So you have an idea for a great new fitness product… what next? There are actually several different ways you can get your idea produced for mass marketing. When I first started, I looked at companies that were already known in the fitness world…. one of those companies, Fitness Quest agreed to produce my product Standing Firm®.
The way Fitness Quest did business was to manufacture fitness products off-shore and distribute them in the USA…… or to take on products like mine that they would produce and hand-off to the customer (me)….. I then became a vendor….in other words I own the product and I am the seller.
The good thing about using Fitness Quest as a manufacturer is that they made all the arrangements to get the product delivered to me. The price included everything… boxed, at my doorstep, ready to sell. I didn’t have to order a gazillion units because they had their own product to fill up the shipping container.
Typically you have to order by container load…. a container is what you see a semi-truck pulling. So if you have a small item… you can imagine your starting inventory. Fortunately my starting inventory was only 500 pieces.
No need to handle shipping details.
Small orders accepted.
No surprise bills.
Find your own warehouse.
Figure out how to market your product.
The next time I needed to order inventory Fitness Quest would not take my order… turns out they were on the verge of bankruptcy… but needless to say I had to find another way to get more product manufactured. So the next wave of manufacturing I looked into product brokers. A product broker will basically get your product made but they don’t arrange the shipping.
When I first heard the price of each unit… I thought great! less expensive than Fitness Quest… little did I know all the other costs involved. I still needed to “land” the product. When you hear the “landed” cost that’s the true cost of product. Getting the product off the boat, into port, and shipped to your location is very costly.
The broker did a great job of placing my order with a Chinese company and making sure they built it right but I had to fill a full container and deal with the headaches of New York City port authority and finding a trucking company to pick up my container…. and the cost of inspection and tariffs …. it’s intense.
After the broker deal and the gazillion units I had to order.. I was pretty much done with the idea of a business built around a product.
Handled product issues….mistakes by the manufacturer.
Product cost low.
Set-up costs (tooling) in addition to product cost.
Cost doesn’t include taking the product off the boat.
Full container load of inventory.
Honestly I was done with manufacturing…. and selling and everything…crazy thing was… this product had a life of it’s own. I ran into a retired furniture company CEO who was interested in partnering with me to get a new version of Standing Firm® produced… one with a rotation disc. Passion for the product won over weariness.
For the first time I had a partner.. and one who knew business!…. we traveled to China ….it took 7 trips to set up our own manufacturing with a factory. The only way we could do it was that he had previous connections with people in China. You really need to know the inside network…. in China the producer of the product is king… not the “consumer”. The good thing about working directly to the manufacturer is that we could make materials changes…. like using tempered glass for the rotation disc and base…on the downside, you need to stay on top of every detail…. if you don’t…. they will make substitutions.
Speak directly with manufacturer.
Product changes easier to make.
Honesty in contracts.
So what should you do if you with your great product idea? Although my experience has been with off-shore options… the next time I need manufacturing I would do it in the US.
I started in 1999 … US manufacturing was limited to very established products. Today more US manufacturers are involved in working with ordinary people with great product ideas. Try to stay in your wheelhouse of experience…. the learning curve for marketing a great product can be steep! Hope this was helpful… feel free to contact me if you like.