China OEM vs ODM vs CM: A Complete Guide

For buyers who are familiar with imports, the terms "ODM" and "OEM" must be familiar. But for some people who are new to the import business, it is difficult to distinguish the difference between ODM and OEM. As a sourcing company with many years of experience, we will give you a detailed introduction to ODM and OEM related content, and also briefly mention the CM model.

1. OEM and ODM and CM Meaning
2. The Difference Between OEM and ODM and CM
3. OEM、ODM、CM Advantages and Disadvantages
4. Cooperation Process with ODM and OEM Manufacturers
5. How to Find Reliable ODM and OEM Manufacturers in China
6. Other Common Problems of ODM, OEM

OEM and ODM and CM Meaning

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturing, refers to the manufacturing service of products according to the product specifications provided by the buyer. To put it simply, any manufacturing service that involves the need to remake production props for the product belongs to OEM. Common OEM services: CAD files, design drawings, bills of materials, color cards, size tables. It is often used in auto parts, consumer electronics and computer hardware, and cosmetics industries.

ODM: Original Design Manufacturing, also known as own-brand products. It means that buyers can directly purchase products that the manufacturer has already designed. ODM provides a certain degree of modification services, such as modifying colors/materials/paints/plating, etc. Commonly found in electronic products/mechanical/medical equipment/kitchenware.

CM: Contract Manufacturer, similar to OEM, but usually has more possibilities for manufacturing a wider range of products.

The Difference Between OEM and ODM and CM





Product unit price


Product Compliance


Production Time

The production time of the mold is not calculated, the actual production time of the product is determined by the product itself, so the production time is the same





Injection Mold and Tool Costs

Buyer pays

Manufacturer pays


Product Specifications

Provided by the buyer

Provided by the manufacturer


Product Development Time

Longer, 1~6 months or even longer

Short, 1~4 weeks

Similar to OEM

Freedom of customization

Completely customize

Only part of it can be modified

Similar to OEM

Note: Different suppliers will determine different MOQs based on various factors. Even different products from the same supplier will have different MOQs.

OEM、ODM、CM Advantages and Disadvantages

1. Fewer disputes: A fully customized product means that you do not have to discuss the possibility of modifying the product with the manufacturer.
2. More free customization: products are exclusive. Just realize your creativity (as long as it is within the achievable range of technology).

1. Expensive tool costs: According to the customized products you need, there may be very expensive production tool costs.
2. Longer construction period: Considering that new tools may need to be made for the production process.
3. Need more MOQ than ODM or spot purchase.

1. Modification allowed: Many ODM products can also be customized to a certain degree.
2. Free molds; no need to pay extra money for molds.
3. Less risk: Since manufacturers have already produced almost the same products, the progress of product development will be much faster. Correspondingly, the money and time invested in product development will be reduced.
4. Absolutely professional partners: manufacturers who can design ODM products by themselves have good strength.

1. The choice is more limited: you can only choose the products provided to you by the supplier.
2. Possible disputes: The product may not be exclusive, and it has been pre-registered by other companies, which may involve copyright disputes.
3. Suppliers that provide ODM services may list some products that have never been produced. In this case, you may be required to pay for the mold, so you'd better indicate to them that only the products they have manufactured are listed.

1. Better confidentiality: The risk of your design and creativity being leaked is small.
2. Control the overall situation: to better control the production situation of the overall product.
3. Risk reduction: The CM manufacturer usually also assumes part of the responsibility.

1. More research and development work: lead to a longer product cycle, which means that the buyer needs to take more risks for this product.
2. Lack of research data: A test and verification plan for a new product should be defined from the beginning and adjusted over time.

Comparing the three modes, the OEM mode is more suitable for customers who already have design drafts; buyers who want to fully customize but do not have their own design drafts, it is recommended to choose the CM mode, especially if you do not want your design and ideas to be yours When a competitor is found; ODM is usually the most profitable option. ODM can save time for product research and supports partial customization. Allowing to add a logo can also guarantee the uniqueness of the product to a certain extent. Through ODM services, a full range of products can be obtained in larger quantities and at lower prices, making it easier to enter the market.

Cooperation Process with ODM and OEM Manufacturers

1. Cooperation process with ODM manufacturers
Step 1: Find a manufacturer who can produce the products you want
Step 2: Modify the product and negotiate the price, determine the delivery schedule
The part that can be modified:
Add your own logo on the product
Change the material of the product
Change the color of the product or how to paint it

The following are some places that can't be changed in ODM products:
Product size
Product function

2. Cooperation process with OEM manufacturers
Step 1: Find a manufacturer who can produce the products you want.
Step 2: Provide product design drafts and negotiate prices, and determine the delivery schedule.

How to Find Reliable ODM and OEM Manufacturers in China

Whether you want to seek ODM or OEM services in China, the first thing to make sure is that you need to find a good manufacturer. You’d better choose among manufacturers that have already produced similar products. They already have production experience, know how to assemble the most efficient, and know where to find high-quality materials and accessories for you. What's more valuable is that they know the risks that may be encountered in the production of products, which will reduce a lot of unnecessary losses for you.

Now many suppliers can provide OEM and ODM service. Before, we wrote an article on how to find reliable suppliers through online and offline. If you are interested, you can refer to it further.

Of course, you can also choose the easiest way: cooperate with a professional China sourcing agent. They will handle all import processes for you to ensure safety, efficiency and profitability.

Other Common Problems of ODM, OEM

1. How to protect the ownership of the intellectual property rights of OEM products?
When making OEM products, sign an agreement with the manufacturer, stating that the intellectual property rights of the OEM product belong to the buyer. Note: If you purchase ODM products, the intellectual property rights cannot be attributed to the buyer.

2. Is a private label an ODM?
Yes. The meaning of the two is the same. Suppliers provide product models, and buyers can simply modify product elements and use their own brand to promote.

3. Are ODM products cheaper than OEM products?
Generally speaking, ODM costs are less. Although the prices of ODM and OEM products are the same, ODM saves the cost of injection molds and tools.

4. Is ODM a spot product or a stock product?
In many cases, ODM products are displayed in the form of product pictures and drawings. There are a few products that may be in stock, and they can be shipped directly with simple modifications. But most products still need a production stage, and the specific production cycle depends on the product, which generally takes 30-40 days.
(Note: Chinese suppliers are busy this year, and it may take longer delivery time. It is recommended that importers with purchase needs arrange to place orders in advance to ensure that the goods can be delivered on time)

5. How to determine that ODM products are not infringing products?
If the ODM product you buy involves patent issues, it will be difficult for you to sell in your target market. In order to avoid the risk of infringement, it is recommended that you conduct a patent search before purchasing ODM products. You can also go to the Amazon platform to see if there are similar products, or ask the supplier to provide documents with ODM product patents.

Post time: Nov-09-2021

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