18 Jun 2012

No, No, No…this sample is all wrong.

After initial discussion about your product, requirements have been gathered and the choice made to manufacture and import your product from overseas .  All is well. You are good to this point.

Then…

Your first sample arrives. It is functionally close to your description, but the material is all wrong. The color is not right. It looks/feels cheap. It’s ugly.

You get nervous. You may even think “This is a mistake. I’m not sure this company knows what they are doing.

Has this ever happened to you?

Don’t worry. Samples are an essential part of the process. And the first ones can be a little sketchy.

This sample process is often a confusing aspect of overseas manufacturing for people. It is important to keep in mind that a sample is just that—a sample. It is a prototype. In most cases, 2-3 sample rounds are necessary to get the product right. Don’t let that first sample scare you.

The overseas factories are interesting in that most do not stock any raw materials. So when a sample is requested someone from the factory will head to a nearby open market—think street market/swap meet. There, they will search for a material that resembles the actual material needed. How closely the material they find resembles the final material comes down to what they can find at that open market. It may be very close to what you are wanting. It may be way off in terms of color, quality, and sometimes fabric.

In turn, your first sample may be almost exactly what you want, or it may simply be a proof of concept. Don’t let the first sample scare you.

At this point, a second sample is done with any design changes you have, and material requirements are finalized.

Once the actual order is placed the factory will then receive the exact material and final components required. A final sample will be made and once approved, full production begins.

Take away:
Don’t let the first sample scare you.  It is part of the process to get you a final product in which you can be proud.

Be mindful of deadlines. Each sample round takes 15-20 days.