s working with just one supplier is the best way to control glove cost?  How many suppliers should you have, and how should you choose?

At first, this seems like a simple question.

There’s no denying the appeal of lower cost. The growth of manufacturing in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and others are all testament to that.

However, we also read about a return to “Made in U.S.A.” in some cases.  While lower price is not part of this strategy, it offers other potential advantages.

As with most supply chain questions, it is not as simple as it seems on the surface.

If you are thinking about planning your glove production, what else should you consider?

Single vs. Multiple Glove Factory Strategy

The reality is that different glove factories have different strengths.

For instance, a leather glove factory might make beautiful fashion leather gloves, but not be proficient at technical sport gloves … and vice versa.  The knowledge and experience base is not interchangable from one factory to the next.

When you choose and work with a supplier, you are investing in their experience.  When they troubleshoot and solve problems during manufacturing, they are building knowledge, which is not transferable.

Pros and Cons of Secondary Factories

On the one hand, diversification is a basic business strategy.  Diversify your sources, and your risks.  It’s just good business not to be totally reliant on one source as the buyer (and for suppliers not to be reliant on any one brand as well!)

Beyond diversification, let’s take a closer look at 5 specific strategic sourcing factors to consider, which factor into whether a secondary glove factory could be beneficial, or not:

1. Easier Cost Comparisons:

By comparing apples to apples, you’ll get a better understanding of the appropriate range. So if you work with multiple suppliers, this can work to your advantage as a buyer.
On the other hand, the more you buy from any one supplier, the better the negotiating power you have.  While it’s hard to quantify, this is a very real benefit.

2. Capacity Limitations:

You might need to spread your volume around for capacity reasons.  While it could involve a second supplier, it doesn’t always have to.

For instance, one of our customers gives us a product forecast for a year. When we can plan our production and deliveries well ahead, it results in a very efficient scenario on both sides.

3. Minimum Order Quantities:

When planning for capacity, also keep in mind that difficulty meeting minimum order quantities for parts of your line might require concentrating other parts of it, for leverage.

For instance, a supplier will be in a better position to make samples and initial runs of your new product, which is typically unprofitable in the early stages when quantities are small and uncertain, when they can offset this against your more sizable and profitable business.

4. More Flexible Lead Times:

Using secondary factories might help you build inventory faster for an introduction, and provide other needed flexibility for replenishment business.

5. Better Skills Alignment:

When a product line has a very specific manufacturing requirement, the supplier with the specific skills and factory set up to match your need might not be the same as for other production.

For instance, suppose you require a specific technology, such as a heated glove project. Specific technical capabilities of each factory enter this decision mix.

Choosing Glove Manufacturers: The Right Mix

To use a simple analogy, it’s like buying gas for your car.

The station in your town is close, but also costs more. A station several miles away is cheaper. A third one also sells milk, ice and propane tank refills … and is open 24/7.  Where do you go?

It depends on your needs!

If you are like most people, your answer is “All three”…

 … and that’s precisely our point.

The Outsourcing Decision:  Resources

As a private label gloves buyer, are you reaching your business objectives? Is it time to consider a different sourcing option? Or take advantage of specialized skills like design or troubleshooting?

Learn more about the benefits of outsourcing your glove manufacturing:


For more insight on arriving at the best sourcing solution, download our checklist: 10 Questions to Ask a Gloves Supplier:  A Private Label Sourcing Checklist”.

Contact us for a consultation, or leave a comment below!