You can read the entire blog post here.

I can’t tell you what’s best for you and your product, but I can tell you that I have sourced products from the UK, USA, China and India and all are possible! 

Today I cover:

  • The pros and cons of sourcing in your own country
  • The pros and cons of sourcing your product overseas
  • How to overcome some of the challenges of sourcing overseas

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

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.

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Episode 16. Finding a great supplier to source your product

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Transcript

Should I source my product overseas?

Vicki (:

Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast, practical advice and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg. So I hope that wherever you are, and whenever you are listening to this, that you are safe and well, so today I want to talk about a question I get asked fairly frequently, which is do I need to find an overseas manufacturer to make my products? In other words, do I need to get my products are sourced from China or from another country? I meant to China first is that is one of the first countries to people tend to think of my honest answer to this is maybe it really depends on exactly. What is your looking for.

Vicki (:

You might want to go back at this point and listen to episode 16, and if you haven't all ready. So in that episode, I'd have a lot of information about how you can find a great supplier to do you manufacture your product. And I did talk a little bit in that episode about which countries you can source from and how you might go about it. But what I want to do today is go over the pros and cons for sourcing abroad and sourcing in your own country. And I'm talking these few are a little bit and seen if that helps you to make your mind up about which is best for you. And at the end, I want to give some practical advice and tips. So if you do want to go down the routes of sourcing in a different country, I want you to give you some really Practical advice, things you can do to hopefully make that process be as simple as possible, and for you to get the product that you were looking for at the end of it.

Vicki (:

Okay. So let's start with sourcing domestically and by domestically, I mean, in your own country, so whatever country you're listening to this from So in terms of the advantages. So I guess first of all, there is a bit of a market and appeal with home grain products. So let's say you are listening to this in the UK. You might often see maid in the UK on packaging or a marketing materials, and it is a bit of a USP or unique selling point. So that's one thing to think about the quality can be higher or not always that you can get some great quality from overseas manufacturers equally. You can get poor quality products if you saw it here, but in general, the quality is perceived to be better, at least.

Vicki (:

And that perception is actually quite important. And if you are creating a positive, that has strict safety requirements. So for example, let's say toys, that's going to zoom in to be an even greater concern because you need to make sure that any product that we manufacture meets all of the legislations of requirements for that particular product shipping is faster or non-existent if your sourcing products and we were in a country. So if you wouldn't be a good to have to be delivered to your door, Tamara, you can pay for next day delivery and get them there. You can't do that from the other side of the world. You obviously can get things shipped fairly quickly, but you know, that's going to cost you. Umm, and which leads me on to the fact that she is a shipping is obviously going to be a lot cheaper if your shipping in your own country and you wouldn't have to pay any import fees, there's less chance of your supplier turning out to be unreliable.

Vicki (:

I'm not gonna say it. There's no chance. There is still a chance, but it's much easier to check out or a company based in your own country and verify that they are indeed legitimate. So from Google searches, asking for them, he was picking up the phone or perhaps even visit and in person at the Maman we're in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. That may not be possible that in normal times, there's no reason you can actually just turn up on the doorstep of supplier. You know, a proposal, you know, range. It is in advance. I'm, you know, arrange you ask in advance. If it is possible for you to turn up, get a tour of the facility, see the people that work there, ask lots of questions, see how their production works and that should hopefully put your mind at rest and hopefully make you feel much more secure about, you know, making that payment and communication can be easier as presumably you, you will be speaking the same language and then it also won't be a time difference, meaning that you can communicate during the sort of working hours or whatever that might mean to you.

Vicki (:

And I know that this is, you know, not everyone works at nine to five, but presumably you'll be able to speak to someone at a time that works out for you. If you do it, as you want to pick up the phone and speak to someone and then the final advantage, and this comes back to you, you know, not really having to ship your goods very far is the fact that this is much more sustainable to source products in your own country because you're not paying for them to be flown or shipped from the other side of the world. So there's that, that's a fact of it as well. They've all, however, some disadvantage is the first one being that manufacturing costs may be higher. However, you do need to take into account here that shipping will be less and important fees. We know it existed. So when you're calculating, which is the most, cost-effective do bear this in mind.

Vicki (:

And I have seen it before people get a bit tripped up here because they look at sourcing in their own country. Then they look at the source in some way like China and the cost of getting the same product in China can be a bit lower and they think we're great or go for that. But they haven't actually factored in that by the time you pay for the shipping or the import fees per item, it may end up being, you know, almost the same. And then of course, if you do have that environmental factor that I mentioned earlier, and the second disadvantage about sourcing in your own country is it can be harder to source some products. There are some products that are just on made here, so, or if they are, they might be harder to Find. So, as I mentioned, as you might tell from my accent, I'm based in the UK and I can not get any of my Bambi products source directly from a manufacturer, it in the UK at this moment, not to say I won't be able to at some point in the future, but right now there is nobody that I can find that manufacturer is the products that I am looking for.

