People often have great product ideas but little resources to turn those ideas into actual physical products. One way to get around this is to find a contract manufacturer that can help you produce the products you’ve designed.
Contract manufacturing involves having another company manufacture products or components on your behalf. This manufacturing process is often used when a single person or a smaller company does not have the internal resources to produce a particular product or component. Another reason could be that it makes more sense to outsource production to focus on other core areas of the business.
There are a few different ways to find contract manufacturers. Choose the way that is most suitable for you, considering the time you have to spend.
1. Browse Online Marketplaces
Have you heard of Alibaba.com or Global Sources? These websites, and several others, connect buyers and suppliers worldwide, making it easy to find a manufacturer that meets your specific needs.
Finding a contract manufacturer via an online marketplace isn’t as shady as it might seem. All you have to do in an online marketplace is post your product requirements, and then you will receive quotes from interested suppliers. You can also read reviews about the supplier before making a decision.
The main downside of using an online marketplace is that navigating all the different options can be time-consuming. And since anyone can sign up to be a supplier on these websites, you risk working with a less-than-reputable company.
If you want to mitigate those risks, you can try to find a supplier that the marketplace has verified. For example, you can look for suppliers that have been verified by the website’s own verification team or that have been verified by a third-party agency.
Some websites are specifically geared toward connecting buyers and suppliers in the United States, such as MFG.com.
2. Attend Trade Shows
Attending trade shows is an excellent option if you want to talk to potential manufacturers face-to-face. There are all sorts of different trade shows, so make sure to find ones that are specific to your industry.
For example, if you’re looking for a company to help you manufacture electronic components, you would want to attend an electronics trade show. The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the Mobile World Congress are two of the biggest electronics trade shows in the world.
At a trade show, you’ll be able to talk to representatives from different companies and get a feel for which one would be the best fit for your needs. You can also gather a lot of information about a company at a trade show, so it’s a great way to do your due diligence before signing any contracts.
For example, you can ask what software they use for sharing data of the production process — whether it is accounting, shipping, or inventory data. Coordinating schedules and production between two or more companies is often time-consuming, so ensure that you have the proper contract manufacturing software. That way, you won’t get stuck in a horde of emails, online spreadsheets, and numerous web links to documents in cloud software.
One downside of using trade shows to find a manufacturer is that they can be expensive to attend, especially if you have to travel. In addition, most trade shows only take place once a year, so you might have to wait a while before you can attend one relevant to your industry.
3. Use Your Personal and Professional Network
If you know anyone with experience working with contract manufacturers, contact them for recommendations. It’s always helpful to get insights from people with first-hand company experience.
You can also try reaching out to professional organizations in your industry. These organizations usually have a list of recommended suppliers that their members can use.
The main downside of using your personal or professional network is that it might be challenging to find someone who knows about contract manufacturers, depending on your industry. The companies recommended by your friends and acquaintances might not necessarily be the best fit for your needs.
4. If Everything Else Fails or You Lack Time, Google it
A simple Google search can also be a helpful way to find potential manufacturers. Make sure to include relevant keywords in your search, such as “contract manufacturer” and your industry. For example, if you’re looking for a company specializing in medical devices, you would want to search for something like a “medical device contract manufacturer.”
One downside of using a Google search is that it can be challenging to weed out all the different options. In addition, anyone can create a website and claim to be a contract manufacturer, so it’s essential to do your due diligence before signing any contracts.
Another thing to remember is that some countries have strict regulations about manufacturing specific products. For example, if you’re looking for a company in the USA to manufacture pharmaceuticals, you need to ensure that the company is registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Once you’ve found a few potential manufacturers, vet them carefully before moving forward. Make sure they have experience producing the type of product you’re looking for, and ask for references from other clients to get an idea of their quality and customer service. Also, get everything in writing before you start working with a contract manufacturer.