The journey to selling on Amazon can be a long one. The first step is of course choosing a product that matches your budget in a market that you can confidently break into. Next up is turning your idea into a tangible product! You may be wondering how to find manufacturers, especially if you are a first-time Amazon seller, but it is easier than you may think.
Finding a supplier or manufacturer can be an intimidating process for experienced and first-time sellers alike. You want to find a supplier that will not only supply you with stock, but will also become a business partner with you as your company grows.
Domestic vs. Overseas
Your first step is to decide whether to buy from a domestic or overseas supplier. Most sellers will end up sourcing from China because the costs are so much cheaper, even after accounting for shipping and quality inspections. There are benefits and disadvantages to both, and it will ultimately come down to your personal preference and budget.
Advantages of sourcing overseas:
- Cheaper production costs
- More manufacturers to choose from
- Wider variety of products
Disadvantages of sourcing overseas:
- Turnaround time is longer
- Harder to ensure the manufacturer’s legitimacy
- Quality of goods is not guaranteed
- Little to no legal safeguards or payment protections
- Shipping is more expensive and must clear customs
- Communication barriers and cultural differences may be hard to navigate
Advantages of sourcing domestically:
- Quality is perceived as higher
- Shorter turnaround and shipping times
- Easier to verify the legitimacy of the manufacturer
- More legal safeguards and payment protections
Disadvantages of sourcing domestically:
- Production costs are dramatically higher
- Fewer product options
You do not have decide between one or the other right away; just keep those factors in mind as you begin your search.
What to Look for in a Supplier
Your goal should be to find a supplier that you can have a lucrative long-term partnership with. As you begin searching for suppliers that can create your product, look for those who exhibit these traits:
Good communication: Do they respond to your messages in a timely manner? Do they ask for clarifications?
Helpful: Do they answer your questions completely? Are they honest about setbacks and shipping delays? Are they willing to have a quality control inspection done by a third party?
Reputable: What do other vendors in the space say about them? Will they provide copies of their business licenses and agree to a property inspection?
Experienced: Have they been in business for 3 years or longer? How many orders do they process every year?
Flexibility: If there is a problem with production, are they willing to work with you to find a solution?
Affordable: Do your profit margins allow you to work with them? Are they willing to negotiate prices?
In addition, look for suppliers who make a wide range of products and can keep up with your growing Amazon business. If your orders increase dramatically, or if you want to diversify your products, you want a supplier who will be able to meet your needs right now as well as in the future.
Finding a Supplier
Compile a list of at least 10 suppliers to make initial contact with so you can find the right partner as quickly as possible. The process may seem overwhelming at first, but there are multiple sources of information that can speed up your search and make it easier.
The internet is a great place to start looking for suppliers. Most online directories allow you to browse products and get in touch with suppliers worldwide, all in one place.
Alibaba is the largest online wholesale manufacturing directories and one of the most popular one-stop shops for sellers looking to source their products from overseas.
We actually just hosted a Webinar with Alibaba.com, talking a bit about Q4 but also about sourcing and manufacturing! Check it out in the video below:
Because counterfeit accounts are harder to track on such a massive database, Alibaba offers several supplier verification categories to protect buyers from fraud and increase payment security, including (but not limited to):
- Trade Assurance: Your payment is protected if the supplier does not ship on time or if the product quality does not match what you specified in your contract.
- Gold Supplier: Suppliers with a gold rating have gone through a verification process by an approved third party inspector.
- Customs Data: You can access the public trading records of all the companies that have shipped into the United States.
- Inspection Service: If you make an order through Trade Assurance, you have the option to get a quality control inspection from an Alibaba approved third-party inspection company.
To further narrow down your choices, you can filter search results by vendors that have Trade Assurance and Gold Supplier badges. You can also browse the supplier’s company profile to check their certifications, production capacity, and physical location to determine their legitimacy before making initial contact.
Other popular online directories include:
Trade shows offer buyers a chance to talk directly with a large number of potential suppliers at one time. The Canton Fair is the largest and longest-running trade fair in China and takes place twice a year. Most booths display finished products, but you should still ask if they can do custom orders. You can also collect free product samples instead of paying expensive airfare to ship them. Being able to communicate face-to-face with suppliers is essential for building trust and developing a better relationship for future orders.
Ask businesspeople and other eCommerce sellers in your professional network about how to find manufacturers that would work best for your needs. You are more likely to get an honest assessment of a supplier’s capabilities from someone who has worked with them in the past. If you develop a rapport with a supplier who ends up not being a good fit, do not be afraid to ask them for recommendations.
Always keep your profit margins in mind as you look for a supplier. Pay attention to minimum order quantities, and add up the costs of production, including shipping and FBA fees to determine if you could actually make a profit.
You may be able to put yourself into a better financial position by negotiating prices with your supplier. For more tips on how to find and negotiate with a manufacturer, be sure to check out our Follow the Data podcast episode on the subject.
Final Thoughts on How to Find Manufacturers
Finding the right manufacturer takes patience, perseverance and a little elbow grease, but by the end you will be one step closer to making your Amazon dreams a reality. Here at Viral Launch, we want to provide you with all the information you need to become a successful Amazon seller. For more on Amazon selling strategies, we encourage you to subscribe to our blog, check out our Youtube channel, and listen to our Follow the Data podcast.