How to Avoid Disaster with Retail Display Projects Manufactured in China
How Red Box Displays Manages Your Entire Project to Ensure Success
Twenty percent of all goods manufactured in the world are made in China, which makes it the largest manufacturing country across the globe. With skilled labour, excellent engineers, educated administrators, a central location and decades of experience, Chinese manufacturers are able to produce high-quality products for global distribution at a cost that is very desirable for retailers wishing to expand.
The manufacture of custom retail displays can be a complex venture. The costs can be significant and often the risks are great. This is why many retailers consider cutting costs, while improving consistency, and maintaining high-quality standards by contracting a specialist retail display project manager like Red Box Displays to oversee the outsourcing of production to factories in China.
Problems with Manufacturing in China without Professional Project Management
Unfortunately, there are horror stories about cross-cultural projects that create a very real fear of disaster with outsourcing the manufacture of custom retail displays to China for western companies. At Red Box Displays, we make sure the project is managed efficiently, effectively, within budget and to the specifications of the retailer.
Language and Cultural Differences that Impact Clear Communications
Most people in western countries underestimate the differences in culture, even without considering the language barrier. The process of transferring information from a client – designer – shopfitter within a western culture can be pretty straightforward.
The client and designer develop the concepts in a format that is familiar to the local shopfitter. This is generally quite vague since there are many techniques and standard information that is simply understood and accepted as an industry standard within a culture using one language. The shopfitter usually knows what to do with the plans and begins to build what is desired.
A client wanting to have their custom retail display units built in China in order to save significantly on costs, most often think they can find a reputable factory and send them the same “vague” design they would use in a western country. They expect the Chinese factory to understand what their local shopfitter would understand. When the factory asks questions about seemingly obvious things, often the client then brushes the factory engineers off as incompetent. This begins a downward communication spiral that is generally disastrous. Clients push the factory to go ahead because they are unable to explain using the stringent process of forming an understanding that is required when working with factories in China, so then their worst fears are usually realised.
Reactive Quality Control
Quality Control in many otherwise good factories is considered simply a step in the production process. This takes quality to a reactive position so it often becomes too late to fix, or too costly for the factory to bring into play a myriad of problems down line. Many Chinese manufactured products might look okay on the surface but unless you have been proactive in the development, fears of poor quality may become a reality. It is vital to be represented by an agent in China who understands both the Western expectations and the Chinese way of thinking and has the independent ability to implement a proactive Quality Assurance strategy through the project management and on the factory floor.
When effective communication and proactive quality strategies are done right, the benefits to the client in lower store development and logistics costs as well as an extensive array of capabilities are truly worthwhile.
Project Management for Custom Retail Displays Manufactured in China
With over 17 years of working in China, Red Box Displays applies several deliberate steps and tasks in the project management process that are specifically designed to proactively avoid issues, support the successful completion of the project and be certain that each final retail custom display unit fulfills the expectation of the client.
These steps are taken whether there is one unique display unit being built, or dozens of identical kiosks, or hundreds of brand specific display units.
Between Red Box Displays and the Client/Designer
Every drawing is analysed in detail. Questions are asked and in-depth discussions are held with the client and the designer. As the face of the client in China, Red Box Displays focuses on understanding the intent and gauging the expectations for each unit.
All vague descriptors are thoroughly defined by Red Box Displays. This reduces raw material waste, lost time and keeps project costs low while maintaining high-quality output. Red Box Displays uses familiarity with potential issues to know how to avoid problems such as cost overruns, low-quality products and miscommunication.
Between Red Box Displays' Western Representative and Red Box Displays' Factories in China
Red Box Displays in China is involved from the beginning, following along with the project intent and client expectations.
The details such as material selection, construction methods, logistics strategy and installation methods are thoroughly discussed using unique communication looping methods to vision and therefore ensure quality outcomes. Clients are engaged regularly for clarity and direction. Logistics and installation are discussed from the beginning phases so the construction and packaging methods can take into account the efficiencies gained when the entire project has a continuity of quality in the product and execution, right through to installation.
Between China Red Box Displays and the Factory Floor
At some point, the entire project must be translated into Chinese. This is a critical point where many projects, not managed by Red Box Displays, simply fail. In order for the project to be successful, the translation must be made accurately, and considering the cultural differences. The plan for the custom retail display units needs to be highly detailed, proactively developed and organised specifically for the Chinese factory floor.
If the translation is made too early, or includes vague descriptions, misunderstandings are guaranteed. Once a miscommunication loop begins, it can be very difficult to pull the project back to proactively deal with issues. It is this proactive stance that makes successful manufacturing in China with Red Box Displays an option to reduce costs.
The factories involved in the production phase work closely with Red Box Displays China, as the project manager dictating the exact strategy and expectations. Multiple Quality Assurance procedures are formed at predetermined points in the engineering and production process, right through to loading the container.
These multiple checkpoints allow for simple adjustments as required, if there are any conflicts with the approved plans. During the final stages of production as the displays start to take form, stringent checks are performed in all areas. Any issues are dealt with immediately. It is this proactive mindset that assures that any issues found at any point are small and can easily be rectified.
Right from the beginning it is understood that each custom retail display unit will need to be protected and shipped to its ultimate location. Therefore, a plan is developed from the beginning for how the packaging and loading will be safely and efficiently managed. Never is the client left with trying to figure out how to pack and ship something once it has been built.
When in a global expansion mode, clients often order multiple stores at once. This reduces overall costs, assures absolute consistency, and gives the option for warehousing in China in order to eliminate production waiting periods.
The savings benefits associated with preordering multiple units are both direct and indirect:
Direct savings are made on the efficiency of bulk production on materials and production methods.
Direct savings are made with direct shipments from China to the store location. Western destination countries’ warehousing and freight costs are generally significantly higher. China production costs, plus warehouse costs still add up to less than local building costs, while maintaining brand consistency.
Indirect savings are made by the retailer through other efficiencies of bulk ordering. There is no need to start over and reinvent the wheel for every store, saving significant management time.
Proactive development allows for efficient process design for store development creating costs benefits through logistics, installation and creating a better duplication of stores rather than always starting from scratch.