Supply Chain Transparency
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Often many of our new customers are hesitant about placing orders and sending money to someone the other side of the world they have never met. It is daunting and of course you are risking not just your entire idea, but more often than not a big chunk of change to go with it.
So we thought what could we do to show you what we do is real and legit. That we do actually make stuff here in the far east, and don't just take your money and sit around with it clunking in our pockets.
So we teamed up with a good friend who runs a video production company in China. SLA. Check them out, they do good things. And we asked kindly if they would make a short supply chain transparency video for us giving you an insight into how a day for a factory visit goes down.
It usually starts pretty early as we hurtle to the airport to catch a plane to either Yiwu or Quanzhou. Two of the main backpack manufacturing hubs in China. The first plane out of Guangzhou to Yiwu is at 7:35 and we usually catch that one, as it means we can be in the market by 9:30 am.
The trip from the airport into Yiwu Futian market takes approximately 30-40 minutes and then you are in the thick of it. The world's largest small commodities market, worth 60% of Christmas comes from here. People ask me, ok so what does Yiwu look like?
How does it work? Well you can think of Yiwu as loads and loads of small booths crammed into a massive building. To buy one of these bad boys can go for as much as $10 mill, so they are literally worth their weight in gold. Competition for places in the market is so intense that you rarely ever see an empty booth. Yiwu is a crazy place where money talks and the day is gone before you know it. Every booth is specific to a determined niche. And each area services a general area. So there is an entire floor dedicated to "backpacks" with different booths selling school backpacks, bumbags, kids bags and so forth. The trick is to find one that has something that you need and take it from there. As we have been working in Yiwu for nearly six years plus now, we sort of have that bit all dialled and know exactly where to go for what. But that being said, it never gets boring to walk the market and get new ideas.
But as most of my clients are running small to medium online businesses selling on Amazon or shopify the advantages of a place like Yiwu are fantastic. Firstly and foremost, if you buy off the shelf, the MOQ is 1 piece. If you want to create a custom product, that MOQ rises but compared to elsewhere in China it is still incredibly low. Backpacks for example start at 200 pieces per design.
After we walk the market and talk about our orders with our suppliers the next step is to head to the factory to check on production. Possibly what we envision a factory is and the reality of a factory are two very different things. It is not Foxconn or Walmart. 95% of garment and backpack factories in China are families and friends working in a room on sewing machines. It is all local, low key with lots of hard work. This is why sometimes things don't always go to plan.
Whilst we never compromise on quality, sometimes because of the human factor lead times do take a nudge. A 4 week proposed manufacturing schedule can quickly become 6 or 7 weeks if problems occur or someone is off sick.
This is the chap that runs the factory up here in Yiwu. It's his factory, I talk with him directly and he helps me with everything. If i have a problem I come to him, talk about it and we make a plan about how to get it done. Typical problems usually include making minor alterations to the design, restructuring the way the fabric is cut to get a clean finish.
I usually select all the fabric and materials myself in the market with the supplier at hand. This allows me to make sure that the quality of material is good, there are no issues there but fundamentally it allows me to keep pricing transparent, which of course we are able to directly pass onto the end consumer.
You can see the whole process below on the video and if you want to develop a greater insight and understanding on how to develop your backpack idea then reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org