Regardless of the changes and challenges going on in the world, one thing is certain: international manufacturing isn’t going away anytime soon.
In fact, in many regards, the demand for international manufacturing is stronger than ever. According to The Economist, China and Southeast Asia now create approximately half of all goods worldwide, with production levels reaching 70 or 80 percent for select product niches.
This increased demand is largely the result of improvements to international manufacturing and logistics. Though you must still be diligent when choosing an overseas production partner, many of the advances and changes in the international marketplace have made it easier than ever to find quality manufacturers who deliver consistent results.
As you make the most of foreign markets and manufacture abroad, you’ll be able to consistently receive high-quality products at a much lower price. The end result: satisfied customers and a vastly improved bottom line.
Here’s a closer look at the improvements to the manufacturing landscape that have had the biggest impact on these potential international partners.
Communication issues have long been viewed as a major obstacle to working with overseas manufacturers. Not only would language barriers result in translation errors and other problems, but the very nature of trying to reach someone in a vastly different timezone made communication difficult.
But communication is no longer the barrier it once was. An increase in international output (and global competition) means that many overseas factories now have dedicated English-speaking representatives to ensure you receive quality service.
The proliferation of apps such as Skype and WhatsApp have also made it easier to facilitate text and face-to-face communications without needing to make an international trip.
As communication continues to become more streamlined and effective, you can enjoy better negotiations and improved responsiveness when trying to reach your supply partners. While you may still need make the occasional late-night phone call, you can now do so with the assurance that your concerns will be fully understood.
International shipping has long been viewed as a disadvantage when selecting an overseas manufacturer, but advancing technology has quickly closed the lead time gap. Placing orders with increased frequency or even automating your order placement can ensure that you receive new product shipments on a consistent basis.
New software even allows you to share inventory management data with your supplier, allowing them to take a more proactive role in determining when new items will need to be produced and shipped.
Similarly, the increased availability of companies that specialize in international shipping makes it easier for you and your supplier to find cost-effective solutions that meet your scheduling needs.
Though consistent product delivery requires continual monitoring and planning, an increased ability to share these vital data points ensures that delays and missed shipments can become a thing of the past.
3) Manufacturing Standards
Each factory has its own manufacturing standards, which will go a long way in ensuring you receive a product that lives up to your expectations. Chinese factories are not one-size-fits-all manufacturing plants. Some locations produce cheap, inexpensive items. But others focus on high-end products.
As Jay Hallstein and Katie Doyle explain regarding their manufacturer search, “Our factory in Hangzhou is completely unwilling to compromise on quality in order to deliver a less-expensive garment.
This was one of the first things they told us when we met at their office. If we were to request that they make an $8 dress, they would simply say ‘No, that is not the type of manufacturing we do’.”
As you do your research, you can find a facility whose manufacturing standards match your own production needs. Such locations employ stringent quality control standards because they want to keep the business of their international clients.
4) Working Conditions
Horror stories regarding sweatshops and awful labor conditions do pop up now and again, but in reality, they are now the exception rather than the rule. Once again, doing your research to choose a quality partner is essential, but with the right pick, you can have confidence that the workers involved in manufacturing your product are treated fairly.
In fact, China has very comprehensive labor laws designed to protect both employees and their employers. Most recently updated in 2002, these labor laws include limitations on how many hours an individual can work each week, while also mandating annual leave and that the company contribute to its employees’ insurance funds.
Regrettably, not all factories adhere to these regulations, but with greater international business and scrutiny, the number of “good” employers has noticeably increased. Generally speaking, the more international business a factory receives, the more likely it is to be fully committed to following its country’s labor laws.
Though the above factors are essential for providing consistent, high-quality results, today’s thriving international manufacturing marketplace is dependent on transparency.
In a time when international buyers demand transparency from brands and suppliers, you no longer have to take a factory’s word at face value when they tell you that they treat workers fairly or that they adhere to a particular production standard.
Today’s manufacturers understand that their buyers demand transparency — if you wish to visit a facility or receive a sample product prior to making a final decision, many factories are now willing to accommodate.
Here at Sourcify, ensuring that our partner factories truly live up to the best standards possible is a key part of what we do. Our suppliers are thoroughly vetted to ensure that they follow through with their promises.
In-person facility tours and third-party quality control inspections are just a few ways that our team selects partners. This third-party validation offers much-needed peace of mind when selecting a supplier for your products.
Achieving Consistent Outcomes
While choosing the right factory will still make all the difference, it is clear that international manufacturing is better equipped to deliver consistent, quality results than ever before.
You don’t have to pay outrageous prices for domestic manufacturers that aren’t going to fully meet your expectations. As you do your research and find the right international partner, you’ll be able to get the outcomes you desire at a price you can afford.