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How to Assess New Potential Product Manufacturers

No matter what product you are developing, the manufacturer and vendors you select are linked to the success of your product and launch. Finding the right manufacturer and assessing their strengths will help you make an informed decision and make you feel confident to move forward with product development and production. The following tips are some of the ways we assess a new manufacturer before moving forward:

Types of Manufacturers

Understanding different types of manufacturer - Not all manufacturers are the same. Below are some of the different manufacturers that you may encounter.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers):

  • Assist in designing and producing products based on your specifications.

  • Ability to provide design and engineering evaluation.

  • Startup or brand retains control of design and intellectual property.

ODM (Original Design Manufacturers):

  • Provides designs based on existing products and has ability to slightly change the product to sell under your own brand name.

  • By making color, logo and other slight modifications it will decrease the upfront cost required.

  • Startup or brand does not own the intellectual property.

CM (Contract Manufactures):

  • Has the ability to work to a contract that outlines everything in black and white.

  • Provides sourcing, product development, testing and/or manufacturing.

Vendor Assessment

Manufacturer Introduction:

  • General organization and cleanliness of facility: Assessing the general organization of the manufacturing facility and the company as well as the cleanliness of the facility will give you a sense of how they will take care of your product development.

  • Capacity of the manufacturer: Assess how busy their manufacturing facility is and ask about their production capacity.

  • Size of the manufacturer: Assess whether the manufacturing facility is able to accommodate your initial order volume as well as your intended growth projections.

  • Capabilities / focus of the manufacturer: Assess whether the factory is focused on high volume/low cost or high quality development. A factory audit will reveal if they have the design and engineering capabilities to solve issues found during development. Lastly, assessing what their in-house capabilities are will help you understand what will be produced in-house or out-sourced to a subcontractor.

Visibility and Transparency over the Supply Chain:

  • Assess whether the manufacturer produces goods for competitors and ask what systems they have in place to prevent trade secrets to be shared.

  • Agree to a mutually signed agreement that clearly states the working relationship, expectations and confidentiality.

Product Safety Standards and Quality Standards

  • Assess whether the vendor has any quality accreditations.

  • Review how they manage product quality and react to quality issues.

  • Do they have the knowledge about what safety standards are requires for the product you are producing?

You can reach us at if you have specific questions or if you need help in bringing your design to life.


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