How to Source a Packaging Supplier – Your Checklist

how to source a packaging supplier

Ready to source your packaging? Here is a handy checklist to help you get started sourcing a packaging supplier!

1. Compile a Specification Sheet (RFQ)

packaging supplier specification sheet

In order to get an accurate quote for your project when roadblocks like language barriers and time difference play a role, you must make sure to have a document listing all the specific requirements for your packaging. Confirm with each prospective factory that these requirements will be met. Many companies run into issues when they do not provide initial specifics:

  • Large increase in quoted price
  • Quality issues
  • Production timeline issues
  • Logistical Issues

Be absolutely sure of your product specs before you submit them, because any change will result in delays.

2. Do Your Research

packaging supplier research 2

Ideally, you should use a program like Panjiva to research every potential overseas factory. Check for US shipments and then check their product shipment history to see if they actually PRODUCE the product you are sourcing.

Prospect between 10-30 different factories. Make sure you are speaking with actual manufacturers and not trading companies. How do you tell the difference? Well, it’s not always straight forward. Some factories on Alibaba will be listed at trading company AND manufacturer. Check their company profiles so find out which is true, but 9/10 times a company listed as both is actually just a trading company. When prospecting, choose a factory that has several (5+ at least) years of experience manufacturing. Confirm this experience on Panjiva.

3. Narrow it Down

packaging supplier research

Try to narrow down your prospects to your top 5 choices. Begin by sending them your spec sheet and analyzing their response. Are they able to communicate in English effectively? Do they respond in a timely manner? Was their price within expected range? Do they have certifications?

4. Place Sample Orders

packaging supplier samples

Once you have dialed in your choices, ask the factory for samples of their work. If you like what you see, pay the sampling or mold fee and ask for samples of your project. Evaluate the samples for quality, consistency, and timeliness.

5. Negotiate Price

packaging supplier negotiation

If you are happy with samples from more than one provider, start negotiating price. If there is any wiggle room, many factories will come down on price to win your business. However, do not sacrifice quality for price.

6. Discuss Logistics

packaging supplier logistics

Once you have chosen your supplier, make sure to ask them about packing specs and requirements. Confirm lead times, shipment details, and quality processes.

Contact a separate logistics manager if needed, to handle the shipping costs and warehousing of your project once it arrives.

7. When You Feel Overwhelmed

Even if this checklist is followed precisely, sourcing overseas by yourself can be an incredibly stressful and daunting project. Consider discussing your project with GLS; we have our own employee run manufacturing and assembly facility in China, and a US based team to seamlessly handle your project from concept to completion. You can even tour our facility here.

spring packaging

Save yourself the countless hours and heartache sourcing a packaging supplier on your own, contact us and we can get started on your project today!

For more information about the trends that will make share worthy packaging in 2017, grab our free download.