Vietnam has a long tradition of handcrafting everything from baskets and wooden figurines, to clay pots and miniature ships.
Many Vietnamese handicraft suppliers are relatively small, and can be found on either Alibaba.com – or one of the many trade shows in the country.
As of today, Vietnam’s electronics manufacturing base is not nearly as strong as Guangdong province, in southern China.
Further, many of the electrical components are imported from China, further eroding its potential as a manufacturing hub for electronics.
That said, it’s getting there, and electronics is making up a big share of the exports that go through Vietnam’s main ports.
Many exporters are foreign own (i.e., Samsung), and the local owned tend to be OEM manufacturers. I would still not expect them to be as open minded, and accustomed to working with small buyer’s, as those in Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
Looking to import toys and other children’s products from Asia? Then Vietnam can offer products you can’t really find elsewhere.
At least when it comes to certain types and materials:
Remember that you need to ensure compliance with all applicable children’s products safety standards, in your market. If you’re based in the EU, you need to ensure compliance with EN 71. In the US, CPSIA is mandatory.
g. Materials & Construction
Vietnam has a large plastics and construction materials industry. Many of these manufactures functions as subcontractors, to toys and electronics manufacturers.
However, more and more of these factories are developing their own ODM products, and take on OEM orders from customers around the world.
There are countless of products that simply aren’t manufactured in Vietnam today. Even if they aren’t complex to make, it takes years to build up the infrastructure of component and materials suppliers.
As such, you cannot go into Vietnam with the assumption that ‘if it can be made, you’ll find it here’. That does work in China, though, for most products.
Hopefully, we will see more subcontractors making the leap to create their own ODM products, like many of their Chinese counterparts in Guangdong and Zhejiang has done.
If you are importing custom designed products, Vietnam is more attractive, as you are not limited to what the suppliers have already manufactured.
How should I approach Vietnamese suppliers?
Vietnamese supplier are not nearly as direct and open as their counterparts in China. I remember how I, at the age of 22, could (and still can) get a meeting with any sales manager and legal rep in China.
In China, you don’t need a name. You barely even need a specification. The suppliers are always interested in meeting you. This is something many of us take for granted.
This is not the case in Vietnam.
In Vietnam, you need to build trust before you can even place an order.
But who has time for that these days?
Further, many Vietnamese suppliers also tend to be less willing to work with startups and small businesses.
This is another issue for ecommerce entrepreneurs.
In my opinion, Vietnamese manufacturers have to step up their game and become more accessible.
It’s either that or play second fiddle to China for decades to come.
With over 10 years in the country, BDG Vietnam is the go to company for many medium to large sized companies – looking to either source products or set up their own factories in the country.
Keep in mind that you can source Vietnamese suppliers directly on both Alibaba.com and Globalsources.com. Or, perhaps even better, visit one of the many trade shows that are held annually in Vietnam.
Vietnam is already a serious alternative to China. If you’re importing any of the products mentioned in this blog post, you should at least look into sourcing suppliers in Vietnam.
That said, Vietnam doesn’t offer the same scope of products as China, but it doesn’t really have to either.
Regardless of how the industry develops in the coming years, I hope that Vietnamese suppliers understand the need to be more accessible, and willing to work with tomorrows Daniel Wellington or Soundbrenner.
Playing it safe, and only expecting to cut gold from already successful business, is not going to cut it
We help startups & brands get quality products made in China & Vietnam
Co-founder of Asiaimportal (HK) Limited and based in Hong Kong. He has been quoted in and contributed to Bloomberg, SCMP, Alibaba Insights, Globalsources.com, China Chief Executive, Quartz Magazine and more.
Hey there, I’m Fredrik!
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