Can you find a factory that will make small quantities? I have been prompted by a recent article and a client enquiry to write this blog. The article was featured in this week’s BRW special on China. It’s about an Australian shoe designer who found a factory that agreed to make very small quantities of shoes for them, one at a time to be precise – a rare situation indeed. This prompted a customer to call me and suggest that given this shoe designer’s success; surely he too could find such a factory to make small quantities for him.

Canton fair haze? Well you should have all returned form the Canton Fair by now. If I recall the feeling on return its pretty much – thank goodness that’s over – in a good way of course. The Canton Fair can be fantastic but also overwhelming. So while you are sitting there looking at the massive number of supplier brochures you brought back with you, let me give you some timely advise about what to do next. Step 1. Review your brochures and be brutal. I know you made a huge effort to bring them back with you and are probably feeling guilty…

CE certified? Look closer. The CE symbol stands for “Conformité Européenne”. Many factories producing electronics in China will boast that their products meet the CE regulations which include all safety requirements of the European Union. This is relevant to Australian importers because, in many cases, CE regulations are the same as Australian standards and we can use this as a way of gauging the capabilities and eligibility of a factory when beginning a sourcing project. As with all Chinese factory claims, we need to remember to never accept this information at face value. We have to look closer, perform due diligence and do whatever…

Chinese whispers – why factories get it wrong sometimes

Many importers currently dealing with Chinese factories will already know that manufacturing there can be wrought with complexity. They don’t always deliver on time, on spec and on budget as the project managers like to put it. Few importers though, will bother themselves to understand the complexities that exist within the factory that significantly impact their ability to deliver. By having visibility into the manufacturing process, you can better manage the risks!

Commercialise your hobby import project

There are many ‘hobby’ importers out there who have seen some success through importing from China. Dare I say they found a supplier on the internet that agreed to small quantities and then actually received what they paid for! I cringe as I admit that this could be possible – although I would NEVER recommend it. In any case, the next challenge for those ‘lucky’ hobby importers is to take the big step… turn their successful hobby into a full scale business. Can it be done…yes, of course it can be done, but it rarely happens.

Design communications are the key to successful importing!

This is a supplementary blog to the previous discussion on writing your quality assurance system… Designs and specifications must be made in accordance with strict instructions. This requires clear design communications between the importer and the manufacturer. Design specifications are typically set out in a specification document or series of documents and are reviewed regularly. Changes or modifications to the designs must be approved and all parties involved need to be updated. For new and small importers this is as important as it is to large scale importers. You can achieve this through creating a document specification that details all…

Donald Trump – employ the best people but never trust them!

I recently heard Donald Trump speak at an event in Sydney, where he mentioned that one of his many keys to success was “employ the best people but never trust them’. It resonated with me because I think it can apply across a number of business scenarios. One in particular is ‘employ the best factories but never trust them!’ (Hopefully Donald doesn’t mind me taking creative license)

Asbestos car recalls – who’s responsible?

Once again we find ourselves asking questions like “how this could happen? and “who is responsible?” Australia’s laws on asbestos use are widely known, and could be considered common knowledge. It seems however that somewhere along the supply chain, someone has dropped the ball, and almost 25,000 of China’s Cheely and Great Wall cars were successfully imported to Australia – with asbestos in the engine and exhaust gasket. They have since been recalled, and the importer Atecoa has been left to clean up the mess. The question however remains as to who is responsible. Atecoa says they received written assurance…