The Startup’s Guide to Finding a Chinese CM

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                                                                     The Shenzhen Skyline


Finding the right overseas contract manufacturer (CM) for your product is like hunting for treasure: the work is hard, but the payoff is big.

Not unlike launching your own startup, tracking down a Chinese CM that meets your needs will take time and effort. Knowing what to look for will not only make your task easier, but help protect you from the pitfalls of overseas manufacturing.

While there are challenges to working with a manufacturer who is thousands of miles away, the benefits of contracting with a Chinese CM—especially the lower costs—are often more than enough reason for startups to look to Shenzhen, China’s manufacturing hub, for support.


Do your homework

Requesting an RFQ is all well and good, but on its own, a quote doesn’t address all the considerations you should bear in mind when choosing a CM. It doesn’t hurt to ask questions, but it could hurt not to.

Don’t take sacrifice the overall quality of your product for what seems like a quick fix. Do you know if your prospective CM certified to ensure safety and quality control?

Another consideration is cost. How will the size of your order will affect pricing? Is the price your CM is giving you sustainable, or are they discounting their normal rates in order to “buy” your initial business? 


Bigger isn’t always better

The size of a CM is an indicator of success, but as they say, size isn’t everything.

As a small startup, linking up with one of these giants could be a bad fit, especially if your order isn’t as big as the newest iPhone. With your giant CM’s energy devoted to more lucrative projects, less—if any—personalized attention will be devoted to the real issues facing your product launch.

The long and short of it is this: the big CMs will work with whoever comes their way, but rarely are they suited to the needs of smaller companies and fledgling startups. Focusing on smaller, leaner CMs who already have startup experience will give you a better chance of having your needs met when it matters most.


Think about the long-term

It’s easy to only worry about the present, but if you want your startup to be around for the long-term, you should approach your relationship with your suppliers the same way.

Building a relationship with a CM becomes even more important when you consider the cultural divide that still remains between the United States and China. While globalization and advancing technology has bridged the gaps between countries, there are still cultural difference that can stand in the way of clear communication.

The best of both worlds? Finding a Chinese CM that’s also a multicultural company—one with strong roots in both the States and in China—so as to reduce the miscommunications inherent in international business.

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