How to Manufacture a Product

If you are a small business owner who makes their own product, isn’t it time you thought about mass production?

So many businesses are unclear on how to mass produce a product. Product manufacturing is a critical part of bringing your retail business to the next level. Landing a major retailer or distributor and getting your products on shelves requires a lot of planning to ensure your products can be reproduced, packaged, and barcoded properly. 

Read on to learn more about how to make sure you are ready to sell through major retailers.

Developing a Supply Chain Management Strategy

The supply chain is a complex network of relationships among trading partners who are responsible for moving products from one place to another. When you decide to mass produce your products, you are building the foundation of your supply chain management strategy.

A key part of this strategy is finding suppliers and manufacturing the product. For example, if you make colorful headbands with your own sewing machine but know that you can’t keep up with the demands of working with retailers by yourself, it’s time to start the search for either domestic or overseas manufacturers. As part of your supply chain management strategy, you may make key decisions such as whether to commit to using sustainable inks and dyes, organic cotton, or other benefits and claims that align with your customer base. These will likely be guiding principles during your manufacturing process.

Developing a Supply Chain
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If you are a small business looking to launch new products, you need to understand very clearly how to deal with your supply chain, your packaging, your raw materials, and your components in a way that allows you to maximize your cash but still get product out there in large amounts.”

Andrea Cid
Founder, Miami Growth Machine

What Is Manufacturing?

Manufacturing is the process of converting raw materials into finished products. The process can happen across multiple phases, where each phase adds value and makes different uses of the product possible. In the assembly stage, a product is taken to its finished state. This process may involve machinery, manual labor, and equipment to convert raw materials into the final product.

What Is a Co-Packer?

A co-packer is an outsourced or contracted partner used for manufacturing or packaging. To gain operational efficiencies, many small businesses seek out the help of these experts to prepare for selling into retail. If you are forecasting large orders or increased demand, co-packers can help you calculate what and how you need to produce your products without taking on extra staff and equipment.

Working with a partner like this can entail test runs and experimentation to ensure your product can go from DIY to shelf ready. It’s important to have a clear sense of your product specifications and recipes, and a solid understanding of the product identity when starting this search.

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Manufacturing in the U.S. vs. Overseas

Estimate how labor-intensive your product is to make and how either domestic or overseas labor aligns with your budget. Often, manufacturing costs determine where the labor is sourced. Ask potential manufacturers about average lead times and order quantities. Gather quotes to compare options, and ask for pre-production samples to make sure what is being made represents your product accurately. If you are sourcing overseas, determine how you will communicate with partners in other languages and when you will communicate if business hours don’t overlap.

Ready for Retail

Once the product is manufactured, your packaging can be as creative as you want, but it must communicate clearly what it is and its benefits.

“Your package must communicate clearly and quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I see beautiful packaging with splashy flavors and certification logos but zero statement of identity about what’s actually inside,” said Victoria Ho, a brand strategy expert and founder of Sherpa CPG. “No matter how simple your packaging may be at your growth stage, win over consumers by answering basic questions in plain language, and compel them to extend that conversation with you beyond the purchase.”

Why Do We Need Barcodes on Packaging?

Many retailers and marketplaces now require barcodes sourced directly from a GS1® organization. By working with GS1 US® to get your barcodes, you’ll know for sure that your UPC barcodes are unique, registered only to your company, and can be shared across trading partners—which benefits your supply chain management strategy and makes you a good vendor to work with in the eyes of the retailer.

Simply put, barcodes help your product go “beep” in the checkout line at a store. They also help online marketplaces verify that your product is authentic. Getting a GS1 barcode means your product can be globally fulfilled and is compatible with inventory management systems. Getting UPCs from another source may mean you are using identification numbers previously assigned to someone else. This can cause delays when going to market and may result in additional costs associated with relabeling.

A trusted source for UPC barcodes for more than 50 years, GS1 US is a not-for-profit organization that maintains a host of other open data standards that support the supply chain. Without standards, there would be no consistency in how products are identified, tracked, and sold around the world. GS1 US helps develop best practices and guidelines to create more-efficient supply chains.

manufacturing Product

Recommended Resources

Here are additional resources that might interest you:

What Is a Supply Chain?

What Is a Supply Chain?

Learn the basics of supply chain management and the complex network of relationships

Next Level Supply Chain

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