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Original equipment manufacturing (OEM) definition

OEM products are manufactured according to the buyer's product specifications. For example, any product with custom design, material, size, function or color can be classified as OEM.

For some, OEMs mean products based entirely on buyer specifications, while other products classify the most minor modifications to existing ODM product designs as OEMs.

In other words, most people agree that OEM products are primarily defined as the need to produce molds (ie, injection molds) before the start of production.

Original design and manufacturing (ODM) definition

ODM products are based on existing designs developed by the manufacturer. ODM products can be the result of their own research and development of the supplier, it can be another product or brand (legal or illegal) copies.

ODM products are often referred to as "private label products" and can be branded by buyer logo.

Amazon sellers and other e-commerce companies In recent years, this practice is very common.

What does the supplier claim to provide OEM service?

"OEM service" refers only to the ability and willingness of the supplier to design the product according to the buyer.

In other words, basically Alibaba and all suppliers can manufacture OEM products. In fact, this is what they used to.

So you do not need to go out to search for a vendor that actually claims to provide OEM products because it is taken for granted.

On the other hand, as mentioned in this article, looking for suppliers to provide "real" ODM products may be more challenging.

What does it mean when a supplier claims to provide an ODM product?

It is easy to misunderstand the product list in various vendor catalogs and assume that the supplier actually "owns" all of these products.

First, even if the ODM products are involved, the factory will order it. They do not have inventory waiting for buyers.

Second, the "product list" can fall into the following three categories:

a. Customer Products: These designs (and molds) may be owned by existing customers. The product only shows the past features, but the supplier may not have a fixed specification sheet, and even the product design drawings.

b. Demonstration products / counterfeit products: Some suppliers have never actually created the product picture. Therefore, the buyer must

pay the tool, in which case the product can even be classified as an ODM product is problematic.

That is, it is acceptable if the digital design created by the vendor shows what they can do. But if not, it is unacceptable.

c. Vendor-developed products: Some suppliers invest in product development and tools, but this is only a small part of all the listed products in the main supplier catalog. If you have this route, remember that the supplier will have a lot of leverage, and IP is also true.

ODM products in which industries are more common?

ODM products are more common in industries such as electronics, machinery and other hardware development costs.

Therefore, in the kitchen appliances, LED lighting, etc., found that Chinese manufacturers to develop factory products more common.

ODM products are generally less in low-cost industries, and they are designed to be more focused rather than functional. This includes, for example, clothing, jewelry and jewelry.

Where can I find suppliers for ODM products?

There are no strict "ODM Vendors" categories. In all industries, basically all the manufacturers have been from the OEM, according to buyer specifications manufacturing products.

In other words, some suppliers have invested in the development of their own ODM products, while the other is only "for reference" products uploaded to its Alibaba or global source page.

The latter is not a problem, but you have to understand this fact, so as not to cause serious mistakes.

Is ODM the same as a private label?

In theory, yes. ODM and private label behind the concept is that the supplier provides a template product that buyers can use their own logo to brand.

As a result, buyers can save time because they do not need to go through a long product development process, or invest in expensive injection molds and other tools.

How does reverse engineering and ODM specifications?

ODM products are usually customized. In fact, suppliers want their buyers to offer them product specifications - even if they buy products that are called ODM products.

As mentioned above, many products are for reference only, and PDF files and spreadsheets containing original product specifications have


Therefore, as a buyer, you decide:


List all relevant product specifications (ie size, button, collar)


With the supplier to confirm all available customization options (ie, what kind of fabric and color they can provide)


How do I determine if an ODM product is not another company's IP?

This is the problem of millions of dollars (litigation). We get it once a week.

As described in this guide, many "list products" are not actual ODM products, but rather photos of goods produced by other buyers in the past.

Now if these product designs are the buyer's IP?

First, you should not use the brand name and trademark you do not own, but you may already know.

Second, go to the Amazon website to see if you can find a similar product in the market. Keep in mind that not all products or features are


In many cases, this is only the name of the intellectual property brand. Yes, even if the product itself is designed by another customer.

For example, you can not patent a t-shirt. But you can patent a new LED bulb.

Thirdly, you can conduct patent searches in more detail, or ask suppliers to show documents that have their own ODM product patents.

Remember that Chinese patents are only valid in China.

Or you just go to OEM. It's not as hard as you might think

ODM and OEM Comparison Table





Unit price

No difference

No difference

Injection molds and tooling

Paid for by the buyer

Paid for by the supplier

Product development time

1 to 6 months

1 to 4 weeks

Mass production time

No difference

No difference

Product spec sheet

Provided by the buyer

‘Reverse engineered’ by the buyer or provided by the supplier

Product compliance

No difference

No difference

Intellectual Property Ownership

IP owned by the buyer

IP owned by the supplier or another importer



The suppliers are at their core OEMs. Often

1. Shorter product development cycle

less hassle to buy OEM products.

2. Many ODM products can be customized to a certain degree


You can freely customize the product

(within what is technically possible to make)

3. You don’t need to pay for the tooling


3. You own the IP (as long as you protect it)



1. You pay for the tooling


Limited product selection (you get what the supplier can offer, which may only

be a fraction of their list products)

2. It can take months to create new tooling


It is time consuming and complicated to reverse engineer a specification. It can

often take more time than to design an OEM product from scratch


Many other companies are already selling the same product, or they will in the

near future.

4. You don’t own the IP of the product, and may even end up on the wrong side of an IP dispute.

ODM makes sense. We have sales of ODM products to achieve great success of customers, while others are China's top brands of agents (of course, agents exclusive contract).

Then again, in shortening the delivery time, you can spend more time discovering product specifications, redesigning drawings and searching for existing patents.


Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is a company which produces a product according to parameters given by another company. The product is sold to the company which gave order and then it is sold under a trade name given by the purchaser. OEM has the facilities to manufacture products, but it is not involved in Research and Development and manufactures products according to the specifications of the company which places the order.

Examples will be Quanta, FoxConn, Compal.


ODM is Original Design Manufacturer which refers to a company which conceives and manufactures the product. It sells the product then to another company which sells it under the own trade name. An ODM company can begin only if it knows the concept and the function of the product and it has the facility for research and development.

Examples will be Asus, Acer, Dell.