Factory production sample savvy in 10 simple steps
Ever received samples sent from a factory that make your jaw drop in disbelief? Yep. That’s why we’re looking at how to make sure you get the best samples you can in 10 simple steps.
The right factory
Choosing the right factory sounds like common sense, but many importers don’t do their homework on factories before they start sampling. Maybe they’re new to the game, or are over-confident of their abilities. Whatever the reason, China Blueprint can’t stress the importance of thoroughly checking factories by asking for a list of preferably Australian companies they have done work for. By knowing who their current customers are, you will get a sense of the standard they produce to.
You can’t expect even the best of factories to make anything well if they don’t have a transparent and self-explanatory specification sheet. Updated versions of spec sheets need to be clearly labeled as well so you and the factory are on the same page.
Along with the spec sheet, include a list and, if possible, samples of materials you want the sample to be made from. It’s also useful to indicate a range of permissible quality variance either side of the material you send, say plus or minus 5%.
Before you spend money on expensive moulds, do a proof of concept. You can do this with a 3D printer, if necessary on a reduced scale. Google a professional 3D printer near you.
Keep the lines of communication open during the sampling process. Factories don’t always tell you when things are not quite working. The ball is always in your court, so draw up a rigorous list of questions and ask them every time a new sample is created.
If the product you’re working on is highly technical, it’s always wise to have the specification sheet translated into Chinese. While it may seem like an additional upfront cost, it can save considerable time and money in the sample process.
Time – on your side
Give yourself plenty of time. A sure way to create a disastrous experience is trying to manufacture a product too quickly. If you get through the process early, you’re ahead. Don’t even consider being late.
It’s a good idea to get a photograph and or video of the product sent to you before investing in postage, especially if the sample is big. Factories are always happy to do this, and if there not – something is wrong!
Testing, testing 一，二，三
It can be a good idea to arrange to have your sample tested in China, especially if it involves complex parts or specific materials. This can save on postage and insure the sample meets your standards. China Blueprint can recommend product testers in most Chinese manufacturing centres.
It’s the wrong colour!
Always supply factories with Pantone colour references. This is a surefire method of ensuring the colour is consistently right, particularly if the sample is part of a wider product range.
While the sample process can be deliver unforeseen product issues, it’s wiser to make up your mind about you want and stick to it from the word go. Changing your mind three or four times throughout the process will only complicate an already complex matter and increase potential margins of error. Certainty about what you want saves time and money.