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How to Find Reliable Suppliers and Manufacturers for Your Business

As Samsung’s recent Galaxy Note 7 rollout crisis illustrates, supplier and manufacturer problems can hurt your business. Intended to propel Samsung’s momentum into the 2016 holiday season, instead the rollout ground to a halt after bad publicity from exploding batteries. An investigation traced the defect to Samsung’s primary and backup suppliers. In addition to hurting the company’s brand image, Samsung’s interrupted rollout cost the company an estimated $5 billion. Finding the right suppliers and manufacturers can be the difference between business success and catastrophe. Here are some tips for finding reliable suppliers and manufacturers to make sure your company succeeds.

What to Look for in Suppliers and Manufacturers

When evaluating prospective vendors, it’s tempting to think of costs first and prioritize price. But if the cheapest supplier provides defective parts, late shipments or inferior work, the savings they yielded become liabilities, and you could end up paying more than you saved.

This illustrates why Entrepreneur ranks reliability as the most important thing to look for in a supplier. The same is also true for manufacturers. To evaluate reliability, start by asking prospective vendors about their policies and guarantees. You can also ask for references, talk to industry peers, study expert reviews and read customer reviews.

Of course, price is also an important consideration. Ideally, you should find a vendor who provides a balance of reliability and affordability. Other qualities to look for include a track record of long-term stability and a convenient location for deliveries and pick-ups.

Finding Vendors Who Sell Online

The internet is an invaluable resource for comparing vendor information, customer reviews and prices, and even finding suppliers and manufacturers who sell online. A good place to start your research is using online directories, such as SupplyChainBrain and ManufacturerSupplier.com. Major online retailers such as Amazon and Alibaba also serve as outlets for manufacturing supplies. Such sites can be used both to make purchases and compare products, reviews and prices before buying directly from a vendor’s own site.

Leasing vs. Owning Machinery

When shopping for manufacturing machinery, the question of whether to lease or rent should be thoroughly considered. There are more factors that weigh into this decision than simply price. Leasing costs less up front and more in the long run, but you can avoid maintenance expenses, and costs are usually tax-deductible. You also can get the latest equipment updates more easily and quickly. However, you don’t build equity, and you may be limited by manufacturer specifications and product lines. With buying, on the other hand, you pay more up-front, bear responsibility for maintenance costs and will need to take a loss when it’s time to upgrade. At the same time, ownership lets you build equity and recoup costs by selling used equipment, and you’ll have larger tax incentives. Plus you can make whatever adjustments you want to your own equipment, without being locked into vendor specifications or product limitations.

Finding 3-D Printing Services

Another alternative to equipment rental and ownership is to contract 3-D printing services. 3-D printing companies can produce custom-made products based on virtually any design out of a wide range of materials. For instance, o-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber uses 3-D printing and other production methods to provide specialized o-rings seals made out of Viton fluorocarbon and a wide range of other materials in over 8,000 sizes. Online directories such as 3D Printing Directory provide listings of 3-D printing services and suppliers with different specialties.

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