How to find a manufacturer or supplier for a product (2023) (2023)

If you thought about itStarting an online store, you may have already developed some ideas of your own, such as using one of the many popular products that are already on the market. But you probably still have questions.

How can I find a manufacturer or supplier for my product idea? Is it better to work with manufacturers near me or abroad? How to know if a manufacturer is reliable?

Manyentrepreneurfind they hit a brick wall when it comes to actually delivering products. Whether you plan on making your own or finding suppliers to buy wholesale from, good products aren't always easy to find.

In this post, we'll cover the basics of finding a vendor for your next project. We'll give you ideas where to look and look at how you should contact suppliers and what to ask them when developing a product for you.e-commerce business.

Find the best manufacturer for your products 🚀

  • What is a manufacturer?
  • National x foreign suppliers
  • how to make a product
  • Find your delivery partners

What is a manufacturer?

A manufacturer is a company that produces finished products from raw materials. They sell these products to consumers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and other manufacturers who want to manufacture more complex items.

Manufacturers often limit themselves to one type of product. For example, you might work with a glassware manufacturer that makes glass bottles and jars. You can work with a box manufacturer and a plastic or natural product manufacturer.

Retailers often work with several manufacturers at the same time to build inventory for their store.

Is a manufacturer a supplier?

Suppliers and manufacturers are virtually synonymous. When we refer to suppliers in this post, we are referring to anyone capable of supplying products and inventory to you. This includes manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors.

There are many useful online resources that you can find on Google. But before you get started, there are a few things you need to know and decide.

First, you must find out what kind of provider you are looking for. This will help you determine the terminology to use in your search. check our postE-commerce business modelsto help you get started. There are several options for providers, the most common are:

  • A manufacturer that produces its own product idea
  • A supplier (which may also be a manufacturer), wholesaler or retailer who buys existing brands and products
  • Adropshipping companythat supplies products and fills orders for existing brands and products

How to find a manufacturer or supplier for a product (2023) (1)

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To enter

National x foreign suppliers

If you plan to manufacture or wholesale, when looking for suppliers, you need to decide whether to buy domestically or abroad. Overseas can refer to any place abroad.

You might be wondering, “Do you work better with companies close to me than with companies abroad?” The answer is a little complex.

It's a good idea to secure two manufacturers: one domestic and one foreign. Your local manufacturer can be used as a backup. In the case of late or incorrect orders from abroad, you can turn to your local supplier. They tend to be more expensive, but it's better to keep products in stock and keep customers happy than to keep them waiting for overseas shipments.

Due to lower labor costs, it is often cheaper to source your products overseas, especially in Asian countries like China, India and Taiwan. But the decision involves much more than just the initial investment and cost per unit.

Acquisition in the country and abroad has its advantages and disadvantages:

home shopping


  • High quality workmanship and manufacturing standards
  • Easier communication without language barrier
  • Marketing Appeal, Made in North America
  • Reputable manufacturers are easier to verify
  • Faster delivery time
  • High protection of intellectual property
  • Increased payment security and appeal


  • Higher manufacturing costs
  • Fewer product options (there are many items that are simply not made in North America anymore)

non-foreign purchases


  • Lower manufacturing costs
  • Large selection of manufacturers
  • Complete services like Alibaba made it easy to find suppliers


  • Lower quality perceived by customers
  • (Generally) lower manufacturing and work standards
  • Little intellectual property protection
  • Language, communication and time zone barriers can be difficult to overcome
  • It is difficult/expensive to verify and visit the manufacturer on site
  • longer delivery time
  • Cultural differences in business practices
  • Import of products and customs clearance
  • Less payment security and feature

If you work with foreign manufacturers and suppliers, hiring a production manager is a good idea. These contractors are local people who live close to their manufacturers and handle their partner negotiations, ordering and management. They can also be the middle ground for your business and manufacturing companies. Think of them as the central hub of your overseas supply chain.

