Not as Expected!

What happens when it gets all wrong between you and the manufacturer? delivery from factory not as expected!?
This is the story I mentioned in the post “Will they do business with you?

As an early entrepreneur and importer I only had very few items in the webshop, why? Well it takes money not only to drive sales (platform, apps, payment alternatives etc etc) but also, to be able to be unique I wanted to have a personal touch, a TUG touch on the products so there was a need for them to be specially manufactured.

The first ever product was the Expedition Bush hat in both “green” M90 and “desert” M90K Swedish Armed Forces Camouflage and after about a year or two it was time for me to re-order the desert version from the manufacturer. Due to my “small” number of ordered items the manufacturer had to specifically print (dye) the fabric and as comes with such territory there is a % in difference in nuances, placement of print etc and all parties are understood this was the case.

The manufacturer of course wanted remit payment (the most usual way to do business with manufacturers in my experience) and they time-slotted the machines for the print of “my” fabric and later mass-produced the new re-ordered bush hats. During this time there was no sample photos sent or anything because it was a re-order there was nothing to follow-up on , keep tabs on right!?… Wrong!

Because this was in middelish of year 2007-2008 it was not as easy peasy as it is now to digitally photo something and edit it and then have a dialog around that picture. Scans from a printer of an item however was not uncommon in those days but it left a lot to wish for in pixels and true color.

When the cartons of the finished products arrived it was kind of Christmas feel at the opening, yet again I have succeeded to import goods ready for my webshop, but at the unboxing the feeling vanished in an instant…

I hoped what I saw was just some stray items on top, the hats missing most of their colors, pale looking and not at all as the “first” batch… how did this happen?
I had invested my slow built and hard-earned cash into something not workable at all. I had tried to boost an already established product with re-boosting it with fresh sizes and overall fill up the stock… ! I couldn’t stop looking at the “old” type and the “new” type of bush hat, they were ok in hat design but the colors were just way off.

I took photos and contacted the manufacturer and to say I was in an exposed situation is an understatement. I had gambled a bit with the budget for the re-boost of stock and also promised customers of “soon to come” bigger sizes etc and now it all crumbled, there was no plan B, the manufacturer did not pay me much attention because of the % error clause and the fact that I was simply a small player in a big pond, a mosquito against an elephant….

The only way to solve this and move on was to create this “new” product into a.. well, new product and present it as such which in the end worked but was not a great solution.
Lessons learned from all of this was a couple of points that I now have as standard:

  • 1.        I would not present items in advance, hyping new sizes or anything like that to any customer if I did not have it in my “hands” after opened the shipment. No promises should be made because there is just to many variables that can go wrong in the space between start of manufacturing and finished import etc.
  • 2.        Camouflage nuances, too light? too dark? well it is a fact that different manufacturers and machines will make it differ when dying the fabric and it also depends of the fabric itself and any extra feature as anti IR, water-resistant treated etc so, also here, no exact matching camouflage color promises.
  • 3.        Samples from manufacturer, well depending on your business relationship, there might be a fee included to get a sample made, the more expensive the product you might want to have it couriered over to check and it will be well wort the extra payment before any mass production, but for smaller items possible a few digital photos will do the trick for you to decide on changes or quality and first then give the go ahead to manufacture.
  • 4.        Through the years there have always been compromising features included in manufacturing, there might have been the kind of buttons used, there might have been the size of the zipper etc ect, this also is a fact of business, yes you can absolutely (in most cases) have the item exactly as you want but.. it would be too expensive to manufacture vs the later selling cost ie it would not work (this would be true if you are a smaller “orderer”, we are talking small order in the 100´s instead of in the 10,000´s of pieces range).

So as to round-up this topic, as you know I am keeping the products as smaller unique (in most cases) batches of products that most possibly will never return it its exact shape and color and i hope this help to understand why!

//Martin

Bad M90K desert t-shirt print

Bad M90K desert t-shirt print

M90AW fabric in all the wrong colors at first print

M90AW fabric in all the wrong colors at first print

Pale second batch of M90K bush hats

Pale second batch of M90K bush hats

Bush Hat M90K Desert first batch

Bush Hat M90K Desert first batch

Expedition Bush hat color problem

Expedition Bush hat color problem

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