A Good Umbrella Supplier
If you’re looking to set up an umbrella selling business, finding the right umbrella supplier for your business is key to running a successful venture. A good umbrella supplier provides your business with quality products at great prices, allowing you to effectively gain a foothold in the market.
The opposite is a mediocre supplier that not only wastes your precious time and money but also destroys your business reputation.
As it is, the Internet has made it easier to connect with business-to-business (B2B) suppliers regardless of the distance. One of our customers, an American, started selling his umbrella brand on Amazon in 2016. And he now rakes in $1.5 million per year in sales. Not bad, eh?
Well, we’re not saying that you’ll be like him as he is clearly one in a million, but you surely get the point that selling stuff online exposes you to a wider market and thus, more sales, no?
Moving on, the Internet, for all its worth, is also a like a large ocean where both the good and bad fish swim together. This makes it difficult for the ordinary person to distinguish legit businesses from scams. As an industry insider, I will take you through the steps to finding a legit umbrella supplier.
But first things first.
What Are The Characteristics of a Good Umbrella Supplier?
Before we look at how to identify a suitable supplier, how about we mention something about what a good supplier looks like?
Ideally, you should look for a supplier who:
1. Has the ability to consistently provide high-quality umbrellas to meet the requirements of your clients. 2. Offers competitive cost advantage. 3. Guarantees a stable umbrella supply chain channel, as well as some flexibility in order deliveries. 4. Is led by a strong and visionary team leader who possesses good communication skills. 5. Has a credible management structure, and employs superb manufacturing technology (machinery and equipment).
Types of Umbrella Suppliers
Suppliers in the industry can be divided into the following broad categories: • Umbrella Manufacturer • Trading Companies • Wholesalers • Brand agents
If you want to create your own umbrella brand, large-scale umbrella manufacturers are the recommended option as they can comfortably provide OEM and ODM services.
If you have a small order quantity with high service request numbers, you may go with a trading company.
Wholesalers are the go-to choice of suppliers if you want to engage in retail, while brand agents will sort you out better if you fancy a given product brand.
Currently, most of the companies selling umbrellas at low prices are in China and Taiwan so you may want to train your eyes there if you’re sensitive about costs.
How to Find an Umbrella Supplier?
1. If you don’t have one already, then the first step is to open a website for your business. You are then required to invite applications from suppliers in the niche. Notably, it may be hard to get enough high-quality applications with a new website, but that’s nothing a targeted digital marketing campaign and a few newspaper ads won’t solve.
2. Network with players in the umbrella retail business and ask for recommendations. This is known as peer introduction and is the best way to get information on suitable partners. Notably, there are some ‘peers’ who will be reluctant to help, going by the saying that “peer is the enemy,” but most will be willing to help with some incentive.
3. Read Professional Publications – You can also go through industry newspapers, blogs, and magazines where you can find articles, and reviews on lots of product suppliers.
4. Trade associations and professional consultants can also be of help in providing information on the umbrella suppliers in their networks. This may cost you some money, but what’re a few bucks when thousands more could be lost when you lose your way?
5. Attend, or participate in, industry exhibitions and shows and while there, personally collect relevant supplier information or even better, meet them and negotiate deals.
6. Utilize search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, which allow you to narrow your searches to the region, size of the company and any other distinct features.
7. Browse industry websites such as Alibaba and Street Directory which often contain some useful information on manufacturers, wholesalers and other related businesses.
The Umbrella Supplier Survey
Once you receive applications from suppliers, there are a few things that you need to consider before doing any business. These include:
1. Registration of Supplier Forms
Collate and classify all suppliers according to type, the scale of operations, location, etc.
2. Supplier Base Data Audit
Request all suppliers to provide copies of their business licenses, qualification certificates, cooperation cases, office pictures, and pictures of their machinery and equipment. This is to help you determine their ability, or lack thereof, to supply the required products.
Here is a small trick: Incorporate all your specific requirements on one detailed form where prospective suppliers will fill in their details and send it to you in one batch. It saves a lot of time.
3. What to Look for in Online Suppliers
• Website Design – Go through their website and observe its layout and design. Most scammers’ websites have rough, raw designs with only a few scantily detailed pages.
• Contact Information – Go to their Contact Us page and observe the contact details. Usually, con artists don’t give many details apart from a phone number or email. Legit businesses, on the other hand, go as far as providing a verifiable company address as well as other information such as postal codes.
• Business Licenses – If you’re in contact with an interested supplier, ask them to show you their business licenses. If they don’t have one, they are probably scammers. Also, be careful as some businessmen may provide forged certificates.
Careful scrutiny and verification (if possible) of the submitted documents is key to avoiding scams. One way to verify documents is by checking the registered business database of a supplier’s country of origin.