If there is a problem, the manager works directly with the manufacturer to resolve it. Managers also speak the local language, which improves communication and keeps production running smoothly for your company.

How to find a manufacturer or supplier for a product (2023) (2)

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how to make a product

Finding a manufacturer for your product can be difficult, but you need to bring your products to life. Follow these six steps to find the best manufacturers and suppliers for your business.

  1. To look for
  2. Inform and collect information
  3. Communicate your projects
  4. Request sample
  5. Negotiate
  6. Make your wish

To look for

Finding the right manufacturer for your new product is critical to your success. Manufacturers control the cost, quality, packaging and shipping of their product. How to find the perfect ones.

Ali Baba

Ali Babaconnects you with manufacturers in China. It's a shared marketplace for finding existing products, but you can also use Alibaba to connect with manufacturers to create custom products. Just search for the desired products and browse the various suppliers and manufacturers.

How to find a manufacturer or supplier for a product (2023) (4)

it's easy tobuy securely on Alibaba. The marketplace allows you to pre-select manufacturers to get the best products at the right price. When looking for manufacturers on Alibaba, make sure they have the following qualifications:

  • gold supplier,which means they pay for their Alibaba membership.
  • checked,This means that a third-party sorting service or Alibaba has visited your factory.
  • commercial insurance,a free service that protects your orders from payment to delivery.

      You can continue searching by applying filters. You can sort by certifications (eg SA8000, which guarantees decent working conditions) to find a manufacturer that aligns with your company's values.

      Another thing to keep in mind when buying from Alibaba: make sure the manufacturer isnoAbusiness enterprise. A trading company is a middleman and cannot manufacture your products.


      Another place to look for manufacturers is in free online supplier directories. These directories act as manufacturer catalogs containing profiles for hundreds or thousands of manufacturers, wholesalers and suppliers. Below we list some of the most popular for domestic and foreign suppliers:

      Online national directories

      Online directories abroad


      Over the past few years, we've gotten used to being able to easily search Google and find what we're looking for in the top search results. However, many providers haven't kept up with the internet or Google's algorithm changes. Their websites are often old, lacking in information, and poor in search engine optimization.

      How to find suppliers on Google? Possibly for the first time, you need to explore page two of Google's search results and beyond. You should also use a variety of search terms. For example, words like "wholesale", "wholesaler" and "distributor" can be used interchangeably, so you should look for them all.

      Familiarizing yourself with it can help.Google Search Shortcutsto improve the quality of your search queries and therefore your results.

      How to find a manufacturer or supplier for a product (2023) (5)


      Some of the best leads can come from referrals. Don't be afraid to ask contacts in your professional networks if they have recommendations or know someone who might. Find people who have been successful in an area you want to track and see if they are willing to share their connections.

      Social media has made it a lot easier to get the word out, so make sure you use those channels. Join Facebook groups and other e-commerce business owner online communities and see if anyone has a raving review.

      When you start looking for vendors, even if they aren't right for you, ask if they can point you in the right direction. Being in the industry means they likely have great contacts and will be happy to refer you to an option that might be a better fit.

      NAICS codes

      Another way to look for product suppliers is to search your products for theirs.NAICS code.

      NAICS is the North American Industrial Classification System, and virtually every industry and manufacturing product you can think of has a NAICS code associated with it. Manufacturers and suppliers sometimes list products by their NAICS code, which can make finding manufacturers and suppliers easier, especially when using professional directories.

      The NAICS directory can be found at your local library or online. Here is the link for the USNAICS codeand the link to CanadaNAICS code.

      You should also be sure to properly vet your potential manufacturer. Once you've narrowed it down to a few possibilities, do more research to make sure they're reliable.

      Check aBetter Business Bureau (BBB)To see if any complaints have been filed, search the manufacturer's Facebook reviews and use these Google search tricks to query the company name + reviews to see if any red flags pop up.

      Reach and collection information

      Once you have a few manufacturers on your radar, you'll want to start bidding. Try to get at least three quotes to compare options.

