I have created a range of pillows that, once manufactured, I shall be wholesaling nationwide to retailers. Developing this range has meant sourcing materials from around the world.
Last week I jumped on a plane and made a journey half way around the world to China. I visited a factory in Hangzhou. Here are 7 reasons why the trip was worthwhile.
To Meet the People – I found the factory via the sourcing website Alibaba.com. Before the visit my only contact with the factory has been over the internet. Initially, via Alibaba’s own messaging facility, then via email and later on Skype and WeChat. The factory employs an English-speaking representative to communicate with prospective clients. My trip allowed me to meet the representative in person. Meeting is important as it helps to build a relationship, which should make doing business easier in the future.
To See the Manufacturing Plant –
I wanted to see how the factory operates and see the factory on a working day when the workers were there. This shows me that the factory is capable of producing my products. I saw similar products being made and now know the production methods, factory conditions and the quality of the materials they currently use.
To Explain my Specification – Although I have emailed specifications and sent product sketches and photographs, I truly felt my design was fully understood after I had explained it in person and shown the modifications I wanted from the samples. We had exchanged samples remotely three times, and I was confident my specifications were understood, but it wasn’t until the meeting I felt absolutely sure.
To Check Quality – When buying products from so far way, I need to be confident that my expected levels of quality were understood and could be achieved consistently. I could see from the other products being manufactured in the factory, that their levels of quality are very good. I also now know that they do stringent quality control checks on products before they leave the factory.
To Understand their Systems – I now know what the factory needs to do to manufacture my products. From sourcing the raw materials, adding my products to their production line, quality checking, packaging and shipping. By knowing this, I can measure the time I should allow from placing my order to receiving the goods in the UK.
To Seal the Deal – The price I pay for my products is vitally important for my cash-flow and profitability. Of course, I have sought prices from competitor factories, so I can enter negotiations with this factory knowing the price I want to pay. Negotiating prices is so much easier face-to-face.
To See Other Products – This factory produces many products including quilts, pillows, comforters, throws, bed linens and bathrobes. Examples of all of these products were on display in a large showroom. This gave me ideas for more products in the future.
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