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Using a Chinese manufacturer to help develop your product can be an incredibly successful strategy, especially if you plan on using the same factory for your full production.  A good manufacturer will have a team in place to help develop prototypes and sample your products helping you to cut costs.

However, developing a product in China comes with unique challenges and it can seem a daunting process for those who are new to outsourcing overseas or have never outsourced manufacturing before. The differences in culture and business between the UK and China are the most prominent hurdles when developing a product in China. At GHL we work with clients at all stages of development to help them navigate these challenges and overcome them for successful business growth

Here are 4 considerations before you begin your outsourcing venture:

Do they have the right priorities?

The first thing you must consider is the factory’s suitability in the product development process. Are they the most suitable to help you in developing the product or are they focused solely on receiving your final order as quickly as possible. Although it is appealing to get your product to market without unnecessary delay, speed should not be prioritised over quality. You want to make sure that the factory you work with share your vision and want your product to meet all the required specifications to a high standard, even if this takes more time.

Is your product within their capabilities?

You need to know how to assess the manufacturer’s limitations. We advise our clients to be sceptical of the claims made by Chinese factories. In our 15+ years experience, we have yet to find one that will say ‘we cannot make that’. Even if a project is outside of their capabilities, they won’t readily admit it and will still want to have a go! You don’t want your product to be their experiment.

Check, check and check again.

When developing a product it’s vital you check every single detail. Remember it’s your responsibility to check your product samples. You need to take the time to understand the manufacturing process and identify weak points which could be anywhere from the manufacturing technic to the supply chain. When you are informed you are able to address any potential issues early on. This will save you time and money further down the line and enable you to effectively refine your product for a better end result.

Be prepared for it to take longer than you think.

Even the best factory will prioritise actual orders over developing a new product. This is the nature of the product development and manufacturing industry all over the world.

It is worth keeping in mind that if you find the right factories to work within China, the development work is often free of charge. The foundation of your working relationship will be built on these initial stages and grow from there.

Aim to make it a good first impression and avoid being too demanding or pushy early on. Those who ignore this advice run the risk of factories declining the work, deciding that they don’t want to manufacture your product because it’s too complicated to work with you.

We have been working in China for over 15 years and have learned from experience that great communication is the key.  Maintaining great lines of communication, being conscious of your manner and appreciating the cultural differences in your pursuit of progress are key aspects of being successful with this business growth approach.