Vicki (:

So I have no option, but to source them outside of my own country. So now we move on and talk about sourcing from overseas manufacturers, say the advantages. I mean the first one is that manually factoring

costs will be lower in most cases. And in some cases I would say much slower. And the second advantages you will find lots of more options to choose from. In some ways it's going to actually be a possibly a disadvantage can certainly be a bit more daunting. Anyway, as you can actually find literally hundreds of suppliers offering the product that you are looking for, but don't let this put you off because you do need to narrow them down. First start often, you see it, you will look at it will look like there are a hundreds of suppliers.

Vicki (:

If we go somewhere like Alibaba, which I had mentioned, Episode 16, it might look like they were a hundreds of suppliers offering the product you're looking for. But once you delve into a little deeper, you started doing some research. And if you look in to their supplier that you might find out that actually that, you know, they, they don't produce exactly what you want. So a lot of manufacturers will, you know, give the impression that they can meet your requirements, but they can't always. So don't let that get you off. In fact, deuce, it is an advantage that if you've got hundreds of suppliers to choose from, and hopefully you will be able to find the one that that is right for you and can meet what you're looking for. So if we talk about the disadvantages now, so as I said above, the quality can be a bit lower and it's sometimes perceived to be lower as well when you saw S from Africa.

Vicki (:

So in other countries, the shipping will take longer, you know, no matter which country or sourcing from, if it is not your own. So this is going to take a bit longer and it can also be expensive depending on what your shipping and the method you're using. And if your shipping something that's particularly oversized, you know, a large product, you know, the shipping costs actually might be prohibitive for you to actually be able to let you make a prophet. You might find that when you do manufacturing cost is fairly low, but when you take the shipping cost into account as well, actually, you're not going to have much of a margin left. And at the fair disadvantage is it can be a bit harder to verus up by suppliers. And if something does go wrong, as you know, there's little recourse, I do believe you couldn't take precautions against this.

Vicki (:

However, and if you use sites like Alibaba, their own chips seem to be getting more vigilant. And I talked to a lot about this in episode 16. So again, please do go back to that one. If that will be useful for you. The fourth disadvantage is that you might experience the communications and time zone issues. So while sales people for most players will speak good English, there are always things. It can get a little bit lost in translation. And yeah, especially when you are going back and forth over email, sometimes, you know, things aren't always entirely clear and I'm going to talk a bit later about what we can do to help him. Plus if you actually want to speak to someone in person, you know, you do decide that it actually, it will be easier to just get on to Skype or WhatsApp.

Vicki (:

And that could actually mean getting up very early or stay up very late, depending on where you're based and where your supplier is based. And it doesn't mean there aren't ways around this, but just something to be mindful of. And then the fifth disadvantages, as you will have to pay custom fees to import goods into our own country. I can't tell you what the fees will be. It depends where you're importing from where you are importing two on what the product is. And there are tariffs. I'm the best places to find that information from is from your own government websites, or if you're using it a shipping company or a freight forwarder to help you with your shipping, they will be able to help you out here as well. So there's definitely a lot to consider, and hopefully you haven't listened to this and being completely put off sourcing overseas.

Vicki (:

That is not my aim at all. So I, I can tell you that I've sourced products in the UK, the USA from China and India, all of a possible, the main thing is wherever you choose to source for it. I mean, is it, you think it through carefully? So you think about, you know, where you could possibly source your product from you weigh up the pros and cons. You look at the cost, perhaps there is nothing wrong with looking to source of product in China. For example, while at the same time looking in Turkey or looking in India or looking at in the UK, there's nothing wrong with it. You know, looking at them, going down multiple routes at once. And that might actually be a good idea because it will give you an idea that you might then be hope you were to compare quality like for like, and costs and things like that.

Vicki (:

So it definitely is possible, but you just need to make sure that, as I've said before, that you're vigilant, you do your research and you're looking carefully at everything. And if you do need to So perhaps your product or you are looking for you, you can't get on your own country or you actually decided to go for another reason to source your products overseas. I just wanted to share some ways around this advantages. I talked about above. So some practical things that I hope that we help you. So first of all, if you're concerned about quality, because that was the first disadvantage, as I mentioned, I'd suggest in short, when you get to at least two samples, so you can compare your product before placing a big order. I think two or free is a really good number. And you might possibly want to go for a sort of maybe one more than this.

Vicki (:

If you are, for example, looking at sourcing from China and the UK, let us use that. As an example, you might decide to get two samples from China and two samples from the UK, so you can compare them altogether. I think there is a, I think that's a really good, it's always a really good idea to get the samples. It's the best way of determining whether the supplier can meet the quality of the are looking for another hint I've got here is that if there is a product similar to your products already on the market, if you can get a hold of one, whatever that means you have to buy one, or you can borrow one from somewhere, but just to have a similar product that you can compare your sample two, I think is really useful because it's really hard to look at quality unless your company.

