How do you order your first product sample?
Your first prototype is complete and you’re ready to order your first product sample. After sourcing a supplier that fits your needs and agreeing on pricing, we’re ready to make the first sample! It’s the primary step in getting your product manufactured and into the hands of your consumer, a very exciting time!
Wait, my first sample!? A tech pack!? Pantone colors!? It was only me and my friends who made the prototype in our garage and I need all this??
Making it to the sample phase is always a great and sometime scary feeling. Investing in a supplier you’ve never visited and on the other side of the world can be unsettling. That’s where experts like Blacksmith help you in your adventure of international product manufacturing.
To ensure the first sample has minimal errors or changes needed to be made, there are multiple steps, documents, and questions to be answered. This article will walk you through those steps to ensure your first sample meets or exceeds your expectation from a manufacturing and quality standpoint.
STEP 1: THE LIST
This is your list of items to have ready before you request a sample. Now, each supplier is different and some may require more, less, or the same amount of items. In my 5 years of sourcing I feel this list is a great head start and will help you and your supplier tremendously.
Tech Packs: Depending on your product, this may be as detailed as 3-D CAD renderings or as simple as a flat image. Most tech packs include: Material breakdowns for every component, all measurements, exact pantone colors, and assembly instructions (if necessary). There is no limit to how much information to provide. The more information you provide the better result of your first sample. If there are specific ways to assemble your product, a video or step-by-step instructions are always helpful.
Physical Sample: Some manufacturers may not require a physical sample; however I’ve always found that it’s best to provide one. By supplying essentially a “retail ready” sample that you’ve produced, it gives the suppliers a chance to see, touch, and feel what the final product should look like. It also provides a quality standard that you/we expect. Our supplier will use your sample as the benchmark and ensure that their sample matches yours.
STEP 2: HURRY UP AND WAIT
Kind of like the airport when traveling – scramble and get everything together and arrive as soon as possible – then wait for your boarding group to be called as you people watch. Somewhat similar to the sample process. All your items have been submitted, all questions answered, and you’ve paid for the first sample, now we have to wait for it to be produced. Typical production times vary from 15 to 45 days depending on what’s required with the product. Some products may require tooling or molds to be opened which can take additional time, while others may get their first sample within a couple weeks.
STEP 3: REVIEW AND COMMENT
Finally, you received your first sample and you’re all fired up to get moving and start selling! Make sure to take a deep breath and control your inner salesperson. This is your time to review your first sample with a very fine toothed comb. This is where you need to ensure things like: colors, materials, fonts, clarity of prints, or any testing requirements are looked over for approval or a re-sample. Make sure to review a few times and note everything/anything you may want to change. Sometimes you’ll see things on the 2nd or 3rd review that you didn’t on your initial review.
STEP 4: APPROVE FOR PRODUCTION – OR – RESAMPLE
Depending on your findings during your review, it’s time to get moving! If you have approved your sample and are ready to go into bulk production, then congratulations and I look forward to seeing your product on the shelves!
If the first sample wasn’t exactly what you’re looking for then you should re-sample. A re-sample is very normal as there usually is some sort of small change to be made before the final product is approved. Be sure to include any/all notes and remember the more information the better.
Note: Sometimes there are changes to be made that are minor. In that case I would encourage you to move into bulk production contingent on the TOP (top of production – or first off the line) unit is sent to you with the changes implemented for approval. Once approved – you can instruct your manufacturer to move forward with bulk production.
The re-sample usually takes a shorter amount of time to produce than the 1st round sample as the supplier is more familiar with your product and may have the materials ready to re-sample.
Remember, each product is different and may require alternate documents or information to produce your first sample. Hopefully this roadmap helps answer questions and gives you confidence in moving forward. Take your idea, product, or dream to the next level and make it a reality.
Have any questions, concerns, or ready to start on that first sample? Give us a call at Blacksmith let’s make something great!