How to find a new supplier or factory during the coronavirus pandemic


  • The coronavirus outbreak has shut down factories and workplaces worldwide, and each massive firms and small companies are scrambling to meet demand.
  • It’s a wake-up name for startups that usually have small groups and have to be resourceful to survive. 
  • Wesley Kang is a cofounder of the dress-shirt model Nimble Made, and he stated a main stock delay made the previous few months the slowest since the firm launched. 
  • The hunch has highlighted the downsides of working with a global supplier, and now he is engaged on new partnerships to diversify his provide chain. 
  • Click right here for extra BI Prime content material.

In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has precipitated the US inventory market to plummet and slammed world provide chains.

While massive firms are actually feeling the monetary turmoil, small companies face a increased danger of everlasting closure as a result of they could not have the assets or capital to stand up from an financial downturn. 

But that is additionally a time when a startup’s agility could be a bonus. Having a small crew of, say, three to 20 folks permits a firm to rapidly adapt to unprecedented circumstances, like a world pandemic. 

Wesley Kang, a cofounder of the dress-shirt model Nimble Made, stated the previous few months have been the slowest in gross sales since the startup launched in October 2018. “Our projected progress for the first quarter of 2020 has been severely delayed,” he stated.

The model was anticipating a main stock cargo of new types and restocked sizes from China earlier than the Lunar New Year in January. The cargo was delayed till after the vacation break, then the coronavirus broke out throughout China, and plenty of factory staff did not return to work. 

“Our shirts have already been finished and have been sitting on the factory floor since January 24,” Kang advised Business Insider.

February gross sales decreased by 45%, and three bestselling shirts are virtually fully out of inventory or unavailable in common sizes.

As a lean startup of two cofounders and 5 distant freelance staff, Kang stated the stock delay was detrimental.

“We’re currently in high-growth mode with a continuously expanding customer base and repeat customers looking for more variety and styles,” he stated.

But the delay additionally highlighted the downsides of working with a global supplier, reminiscent of lengthy lead time, a lack of efficient product-quality management, and low visibility into the manufacturing course of.

“We’ve been inspired to get a better handle on our supply-chain process and make it into a more sustainable one,” Kang stated. 

To deal with these roadblocks, Nimble Made is in search of a home supplier that may present a extra long-term relationship. But that may take a whereas.

“To build a brand-new supplier relationship takes an equal, if not longer, amount of time,” Kang stated. 

Here are the steps Kang is taking to forge new relationships and find the proper supplier to bolster his enterprise in the center of a world disaster. 

Wesley Kang cofounder of nimble made

Wesley Kang is a cofounder of Nimble Made.

Courtesy of Wesley Kang


1. Have your specs prepared to go

Before you start outreach, the first step is to have the proper supplies readily available. Suppliers will need to know the particulars of your product: the way it’s made, measurements, and supplies.

Tech startups have pitch decks. Clothing firms, like Kang’s, use tech packs to method new suppliers, that are like the blueprints for every gown shirt. Each tech pack contains sketches and directions for each element, together with the shade, cloth, piping, and buttons. This offers factories a complete plan to create precisely what a firm needs. 

“That gives you a solid foundation between you and the factory, so you both are speaking the same language,” Kang stated. The firm employed a technical designer to rework its patterns, dimension grading, and tech pack as a first step to working with home suppliers.

2. Figure out how concerned you need your supplier to be

Some factories provide a full-service course of that features sourcing supplies for a price, whereas different factories could specialize solely in manufacturing — and you may want to present the supplies. Decide which stage of service is greatest for your online business and funds and the way concerned you need your producer to be in the total course of.

three. Find suppliers on-line (or offline, whenever you’re not social distancing)

A easy Google search can lead you to the proper suppliers if you happen to use key phrases like “local garment factories in New Jersey.” You can then e mail them your inquiry, although it is also price calling them. Most locations need to communicate on the cellphone in order that they will perceive the complexity and specificity of your product, Kang stated. 

Before the coronavirus outbreak shut down massive gatherings throughout the nation, commerce reveals and expos have been different methods to find suppliers, since you possibly can see lots of of them multi function place. They often show samples of their merchandise, and a few factories focus on specific areas.

“We’ll see the dress shirts on display. We’ll look at them, feel them, and decide whether or not they’re good,” Kang stated.

four. Start the dialog and ask questions

Here’s the actual format Kang makes use of to begin a dialog with a supplier, whether or not on the cellphone or in particular person: 

  • First, he introduces himself: “Hey, I’m Wesley, and we sell dress shirts.” 
  • He explains that Nimble Made is a startup: “I only want to make 50 dress shirts per style because we’re so new. Is that something you’d be willing to do?”
  • Then, he explains what he is in search of: “The most important thing is the sizing because that’s what we stand for,” Kang stated.
  • Next, he asks the factory consultant for his or her minimal order amount. “That’s going to dictate essentially how much money you have to put up to start a new relationship.” 
  • He asks for the price per unit manufactured, which is primarily depending on the materials or cloth, he stated.
  • For worldwide suppliers, he asks for the free-on-board pricing, or the value per unit plus the transportation prices for transport.

Kang stated it’s normal for factories, particularly ones in the US, to have massive minimal order portions, usually about 200 to 300 items.

“For a new business, that can seem pretty daunting. So I would recommend understanding that requirement first because that might dictate whether or not the relationship even makes sense,” he stated.



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