Importers and would-be-buyers tend to enter a project in default mode.

Here’s the default mode as simply as I can explain it:

I need good quality, 100%, no problems”

We all start off the journey in this mode, whether we realize it or not.

It’s done subconsciously, naively.

But nevertheless, the form of thinking is lodged in the buyers’ minds.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a good quality product. But the idea isn’t conceived by waving a magic-wand blanket statement and expecting pristine results

The only thing that can correct it is knowledge and understanding.

Understand your product and the manufacturing processes.

A better mindset to nurture would be:

“We need to achieve a great product based on the the processes and what the item actually is”

That’s more of a mouthful.

But that’s the goal a skillful importer should shoot for.

Watch videos or better yet, buy a plane ticket and visit factories.

Grow your knowledge database on HOW the stuff is made.

Here’s a scenario we recently saw:

  • Sample sent to client.
  • Client confirms the samples.
  • Mass production pieces widely vary in quality; only a few pieces are like the original sample

Why? Is the supplier just horrible?

No, the item was a very tedious, sensitive item.

What the client didn’t know is this item, because of how it’s made, has a very high ratio of defect.

For this “tricky” item to come out right every time, the buyer would need to:

  • Give the factory much more time.
  • Pay a higher price to cover all the waste pieces. See the original quote didn’t include so man a percentage that need to be tossed.
  • Or, find a higher-end factory, better machines.. this may not even be an option. Once you understand processes, you’ll know how hit-or-miss the project will be.

Now cranky emotional buyers may wail out:

Why didn’t the factory tell me this was going to be a cluster mess of a project? The sample was great, why didn’t the factory sit me down and have a heart to heart with me on realities?”

I’ve blogged about that extensively here and my 8 blog readers have read all of those (you may be my 9th reader!).

But a short answer is, typically offshore factories, especially in China and lower-cost countries, won’t do much spoon feeding, ie clear explanations on expectations.

Many time, your sales contact doesn’t even have that info from the production line. You sales contact doesn’t know all the ramifications of ordering.

Knowledge on processes helps importers make the better decisions.

Once you gain knowledge you start making better informed decisions.

To use my above scenario, a knowledgeable buyer could’ve then decided…

  • Is the product worth doing? May be better to switch to a more practical item, more fluid in manufacturing.
  • Perhaps they could change expectations. Instead of worrying if the squeezy toy’s eyes were always perfectly straight, maybe they can consider, that once little Joey yanks the item outta the box and starts squeezing, ain’t nobody focused on eyes or exact lines, right? Knowledge helps in perspective.
  • Changing the item: once a buyer understands processes, they can then simplify, add to or pivot as necessary.

You’ve heard the ol’ cliche that knowledge is the key, right?

Better yet, “knowledge is a smooth offshore manufacturing order that won’t cause you to pull your hair out and lose a ton of money”.

That is kinda long-winded..