Designer Bags and Your China Supply Chain

Designer Bags and Your China Supply Chain

A couple of years ago, our main office in Beijing wrote a blog about Things You Should Know About Designer Bags and Luggage Manufactured in China. It racked up the page views and seemed to help a lot of people with questions they had about sourcing their own bags from China. If major brands like Prada and Marc Jacobs could source their products from China and are doing so well, why can’t other importers do it? What do they do that other importers can’t do? How do they manage their China supply chain differently?

We see it all the time, every day even: some brands are able to successfully source their mainstream products from China, and some brands are not.  When you look into the cause, you usually discover that the main difference between the importer with a successful China supply chain vs. the other one, is their management process. What are they doing to create excellence? What are they doing to avoid disaster?

Creating a product and a valuable brand is hard. Sourcing it in China while preserving its integrity and unique quality won’t come easy. It takes more than just knowing which raw materials to use or where to get them from. The blog mentioned above gives you information you could use to source designer bags, from regional bag manufacturing concentration to the cost of materials and labor. But by no means does it guarantee your China supply chain will perform properly.

To ensure performance you need to create management procedures for every major sourcing step.  When you think about it, management is about habits.  Creating good ones, avoiding bad ones.  Creating procedures is really creating good habits for your supply chain.  It takes time and man power, but it’s well worth it in the end.

So, where do you start? How do you convert the knowledge of what you want, and what you expect into a repeatable and scalable sourcing process for your China supply chain? A good place to start is to focus first on what we like to call the three essentials:

  1. Sourcing: Much of that process is about pricing but the procedure should include a search for value as well as a specific approach to pre-qualify manufacturers based on YOUR standards and needs. The process should also cover a contract structure with terms that work best for you and establish clear requirements.
  2. Quality: The quality assurance process always starts well BEFORE you place your order. Your procedure should include clear, written product specifications as well as a precisely defined inspection protocol to be agreed and signed off on by the manufacturer. And then, without fail, inspect every order before it ships.
  3. Delivery: A quality product at a good price means nothing if you don’t receive it on time. Put together a procedure that factors in the above two essentials and also ensures that your orders will arrive on time – every time. A close-working relationship with the factory should be part of the process. But also keep in mind that poorly negotiated low prices can lead to poor quality, and poor quality creates delays – if not cancellations.

You may have an intimate understanding of the logistics, you may even know how to exploit the regional concentration of accessory suppliers and raw materials for your product. But using that knowledge and leveraging it into an effective and successful China supply chain is the hard part – that takes management and procedures.

How do you ensure your supply chain thrives? What information can you share with us to help us all improve what we are doing? I look forward to your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.


By Jocelyn Trigueros

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