How do you successfully source an extremely specialized item?

July 25th, 2011

Today’s post is by Lauren Finnessy; Account Manager at SafeSourcing. Lauren asks “How do you successfully source an extremely specialized item?”

If you are a company that uses specialized items in order to produce your final product or service you should be asking yourself how does one successfully source a specialized item?  I am not referring to something that may be hard to find, but instead something that only one or two manufacturers readily provide.  For example, a battery to your specific piece of equipment may be manufactured specifically to run your product.  Therefore, it is not easily replaced with AAA or even a Li-ion standard.  It may seem like your current supplier is the only company and therefore has a monopoly over your business.  This situation puts the supplier in control of pricing and that is a dangerous stance to take from your shoes!

What this author has discovered is that in this situation, there are options!  Below are a few steps that you can take to get started in order to source your item effectively.

  1. Outline detailed specification of the item (s) that you want to source.  This should include as much specific detail as possible; the shape, size, weight, interior components.
  2. Outline, as detailed as possible, what the item is used for.  Is it the end product? Or is it a part that goes into the end product?  What function does the item hold?
  3. Know where you are currently getting the item, how many you are purchasing, and how much you are spending.
  4. Be prepared to have samples of your specialized item given to the manufacturer for testing reasons.  Also, set a realistic expectation for the samples to be returned to you for your own product testing.  You will need to know that a manufacturer is actually making a compatible and comparable product.

Once you’ve compiled all this information, you and your sourcing partner are armed with information to find other avenues to source this item.  This author’s recommendation is to start with the suppliers that are competitors of your current supplier.  Look into their equivalent products or find out if there are companies willing to manufacture your specialized item specifically for your needs.  This will help you broaden the marketplace for your specialized item and ultimately be able to source them to fit your needs and keep the focus on your bottom line.

For more information on SafeSourcing and sourcing your specialized items, please contact a Customer Service representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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