Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Determine if a Supplier is Right for Your Ecommerce Store
It’s every ecommerce entrepreneur’s nightmare: your new products arrived but they cost a little more than expected, the materials aren’t quite right and some of them aren’t even fully assembled. Even after speaking with multiple suppliers on Alibaba and Global Sources, and sending them your exact product specifications you still ended up with a subpar batch of products.
This scenario isn’t uncommon, especially when dealing with suppliers overseas. Today more than ever doing your due diligence on a supplier is a crucial step when producing your own private label products.
Now the hard part, how do you confidently vet a manufacturer when they’re located thousands of miles away or even in another country? For decades, many entrepreneurs have hired sourcing agents to help them identify worthwhile production partners, but today there are much more efficient services. For example, automated sourcing platforms have changed the sourcing industry by matching your production needs with already pre-vetted factories without having to deal with a middleman.
Whether you decide to try a sourcing agent, continue sourcing on your own, or to use an online sourcing platform, you should still understand how to properly determine if a supplier is the right match for your ecommerce store.
Here are 5 factors you should consider when determining if a supplier is right for your ecommerce store.
It seems obvious that the price per unit needs to be low enough that you have room to take a healthy profit. However, there are many factors beyond price per unit to consider when determining the actual price of your products:
“Time is money,” as the old adage goes, and if you’re working with a factory that’s often behind schedule it could lead to major financial losses on your end. To protect yourself from dealing with a completely unreliable supplier, here are some steps you should take first:
Factories are typically limited to a specific scope of products they can produce. If you’re looking to manufacture jewelry, but the supplier you’re working with specializes in apparel, it’s probably not going to work out. Duh, right? Unfortunately, some factories may try to dupe you when it comes to their business scope, but how do you make sure the factory isn’t lying?
As an ecommerce entrepreneur you’ve probably run into minimum order quantity issues when starting to produce your goods. Like your ecommerce business, factories need to make a profit too and sometimes that means only running larger orders. On the other hand, some factories don’t have the right tooling or number of employees to run large orders. This is why MOQs exist. How do you make sure your order size is appropriate for the supplier you’ve connected with?
Communication is the key to a successful production run. No matter how detailed your product specifications, mockups and other design materials are, there is always room for interpretation and it may not be what you had in mind. Communicating with a supplier can be difficult, especially if they’re located overseas, but there are a couple of ways you can test it.
Pro tip: Paste the message you intend to send to your supplier and have it translated into their language. Then copy the translation and translate it back to your language. You may be surprised that the translation didn’t come back 100% as you initially wrote it. Tweak your original message until it’s completely clear on their end.
Even with the best due diligence, it’s always recommended that you try a few different factories before committing to a full production run. Before deciding on which factory you work with, you need to get out there to fully understand what you like and what you don’t like about a factory. Don’t be afraid to ask in-depth questions and to get them on a video chat because a production run is a big commitment!
Preparation is crucial. Put together a checklist of your needs before reaching out to factories, otherwise you may not be vetting them as well as you intended. Remain firm in your demands and don’t let a factory pressure you into committing before you’re ready. It’s not uncommon for factories to trick overseas buyers with fake factory photos, hiring “actors” to pose as factory employees and even sending false documentation.
It may take time – but you will be glad you did your research when your next batch of perfectly produced products arrive on time and at the right price. If you’re short on time or want to focus on growing your business instead, then sourcing platforms like Sourcify may be the best option for you.
And what to do once you’ve got your products? Check out Printful’s Warehousing & Fulfillment service – Printful can store, package, and ship products straight to your customers!
Ana es una inquieta trotamundos en busca de nuevas experiencias. Sus tres grandes pasiones son: la comida, los viajes y el marketing. Por ese orden.
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