You’ve got a great idea. A brilliant idea. That burning idea that the world just needs right now, and you’re ready to get going. But, where do you start?
Or, perhaps you’ve already started. You’ve been making that item already, and your Etsy or Amazon product page is full of rave reviews. Now you’ve reached a point where you can’t keep up with demand. How can you take your business to the next phase?
Whether you’re just beginning, or looking to level up, there’s a lot to consider. In this article, we’ll demystify the process and help you understand how to get a product manufactured better, faster and with less risk than before.
The Allure of Product Design
In recent years, the world has seen a surge in product start-ups. The popular show Shark Tank has inspired many to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality. Kickstarter projects have shown that there is demand for practical (and off-the-wall) ideas brought to market. The proliferation of Etsy, Amazon, and AliExpress offers viable outlets to bring products to market and have lowered the barriers to start a new eCommerce business.
You’ve got the idea, the inspiration, the excitement, and the storefront. When you start exploring turning your dream into a reality, it can get overwhelming. Most companies start by drop-shipping or private labeling existing products.
While that’s a great way to get started, most quickly discover selling the same product as dozens of other sellers involves fierce competition. The price pressure tends to rapidly erode margins, creating a race to the lowest price.
The way to combat this is to create your own product that no one else is selling. Either changing something on an existing product to make it your own or developing a new product is the best way to build a brand and sustainable value.
There are quite a few steps between Idea and Execution, and they can make or break your business. Let’s look at the steps to get a product manufactured.
Related: How to Manufacture Jewelry
The Product Development Process
Most successful products follow a structured product development process. There is no guarantee of success, but if you follow a proven process, your odds of success dramatically increase.
This is the ground level of your product idea where you begin to bring it into a reality. This is a crucial moment in the creation of your product, starting with being clear about what consumer problem you’re solving.
That may seem like an obvious one, but it’s pivotal in knowing how (or whether) to move forward with your product. Successful products are solutions to a problem. If you can’t determine what that problem is, you’re not ready to move forward.
The product development process is detailed and demanding in and of itself, and helps you build up to the manufacturing phase. Simply put, product development has six phases:
Determining if you have a market
This is the phase in which you take your product idea and look at the market data to determine whether there is demand for your product and not vice versa. Whether you’re designing an entirely new product or you have ideas to improve an existing product, do your due diligence to get data to determine whether you should move forward.
You should understand the market size, competition, and price point for your product, amongst other practical details. Enlisting the help of a product development firm will ensure you have all of the right questions answered before moving on. This will ensure you not only have a product to offer but that it’s marketable.
Translating concept to reality
Once you have a viable product in mind, you’ll begin to bring it to life by exploring what it looks like. Sure, you can sketch your product on paper but chances are, you can use some professional help with this step.
By having product development professionals on your side, you can ensure you’re taking all aspects into account. A professional firm will have various engineers and designers to help you consider your product from all angles. They’ll then help you get 3D renderings and, if required, a prototype built.
Finding a manufacturing partner
Now that you have a clear and professional design to create on a larger scale. Next, you’ll need someone to do the manufacturing. The company you select for manufacturing your product is pivotal, as they’ll have a significant impact on quality, profits, and customer experience.
You may be tempted to choose the fastest and cheapest option, but keep the bigger picture in mind. Check the reputation of the manufacturing facility, including their practices for safety, compliance, quality control, and overall reliability.
Of key importance is not only how to get your product manufactured, but where. Where you choose to have your product manufactured will have an impact, particularly on your bottom line. You may prefer to have your product made in the US, but be aware it’s typically a more expensive option due to the cost of parts and labor.
Of course, you also have an array of options for overseas factories. There are plenty of reputable options available, but it can be challenging for the inexperienced to wade through the list. Add to that the potential for language barriers and ensuring you get a fair price, and it can feel a bit overwhelming.
