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How to Find a Product Manufacturer

Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from a reply to one of our weekly emails. Today we will answer the following question: “where do I find a manufacturer for my new product?”

Basics of Supply Chain Management

Before you find a manufacturer for your product, you need to have a basic understanding of supply chain management principles. This is because you may not actually need to find a manufacturer at all.

For example, if you have a product that can be quickly assembled from component parts, you may simply need a supplier instead. Likewise, if you need a product that will be slightly modified and then sent directly from the manufacturer to the buyer, then you actually need a dropshipper instead.

If you find that you really need manufacturing, though, the first decision you will have to make is “domestic or overseas?” Domestic manufacturing may cost more to create but less to send to your warehouse. Overseas manufacturing, on the other hand, will probably cost less but might take longer to ship to your warehouse and could leave your supply chain vulnerable to disruptions.

Requesting a Quote

Before you do business with any manufacturer, you will likely need to request a quote. In order to do that, you need to be able to describe your product in terms that the manufacturer can understand. What that exactly means will differ by industry.

However, there are three concepts that you will need to understand regardless of what you’re having manufactured.

  1. Minimum order quantity, or MOQ. This is the smallest amount of products that you can have manufactured at once.
  2. Sampling. Before committing to manufacturing an entire batch of products, you will want to see what one sample looks like.
  3. Turnaround time. This is the total amount of time it takes to create a batch of products. This sometimes includes sample creation.

Finding a Manufacturing – 14 Sites You Can Use

When it comes time to find a manufacturer, you will need to do a lot of industry-specific research to find the right one. We highly recommend that you read more information relevant to your industry before starting a business relationship with a manufacturer.

That said, we’ve compiled a list of manufacturing websites that you can use to start finding manufacturers. Our original sources are Shopify and Small Biz Trends.

  1. ThomasNet
  2. Maker’s Row
  3. MFG
  4. Kompass
  5. Oberlo
  6. Alibaba
  7. AliExpress
  8. IndiaMart
  9. Sourcify
  10. Core77 Design Firm Directory
  11. Industrial Designers Society of America
  12. Upwork
  13. JobShop.com
  14. IndustryNet

Final Thoughts

Finding a manufacturer for your product is easier than it’s ever been before. There are dozens of websites that can help you get started, many of which we have listed here.

Don’t forget to ask basic business questions before you reach out to manufacturers, though! You first want to make sure that you truly do need a product custom-made for your business. Then you want to make sure you have the information needed to have a productive conversation with the manufacturer.

  1. Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) – know the smallest amount of products that you can have manufactured at once.
  2. Sampling: before ordering an entire batch of products, see what 1 sample look likes.
  3. Turnaround Time: consider the total amount of time it takes to create a batch of products, which soemtimes includes the sample creation.

You’ve done everything by the book. Your Kickstarter campaign is almost ready to launch.

You made a great product. Built an audience. Set up a campaign page.

But how do you ship it?

We put this checklist together to help you get started. It's free.