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If you are a new brand in the clothing industry trying to partner up with manufacturers, you might not know what are the right strategic questions that you must ask before signing a contract. In this blog we will try to clear all your confusions. Here is a list of 10 highly significant questions that all the biggies in the industry ask before sealing a deal! Read on.
- Do you manufacture what I am looking for?
A manufacturer might have a good reputation or offer great prices but the deal isn’t going to work for your brand unless they have an expertise in the form of clothing you sell. If you sell women’s casuals then the manufacturer must have experience in working with the same. An expertise in bridalwear or men’s casuals would be of no help to you. Establish a clear ground of communication where both of you can discuss what’s your niche.
Also, before signing the contract you must verify whether you are working directly with the manufacturer or reaching the manufacturer through an agency. On occasions, manufacturers accept orders for products that they do not make and sub-contract those orders to other manufacturers. This introduces a chain of middlemen into the supply system which increases costs and reduces efficiency.
Ideally, a brand should directly contact manufacturers and in case they cannot find good manufacturers for themselves, the next best alternative is to hire a company for supply chain management. At Fashinza, for instance, we serve as the single source of truth and communication for the brands and manufacturers. We do not allow brands to unnecessarily waste resources on multiple middlemen.
- Do you speak my language?
How do you hope to communicate with the manufacturer unless you have at least one language in common? Make sure that they understand your tongue and some (if not all) of their representatives can speak the language well enough for the communications to be smooth and intricate.
This is an issue which can be better dealt with by having a supply chain management team on your side. Fashinza connects brands from the UK, USA, and Australia to manufacturers from India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, where evidently there exists a linguistic gap.
Yet, all our customers are happy with their experiences because we stand with them as professional translators and facilitate uninterrupted communication. We speak foreign as well as the native languages fluently, and with our assistance maintaining communication becomes as simple as a walk in the park for both parties!
- What other brands have you worked with?
This question should give you a perspective about the manufacturer’s portfolio. You must note if they have worked with one or more leading global brands in the past and verify who their present partners are.
This can help you to assess the aptitude and reach of the manufacturer, and great partnerships should be considered as good recommendations.
If any of your acquaintances have worked with the manufacturer in the past, you must definitely seek a first-hand review of their product quality and services.
- What is your minimum order quantity (MoQ)?
MoQ is one of the first things that you will want to ask about while talking to a brand. You might want to place an initial order of only 50 pieces to assess whether the product sells well, and the manufacturer might not accept an order of less than 500 pieces. Alternatively, you might need a thousand pieces immediately, and the manufacturer may not have the capacity for such mass production.
When there is such a discrepancy, there is no reason to waste your time by communicating further with the manufacturer – unless there is the scope for negotiation. Verify whether your MoQ requirements match before taking things forward.
- Can I visit your factory?
Visiting the factory in person is the best way to learn how the manufacturer operates, what kind of equipment they have access to, how they treat their workers, how they process their raw materials, and all such related things. If you can make visits in the middle of the production process, you shall be able to see for yourself if they are adhering to all your instructions.
So to figure out if you can participate in the manufacturing process, you should ask the manufacturer if you’re allowed to pay visits. When a manufacturer restricts visits, it can be an indication of something fishy – the manufacturer could be subcontracting the order for all you know!
In case you cannot pay visits yourself owing to the geographical distance, you must authorize your representatives to pull off the task.
- Can you source everything for me?
Now there are some manufacturers who can source everything for you, and then there are others who will need you to provide with the fabric, the zips and buttons, the labels, and all the other components that make up the final product. If you are a big brand that prefers to supply their own raw material then this arrangement would suit you perfectly.
However, if you are a brand that does not have established sources, you should definitely go for a manufacturer who can source everything – from fabric to tag – for you! Your objective should be to simplify the supply chain by finding one manufacturer who can take care of everything. Your role would be to place the order, make the payment, and receive the delivery.
At Fashinza, we help brands to destress by taking over these tasks. From design to delivery, we look after everything, allowing the brands to create more and manage less!
- When can I expect my delivery?
It might not be possible for the manufacturer to provide you with an exact delivery date before the production has been initiated, but they can tell you when you can expect a sample and how long it might take for them to complete the production once the sample has been approved.
If you have a deadline that you must meet, you need to discuss it with the manufacturer at this point. Also, note carefully whether the manufacturer is mentioning a date merely to impress you or they are suggesting a realistic time span. Make sure you both agree to the latter.
- Can you give me a cost estimate for my product?
Assuming you’re approaching the manufacturer with a particular product in mind, you should try to ask them if they can provide you with an estimate. This will inform you whether the alliance is going to meet your budget. In such circumstances tech packs are of great use.
You should start by communicating the details of your design with the manufacturer. If you want to produce a shirt, for instance, you can highlight the kind of fabric you would like, the collar style you would prefer, the length of the sleeve, the quality of the button, the sizes, and such factors.
Or you can just handover your tech pack to the manufacturer. Either way, they should be able to give you an approximate cost estimation for your product.
- Terms of payment
While discussing the cost, you must not forget the follow up question about the terms of payment. Ask the manufacturer when they expect the payment to be made. In case of most manufacturers, they want an initial advance to begin the work while the greater amount needs to be paid at the time of delivery.
Different manufacturers might follow different payment schemes – some of them might ask you to pay for the fabric in advance while some might need your advance payment to pay wages to their artisans.
It is best to discuss the payment scheme right at the beginning. Also, don’t forget to ask about the local taxes you might have to pay, the shipping charges, the packing charges, and any other additional cost that might be applicable.
If you do not address these issues before signing the contract, they might come as nasty surprises at the time of the delivery.
- How do you deal with mishaps and claims?
This might be a tricky and awkward question but you must ask it nevertheless. Instead of directly inquiring how they settle claims, or whether they settle claims at all, you could perhaps ask how they deal with mishaps where the products are damaged due to some fault or accident on their part.
It is important to include this clause about the claim into the contract to cushion you against future disasters which are always likely to happen.
So now you are aware of the basic questions which you must raise while forming liaison with a new manufacturer. We hope you found this blog helpful and we wish you good luck for your upcoming ventures!