Custom Design Your Own Amazon Products Part 4


Chris Davy joins us from Miami to talk about how to design your own amazon products. Chris is based in China and works closely with the factory…

How to Start the Process

  • Struggling with the drawing – Chris can’t draw
  • How to get the product out of his head and into the Suppliers hands
  • Uses Sketchup to do 3D drawings
  • Lots of free training videos on YouTube to help you to use Sketchup
  • Great for communicating image to suppliers
  • Created a small bag for headphones
  • Made from EVA material – a foam that can be molded
  • Make a laminated sheet with suede inside and nylon on the outside
  • You create a mould tool and mould the sheet to the mould for the final design

Design it Yourself

  • Chris totally design it himself
  • Looked on Amazon and saw products selling well but were rubbish
  • Chris thought he could do better
  • Wanted this to fit ‘perfectly’ for the headphones he was designing the bag for
  • He was measuring and translating those measurements into the design
  • The tolerances and thickness/thinness of the materials was important from the supplier
  • Chris got a huge amount of information from the supplier that helped him out

Prototype

  • Was hard and didn’t use 3D printing back then
  • So he created the drawing and went back and forth with the supplier before ordering the tool (mould)
  • Luckily it turned out great
  • The mould was one part of the development
  • The zips, colours, inner tabs, the fob for the zip – there was a lot of development just on the bag

Technical Level

  • Reading through the reviews on Amazon there were a lot of complaints about the zip
  • Chris specified he wanted YKK zips on the product as they are really high quality
  • Added an extra 5 days to the production for these great zips and only 20c more expensive
  • Factory asked if they wanted the genuine of copy YKK zips

Colours

  • Wanted 5 colours so used PANTONE colours to select the colours and maintain colour references
  • Created a powerpoint document with all the drawings, colour references, zip references, the tab on the zip was moulded from rubber in three colours and company logo
  • The label inside was designed and embroidered
  • A cardboard wrap around the products and then it went into a bag

It’s just a bag right?

  • But all the elements above show how complex that can be to design your own Amazon products
  • Managed all this complexity through two development meeting AT THE FACTORY
  • Doing these meetings they saved 3 – 6 months design time
  • Sketched out on the whiteboard in-front of the factory staff and went to lunch
  • Came back from lunch and they had made a prototype handle for his product
  • He tweaked it a little bit and 30 mins later they had a new prototype
  • Saved weeks of time over doing this away from the factory

Quality – aligning colours

  • Matching colours can cause some issues when you design your own Amazon products
  • Gave them the Pantone colours
  • Their suppliers gave ‘nearest’ colours to the Pantones but not quite right
  • Made a compromise as it was a huge 1,000 meters of material to GUARANTEE colours as an order that would have made 10,000 bags – too big
  • Went around the suppliers and got the closest they could from ‘off-the-shelf’ materials in colours

Bill of Materials

  • Did some work on the final bill of materials but didn’t do this until later in the process
  • Chris made some changes in-flight that increased some costs in design

Costs

  • Initial design on Sketchup etc (used to be free product on Google)
  • Use 3D printing now for his designs – pretty cheap in China
  • 300mm long product was $40 and 24-36hrs turnaround time

Moulds

  • Chris had a run-in with a factory around his mould that he’d paid for with a supplier
  • They told him they didn’t want to make his product anymore
  • He asked for his tool back from the factory and they wouldn’t give it back to him
  • Was a $200 tooling so he didn’t think too much about it
  • This was a product they were already making
  • The new factory tried to make a new mould off the product but wasn’t quite right
  • Chris tried to get it back from the original factory but no joy
  • He went to the Megashow and saw his old supplier there – he walked up to the Boss there and asked for his mould back
  • The stand had several new customers there so the Boss took Chris to one side
  • Chris THEN noticed that they had HIS product that they said they couldn’t/wouldn’t make actually there on their stand
  • They had signed a non-disclosure agreement with him for this product too so a major faux-pax
  • So Chris started getting annoyed and complained about his IP
  • Had an argument in the middle of the exhibition asking for his tool back
  • Said he goes to lots of exhibitions and he said he’d come around all their exhibitions and complain to new customers about this
  • They gave his tool back the next morning!

How to protect yourself

  • Have a contract to define who owns the tool
  • In China make sure it is in Chinese – English and chinese to be lawful
  • Factories will say they will roll in the tool cost into the product cost which will mean you’ll find that they say the tool is not paid for when you try to get it back
  • Do not incorporate the tool cost into the unit cost – keep it separate
  • The tool belongs to you and engrave into the tool that it belongs to your company name

Inspections

  • Chris did the inspections himself as he’s in China
  • He tested the samples they made and photographed any things he didn’t like and wanted to change
  • Also photographed the key points that were important and critical such as dimensions
  • Sent thee in an inspection document that detailed what material samples had been approved
  • Factory gave them a sample of the materials as colour was important to Chris
  • They cut the sample in half, signed and dated it and sent it back to the Factory in a black envelope to protect the sample from UV light damage altering the colour (need to keep your references)
  • They keep one lot in their factory and we keep one in our office
  • When we go to inspect it – Chris takes his samples and checks the references against their product run samples
  • This Inspection document is a growing document as the production runs continue

Advice on How to Design your own Amazon Products

  • Chris tries to develop the simplest product that he can think of
  • Something that uses only one tool ideally
  • He spoke to a guy who had a product that was made from 4 moulds
  • Each mould is a risk and Chris could see that it could be made in one mould reducing the risk
  • Brainstorm on a piece of paper everything you can think of about that product to cover everything
  • There will be things you forget so get it all out of your head and onto a page
  • Using paper is perfect – excel, powerpoint just didn’t work as well
  • Chris created a Mood Board for his product too – with the zip, colour, tabs, all off pics on Amazon to show how he wanted it to look

Contact Chris

  • chris@fba4u.com
  • Facebook – CJDAVY
  • Phase 2 & 3 Canton Fair – Chris has an event

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