If you’ve been thinking about finding a knee pillow manufacturer to start a business for memory foam knee pillow, you may have brainstormed some ideas of your own, like capitalizing on one of the many knee pillows already on the market.
However, many sellers find themselves hitting a brick wall when it comes time to actually source pillows. Whether you plan on manufacturing something of your own or finding suppliers to purchase from wholesale, good products aren’t always easy to find.
In this post, we’ll look at the basics of sourcing a supplier for your memory foam knee pillow business. We’ll give you ideas for some places to search, and examine how you should approach memory foam knee pillow suppliers and what to ask them when developing a new design knee pillow for your ecommerce business.
Find the professional manufacturer for your memory foam knee pillow 🚀
- What is a memory foam knee pillow manufacturer?
- Domestic vs. overseas suppliers
- How to manufacture a memory foam knee pillow
- Finding your supply partners
What is a memory foam knee pillow manufacturer?
A memory foam knee pillow manufacturer is any business that produces finished knee pillows from raw materials. They sell these pillows to consumers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and other manufacturers wanting to create more complex pillows.
Pillow Manufacturers typically stick to one type of product. For example, you could work with a fabric manufacturer who creates different fabric and cloth. You could work with one box manufacturer.
Pillow Retailers often work with multiple pillow manufacturers at once to create an inventory for their pillow store.
Is a pillow manufacturer a pillow supplier?
Suppliers and manufacturers are pretty much synonyms. For the purpose of this post, when we refer to knee pillow suppliers, we’re referring to anyone who has the capability to provide you with pillows and inventory. This encompasses pillow manufacturers, pillow wholesalers, and pillow distributors.
There are a ton of helpful resources online that you can find through Google. But before you begin, there are a few things you need to know and decide.
First, you should figure out what type of supplier you’re looking for. This will help determine the terminology you need to use in your research. Check out our post on ecommerce business to help you get started. There are several supplier options, the most common being:
- A manufacturer who produces your own knee pillow idea
- A supplier (who may also be a manufacturer), wholesaler, or distributor who purchases already-existing pillow brands and pillows
- A dropshipping company that supplies pillows and fulfills orders of already-existing pillow brands and pillows
Domestic vs. overseas pillow suppliers
If you plan to manufacture or wholesale knee pillow, when looking for suppliers you’ll need to decide whether you want to source domestically or from overseas. Overseas can refer to any location abroad.
It’s a good idea to secure two pillow manufacturers: one domestic and one overseas. Your local manufacturer can be used as a backup. So, if orders from overseas are late or incorrect, you can fall back on your local pillow supplier. They are often more expensive, but it’s better to keep products stocked and customers happy than having them wait for overseas shipments.
It’s often cheaper to source your pillows overseas, especially in Asian countries, like China because of lower labor costs. But there’s a lot more to the decision than just the upfront investment and cost per unit.
Both domestic and overseas sourcing have their advantages and disadvantages:
- Higher quality and labor standards
- Easier communication with no barrier
- Marketing appeal of being made in North America
- Easier to verify reputable manufacturers
- Faster shipping time
- High intellectual property right protection
- Greater payment security and recourse
- Higher manufacturing costs
- Less product choice (there are many items that just aren’t made in North America anymore)
- Lower manufacturing costs
- High number of manufacturers to choose from
- One-stop services like Alibaba have made it easy to navigate suppliers
- Lower perceived quality from customers
- (Usually) lower manufacturing and labor standards
- Little intellectual property protection
- Language, and time-zone barriers can be difficult to navigate
- Difficult/costly to verify manufacturer and visit on-site
- Longer shipping time
- Cultural differences in business practices
- Product importation and customs clearance
- Less payment security and recourse
When working with overseas pillow manufacturers and suppliers, it is a good idea to hire a manufacturing manager. These contractors are local people who live near your manufacturer and are responsible for handling negotiations, orders, and managing your partners. They can also be between your business and the shipping company. Think of them as the central hub of your overseas supply chain.
If there is a problem, the manager will work directly with the manufacturer to solve the problem. The managers also speak the local language, which helps to improve communication and make your business run smoothly.
