How to Find an Overseas Factory to Manufacture your Product

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Let these platforms do the legwork.

When it comes to sourcing a supplier outside your nation’s borders, it can be hard to build and maintain a long-lasting professional relationship.

If you’re unsure where to begin, start by using online platforms such as ThomasNet, Maker’s Row, MFG and Kompass, which can serve as an initial business directory for contacts. You could also head to manufacturing and trade fairs, including the twice-yearly China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) in Guangzhou.

Once you’ve created a shortlist of factories, it’s important to ensure you have a clear sense of what you want, how much you are willing to pay, and what turnaround time you are after before you begin contacting suppliers.

Another important factor to consider is quality control, not just of the item itself, but its packaging, labelling and how it will be delivered to you. Have a test run by ordering samples first, before committing to a contract. It’s also a good idea to ask that your samples be made using the same machinery and techniques as the final pieces, as they can often be different, leading to significant changes.

And, just remember, working with startups is as much of a gamble for manufacturers as it is for investors. Steph Korey, co-founder of suitcase brand Away, says, “Manufacturers almost have the same perspective as investors: ‘You need to convince me that this is a real business opportunity for me, or else it’s just not worth my time.’”

Amy

When it comes to getting your idea out of your head and in my case onto fabric, it has been years of developing relationships, false starts and lucky breaks.

It took me five years to find someone who could do 100% linen aprons at the price I needed to be competitive, as well as get the quality I needed.

Finding a supplier and getting the product right is a time consuming and long process, I have worked hard getting my contacts, and getting my products just right. I have recently started offering my skills to other businesses, and offer to be a production agent for textile products, particularly organic GOTS certified fabric and cotton tote bags, with the ability to offer linen products also.

There is so much to learn about communicating with other cultures and the hurdle as you suggested to quality control, being thorough and giving detailed instructions and building trust over time, that the end product arrives just as the samples that were signed off.

I have found working with an agent in the country you are shipping from makes life much easier, and the gamble is real, as you said, manufacturers need convincing too.

Look at working with a shipping agent door-door service, it may be slightly more expensive, but they take care of all the paperwork, and give you a little cash flow breather as they give you a 30day payment from shipment landing.

There is so much more to say, but I just wanted to say great article, I love to see more about products and manufacture.

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