Vicki (:

And then as you've got a benchmark that you're looking at it against. So that's the first thing that I would recommend there. So the second disadvantage spoke about with shipping and yeah, there's, this is a cost of consider the matter of where you source your products, but unless you, unless you can physically drive yourself and pick it up from somebody's doorstep or warehouse store or whatever, you are going to have to pay for shipping. And, but as I mentioned earlier, if the production cost is lower than it might, it might actually even out and you can shop around for the best shipping prices as well. So remember that the method you use, so wherever you use air rail or see all impacts on the cost of the shipping and the time it will take, and it might be that actually you have to wait an extra seven to 10 days for your good days to arrive.

Vicki (:

'cause you decide to send them by a sea rather than rail, but it saved you enough money, but actually it makes it worth it. So there is a lot to consider and a lot to do. And a lot of the way up, this is just some things for you to think about coming onto the source of the supplier and how you've verified them. So much of this can be done online. And I mentioned in episode 16, that you can also pay for an inspection if this helps put your mind at rest. In fact, in that episode, I spoke about lots of ways that you can check out your supplier in detail and just check that there are legitimate. And do you feel happy working with them? So the fourth disadvantage we spoke about was communication issues and to help with this, I think there are a few things that you can do.

Vicki (:

So keeping your communication short and clear is a really good because we're on, but they might be around for an online translation tool. So if you can keep your language and simple as you can, and this will really help. As I mentioned earlier, in lots of sales, people from companies do speak really good English, but I've certainly come across cases where there isn't a case or perhaps something I've said has been lost in translation. So if you think you can do here is to use bullet points. That's quite a nice way to structure. You know, this is my specifications, but at points, it all out a number of questions. So if you send in questions that to be an answer, sort of a number of them. So it was quite easy to keep track. If I mentioned before, in a previous episode, the visuals are really good as well.

Vicki (:

So if you're not entirely sure that your eye, you know how to work your eye or your product idea is simply, is there a way that you can explain it in a drawing or a graphic or a photograph or a screen shot or so for anything that you can do to aid understanding would be a really good and finally customs fees. Now there's not much we can do about those. Unfortunately, if you don't want to do it yourself, one option might be to consider DDP shipping, which is delivery juicy paid. And so you still will have to pay the costs, but it basically means that your freight-forwarder will take care of all of the paperwork for you. I'm not necessarily gonna get it done any quicker, but it just will save you a step.

Vicki (:

And often it doesn't work out much more expensive. Well, for me, in my past, in my own experience, it hasn't actually worked that much more expensive to doing this than me playing the costume separately. But of course this is going to vary by case. So it is something to look at me and it's, you know, never about a thing to get a chance to get the costs so that you can compare. And I guess that's going on in my message for this whole thing, I can't say to you is better source in your own country or which country would be best for you to source your product to them, or they, of course, certain products are more easily available in different countries. But what I will say, the best thing that you can do to help yourself make this decision is to get all of the information. So, as I mentioned, a bar for you can look at sourcing from China and the UK.

Vicki (:

If you're not sure about a shipping, you can get a quote for shipping buy and a quick quote for shipping by sea. You can get it delivered, use your page quote, and the one where the customs fees is split out. You can, I guess what I'm trying to say is you can get all the information that you can, nobody's holding you to any feeling. So my best advice would be do your research, look, me, explore different options, get all the information and then make the decision that it's going to be ultimately be best for you, but, you know, get with him, him, all the information for you. So don't be scared of sourcing overseas. As I say, I've done it. I do it a lot and it's definitely possible, but you know, just to make sure your vigilant and yeah, I can get all the information before you start.

Vicki (:

So if you have any further questions about shipping or anything else, please do get in touch. It's Vicki@tinychipmunk.com. This episode has been quite short and sweet. It's kind of a bonus episode I wanted to record for you because I felt that in our last episode, that wasn't really, the time is going to detail about where to sort of quite often what people say to me, or what do you know, do I need to talk to my product in China? And this is just to be, to say no to that. There are other countries you can source in other than China including your own. And, but there are plenty of places around the world. We have fantastic suppliers who can help us produce fantastic products. So don't be scared to have a look inside of it. And as always, if you've enjoyed this episode, please do rates in Apple podcasts.

Vicki (:

You just take a couple of seconds, click a button and give it a star rating. And if you have got an extra minute or two in your day, and which I appreciate most of us, don't be. If you have an, you can go on at the time and inclination to write me a little bit of you, then that would be fantastic as well. So thank you so much. And looking forward to speaking to you sane.