies that will make your product worldwide. Sourcify helps merchants to match their products with the most suitable manufacturers tailored to their specific business needs. The platform works with 1000+ factories globally and offers 300+ various types of products. 

Forums are other places where to find a manufacturer for your product. Reddit, SaleHoo, and Warrior are among the most popular ones. Merchants can find manufacturer recommendations there, as many users share their experiences on how to find good manufacturers. 

The major advantage of online search is that it’s cost-effective and doesn’t consume much time. The disadvantage is that you are not always able to check the quality of production yourself. 

Network in-person

Feedback in your professional networks is an effective way of finding the best manufacturers. Some of the greatest business partners come from referrals. Ask for connections from your fellow ecommerce sellers about how to find a supplier for your product that would suit your purpose. 

It’s better to ask for feedback from merchants who are successful in a niche you’d like to start your ecommerce business. Usually, fellow wholesalers give an honest opinion on the supplier’s capabilities. However, not all want to share their contacts. 

Network in-person
Network in-person. Image credit: Techspot

If you find manufacturers, but they aren’t the right fit for your ecommerce business, make sure to ask about other contacts. Being in the product manufacturing industry means they probably have some connections and would guide you to a company that may be a better fit. 

The main benefit of networking in-person is that you have the possibility to check production quality and establish firm relationships with the factory. 

Trade shows and wholesale markets

Use an opportunity to network at trade shows, conferences, and wholesale markets with a great number of potential manufacturers at once. That will save you months of search efforts. 

The Canton Fair is the largest and the most popular fair for imports and exports that is held in China twice a year (spring and autumn). At this trade fair, you can meet dozens of China-based manufacturers in a day and find out contact information and production details in person. Being able to communicate in person with manufacturers is crucial for building lasting business relationships.

Canton Fair
Canton Fair. Image credit: Scmp

Most stands at Canton Fair showcase manufactured goods, but you can make a deal to do custom orders. We also recommend you to check out websites like TSNN and ChinaExhbition if you want to monitor the major trade shows. 

What’s next?

Now you know how to find good manufacturers. Choosing a manufacturer who is credible and trustworthy is challenging, but once you’ve found one that produces high-quality products, it will increase your chances to succeed in online business. 

Choosing the manufacturer is only one step to start selling online. Read on how to start an ecommerce business:
Guides & Advice
How To Start An Ecommerce Business: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

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