I have designed and developed bags for over 15 years (yes it really shows my age!) from Puma, Debehams and now with my own brand Goodordering. Over the years i have been to factories in China many times and i absolutely love working with the factory to bring my designs to life. It is an exercise of negotiation and compromise. Here i offer up some of my top tips for product development when working with a factory. If you would rather watch me present these tips, click here to see my video on Instagram
1. Establish and maintain a strong, positive relationship with your suppliers.
This is really important because what is possible and not possible will largely come down to how willing they are to try to push themselves, especially where there might be details that they have not done or used before.
2. Try to get free sample making
This can take time, as it is based on your relationship with your factory or suppliers. But when you do not have to pay for sample development, you tend to be more creative in your approach to product design and development. The early part of the design process it supposed to be more creative and experimental, so don't hold back on different variations of details you want to see in the early stages of product development.
3. Spec the bags to the maximum
When you are creating your design specification, its best to add more at the early stages of product development, its easier to simplify or to remove elements and details rather than add them as you go through each sample round.
4. Try out new shapes
Try to add or experiment with new shapes and styles each time you are working on samples with the factory. You might not take all the shapes to production but its great to build up an archive and experiment with what works and what doesn't whilst you are developing with the factory. The factory is always more willing to go the extra mile with a sample if they think there might actually be a chance that you will order it.
5. Use bags and get feedback before making changes
I try to rigorously road test my bag samples between sample rounds. There are some details that you simply won't notice until you actually use the product. For example for a bicycle pannier bag its worth always trying it out on a bike and riding around with it. Each bag might sit differently and its weight distribution might differ even when different materials are used so its worth testing any functional items as much as possible.
If you are selling online you might also want to check out my housekeeping tips on another blog post HERE. Its all about what you can do to optimise sales whilst you are waiting for the orders to roll in.
In summary here are my top tips for product design and development
Establish and maintain a strong, positive relationship with your suppliers.
Try to get free sample making
Spec the bags to the maximum and remove rather than add
Try out new shapes
Use bags and get feedback before making changes