The time has come for you to find a manufacturing partner that can produce your hardware product. You want to take advantage of an overseas manufacturing strategy and you heard of this website called Alibaba where factories are lined up ready to take your business. You can pretty much find anything you want made on the site and from the outside it looks like an appealing strategy to source your project. So you consider an internet sourcing strategy using Alibaba as a way to find a supplier to work with you on producing your hardware product.
As part of your decision to go this route we wanted to offer some advice as it’s important you conduct due diligence on whether this strategy is right for you or not. You have to be careful in selecting your manufacturing partner as it’s going to directly affect the realities of your business succeeding or failing. Read on to learn the five considerations you need to take into account when sourcing a hardware product online.
1. Is This the Actual Factory?
When you select a product and click to ‘contact the supplier’, always make certain that you are in fact speaking directly with the actual factory. Otherwise, there’s a chance you’ll actually be dealing with a middle-man/broker who adds no value, and simply takes their cut for the trouble of creating the listing. There are better deals to be found sourcing online!
2. Visit the Factory
If you can, then try to visit the factory or send someone you trust to do so in your stead. This way, you can be sure that you’re working with a good factory with high standards and good quality control. Remember: your customers are probably going to associate your brand name with these products!
3. Check the Quality
Likewise, you need to be very clear what it is you’re buying and what the quality will be like. The factory will very much have their own idea of what quality is and you need to make sure you are clear on what is acceptable or not. Ask for as many specifications as possible, and ideally get a sample of the product yourself too. You need to verify yourself that the goods are good enough to put your name to.
4. Understand How Payment Works
Talk about the payment methods and process. It’s normal to pay a 50% deposit and 50% net 30. Discuss this up front and look at reviews to make sure your money isn’t going to disappear, never to be seen again. One good way to protect yourself is with a letter of credit – though these themselves can be expensive.
5.Know Your Shipping Terms
Remember to discuss shipping costs when discussing pricing. Understand your terms (learn about Inco-terms here) so you know what the policy is if something goes missing. Of course, the details will be different depending on whether you’re using a drop shipper or you’re buying wholesale – either way, it needs to be factored into your profits and overheads.
Sourcing products online is a great way to save money and time and to remove the barrier to entry; but only if you are careful to consider these points, and to be discriminating when selecting your product. If you want additional information read this other post that gives a little more detail about how to source from Alibaba. And in the next article, we’ll look at what you should think about when using project management companies like Berkeley Sourcing Group to source your project…