Finding a manufacturer through the COVID-19 pandemic has it challenges, but with the right tools and guidance you can successfully get your product manufactured and your startup off the ground.
The unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made its mark on the business landscape, and manufacturing is one area that has experienced a real shift. Where once making a manufacturing partner decision heavily based on price point was feasible, logistics now play a much larger role. We are seeing a resurgence in reshoring, as businesses are moving their manufacturing closer to home to have more control over their supply chain. Below we share three tips to help you find and secure a manufacturer for your startup.
Decide whether you want to manufacture your product domestically or internationally.
Manufacturing internationally is not what it was even just a year ago. COVID-19 has changed manufacturing and now many startups are looking to produce their goods close to home. Below we discuss the advantages of using a manufacturer that is close to home as well as with the advantages of international manufacturing. Ultimately, the decision to manufacture either domestically or internationally is based on your budget, timeline and customer preferences.
Domestic production manufacturing advantages include:
- Easier Communication. When you and your manufacturing partner share the same language, you are less likely to experience communication barriers and breakdowns. When communication is a challenge, it can be costly for your startup.
- Visit the Facility. When your manufacturer is close, even local, you are easily able to visit the factory and build a trusting relationship with your manufacturing partner. Keep in mind that COVID-19 has led us into unchartered waters, so where once a factory visit was feasible, it might not be now.
- Faster Fulfillment. When you don’t have to factor in international shipping, your product will most likely be available much quicker, which means that you can get it to market faster.
- Production Flexibility. Domestic manufacturers are generally able to accommodate smaller production runs. While an international manufacturer might be able to offer a smaller production run, shipping can make it cost prohibitive.
- Supply Chain Management. Managing your supply chain is a big obstacle at the moment and often it is easier to do with a domestic manufacturing partner.
Foreign production manufacturing advantages include:
- Reduced Costs. Manufacturing a product overseas is almost always significantly less expensive than manufacturing domestically.
- Increased Options. In the U.S. manufacturers tend to specialize in the products they can produce, whereas in China a manufacturer might be able to produce a wide range of products. There are also more factories in China which means you have options, helping to keep prices competitive.
- High-volume Capability. International manufacturers excel when it comes to producing high-volume orders in a single production run.
For a detailed list on both the advantages and disadvantages of domestic and foreign manufacturing partners, head on over to our post, “Domestic v. International Manufacturing for Your Startup”.
Search for a manufacturer that has experience in your industry.
All manufacturers have experience, but your goal is to find a manufacturer that has experience building a product similar to yours in your market segment. Chances are that if they have experience building a similar product, the number of challenges that arise will diminish. Also, ask to see product samples so that you can get a feel on the quality of work they produce.
For instance, if you are manufacturing a baby spoon, like our client The Baby Toon, find a manufacturer that has a great deal of experience in the baby product consumer market segment. Having a manufacturing partner that is knowledgeable about the industry you are entering means that they will be up-to-date with best practices, safety standards, and will have the ability to offer helpful insight.
Start asking questions early-on in the communication process with a potential manufacturer.
You want to start asking questions early-on so that you are not wasting your time or the manufacturers. Questions let you get to know your potential manufacturing partner and help you to feel comfortable that this is going to be a partnership that can last.
- Do you have experience manufacturing a product similar to mine?
- What is your minimum production volume?
- Will you be able to scale with my business?
- What is your preferred method of communication?
- How are you managing your facility through COVID-19?
For further details into these questions and others, visit our post “The Search for a ‘Perfect’ Manufacturing Partner”.
3D Innovations Manufacturing Sourcing Services
Our 3D Innovations team can lead you successfully from idea to manufacturing and onto commercialization. With trusted manufacturing partners, both domestic and foreign, we are able to provide solutions for low and high volume manufacturing.
Areas of production cover plastic injection molding, overmolding, silicone molding, urethane molding, pad printing, metal CNC, material sourcing, hardware parts & accessories, packaging (paper, clamshell, paper pulp), and much more.
Have additional questions about manufacturing your product? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in further information about the way COVID-19 is affecting manufacturing? Head to our blog post, “The Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on Production Manufacturing”.
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.