Recently I started looking into some private-labeled products to expand my horizons. It also serves to mitigate risk in the event that I run into issues in one of my sales channels. Additionally, this is my first foray into supply chain management, or mismanagement as I figure this whole thing out. However, while I build this out, I am also trying to put protection in place. I believe the earlier I accomplish this, the better off I will be.
Some of the products may come from overseas, and that carries with itself a degree of difficulty. Shipping delays, costs, communications barriers, time zones…these are all challenges I expect going into it. However, one thing I had just read about was protecting your brand. Depending on how you access your manufacturers, you may not have any protection from them stealing your product and selling it themselves. Though this is rare, it does happen. Much more common, however, is the potential for your money to be stolen.
To combat this, I resort to anything I can use. For instance, I absolutely will not use Western Union as there isn’t any recourse since I have no idea who actually cashes it. I prefer Paypal, but in some of the countries, this is not an option. Pakistan is one of the countries I have found with this issue. They don’t even accept credit cards, so at this point my options are limited to wire transfer. I’m not feeling too comfortable about this, so I will probably be walking away from it.
Now I found these vendors through Alibaba, and I highly recommend the marketplace for anyone looking to deal internationally. However, it is not perfect and you really should view it in the same vein as ebay. Pay attention to the badges associated with the sellers, in particular, the number of years they have been selling. Different people have different standards, but for me personally, anything with 2yrs or longer is good to me. I also prefer to buy from sellers that use paypal.
Another option if you are interested in getting into this, is Aliexpress. It is for importing of goods with a much lower Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ). For instance, you may find a water bottle that you are considering on Alibaba, but the MOQ is 1000 units. If you go on Aliexpress you may be able to find the same one with an MOQ of only 10 or 15. However, the prices will reflect the difference, so don’t go on there expecting to get your water bottle for $1.
Up to this point we have discussed the need for protection from overseas threats. However, not everyone is friendly in the US either. It behooves everyone to consider getting trademarks and copyrights where appropriate. You can read up on trademarks: here and copyrights here. Additionally, seek out a lawyer that specializes in trademark and copyright law. You may be able to consult with them at little or no cost.
As you expand your team, you will be building up defenses for your empire. It is a good idea to choose people that understand what you are doing. Additionally, you could also look for people to fill these roles that are also entrepreneurs.