How to Find Reliable Shoe Manufacturer for Small Businesses in 2021
Statistic Brain report reveals that 3 types of top selling shoes are men’s shoes (with 20% market share), women’s casual wear (with 17% market share), and women dress shoes (15% market share).
No doubt, shoe industry is the key apparel market globally with a 265 billion US dollars market share in 2019, which is further expected to grow by 80% by 2025.
Ultimately, starting a small scale local shoe brand is definitely a profitable idea in 2021 considering that the marketplaces have shifted to the online platforms.
But, before you begin, there must be tons of questions such as Should I Buy From a Shoe Manufacturer or Shoe Supplier? Can I Directly Buy From a Manufacturer? Can I Find a Brand Manufacturer? Should I Source Shoes From Local Manufacturers or Overseas Manufacturers?
Here’s an in-depth guide to familiarize you with all the dos and don’ts of starting a new shoe startup, particularly to help you find a reliable shoe manufacturer for your small business in 2021.
What’s the Difference Between a Manufacturer and a Supplier?
Most startups confuse manufacturers and wholesale suppliers ending up signing a contract with a wholesale shoe suppliers on online platforms. Yet, this can turn into a huge mistake later on.
An apparel or shoe manufacturer produces finished products from raw materials. They sell it out to wholesalers, retailers, suppliers, and more.
A manufacturer is a master of his art who can only sell ‘one type of products’ but can offer new businesses the option to private label them or work on their client’s design. For example, at Neonice, private labelling and custom PVC shoe manufacturing is offered. A manufacturer doesn’t only sell prepared designs exclusively, he can always adapt to the demand of the client. Moreover, a manufacturer can provide shoes at cheaper rates than a supplier.
In fact, shoe retailers often directly work with multiple manufacturers to have a variety of shoes to sale.
Whereas, a supplier is a wide term encompassing wholesaler, distributer, and also manufacturers.
Therefore, whenever you are setting up a small scale or large scale shoe business, quality assurance and brand development can only begin with reliable ‘manufacturers’ who are expert at shoe making processes.
Should I Source Shoes From Local Manufacturers or Overseas Manufacturers?
Mostly overlooked yet an important consideration is to decide on your manufacturer or supplier—whether it should be local or overseas.
A wiser option is to have two manufacturers—a domestic and an overseas one. Find a local manufacturer as a backup in case of delay of orders from overseas manufacturers.
But, your main shoe manufacturer should be from any of the Asian countries such as India, China, or Veitnam due to low labor costs.
Pros and Cons of Local Manufacturers:
- Higher quality
- Easy communication
- No language barrier
- Easier to find and verify repute
- Marketing is easier
- Faster shipping
- Higher manufacturing costs
- Lesser variety
- Higher competition
Pros and Cons of Overseas Manufacturing
- Low manufacturing cost
- Global market experience
- Availability of pure raw material
- Quality adjusted as per budget
- Low labor costs
- Bulk production is easier
- Cheap rates for startups
- Variety of manufacturers to choose from
- Variety of shoe designs
- Exotic designs with lesser market competition
- High Shipping costs
- Language barrier
- Difficult to find reliable manufacturer
- Longer shipping time
Are Chinese Shoe Manufacturers Reliable for Small Businesses?
Chinese manufacturers have backed up multiple U.S. brands such as Hush puppies, Nike, and many more. Moreover, China footwear industry market share has always dominated the global market for years due to local shoe raw material availability and years of experience with huge US brands.
Around China, there are now multiple footwear raw materials specialty centres that propel the making of local footwear materials and support China shoe manufacturers. In Wenzhou, there are numerous trade associations now that have established as ‘one-stop footwear products and services’ platform now known as ‘China’s footwear and footwear material city’.
Due to Chinese footwear speciality, brands from around the globe and local Chinese buyers rely on expert Chinese manufacturers.
Apart from that, affordable Chinese shoe manufacturers are also available to backup small-scale shoe businesses. Not only do they offer cheap manufacturing costs but also minimum MOQ to support shoe startups.
How to Find a Reliable Chinese Manufacturer Overseas?
1. Research the Chinese Marketplaces
There are several ways to approach Chinese shoe manufacturers from overseas:
- Alibaba and Aliexpress
- Global footwear trading shows
- Google Search Engine
- Seek help from suppliers and agents
We would suggest to shortlist your shoe manufacturer from Google websites and LinkedIn as you can find genuine Chinese shoe factory owners. Trade shows are always the best option as you can meet in person with your next shoe manufacturer.
1. Identify the Footwear Industry Cluster
In China, there are 4 footwear clusters:
- Guangdong Footwear Industry (led by Guangzhou and Dongguan) that backs up medium to high-end businesses.
- Zhejiang Footwear Industry (led by Wenzhou and Taizhou) that backs up medium to small scale men’s footwear businesses.
- Western Region Footwear (led by Chengdu and Chongqing) that supports medium to small scale women’s footwear businesses.
- Fujian Footwear Industry (led by Quanzhou and Jiniiang) that deals with sports shoes mostly.
Although 2nd and 3rd options are better for small scale footwear businesses but you can always approach a shoe manufacturer in Guangzhou as it’s the hub of footwear industry.
Neonice, established in Guangdong, deal with children and women rubber shoes, flip flops, jelly sandals with very minimum MOQ. So, it’s always better to find a shoe industry in the footwear hub as raw materials are accessible and there are no delays.
2. Market Experience and Quality Checks
A reliable manufacturer will always have a portfolio to show. Moreover, he would be more than glad to welcome you or anyone you hire to perform quality control checks at their shoe industry.
3. Custom Design and Private Labelling
If you wish to start a new shoe brand, finding a manufacturer who can custom design your shoes and private label it with your brand is always a plus. The Chinese shoe manufacturer who can work on your designs is always a reliable option who knows the shoe-making art well.
Moreover, be sure what shoes you want to sell such as men’s sneaker shoes, men’s slippers, sportswear, or women’s fashion shoes, PVC sliders, fur slides, jelly sandals, heels, and what not. Do the market research and find out the gap in the industry to build a brand that sells unique footwear.
For example, clear jelly sandals, funky jelly sandals, fur slides, cute rubber slides, and many more aren’t locally made in the US and there’s a market gap. You can create the best boho slipper brands in the world that will offer ultimate comfort at home, beachside, office, and what not. Similarly, exotic skin menswear look chic and stylish that can make a brand in itself.
(Marcusius are leading menswear shoe manufacturers in China who offer custom and private label shoes).
4. Look for Minimum MOQ
When you are done shortlisting your shoe manufacturer, look for a Chinese footwear manufacturer who offers very minimum MOQ.
Being a startup you cannot afford high MOQ as well as shipping costs. So, apart from negotiating the manufacturing costs, look for a manufacturer who is willing to offer 20 to 30 MOQ.
Neonice—Reliable Chinese Fashion Womenwear Manufacturer
Neonice is a wholesale sandal vendor in China that offers cheap women flip flops and PVC, TPR, Jelly shoes in bulk. Whether your target market is sleepwear, beachwear, or bohemian shoes, we are PU sandal manufacturers that only need the shoe design and the materials you’d like to use for manufacturing them. From quality assurance to bulk production to timely shipping, we follow a process to keep a strict check and balance in every part of the industry.
To support new sandal businesses online or local brands who wish to create a bond of trust with their customers, we offer superior quality Chinese shoes that are comfortable and luxurious in feel. We have a very minimal MOQ between 20 to 30 pairs to let make your dream shoes come to reality.
Get in touch with us here.