How to find a manufacturer or supplier
Finding the perfect manufacturer or supplier is one of the most challenging undertakings for brands, particularly for new enterprises.
Traditionally, attending trade fairs, commissioning agents, or utilising government organisations have been the go-to approaches. Today, as industry’s digital presence increases, approaches like LinkedIn and online directories can also deliver results.
Here’s a brief look at the ups and downs of these approaches:
Trade fairs offer a chance for face-to-face interactions—an increasingly rare but invaluable opportunity. Another benefit is the volume of interactions possible at these events; it’s possible to talk to a few dozen manufacturers in a single day. Some fairs even allow visitors to book appointments with exhibitors through the fair website which would guarantee quality time with a potential partner.
However, be aware that these events are often oriented towards larger scales of production than young brands are able to finance. Also, the investment of time and money required to visit a trade fair should be carefully considered.
Agents can be advantageous, especially for brands without prior experience. It's common for agents to have established relationships with several factories. Often they will even have experience developing products similar to yours. However, this service does come at the expense of personal contact with a manufacturer, and can cost an extra 5-25% on top of your production run. Agents are quite easy to find through basic keyword searches.
Government organizations can be useful, if you are familiar with the country you intend to source from. Embassies or chambers of commerce can direct you to local suppliers or professional networks. However, be aware of the discrepancies between developed and developing countries when engaging government affiliates.
LinkedIn offers access to industry specific groups and associations. Some networking in these groups can go a long way. Posting specific enquiries with MOQs and desired materials can also be effective. This approach is better suited for brands and companies with prior sourcing experience.
Online directoriesprovide pools of manufacturers, sometimes sorted by speciality. The information provided per manufacturer profile is typically quite limited, and will require considerable time and effort spent on emails and phonecalls. Typically, these directories don’t screen the manufacturers and suppliers, who pay to be listed, so operate with caution here.
Supplycompass combines the benefits of these approaches without the drawbacks. Immediate, personal connection to our entire network of verified manufacturers.