There are a million ways you can get into your first business, but one of the most common is through E-commerce. E-comm is remains one of the fastest growing sectors in the US and worldwide, with online sales projected to grow 8-12% in the US in 2017.
What many physical products lack in margins they often make up through the sheer scale of the markets they serve.
If you are considering getting into physical products yourself, I recommend you start by buying out of China. While no longer the cheapest option for many products, China’s combination of world-class infrastructure, speed, and manufacturing know-how more than make up for its higher costs.
So, why else should a physical product entrepreneur choose China, you ask?
The list is long. Here are 5 of my top reasons to get your first product manufactured in China:
First, because you don’t necessarily have to live there to work there…
You can live there if you please, or just occasionally travel there, as most entrepreneurs do.
Thanks to the advancements in modern technology, working remotely (known as location independence) and outsourcing your physical product production is quite common.
Sourcing companies based in China will charge you an hourly or daily fee to visit production facilities firsthand and vet them for you.
Second, due to incredibly lower production costs, high-quality service, and a faster delivery time, several entrepreneurs are choosing to jump on the open opportunity and take their product manufacturing budget to China.
As someone who was once new to the physical product entrepreneurship role, some of the best beginner tips I can give you include:
2. Start off with a visit.
Like I said, you don’t have to live there, but…
It does pay off to visit – especially in the beginning stages. Take a look around the potential factories, meet with potential manufacturers and get a good idea at the prices, turnaround times, and locations you are looking at.
Since you won’t be there day in and day out, it helps to get familiar with the process and details from the very beginning.
3. Utilize ALL resources for working remotely.
In an office, you have the luxury of working directly with vendors and clients. You have the ability to conduct face-to-face meetings, sometimes even last minute if needed.
However, you lose that intimate connection with your production team when they are outsourced.
Another thing to consider is time difference – unless you are living nearby, you will most likely not be in the same time zone, or even close to it, as they are in China.
Resources such as Skype and Email are effective ways of staying in close communication with your chosen factory.
4. Sample your product.
After all, you are selling this directly to your consumers.
Enlist the help of a product designer, then once the prototype is made, get together with them to test it out.
You need to ensure it is effectively completed and that you are satisfied with the results. According to my friend Jim at Garage Gym Builder, “Expect iterations, no company is going to nail your vision on the first go, but if they do, they are a keeper. If there is one time to base yourself physically in China, it is at the beginning of the product development cycle. Being in China reduces the development cycle from weeks to days.”
5. Construct a clear plan for shipping and logistics.
While the first order of business is getting your product manufactured, the next big order of business is getting the completed product back to you.
The main things to consider are: your budget and your allotted transit time. With a variety of options including regular mail, mail via air, or sea you are looking at a wide array of prices and arrival times. Airmail is generally the best way to get started, as it is fast and will allow you to ship a low quantity of units at a time.
The bottom line is that as a physical product entrepreneur in China, you can invest in both long-term business connections and high-quality products. By investing in manufacturing your physical products in China, you will save yourself time, money and hassle.
Now, enjoy your visit to China when you go to check out your production options!
Michael Michelini is host of the GlobalFromAsia.com podcast, an online radio show to help business owners grow their companies in Asia and around the world.
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