How to manufacture a memory foam knee pillow
Finding a manufacturer for your knee pillow can be tricky but it’s necessary to bring your products to life. Follow these six steps to find the best manufacturers and suppliers for your knee pillow business.
- Outreach and collect information
- Communicate your designs
- Order samples
- Place your order
Finding the right manufacturer for your knee pillow is crucial to your success. Manufacturers control your pillow’s cost, quality, and packaging and shipping. Here’s how you can find the perfect ones.
Alibaba connects you with manufacturers from China. Finding existing products is a common market, but you can also use Alibaba to contact manufacturers to create customized products. Just search for the product you are looking for and browse various suppliers and manufacturers.
It is easy to buy safely from Alibaba. The market allows you to review manufacturers in advance to get the best products at a reasonable price. When investigating vendors on Alibaba, make sure they have the following qualifications:
- Gold supplier, which means they pay for their Alibaba membership.
- Verified, which means a third-party company or Alibaba has visited their factory.
- Trade assurance, a free service that protects your orders from payment to delivery.
You can continue searching by applying filters. You can sort by certification (such as SA8000, ensuring humane working conditions) to find a manufacturer that matches your business value.
Another thing to consider when sourcing from Alibaba: make sure your manufacturer is not a trading company. A trading company is a middleman and won’t be able to produce your products.
Another place to research manufacturers is the free online supplier directory. These directories contain information on hundreds of manufacturers, wholesalers, and suppliers. Below, we have listed some of the most popular products from domestic and foreign suppliers:
Online domestic directories
Online overseas directories
In recent years, we have become accustomed to being able to easily search on Google and find what we want in the first few search results. However, many vendors have not kept up with changes in the Internet or Google’s algorithms. Their websites are usually very old, with sparse information, and not optimized for search engines.
So how do you find a knee pillow supplier on Google? This may be the first time in history that you need to browse the second page of Google search results and more. You also need to use various search terms. For example, the terms “pillow wholesale,” “pillow wholesaler,” and “pillow distributor” may be used interchangeably, so you should search for all of these terms.
It may help to make yourself familiar with Google’s search shortcuts to improve the quality of your searches and, thus, your results.
Some of the best potential customers may come from recommendations. If they have any suggestions or if they know someone they might recommend, don’t be afraid to ask contacts in your professional network. Look for individuals who are successful in the field you want to pursue and see if they are willing to share their contact details.
Social networks make promotion easier, so be sure to use these channels. Join Facebook groups and other online communities of e-commerce business owners to see if anyone has given a warm review.
When you start to find a knee pillow supplier, even if they are not for you, be sure to ask if they can point you in the right direction. Working in this industry means that they may have a good network of contacts and are happy to recommend alternatives that may be more suitable for you.
Outreach and collection information
Once you have several manufacturers on your radar, you will want to get a quote. Aim to get at least three quotes to compare options.
Now, the biggest question you may ask a supplier is “How much does it cost?” But before you send a quotation request in a hurry, you need to answer the following questions:
- Can they accept orders for custom knee pillow? Evaluate whether the supplier or manufacturer can create the product you want. Do they have this skill? resource?
- What is their delivery time? How long does it take to produce and transport items? You don’t want to work with a manufacturer that takes three months to deliver a product. If the product is out of stock, you don’t want customers to wait for months to receive an order.
- What is the shipping cost? Transportation accounts for a large part of your business expenses. Understand the manufacturer’s shipping costs to determine how it will affect your bottom line.
- What is their minimum order quantity (MOQ or minimum order)? Don’t take the lead in asking this question. It will make you look like a beginner and prevent manufacturers from cooperating with you. However, before they start producing your products, you need to know the minimum quantity of goods you must order. This is highly negotiable.
- What is the cost per unit? When negotiating MOQ or min order, you also need to negotiate unit costs. The larger the order, the lower your unit cost.
- Can they grant you exclusivity? If tools are involved (that is, you buy tools for them to make your product), make sure they don’t allow others to use it. You can also request geographic, market or complete exclusivity.
- Does it involve installation costs? Sometimes, the manufacturer will charge a fee to prepare the equipment to produce your product.
- What is their defect policy? Find out who bears the cost of incorrect or defective items. Who pays for shipping and customs duties?
- Is the manufacturer sustainable and ethical? Understand factory conditions and see how they affect the environment and workers.
