If you’ve ever had business dealings with a foreign country, such as China for example, you are no doubt aware of the challenges and difficulties that can often arise. Of course there are pros as well as cons to dealing with foreign companies. Allow me to share some of my experiences with you and offer up some advice from what I’ve learned.
“Excuse me, I Have a Few Questions…Anyone Have Any Answers?”
Templates/dielines do not always illustrate what the end product should look like. It is important to ensure that the packaging the Chinese company is bidding on (or quoting) is the packaging we expect. There are times when the quotes we receive do not accurately reflect the actual packaging that we are requesting.
This is a problem because often times even simply getting a quote takes a very long time, 2 weeks or more, as a team in China sources different factories and waits for them all to respond. Inevitably, further questions from all parties involved will arise. Waiting for answers from these various Chinese Companies can tack on extra days, and in some cases, weeks to the entire process.
Add to this the miscommunications and misunderstandings that emerge due to the language barrier that both sides face and you have a recipe for frustration. Although this seemingly endless “back and forth” can be aggravating, answers do come eventually.
Bottom line, if time is of the essence, sourcing packaging locally may be the only route to consider.
During the design stage, color mock-ups of the client’s packaging are created. After production, the client may be surprised that the handmade mock-ups actually look better than the Chinese factory’s finished product. This can be caused by many factors. There can be outright mistakes made at the factory or something as benign as the difference between Chinese raw materials and Domestic raw materials. As a result, it is very important to ask to be shown Chinese materials ahead of time for a better, more realistic, idea of what to expect.
All-in-One Manufacturing Facilities in China
A recent client of mine required a fairly complex box for one of his products. It was a rigid hinged box, with 2 inserts, one being vacuum form (molded plastic tray) with a printed board piece to cover it up. There was a magnet imbedded in the lid for easy closure, a window area to enable product viewing, a sticker to seal the lid, an instructional booklet, and a warranty card. Unlike some manufacturing facilities, where one process is completed then sent off to another completely separate facility for the next component and so on, the entire box and all it’s components were produced in one Chinese factory, improving pricing and speed. Then the packaging would be shipped to the client’s fulfilling facility in another part of China. Very convenient!
If you have time and patience, yes, you can often pay less for your packaging, with a high enough volume, using foreign companies. If quality and speed is your game, stick with local or domestic vendors.