If you plan to launch a product line, it’s essential to partner with a manufacturer that will help you produce your best product.
The right manufacturer will assist you in developing your best product at the best quality, a competitive price and in a timely matter. So how exactly should you go about sourcing a manufacturer?
Well, first realize that no business will ever be a perfect. Don’t get caught up in searching for the perfect factory. Instead, here are four ways to find the factory and manufacturing partner that’s right for you.
Do your research
In order to properly source a manufacturer, material supplier, or even a consultant, it will take some education. The internet offers great resources for independent learners that like to explore.
A simple Google search can unlock a world of knowledge on product design, development and manufacturing. For others that might need more guided help, I would suggest enrolling in an online course focused on production, sourcing, quality control and packaging.
For example, a free six-day Production 101 online course, can help help jumpstart your design process. An introductory course will cover everything from setting brand goals, budgeting advice, and how to prepare for the factory sourcing process.
This is a great way to get introduced to the process, but will still take some digging once you have basic knowledge. As you conduct research, actively try to answer these questions:
- What do I want to make?
- How do I want to make it?
- What materials do I want to use?
- What will be the retail price?
- Does my brand identity/value and pricing correlate?
- Where do I want to manufacture?
- When do I need the items produced by?
Know your timeline and budget
Knowing your production budget and timeline before you start reaching out to factories is crucial. So many entrepreneurs or designers have to stop mid-process because they run out of money or underestimate the cost of starting a product-based business.
For example, in the fashion industry timelines are important as seasons overlap. Knowing your production timeline and having it align with your season launches will be an important part to keeping your brand on trend with the industry and in stock for your customers.
An introductory email to factories should include: what you want manufactured, a visual reference, estimated production run, your budget, and any deadlines.
Look for a production partner, not a service provider
When trusting a manufacturer to bring your ideas to life, you will want more than just a company concerned with a check. Great production partners will look out for your best interests. They will educate you along the process and be transparent in their communication. They are also quick to introduce you to their network if it’s a service they cannot provide, but one your product needs.
Conduct a background check
So how do you know what you’re really getting out of a production partner? How can you have confidence that they will execute your product ideas? How can you ensure quality without being present during production? Here’s what you can do:
Ask for a client list
If you know some of the brands and products the factory has produced, you can look them up online to evaluate the quality.
Reach out to references
Ask about their experience with the factory. Be sure to inquire about their personal experience with quality control, communication, and timelines.
Set up a meeting
If possible, visit the factory to see the condition of the facility. There are over 10,000 US factories to reach out to. If not, a phone call will also suffice. In this conversation it will be important to address quality themed topics involving company policies on any issues that may arise.
Finding the right factory is just the beginning on your journey to building a product-based business. Don’t worry! It doesn’t have to be daunting. Equipped with the right resources and networks, your will find the confidence to take your product idea from concept to real-life.