      Well, the biggest question you're likely to ask a vendor is, "How much is this going to cost?" But before you rush off to RFPs, you'll want answers to the following questions:

      1. Can they take custom orders?Evaluate whether the equipment supplier or manufacturer can produce the desired product. Do you have the skills? The resources? Do they have automation capabilities?
      2. What are your delivery times?How long does it take to produce and ship items? You don't want to work with manufacturers that take three months to deliver their products. When a product is out of stock, you don't want to keep your customers waiting for months to get their order.
      3. What are the shipping costs?Shipping represents a large portion of small business spending. Research a manufacturer's shipping costs to see how that affects your bottom line.
      4. What are the minimum order quantities (MOQs)?Don't run with this question. This will make you look like a beginner and discourage manufacturers from working with you. However, you must know the minimum quantity of items you need to order before you start producing your product. This is very negotiable.
      5. What is the cost per unit?When negotiating MOQs, you must also negotiate unit costs. The larger the order, the lower the unit cost.
      6. Can they grant you exclusivity?When it comes to tools (i.e. you buy a tool for them to make your product) make sure they don't let other people use it. You can also request area, market, or total exclusivity. Some service providers may even offer private label merchandise.
      7. Are there setup fees?Manufacturers sometimes charge a fee to set up the equipment to produce their products.
      8. What is their failure policy?Find out who pays for incorrect or defective items. Who pays shipping and fees?
      9. Is the manufacturer sustainable and ethical?Learn about factory conditions and see how they affect the environment and workers.

      Negotiation of minimum order quantities

      If you are looking for a supplier for the first time, you will quickly learn about minimum order quantities (MOQs). It is not uncommon for a manufacturer to require a commitment to purchase hundreds or even thousands of units on your first order, depending on the product and manufacturer.

      MOQs make it difficult when you have limited funds or want to start small and test the market before making bigger purchases. The good thing is that the MOQs are almost always negotiable.

      Before negotiating, you should understand why the supplier has set a minimum. Is it because there is too much work ahead of time? Or maybe it's because they prefer to work with bigger buyers. Understanding the reasoning behind the minimum will help you better understand their position and help you negotiate and come up with the best counterproposal.

      discuss payment terms

      Many vendors require new businesses to prepay for the entire order. This is important to know, asInventory is a big expensefor e-commerce companies. You can also ask if they provide payment terms for future orders.

      Suppliers are constantly bombarded with email requests for quotes from unreliable buyers who simply "stomp the tyres", so it's not uncommon for many suppliers to not respond to all requests. Lack of vendor responsiveness is a common complaint from new eCommerce entrepreneurs.

      So how do you ensure you won't be ignored? There are a few things to avoid when first engaging with vendors:

      • Lange E-Mails:Your first email to a manufacturer should be clear and concise. Avoid sharing too much about your history and background. The first email should only assess potential suitability at a high level. Focus on what is most important to vendors, such as: B. The details of what you are trying to acquire.
      • asking too much: Queries are not always easy for the vendor to produce. It is important to ask for prices for several quantities, but avoid asking for too many or too many quotes. Stick to what you absolutely need to know to evaluate the match between you and the vendor.
      • Ask too little:If you request a quote well below the supplier's minimum order quantity, you risk being met with silence. If you are not sure if your order is too small, please call them or email them with a question before asking about the minimum order quantity.

      A good manufacturing supplier is willing to negotiate payment terms. They're not going to ask for 100% prepayment before shipping (and if they do, that's a big red flag). You can negotiate a deal with them. Ask for 50% in advance, 50% after receiving shipment. This keeps both parties accountable for the order and doesn't leave either side too much risk.

      Communication with manufacturers and suppliers

      Chances are you won't use a production manager when starting your online business. You must communicate with suppliers yourself. There are basically three ways to do this:

      • skype calls
      • E-mail
      • WeChat

      Look for companies that are receptive and willing to work together. If someone is holding your emails and samples, do you want to trust them with your business? Probably not.

