Do I need to find an overseas manufacturer to make my product?

One of the questions I often get asked is, “do I need to find an overseas manufacturer to make my product?”  My honest answer is – maybe. It will greatly depend on what exactly you’re looking for.

There are pros and cons for sourcing overboard and domestically (in your own country) and I’ll cover both.

Sourcing domestically

Advantages

  1. Let’s be honest, there is a bit of a marketing appeal with ‘home-grown’ products. How often do you see ‘made in the UK’ on packaging?  When a product is made here, it’s often used as a USP (unique selling point), perhaps due to the next point…
  2. Quality can be higher.  Not always – you can get great quality overseas and, equally, poor quality here, but in general the quality will be better.  If you’re creating a product that has strict safety requirements (toys for example) that’s going to be of even greater concern.
  3. Shipping is faster – or non-existent!  If you want your goods to be delivered to your door tomorrow, you can pay for next day delivery and get them there.  You can’t do that from the other side of the world. Shipping is obviously going to be cheaper too and you won’t have to pay any import duties.
  4. There’s a far less chance of you being scammed, as it’s much easier to check out a company based in the UK and verify that they’re legitimate. From Google searches, to asking in forums, picking up the phone, or perhaps visiting in person – the opportunities to check them out are much more plentiful! This should mean you’ll feel much more secure about making that payment.
  5. Communication can be easier, as you’ll be (literally) speaking the same language.  There also won’t be a time difference, meaning you can communicate during ‘working hours’.

Disadvantages

  1. Manufacturing costs will be higher – however do take into account that shipping will be less and import fees non-existent, when you’re calculating which is more cost effective.
  2. It can be harder to source some products.  There are some products that just aren’t made here.  And, if they are, they may well be harder to find.

Sourcing overseas manufacturers

Advantages

  1. Manufacturing costs will be lower.  (In some cases, much lower.)
  2. You will find lots more options to choose from.  In some ways this can make it more daunting, as you may find literally hundreds of suppliers offering the product you’re looking for.  Don’t let this put you off – there are definitely ways to narrow them down!

Disadvantages

  1. As I said above, quality can be lower (and it’s certainly perceived to be the case).
  2. Shipping will take longer and can also be expensive, depending on what you’re shipping and the method you’re using.
  3. It can be harder to verify suppliers and, if you do get scammed, there’s little recourse.  I do believe you can take precautions against this however and if you use sourcing sites, such as Alibaba, their own checks seem to be getting more vigilant.
  4. You may experience communication and timezone issues.  While sales people for most suppliers will speak good English, there are always things that get lost in translation. Plus if you want to speak in person (via Skype for example) that could mean getting up very early, or staying up very late.
  5. You’ll have to pay customs fees to import goods into the UK.

So, there’s a lot to consider.

Looking at the lists above, you’d be forgiven for being completely put off sourcing overseas – but that’s not my aim at all.

I can’t tell you what’s best for you, but I can tell you that I have sourced products from the UK, USA, China and India and all are possible!  The main thing, wherever you choose to source from, is that you’re vigilant, you do your research and you look carefully at the costs.

Hands with map painted

If you do need to (or decide to) source your product overseas, here are some ways around the disadvantages I’ve shared above.

If you’re concerned about quality, I’d suggest ensuring you get at least two samples (so you can compare) of your product before placing a mass order.

Shipping is a cost to consider, but if the production cost is lower it may even out.  Shop around for the best shipping price. Remember, the shipping method you use (air, rail, sea, etc) all impact on costs and the time taken.  It may be that it’s worth waiting an extra 7-10 days for your goods to arrive, if it saves you money.

There are definitely ways to verify suppliers.  Much of this can be done online, but you can also pay for an inspection if this puts your mind at rest.

There may be communication issues.  To help with this, you can keep your communications short, clear (remember they may well be ran through an online translation tool, so keep your language as simple as you can) and number questions, so it’s easy to keep track.

There’s not much you can do about customs fees, unfortunately.  You might want to consider DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) shipping, if you don’t want to deal with it yourself – but it is a cost you will have to pay if you’re importing.

Where next?

If you do decide you want to source from overseas, these articles should help:

And, as always, if you want some FREE advice from me, you can book in a consultation call. There’s absolutely no obligation and if I can help you I certainly will!