A product development firm can help you in this phase as well. After understanding your product and objectives, they’ll have a list of factories on hand that are best suited for your needs. They’ll be able to negotiate the terms of your contract and ensure you enter into a fair agreement. Whether you choose an onshore or offshore production partner, production management is a key factor.
Managing the production details
While this phase may be a bit easier with a domestic manufacturer, there is still a lot that goes into managing the production of your product. You’ll need to manage timelines and delivery schedules, ensuring you receive inventory to meet customer demand.
Hiring an offshore manufacturer brings some additional challenges. Language and cultural barriers make it challenging to communicate needs, check statuses, and have a clear picture of how things are moving.
Enlisting the help of a product development firm ensures you have full, fair, and transparent communication. Hire a firm with local representation, so you can rest assured that someone is close to your manufacturing facility every step of the way. These local agents will manage the relationship on your behalf and with your best interest in mind.
You’ll also want to consult with these experts about import regulations and logistics. Having a product manufactured overseas means you’ll be faced with import fees such as taxes, customs, and regulatory compliances. The firm will help you navigate all of these details, including coordinating freight carriers and handling the paperwork to ensure you don’t overpay.
Common challenges in launching a new product
It’s reported that only 40% of products make it to market and of that 40%, only 60% generate enough revenue to survive the commercial landscape. That’s not meant to scare you away from trying but to put some perspective on planning well and setting yourself up for success.
Knowing your potential challenges can help you to overcome them.
A sense of overwhelm
One of the most common challenges on the journey to getting a product manufactured arises before it even begins. When you’re ready to take the first step in creating a product, you’ll likely start researching how to get a product made.
Market research, product design, engineering, manufacturing, logistics, schedules, costs… It can feel like a lot to tackle. Enlisting the support of a professional product development firm will help you see these things as items on a to-do list rather than an insurmountable pile of tasks.
Understanding the practicalities
When you begin to learn about how to get a product manufactured, there will be a lot of things involved that you likely have never considered. You’ll need to find product designers and engineers, approve a prototype, find a manufacturer, negotiate costs, understand import/export and tax implications, supply chain steps, and more.
Without the understanding of these elements, it’s hard to ensure you’re taking the most cost-effective approach. There is a learning curve to becoming familiar with the intricacies of product manufacturing, marketing, and fulfillment.
Trying to take this all onto yourself can end up being costly – both financially, and in your time investment. With new products, time to market is crucial. Having an expert team on your side will not only help you navigate these unfamiliar waters but also help ensure you’re approaching them in a timely and cost-effective way.
Getting the right people on your side
Another challenge to getting your product manufactured is knowing where to find the help you need. The amount of time and effort it takes to sift through the options, make contact, follow up, and hire others is only compounded by the lasting question of whether you got the best person for the job.
Finding the right people can be challenging if you’re going on your own from scratch, as everyone has different areas of expertise. Just as you wouldn’t hire an electrician to fix your toilet, you shouldn’t hire a clothing designer to create a model of that breakthrough technology device you have in mind. The same goes for all steps of the process, including manufacturing and packaging.
With the language barriers and new terminology related to the manufacturing process, and it can be pretty tough to ensure you’re asking all of the right questions and getting all of the information you need to make the right decisions.
Hiring a product development firm will take you from concept, to design, to manufacturing and delivery to help you enter the market with confidence. With this support along the way, you’ll have a clear process in place that will keep you on track.
Why hire a product development firm
The process of bringing a product to market is complex, not to mention labor-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive. Add to that the remarkable rate at which entrepreneurs simply give up along the way, and it can feel like a fruitless venture. Even once you do get a product manufactured, it may not result in profits, and the management of the supply chain can be too much to keep up with.
Gembah brings expertise to every step of the process, from research and design to manufacturing and supply. We bring a team of design and engineering experts with experience in your field, to ensure your prototype is designed with attention to every detail. We have local representation in offshore manufacturing facilities that will work on your behalf. Our team of project managers will take you through every stage of the innovation cycle, enabling you to bring your product to market swiftly. Contact us to see if we can help.