      How to find a manufacturer or supplier for a product (2023) (6)

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      Communicate your projects

      After speaking with a potential manufacturer, ask if they can create your design. Some manufacturers have aproduct development processwith prototyping and 3D modeling - but that can quickly get expensive.

      Alternatively, you can communicate your ideas with them through:

      1. sketches
      2. instructions
      3. reference photos

      If they don't make a design, you can useFiverrorprocessingFind freelancers to create designs for you. Looking to rent:

      • designer industrial
      • product designer
      • CAD specialists

      Another option is to find a local designer. You can work with them to develop prototypes and custom molds. It's cheaper than going through a manufacturer.

      Request sample

      Before placing a full order, please get samples to test before going into production. When the sample is correct, date and sign the sample. Keep one or two for yourself. These are called control samples and are any type of forensic sample used to ensure quality and keep consumer products consistent.

      Designing a product for our studio is much more than having the idea. He develops and tests the hardware. Prototype and test all the different elements that make up the lights together.

      Suppose a manufacturer sends you an order. You open the package and discover that the colors are completely wrong. You will likely work with your manufacturing partner to correct the error. If you have questions about the order, please refer to the control sample. It shows that the products you received are not the ones previously agreed.


      Between receiving a sample and placing your order, it is still possible to negotiate conditions such as payment or minimum order quantity. When negotiating, put yourself in the manufacturer's shoes. The point is not to take advantage of your manufacturing partner to get the best price. It's about working together so that both sides benefit and are happy. This is the only way to build a healthy and lasting relationship.

      Make your wish

      Lastly, place your order. First, perform a 100% quality control. Check all the products they send you to make sure they meet your standards. And when you're satisfied with everything, submit your order and start the production process!

      Find your delivery partners

      Sourcing from suppliers and manufacturers is a unique process, but one of theCost of opening a business. Trying to find suitable suppliers is an important decision for your new business and finding them is not always easy.

      It's easy to get frustrated when you hit dead ends or brick walls, but in most cases it takes a little more patience and perseverance to find the perfect partner for your new venture.

      Illustration by Pete Ryan

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      Manufacturer's FAQ

      What does it mean to manufacture?

      “Manufacturing” refers to the transformation of raw materials into finished products by means of tools, labor and machines. It is an industrial process that allows mass production of goods using advanced technologies and assembly processes.

      What types of production are there?

      Manufacturing types include:

      • 3D printing
      • Repeat manufacturing
      • discreet manufacturing
      • contract manufacturing
      • continuos process
      • batch process

      What is a manufacturing example?

      There are many different manufacturing processes in the apparel industry. For example, a clothing manufacturer's process might include picking and relaxing fabrics, shaping the layout, placing, marketing, cutting, screen printing, sewing, and quality checking before a single garment is made.

      How do I find a manufacturer?

      You can find a manufacturer through the directories and suppliers listed above. Some of the most common places to find manufacturers are:

      1. Ali Baba
      2. free online directories
      3. Google
      4. recommendations
      5. NAICS codes


      How do I find suppliers and vendors? ›

      Going to trade shows, asking for referrals, and joining professional networks are three examples of conventional ways to connect with suppliers. You can also find a supplier through reverse sourcing. Start by zeroing in on products that are in high demand, then locate suppliers who can provide you with those products.

      How do you search for potential suppliers? ›

      How do I find suppliers?
      1. Trade directories. Looking through business-to-business trade directories is an obvious way to find suppliers. ...
      2. Trade shows and exhibitions. Trade shows and exhibitions offer opportunities to identify suppliers. ...
      3. Social networks. ...
      4. Trade association. ...
      5. Recommendations. ...
      6. Utilities.