Quotation and Product Sampling
From the above data collection and review work, you should ideally be having about 2-3 prospective suppliers in mind. The next step involves practically determining the quality of the products they offer. One sure way of determining this is by basic inspection of random samples. To that end, the following checklist will guide you on things to consider when carrying out quality inspections.
1. Switch Performance Check
This is a test to check whether the umbrella is fully functional and how it works in different situations. With the test umbrella at hand, fully open it to ensure nothing is obstructed or falling. Check whether it’s flexible, whether the canopy opens up all the way to the top, and also whether the umbrella is light or heavy.
Importantly, the umbrella shaft should allow some space on the handle to facilitate free opening and locking. All these apply when checking the switch parts of a manual umbrella.
If you’re dealing with automated umbrellas, pay close attention to the opening and closing mechanisms.
Firstly, check and test whether the umbrella opens or closes on its own.
Secondly, the speed at which it opens also matters. Ideally, self-opening and closing should be fast but not forceful. Also, the force at which the canopy falls when closing down should not be too heavy.
2. Inspection of the Outer Surface
The quality and material composition of the outer surface of an umbrella determines to a large extent, its functionality. Therefore, when carrying out your tests, it is imperative to spend some time looking at it.
Typically, umbrellas are made from some sort of twill tissue, woven fabric or other special cloth that help keep users dry even during heavy rains. The fabric used should thus be smooth textured, have no holes or any sign of out of place yarn.
You should also ensure that the umbrella line trace is uniform, the color scheme consistent (unless you prefer it otherwise) and that the stripe stitching follows a similar approach.
Notably, most manufacturers make nylon umbrellas and if that’s your preference too, there are some things you should consider. First, the entire outside surface should be coated with a layer of anti-rain resin glue to ensure that no drop leaks inside even during heavy rain.
Secondly, you should be alarmed when you notice obvious weaving defects as it shows carelessness on the supplier’s part. Additionally, observe how the umbrella absorbs and radiates light.
Quality umbrellas are made of dyes that reflect instead of absorbing light, which subsequently protects the user from too much light and heat.
Lastly, pay attention to how the umbrella opens. The ideal way is outwardly and not inwardly like a bowl. Of course, it all depends on your stated needs which further depends on what you think your customers will like.
Umbrella Bone Examination
Apart from the canopy, another part you should pay extra attention to is the umbrella bone. Basically, it should not be made of the material that rusts easily and neither should it be elastic or feel soft. You want something hard and durable.
Furthermore, the umbrella bone should stick to the rod or shaft even when you close it backward. The river, on the other hand, should be fixed in a fitting yet flexible way to keep away rainwater.
Other Parts to Examine
Last on the list are other functional parts that complete an umbrella and give it full functionality. First up is the umbrella rod, which should be round and bright with no signs of shelling, desoldering or cracking. The outer top, also known as the ferrule, should be flat, not sharp and should have no holes, otherwise, the umbrella will leak.
When it comes to the handle, which should be made with performance, comfort and appearance should be in mind, being the part that users will be in contact with the most. Hence, it should look great (which is subjective) as well as firm and motionless.
It should also be big enough to handle without straining, even for users with big hands. Lastly, the handle should not loosen or shake after opening the umbrella. If it does that during the preliminary testing process, imagine how bad it will get after being used a couple times.
After evaluating the products on offer by different suppliers to see which ones meet your specifications and requirements, you can now proceed to evaluate the suppliers themselves. Here, the focus is on selecting the best supplier from your shortlist based on careful consideration of their documentation, product quality and other factors such as:
• Price per unit – It should be favorable
• Supplier reputation – Based on customer reviews, opinions from industry stakeholders as well as from credible media outlets.
• Communication – What are the channels of communication? Does the company reply to emails fast enough? Are they open and honest in their responses to queries?
• The After-sales services – Are there any underlying warranties? Can you return defective units? Does the supplier provide maintenance and repair for broken umbrellas?
• Experience – Most people prefer to deal with suppliers who have been in business for some time as they’re considered more reliable and with more established systems to meet any form of demand. It all depends on you, however, as there are established businesses that are very unreliable while some new businesses are very reliable and professional.
Here is the deal…..
By following all the tips and procedures highlighted above, you will undoubtedly find the perfect umbrella supplier to help you achieve your business objectives. Admittedly, it’s not a smooth process as the industry is full of cleverly disguised cons and poor-quality products.
However, nothing good ever comes easy. You must put in the hours to analyze, evaluate and determine your path.
With that being said, we invite you to join the discussion and contribute to an aspiring entrepreneur’s knowledge bank. Do you, or have you ever ran an umbrella business? Who was your supplier? How did you meet them? Drop your wisdom in the comments below.
Thoughts, criticism, and suggestions are welcome too in line with the First Amendment!