Collective Hub - - COVER -

When it comes to sourc­ing a sup­plier out­side your na­tion’s bor­ders, it can be hard to build and main­tain a long-last­ing pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship.

If you’re un­sure where to be­gin, start by us­ing on­line plat­forms such as ThomasNet, Maker’s Row, MFG and Kom­pass, which can serve as an ini­tial busi­ness di­rec­tory for con­tacts. You could also head to man­u­fac­tur­ing and trade fairs, in­clud­ing the twice-yearly China Im­port and Ex­port Fair (Canton Fair) in Guangzhou.

Once you’ve cre­ated a short­list of fac­to­ries, it’s im­por­tant to en­sure you have a clear sense of what you want, how much you are will­ing to pay, and what turn­around time you are af­ter be­fore you be­gin con­tact­ing sup­pli­ers.

An­other im­por­tant fac­tor to con­sider is qual­ity con­trol, not just of the item it­self, but its pack­ag­ing, la­belling and how it will be de­liv­ered to you. Have a test run by or­der­ing sam­ples first, be­fore com­mit­ting to a con­tract. It’s also a good idea to ask that your sam­ples be made us­ing the same ma­chin­ery and tech­niques as the fi­nal pieces, as they can of­ten be dif­fer­ent, lead­ing to sig­nif­i­cant changes.

And, just re­mem­ber, work­ing with start-ups is as much of a gam­ble for man­u­fac­tur­ers as it is for in­vestors. Steph Korey, co-founder of suit­case brand Away, says, “Man­u­fac­tur­ers al­most have the same perspective as in­vestors: ‘You need to con­vince me that this is a real busi­ness op­por­tu­nity for me, or else it’s just not worth my time.’”

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