When you’re first getting started with the manufacturing process, Minimum Order Requirements (MOQs) can throw a spanner in the works. What does this mean for emerging designers? Well, fabric suppliers may require a minimum order of 1,000 yards, or a cut and sew supplier might have a minimum order requirement of $2,000 for just one order. However, for early-career designers who are looking to do a smaller test run before making a larger order, or who simply might not have the capital to satisfy these requirements, there are ways to navigate around MOQs. To start negotiating, bear the following tips in mind.
What is the supplier’s reason for the minimum?
Before starting negotiations, it’s essential to understanding why the minimum is in place. Typically, it’s a safety mechanism for the supplier to avoid a particular problem. In several cases, it’s the cost of setting up equipment. Another common occurrence is that suppliers deal with a surfeit of clients, and therefore, prefer to deal only with those that guarantee them the most profit. As you come to understand the reason for the minimum, you’ll be able to come up with an offer that doesn’t just meet your needs, but considers the supplier’s circumstances.
Meet each other halfway
When you’ve established the reason for the minimum order, suggest an offer for a lower quantity that accommodates their set-up and costs. If, for example, you want 500 yards of a particular colored fabric but the minimum order is 1,500 yards, you could propose that you pay a flat fee for the fabric dyeing. While it may be higher than what 500 yards would be proportionally, it’s likely that it would still be lower than paying for three times the amount of fabric than you need.
Other possible scenarios include:
- Offering the supplier a deposit for a larger order, but only producing smaller amounts at a time.
- Offering to pay a higher price per piece for a quantity under the MOQ.
- If you have flexibility with your calendar, you may be able to ask your supplier to group your order with another client who’s buying a similar item.
Find an alternative
If you’re unable to convince a supplier to lower their MOQ, your next option is to seek out an alternative product or material. For example, if you need customized buttons but can’t meet the 5,000 piece minimum, the supplier may be more accommodating if you ask for a smaller order of buttons that they already have in stock. Similarly, you may find that another of their customers has ordered a comparable custom button, and you can take some of the blanks from that order. While this may mean that you don’t get a product to your exact specifications on the first order, you’ll be able to build a rapport with the supplier and therefore grow your own business to eventually meet the MOQ.
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