Research demand and competition for your product

Do you have a great idea for a product? Are you passionate about it? That’s great, but is there a demand for this product? A lot of research is required to find a private label product that will turn a profit. There are many considerations, such as demand, competition, manufacturers. We’ll be discussing finding manufacturers more in-depth.

Although it might sound counterintuitive, competition is healthy when looking to sell in the private label market. It gives you the data you need to analyze whether there is demand for your product. Depending on the platform you are going to use to sell on, research the top competitors in your market. There are several software tools like Jungle Scout and AmazeOwl that can assist with this. Helium 10 is another tool used by more advanced sellers. All these tools also help you identify high-potential products.

How to find your manufacturer

Let’s face it, you’re not going to find a manufacturer in a few days. It’s going to take a few weeks to select the manufacturer that meets all the needs of your product. You will negotiate with several suppliers before you make your choice. Start with a list of about 15 manufacturers you are interested in and narrow it down to the top three. Then negotiate a price with these manufacturers.

Know exactly what you want

In order to get the best price and manufacturer for your product, you have to know exactly what you want before contacting manufacturers. It also makes the process of finding a supplier less overwhelming. Never assume a shared understanding. Make sure you know the weight, material, dimensions, color, Pantone, and quantity of your product. Giving them all the details gives you credibility and lets them know that you are serious about the business. Being vague does not inspire hope for a long-lasting business relationship and future business. Knowing what you want is extremely helpful when you are dealing with overseas manufactuers also, as there may be a language barrier. Depending on the type of product, you may want to research domestic supplier and leave foreign suppliers out completely.

Alibaba’s ranking system for manufacturers

Ensure that the manufacturers you are considering have credibility and a good track record. Alibaba ranks their manufacturers, and if you understand these rankings you can take out some of the risk involved in selecting a manufacturer. On Alibaba, there are three types of suppliers. Those are Unverified, Verified and Gold Member manufacturers. Alibaba has done away with unverified and verified suppliers, due to their lack of credibility that was hurting Alibaba’s brand. Gold Member suppliers are broken up into three types.

  • A&V manufacturers which have been authenticated and verified.
  • Onsite check includes a quality assurance visit to the factory by Alibaba staff. They ensure that onsite operations exist and are legitimate. They also take photos to document these operations.
  • Assessed manufacturer is the highest verification they can receive on Alibaba. Manufacturers are required to provide assessment reports, as well as a description, photos, and videos of their main product lines and facilities. They must report their production and export capacity, provide human resources information, international trade capabilities, their production process management and many more.

Researching manufacturers

Whether you are using Alibaba.com, MadeInChina.com, DHGate or any other platform, you’ll want to start your search with a broad term. For example, if you want to sell a special wooden coffee mug with a design on it, start your search with “coffee mug”. If you don’t immediately see your ideal product pop up in your search, that’s actually a good thing. This is of course after ample research into the market to determine demand and profit. The harder it is to find your product, the more differentiated you will be. You will be considered first to market and get the lion’s share.

Don’t only look at suppliers that make your exact product. In the coffee mug example, also research those that make wooden kitchenware. They might not make a mug in the particular shape or color you want, but you know that they have the capability to make your product.

Red flags

Filter out junk suppliers. These are often manufacturers with trademarked items that are sold for cheap. These could be fake goods and low-quality manufacturers, and you don’t want your brand to be associated with a business like that.

Find out if they allow secure payment methods. Some methods to look out for are Western Union, MoneyGram or wire transfers since there is no way to get the money back. Those are insecure methods of payment. Secure methods are for example PayPal or an e-checking trade assurance.

Hiring an agent

If you’re a first-timer looking for a manufacturer, it might be prudent to hire an agent. Agents screen the manufacturers and check their track records. They find out how long the manufacturer has been in business and get feedback from former and current customers. If you can’t afford an agent or would prefer to manage your relationship with the manufacturer yourself, make sure to visit the factory to check the condition of their facilities.