Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Educate your Supplier on the Product

Although fine production line workers, these ladies are not
up-to-date on the latest trends
“Educate the factory on the product???  Is that a typo?  Shouldn’t they be the ones educating the customer?”

The following are areas where your Chinese supplier / factory may be in-the-dark and it’s up to you to shed some light.


Target Market



What the heck is this thing used for exactly?  China is not like the USA or many of the Western nations where each person has their own personal share of “stuff”.  Much of the stuff manufactured in China for Western usage is not used in China, and the majority of the average folks would have no idea what it is.

You don’t see the average Chinese person carrying their lunch in a cooler bag.

Folks don’t clamor to get the whole collection of the hottest TV show’s memorabilia. 

Detail your supplier on the functionality of the item.  Send them jpg photos or a video of the item in use. 

Send them websites of the hottest brand or seller of the product so they can further see how the item is sold.

Don’t assume copying the sample is sufficient.   

Target Market:

Who is this item geared toward?  Is it for heavy-duty use of the outdoorsman?  Is it for kids?  Pre-teens? 

Many of the items; if colorful and “fun” looking, the Chinese will automatically assume it’s for children, when in actuality could be in use for an adult age-range.  Could make all the difference in how handled, stored, strength of usage, etc.. 


How is the item distributed?  Is it a gift with purchase?  A giveaway?  Needed for a certain launch date?  Sold via catalogue?

Unless you inform the factory they will consider most items to be for retail, this being the traditional channel of product distribution.

Typical kid's bedroom: notice lack of stuff
Although you only harp about the date, why should the factory care that that date’s important?  All their customers sing on about dates.  Tell them “why” you need it by such and such date and explain the consequences of a delay.

If it’s an item to be displayed, perhaps the branding and look are more important than the functionality, but the factory is going to put all production energies on the use (that they may also not understand!) 

If it’s a giveaway item and the life-span isn’t that critical, tell the factory so they can not focus on unnecessary quality issues, thus leading to more competitive costing.  

Send the supplier images of the item being displayed in the store, or items in the catalogue.  Detail them about the promotional event.

 Keep in mind the following:

For the most part, your factory / supplier if they have questions, won’t ask, they’ll assume.  Also they’re using English as a second language.  They won’t consider it worth the hassle to ask further questions.

They don’t self-educate.  I’m not sure if it’s because they are too busy or aren’t aware how to do so, but it’s the fact.  Most folks in this developing nation are not proactive communicators but reactive ones.    

Just because somebody works in a factory, doesn’t mean they’re educated on the product.  Folks get their job positions in China mainly from relationship networking and right-place-at-the-right-time.   

Detail them on the process.  Educate them on what goes on, on your side of the globe.  This kind of insight leads to further understanding, adapting production methods, and the supplier being a better long-term partner for you in China.

Don’t you think with them having a stronger understanding of the product, it’s use and market, they’ll have more of a solid foundation on manufacturing do’s, don’ts, points of focus, etc…?

Wrong assumptions regarding the product, will lead to quality issues, that will make you wish you would have spent more time in the communication process. 

Related Topics (click on the below)...and don't forget to leave a comment!

Due-Diligence: Developing a Product Offshore (Info, Material, Price)

No comments:

Post a Comment