What You Need to Know about Manufacturing in China

New Product Manufacturing in China

Written by Andrea Rossi


If you’re trying to get your product manufactured in China, there’s a critical point to keep in mind. The product design needs to be matured. Or else, you’re inviting a series of complications.  This means that there are certain steps that you’ll have to undertake prior to engaging a China-based manufacturer.


5 Steps That Are Pivotal for China Manufacturing

Before you kickstart a manufacturing project with any of the manufacturers in China, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve planned for the following steps.

  1. Establishing a product concept which involves identifying the target customer, pricing, and supply chain.
  2. Working on the product design and ensuring that it is fully functional and reliable.
  3. Test functional prototypes to ensure a product/customer fit.
  4. Planning for pre-production, including optimizing for manufacturability.
  5. Starting mass production.

The above steps are crucial when you’re working on a custom product. As it involves a new design, the steps serve as a guideline to minimize risks when the product hits the market.


Your Chinese Manufacturer Can’t Take Everything On

It’s unreasonable to expect a Chinese manufacturer to deal with every stage of development, particularly on the product design. A manufacturer is focused on producing electronic products from an established design and not working on the design itself.

Chinese manufacturers can only help you in mass production or building a few pieces of prototypes. You’re responsible for coming out with a working design and ensuring that it is functional as per the requirements.

Therefore, don’t be surprised if you’re getting poor responses from Chinese manufacturers if you’re asking them to take on the entire design cycle.


researcher design electronic design

How Does An Immature Product Design Look Like?

It’ll be helpful to do a quick check on your product design to determine if it’s too immature for Chinese manufacturers. If it matches any of these criteria, it probably is.


1. You Have A Vague Idea Of The Product

The only ‘design’ that you have is all in your mind. While ideation is part of the early stage of product development, it isn’t feasible to engage a manufacturer based on that. Manufacturers don’t work on ideas. They work on blueprints, bill-of-materials, instructions, and possibly, a reference prototype.

If you want a manufacturer to take you seriously, you’ll need more than a vague idea. An idea is never enough to form a basis for any serious discussions. You’ll need to put the idea on paper, create a functional design and build prototypes to ensure that it works. It’s a process that could take weeks or months before you could take it up to a manufacturer.


2. You Don’t Understand Cost And Competition

Even if you have a functional prototype, it could still be an immature design. That’s because you fail to understand your competitors and the cost it takes to compete in the market. Established competitors have the economy of scale, and their products have gone through iterations to iron out teething issues. It’s unreasonable to expect that you’re able to compete on price if you’re planning to manufacture lesser units during the initial batch.

A successful product isn’t all about bringing the manufactured products to the market. You’ll also need to have an effective marketing, sales, distribution, and support team in place. If you fail to understand the importance of business processes, you’ll cut short your chances of success.

Chinese manufacturers tend to do a quick background check on their clients as well. If you don’t have a solid plan in place, they may prefer to work with other clients with better potential.


3. You Lack A Clear Target Market

Manufacturers wish to have repetitive businesses from their clients, which means you need to be able to sell the manufactured products. It’s a fundamental principle of being in a business.

However, if you’re good at developing products but fail to match them to a target, you’ll run out of capital soon. Regardless of how good it is, a design idea is considered immature if it’s not solving customers’ problems and fail to attract buyers.


4. You’ve Worked On Nothing Else Except The Industrial Design

With today’s rapid prototyping technology, you can quickly produce a 3D-printed sample of your product. It could be good enough to start a marketing campaign or pitching to early investors.

However, if you’re stopping at a 3D prototype and nothing else, you’ll be in on a rude surprise. No China manufacturers will be keen on taking a project that’s practically an empty shell.

Of course, you can outsource it to manufacturers that are willing to take on the design works. But you’ll have a tough time communicating and supervising the design process. Designing was never a manufacturer’s forte, and they could outsource it to another 3rd party. The outcome can be non-satisfactory, which translates into quality issues in mass production.

It’s better to take on your own electronics design and engage a dedicated team to work out the circuit, PCB, and prototypes.


What About A Shortcut?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a shortcut in designing a product, not researching the market. You’ll either have to hire in-house designers or contract an ODM. You’ll have full control over the design process for the former, but you’ll need to pay fixed salaries for the designers.

If you’re outsourcing the product design to an ODM, you’ll need to understand the risks involved. There are shady tales of how some ODMs leak designs and how they are profiteering from a client’s design in unethical ways. As such, you’ll need to protect your interests by signing NDA and necessary agreement before releasing design specs to an ODM.

Regardless of which path you chose, the responsibility of ensuring a functional prototype falls onto you.


Your Takeaway

Suppose you find your idea falls short of maturity. In that case, you’ll need to take proactive steps in analyzing the market, working on the design, building prototypes, testing products, and establishing sound business strategies.

Collaborating with the right partner will save you a lot of trouble bringing your product to the market. ICS has proven to be a reliable manufacturing partner for various established clients.

Talk to us to learn more about getting your products manufacturing-ready.


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