Irrespective of whether you are sourcing for raw materials for your production line or finished manufactured goods to sell or supply locally, you will find the following essential pointers to be immensely useful in your search.
How to find quality manufacturers and suppliers online?
Because of the way global trade has evolved over the past several decades, it has given rise to manufacturing centers in specific geographical regions. Therefore, China, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and several other South East Asian countries have been beneficiaries of the manufacturing boom and today stand tall as the manufacturing centers of the world. Most of the garments that are sold in USA, UK, EU, Australia, UAE and Singapore are manufactured and supplied from low cost Asian countries which have really evolved their manufacturing processes and produce products that span the entire spectrum from low cost everyday use to high fashion retail. These suppliers can now provide for everything from underwear to t-shirts to prom dresses to work wear at very competitive prices.
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Similarly, due to favorable climatic conditions, certain agricultural products are grown in certain regions of the world. So, most of the high quality rice (Basmati) comes from the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan. Other niche rice varieties are grown in Vietnam and other Asian countries. USA, Canada, Australia and Russia are big on exporting wheat. Quinoa is mostly grown and supplied from the high altitude Andean region of Peru. Oats comes from Canada, Brazil, UK, Germany and Australia.
The point being, manufacturers and suppliers are widely dispersed all over the world, depending upon the products they deal in. Finding a reliable one that follows ethical practices and has certified manufacturing lines is not a simple task. In the following section we will be looking at some of the ways in which you can make your supplier search a little bit easy.
Research on Google
Make Google your best friend. Look for websites of suppliers or manufacturers of products you are trying to find. If you are looking to source locally, research local wholesalers and distributors. The prices you will get locally will not be as lucrative compared to prices you get directly from a manufacturer or his agent. Once you find a suppliers website, hop on to their “Contact Us” page and send them your inquiry. Most will respond fairly quickly. The ones that don’t are not worth it anyway.
When inquiring, be as specific about your needs as possible. Include designs and specifications if you have them available. Do not immediately share your target price, if you have one in mind. Let them provide you a quotation. Most sellers will send you samples if you pay for shipping.
Try the Business to Business (B2B) portals
If you think finding a manufacturer or supplier’s website is too time-consuming, you can try supplier aggregating websites such as go4WorldBusiness. There are some others out there as well. But, most work similarly.
There are two ways you can find suppliers on these portals. First, you can manually run a search and send your inquiry to short listed suppliers. Second, you can fill out a form with your detailed requirement and have the website reach out to relevant suppliers who in turn respond back to you with quotations.
Either way, you need to use caution before you finalize any deal. If you meet a seller and think you could buy from him, please ensure you follow these pointers without any exception:
- Ask for verifiable references and speak with them.
- Insist that you will pay using bank instruments such as a Letter Of Credit (LC) that protect a buyer’s interest. For small orders, pay using PayPal. Do not use Western Union, MoneyGram and other such risky means of transferring money.
- Ask the company to provide verifiable English Language copies of their registration certificates, Export License and any other product related certifications that are appropriate. If a seller is real, they won’t mind providing these documents to you for verification.
- Approach the Embassy of the supplier’s country in your local state/city and have them run a background check on the supplier. This step is mandatory.
- You can also cross check and verify other things like the year the supplier created their website – to ensure he is not a fly by night operator. If you receive an email from the supplier, check the email header to ensure that he is actually from the country he claims to be from by looking up the IP address of the computer the email was sent from.
If everything checks out fine, you can still optionally visit the supplier’s country, if the value of goods you are ordering is big. This will ensure you can physically inspect the manufacturing facilities and quality of products you are buying.
Use Import/Export Port Data
A third way to find and shortlist suppliers and manufacturers is by cold calling them from import/export related data you can purchase from companies that sell them. There are companies that collect this kind of data from ports in different countries and aggregate and sell them to interested parties. IHS Piers is one such company that provides this kind of data. Most of the time, this data will not have a direct phone number or email address of the supplier. Therefore, you will have to spend additional time looking them up on Google. Nonetheless, this is also another way to locate reliable suppliers who have past experience in supplying products across borders.
Visit Trade Shows
Even though the world has decisively moved towards an online way of doing business, nothing beats the opportunity of face-to-face meetings with prospective suppliers and the ability to touch and feel the products by ones own hands. Therefore, trade shows still form an important part of a product sourcing strategy. If the product is a bit hi-tech and large in value, it is absolutely essential to have personal contact with the seller as that helps build trust and adds lot of value to the business relationship. If there are trade shows scheduled nearby, a buyer should not miss the opportunity to visit one and network with new suppliers – even if its simply for price discovery.
To summarize, finding good, reliable suppliers is neither easy nor extremely difficult. You need patience, hard work and a systematic approach. Avoid the most common pit falls outlined above and you will surely be well on your way to make decent amount of money by sourcing high quality, low cost products from the manufacturing centers and selling them for a handsome profit in your local markets.