Online Shipping Quote


OEM vs ODM:  Pros, Cons, and Cost Implications

Share This Post


Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    As the proverb says, “The right tool for the right job,” choosing the right manufacturing partner can significantly impact your business growth.

    Knowing the differences between OEM vs ODM is paramount if you want to start your import business from China. Actually, this is key to the success of some companies that bring unique and innovative products to market.

    For example, if you’re starting a business in electronics, you need a new idea and a specific product that still needs to be added to the market. But how? An OEM partnership allows you to customize the design so that your product stands out among other products.

    On the other hand, if you need a faster and more cost-effective solution with a pre-designed product, you can go for ODM.

    In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide about “OEM vs. ODM” to help you choose the best manufacturing model.

    What Exactly Are OEM and ODM?

    First, let’s start with the definition of OEM and ODM to know what exactly they are and how they can help your business:

    What Is an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)?

    OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. This type of manufacturer will produce specific products according to the requirements and designs ordered by another business.

    In fact, you have to consider these types of companies to be expert designers and manufacturers that accept orders and produce the product in the best quality and cost-effective manner possible.

    Examples of OEM: As you know, many electronic companies such as Apple and Microsoft don’t manufacture all the components in their devices by themselves. They partner with OEMs like Foxconn to build the devices.

    Here are some benefits of working with OEM manufacturers:

    1. High Design Control & Customization: An OEM partnership gives you control over the design and lets you customize all the specifications. This means you can create a truly unique product that meets your specific needs and stands out among other similar products on the market.
    1. Improved Quality & Performance: OEM companies are specialized in manufacturing specific devices. They have a strong track record of quality in that specific field of industry. Of course, this will lead to higher quality and efficiency.
    2. Potential for Long-Term Collaboration: If you build a strong partnership with an OEM manufacturer, you can implement long-lasting plans and think of constant product optimization.

    What Is ODM (Original Design Manufacturer)?

    An ODM is a company that takes things a step further and designs products itself. They have a strong track of designs and a catalog of existing products that you can choose from or even customize.

    This is a faster and more cost-effective option for you as a beginner or a business owner without enough resources. In fact, if you can’t afford to pay for in-house design or a unique product vision, you can go for the ODM partnership model.

    Examples of ODM: Many companies that produce basic electronics like chargers try to work with ODMs. The reason is that these devices have some standard items that don’t need to be different from other products on the market.

    Here are some benefits of working with ODMs:

    • Faster Marketing: ODMs offer a pre-designed production model. This means that you can launch your brand and market your product much faster than the time you work with an OEM.
    • Lower Initial Costs: ODMs have lower initial investments compared to OEMs. This is great for small-sized businesses and startups.
    • Lower Risk: As said earlier, the design is already established and therefore, there’s less risk of faults. In fact, you’ll face less unforeseen technical challenges.
    • Simpler Management: When you partner with an ODM, you require less in-house expertise in your company. In fact, the ODM does most of the design and manufacturing process. So you can focus on marketing and branding.

    Pros and Cons: Why Choose OEM or ODM?

    Choosing the right manufacturing model between OEM vs ODM is crucial for you especially if you want to import from China.

    As mentioned earlier, an OEM partnership gives you greater control over the product’s design and functionality. Also, an ODM offers a quicker and more affordable route to market. 

    To choose the best option for your company, it’s good to have a comprehensive understanding of the pros and cons of OEM vs ODM. Here is a summary of the comparison between ODM and OEM:

    Design ControlHighLow
    Time to MarketLongerFaster
    Cost (Upfront)HigherLower
    Minimum Order QuantityLowerHigher
    Intellectual PropertyRetained by BrandOwned by ODM (Negotiable)
    Comparison of OEM and ODM Advantages and Disadvantages

    Overall, large companies like Apple and Google try to work with OEm because they need a unique design.

    On the other hand, new and small companies need faster and cheaper means of product development, which means they need to work with ODMs.

    Analyzing Costs: Which Model Offers More Long-Term Savings?

    One of the most important factors in choosing the right partnership model is the cost. Let’s compare ODM and OEM manufacturing models to see which one is suitable for your business:

    Development CostHigher (R&D Investment)Lower
    Manufacturing CostVariableMay be Lower (Economies of Scale)
    Minimum Order QuantityLowerHigher
    Branding and MarketingHigher (Differentiation)Lower (Similar Products)
    Comparison of Cost Factors for OEM and ODM

    Overall, the cost-effectiveness of your manufacturing partnership depends on your specific needs.

    If you want to sell high volumes of a product and you need minimal customization, an ODM is the best choice.

    The reason is that ODM is cheaper in the long run for these requirements. Of course, if you need specific customization, OEM is the best option.

    Decision Making: Which Model Matches Your Business Strategy?

    Now, let’s focus on more specific factors to choose between OEM and ODM:

    Design Capabilities

    If you have a strong team of experts who can design a product of the best quality, you can go for an OEM partnership. An OEM partnership gives you the freedom to bring the ideas of your design team to reality.

    Marketing Deadline

    Estimate how quickly you need your product to market. If you need a strict deadline, ODMs are the best option for you because they have existing designs ready for branding.

    However, if your business plan allows a longer development phase, an OEM partnership can be a good option for you.


    Last but not least, you have to think realistic and consider your budget before deciding on your partnership model.

    If you can afford a high initial investment in design and development, you can choose an OEM partnership. This kind of manufacturing model can bring bigger profit margins. On the other hand, if you can start lower initial costs, an ODM partnership is suitable for you.


    Choosing OEM vs ODM models is a strategic decision for a business. So understanding the key differences is a must for you to be able to select the best one according to your requirements and capabilities. The OEM partnership model is suitable for large companies that can invest more and also need specific customization. On the other hand, the ODM partnership is good for startups and small-sized companies that don’t need customization and have a limited budget. In this article, we discussed all the advantages and disadvantages of OEM vs ODM to help businesses choose the best model. You can also ask any question about these types of manufacturing models from DDPCH, especially if you think of importing from China.

    Does Apple use an OEM or ODM partnership?

    Apple designs some of its products itself but it also outsources many of its manufacturing processes to OEM companies.

    The Main difference between OEM vs ODM?

    OEM lets customization in design but ODMs offer pre-designed products.

    Are there any other manufacturing models?

    Yes! OBM is another manufacturing model that stands for Original Brand Manufacturer. This means that the company has full control over all the design and manufacturing processes. 

    What is an example of an OBM?

    Motorola designs and manufactures all the products by itself. So it’s an OBM.

    Which model is suitable if I need a faster launch and have a tighter budget?

    The ODM is the best choice if you can’t afford a high initial investment. Also, if you need a fast launch, you have to use pre-designed products offered by ODMs.

    What if I need a unique design?

    If you want to launch a unique product that is different from similar products on the market, you have to go for an OEM partnership.

    Rate this post
    Notify of

    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x