Quick Tips for Choosing a Manufacturing Supplier

Matt Smith
October 16, 2018
Quick tips for choosing a manufacturing supplier, Fishbowl BlogWhether you’re starting a new business entirely or launching a new product for an existing organization, you’ll eventually come to the point where you must secure a supplier for materials or items. This is perhaps one of the most difficult elements of launching a product or kickstarting the development process. Both the quality of the goods you source and the reliability of the partner you choose factor into the overall success of the finished product. Therefore, it is crucial that you find a suitable supplier — one that will also guarantee regular shipments and consistent material quality. Here are some quick tips that will aid you in this important decision, enabling you to choose not just a reliable manufacturing supplier but one that aligns with your company and goals.

1. Do the Research

Before considering suppliers and partners, you must conduct your research with due diligence. It’s important to remember that you will be entering a relationship, one that is hopefully long-lasting and favorable for all parties. You would never enter into a business relationship with someone lacking credentials, experience, or success stories — and you shouldn’t accept any less from potential suppliers either. Take some time to brainstorm the qualities and attributes you value most in a partner — be it price, customer service, or reliability — and then research parties that fit what you need. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to present them with a test or trial service that gives you a better idea of how they operate and what they will provide. Simtec Silicone recommends the same strategy when choosing a parts manufacturer. You should always check a potential supplier’s reputation, discover the quality of their goods, and find someone that aligns appropriately with your business goals.

2. Find a Price Balance

The price you pay for supplies or goods is extremely important, but it shouldn’t be the only element you consider when choosing a partner. In fact, price should rank relatively low on your priority list and should only come into play when deciding on a fair deal. Quality of the goods you source, reliability, delivery timeliness, and additional supply chain factors should all be weighed heavily. If, for example, your supplier runs out of inventory or has serious supply issues in the middle of a high-demand season, that’s going to put a huge damper on your revenue. You can gauge this by vetting their past successes and getting in touch with existing or previous customers. Did the supplier fulfill all their previous customer’s needs? Were there any complications? How were things handled?

3. Look for Testimonials or Reviews

Continuing from the point above about finding previous customers or those who had prior dealings with a potential supplier, you’ll want to take some time to seek out reviews or testimonials. Don’t just consider the content presented on the company’s official site — sometimes this can be taken out of context. Instead, get the word right from the horse’s mouth and reach out to the reviewer. Often, you will find information or details that you never would have discovered elsewhere. Past customers can describe how a partner’s processes or systems might work, how they handle setbacks or solve problems, or even how communicative they were. The idea is to find and discuss their relationship with the provider in order to find out how that will apply to you and your organization.

4. Verify ISO Certifications

Reliable suppliers with any amount of experience in the industry will already hold an ISO certification for properly structured processes. There’s nothing special involved in this process. Either they have been certified or they haven’t — it’s that simple. If there is no certification, explore why. Is the supplier new to the business and, as a result, hasn’t had time to apply yet? Are they unable to meet the guidelines for the standard? Do they not have clear documentation available? This would indicate they’re likely unorganized. While an ISO certification alone doesn’t guarantee you’re choosing the best of the best, it is a good indication of whether or not the party has a documented and traceable system of operations.

5. Mind the Minimums

Some suppliers explicitly state a Minimum Order Quantity or MOQ for doing business with them. This entails a commitment from a buyer that they will purchase a certain number of units or goods, even for their first order. MOQs are especially common when dealing with Chinese suppliers. If you have already established a relationship and know the quality of the goods you’re acquiring, this isn’t troublesome. However, when you’re initially working with a provider, MOQs make it incredibly difficult to test potential partners. You’ll want to check this early, especially before signing any contracts or agreements. Most suppliers worth their weight in gold will be happy to work with you on this number, making it a negotiable requirement. If you notice early on that the MOQ is set incredibly high and the supplier refuses to be flexible, that is definitely a red flag.

Ready, Set, Secure Your Supplier

By following the tips discussed here, you should have no problem researching and selecting a reliable supplier and business partner.