Negotiating minimum order quantities
If you are looking for a supplier for the first time, you will quickly understand the minimum order quantity (MOQ or min order). It is not uncommon for manufacturers to request a promise to purchase hundreds or even thousands of units for your first order, depending on the product and manufacturer.
When you have limited funds or want to start small and test the market before making large purchases, the MOQ (min order) can make it difficult. The good news is that the MOQ (min order) is almost always negotiable.
Before negotiating, please understand why the supplier has set a minimum. Is it because there is a lot of preliminary work? Or maybe it’s because they prefer to work with big buyers. Understanding the reasons behind the lowest price will help you better understand their position and allow you to negotiate and propose the best counter-offer.
Discussing payment terms
Many suppliers will require new companies to pay for all orders in advance. It is important to understand this, because inventory is the main cost of e-commerce companies. You may also want to ask if they provide payment terms for future orders.
Suppliers are always bombarded with email quote requests from weird buyers who just “kick the tires”, so it’s not uncommon for many suppliers not to respond to every request. Lack of supplier responsiveness is a common complaint of new e-commerce entrepreneurs.
So how do you ensure that you are not ignored? When you contact a supplier for the first time, there are a few things you should avoid:
- Long email: The first email you send to the manufacturer should be clear and concise. Avoid telling your story and background too much. The first email should purely assess high-level potential suitability. Pay attention to the content that the supplier cares about the most, such as the details of the content you are trying to purchase.
- Too many demands: It is not always easy for suppliers to make demands. It is important to ask for pricing for multiple quantities, but avoid asking too many or too many quotes. Stick to what you absolutely need to know to assess the fit between you and the supplier.
- Too few requirements: If you ask for a price far below the supplier’s minimum order, you may be silenced. If you are not sure if your request is too small, please consider giving them a quick call or sending a questionable email before asking them for the minimum order quantity.
A good manufacturing supplier will be willing to negotiate payment terms. They will not ask for 100% prepayment before shipment (if they do, it is a huge red flag). You can reach an agreement with them. It is required to pay 50% first, and 50% after receiving the goods. This makes both parties responsible for the order and does not leave too much risk for either party.
Communicating with manufacturers and suppliers
Chances are you won’t use a manufacturing manager when starting your online knee pillow business. You’ll have to communicate with suppliers on your own. There are three main ways to do this:
- Skype calls
Look for companies that are responsive and eager to work together. If someone is slow out the gate with your emails and samples, do you want to trust them with your business? Probably not.
Communicate your designs
Once you talk with a potential manufacturer, ask if they can create your design. Some manufacturers have a product development process with prototyping and 3D modeling—but it can get expensive quickly.
As an alternative, communicate your ideas with them through:
- Reference photos
- Indstrustial designers
- Product designers
- CAD experts
Another option is finding a local designer. You can work with them to develop prototypes and custom molds. It’s more affordable than going through a manufacturer.
Before placing a complete order, please get samples for testing before putting it into production. After the sample is correct, indicate the date and sign on the sample. Keep one or two for yourself. These are called your control samples and are any type of forensic samples used to ensure quality and obtain consistent products.
For example, suppose a manufacturer sends you an order. I opened the package and found that the color was completely wrong. You may chat with your manufacturing partner to resolve the error. If they have any questions about the order, you can refer to the control sample. This indicates that the product you received is not the one previously agreed upon.
Between you receive the samples and place the order, you can still negotiate terms such as payment or MOQ(min order). When negotiating, put yourself in the perspective of the manufacturer. The goal is not to use your manufacturing partners to get the best prices. It is to work together to make both parties profitable and happy. This is the only way to build a long-term healthy relationship.
Place your order
Finally, place an order. First perform a 100% quality control inspection. Check every product they send you to make sure it meets your standards. If you are satisfied with everything, please send the order and start the production process!
Finding your supply partners
Purchasing suppliers and manufacturers is a unique process, but it is one of the costs of starting a business. Trying to find the right supplier is a key decision for your new business, and they are not always easy to find.
It’s easy to get frustrated when you encounter a dead end or a brick wall, but in most cases, it only takes a little more patience and perseverance to find the perfect partner for your new business.