The turnkey option for product customization.
Product customization and product personalization programs can be intimidating. Your factories might not be willing to manufacture in small volumes. Your supply chain may not be ready to ship frequently, and in small lot sizes. Your finance and accounting systems quite likely are set up to drive you to lowest piece cost, and not lowest total cost. And your order management software is probably set up for batching, with no way to manage single piece flow. With those kinds of existing obstacles, product customization might seem like an impossibility.
In fact, you can dip your toe in the product customization pool without changing your supply chain or your order management software at all.
Over the past decade, the network of domestic and near-shore factories has grown. It’s now possible to affordably manufacture much of the apparel, footwear, and accessories that formerly had to be outsourced to China. (That is, when you look at total cost, not unit cost.) In fact, many of these factories were designed with smaller-batch, made-to-order manufacturing in mind, so you won’t need to convince them of the value of this new paradigm.
Software companies such as JTBCustom, which specialize in product customization, already have relationships with these factories. You can use JTB to handle both the software component of product customization—the digitization of your product line and the order management system—as well as the production, for a full turnkey solution. Alternatively, if you’re uncomfortable switching factories, you can just use their software while continuing to use your existing factory partners. In either case, your existing supply chain and internal software can continue to run without interruption.
To be sure, these factories may not be able to handle your total volume of product. The good news is that you don’t have to commit fully to working with these factories for personalization and customization. It’s not a binary choice. You’ll almost inevitably have a mix of mass production and customized products. Retain your existing supplier network for mass production of items that have consistent sales year over year, or that you make in volumes too high for customized manufacturing. Allow your software partner to work with their network of on-shore and near-shore factories to handle the smaller volume of custom products. A blend of self-managed and turnkey production makes the transition to the future much easier.
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