      How do you create a product and get it manufactured? ›

      Follow these eight steps to go from concept to manufacturing, and hopefully, a profit.
      1. Step 1: Product Concept. ...
      2. Step 2: Research. ...
      3. Step 3: Design. ...
      4. Step 4: Create the Final Design. ...
      5. Step 5: Testing. ...
      6. Step 6: Manufacturing and Assembly. ...
      7. Step 7: Feedback and Testing. ...
      8. Step 8: Official Release.

      How much does it cost to get a product manufactured? ›

      Most estimates say you should expect to spend $30,000 to go through the manufacturing process from start to finish, but depending on the products, it can range from as little as $20 for a t-shirt prototype with print on demand, to as much as $400 million for research and development (R&D) and the prototype of SpaceX ...

      How do I contact manufacturers to sell my products? ›

      You can simply call or email the wholesaler, tell them that you'd like to carry their goods, and ask them how to make a purchase. If you're in the US, they'll probably ask you for your sellers permit for tax purposes and tell you their minimum order requirements. That's it!

      Can I buy directly from manufacturers? ›

      Depending on the business and type of products, most of the manufacturers won't sell products in small quantities. So, it won't be possible for an individual consumer to buy directly from the manufacturer. In that case, you should go to the distributor (who purchases products in bulk) to buy the product you need.

      How do I find vendors for my small business? ›

      How to find a wholesaler to supply your small business
      1. Understand Distribution Channels.
      2. Try the Manufacturer First.
      3. Have a Productive First Contact.
      4. Get Specific in Online Searches.
      5. Look for Wholesale Lots on eBay.
      6. Check Major B2B Marketplaces.
      7. Join Professional Networks.
      8. Subscribe to Trade Publications.
      Oct 13, 2022

      What are the 4 types of suppliers? ›

      ITIL describes four categories of suppliers:
      • Strategic Suppliers. These are suppliers that provide goods and services that are a key aspect of the purchasing organization's overall delivery of services. ...
      • Tactical Suppliers. ...
      • Operational Suppliers. ...
      • Commodity Suppliers.

      How do I find suppliers online? ›

      Online supplier marketplaces
      Sep 29, 2018

      What is the most reliable way to find an appropriate supplier? ›

      6 Ways to Find the Best Suppliers
      1. Check their certifications. ...
      2. Align manufacturing and shipping locations to your organization's needs. ...
      3. Look for expertise in your product type and target market. ...
      4. Find out if they can make enough of what you need. ...
      5. Evaluate the geopolitical climate.
      Jun 18, 2019

      How do you map a supplier? ›

      How to map your supply chain
      1. Identify stakeholders. Identify everyone who contributes to the production, storage and distribution of your product. ...
      2. Understand supplier relationships. ...
      3. Establish costs and timings. ...
      4. Acknowledge risks. ...
      5. Data tracking.
      Feb 4, 2022

      How do I find a manufacturer for a buyer? ›

      Innovative manufacturers and industrial companies use digital marketing to get more customers versus solely relying on traditional methods like in-person networking and trade shows.
      Be Where Buyers Search For New Suppliers
      1. Facebook Business Page.
      2. Google My Business.
      3. Yelp For Business.
      Jun 22, 2022

      How do I find someone's manufacturer? ›

      Search a company's SEC filings in Edgar Online or LexisNexis. In addition, search the company website. Companies also report information about customers, suppliers and market partners in press releases, conference calls and investor presentations that are found on the company website.

      How do I find the manufacturer of a private label product? ›

      A great way to find private label manufacturers is by searching online marketplaces. You can search for private label products in your chosen niche and then proceed to contact the supplier to see if they're able to manufacture your product. Some of the most popular marketplaces for private label products are: Alibaba.

      How do I talk to a manufacturer? ›

      1. Introduce yourself. Making a good first impression on a manufacturer is a great way to start your business interaction. ...
      2. Production stages. ...
      3. Find the right manufacturer. ...
      4. Request a quote. ...
      5. Adhere to the budget. ...
      6. Clarify the process. ...
      7. Production slots. ...
      8. Stick to the timeline.


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