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Preparing for Sourcing and Manufacturing of a Consumer Product

So, you’ve created an exceptional product and decided to begin the process of bringing it to market. Initial interest is strong and you may have even completed a successful crowdfunding campaign. Smooth sailing, right? Don’t get too comfortable yet; the sourcing and manufacturing of a consumer product is not a simple task. Done incorrectly, your product could end up costing too much to make or, worse, not being made at all!

Before you get started, there are vital tasks to complete in preparation for lining up the right manufacturer.

When it comes to preparing for sourcing and manufacturing, the devil is indeed in the details. Developing a feel for the economics involved in bringing your invention to market is essential, but you’ll also need to make sure you’ve assembled all the information you need, about both software and hardware, to properly communicate all of your requirements to potential manufacturers.

Below are steps you should follow to ensure that your supplier can cost-effectively deliver a product that will meet your specifications and realize your vision.

Create and Finalize Your Prototype

Once a product is in a final prototyped form, we typically recommend that clients have at least two prototypes made: one for the factory, and one for meetings with investors and other uses. Whether your product development team assembled it by hand or had it fabricated by a 3-D printer or machined, your prototype is precious. You will need it to demonstrate the advantages of your invention to potential investors. It’s required for testing and the assessment of consumer preferences as well. You will also need at least one prototype that you can sacrifice for analysis by a prospective manufacturer. If you have yet to produce a prototype, keep in mind that the process can take a significant amount of time. In addition to your prototype, you’ll need a completed file package to send to the manufacturer.

Determine the Cost of Similar Products

No matter how brilliant your design, if you can’t make and sell your product at a profit, your business cannot succeed. A useful resource for determining the costs of similar items is Alibaba, a Chinese conglomerate that sells business to business, business to consumer, and consumer to consumer via the web. Check out as much of the competition as you can, making sure that your plan is in line with the existing pricing structure in your sector. You’ll need to have an idea of how much you can sell your product for before you go into manufacturing, so that you can make sure your margins line up. You’ll also need to be aware of any minimum order quantities when you are comparing pricing.

Assemble Your Bill of Materials

Your bill of materials (BOM) specifies everything required to complete your project. It includes:

  • A list of raw materials

  • Assemblies and sub-assemblies

  • Parts, components and subcomponents

  • Quantities of each item

  • List of sourced components (motors, bearings, screws, etc.)

Choose Between Domestic or Overseas Sourcing and Manufacturing

Determining where to make your product is essential. There are many advantages to manufacturing your product offshore. Costs are typically lower, both for labor and rental of facilities. Well-educated, technologically-skilled workers are often available for a fraction of the salary they would command in the United States. Additionally, storage space and shipping are typically readily at hand. Furthermore, you may also gain access to those markets where your manufacturing is based.

There are advantages to keeping your production in the U.S. as well. For example, though products with assembly will be cheaper overseas, big parts that take up space in a shipping crate may be cheaper here. You’ll also need to account for shipping and duties. Other benefits including easier shipping, more oversight and access to a team in a similar or same time zone, as opposed to one that operates on completely opposite business hours.

As a general rule of thumb, products made from larger injection-molded parts are about the same cost in the United States as overseas and more cost-effect to ship, though tooling can be pricier. However, electronic products and products that require a large amount of assembly are better to do overseas.

Design the Packaging for Your Product

The difference between having a consumer grab your product from the shelf, or passing it by, may be the packaging, and creating great packaging can be its own development process. When you approach your potential factory, you should have files outlining what the packaging should be, or at least an idea of what you expect for the final presentation. You will not only be looking for a design that will capture a shopper’s imagination but one that will allow your product to arrive undamaged at the point of sale. Packaging and packing materials will also have to be robust, as it will need to pass a drop test before it is approved for shipping.

Make Travel Plans

No one knows your product better than you. Whether you choose a U.S. manufacturer or one overseas, you must be prepared to travel there. Seeing and inspecting the factory for yourself is your first and most crucial step to ensure the quality of the end product.

Get In Touch

Taking a product from an idea to fruition can be an overwhelming undertaking. At Ninja Design Solutions, we have expertise in every stage of the process: from design to prototyping to manufacturing sourcing and more. Contact us HERE to find out how we can help you make your concept a reality.

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