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Bag/Backpack manufacturing in Vietnam (part II) (Ho Chi Minh City)

One year and 1.5 months from my previous post “Visiting a bag manufacturer in Vietnam”: Protected content and below is how it went with the post:

I got inquiries from 17 people because the post (on LinkedIn and internations.org) and several people engaged with my service to help arrange a trip visiting the manufacturer, research for more information or sometimes just to ask for help to find an email address.

Those who didn’t go further were because: they didn’t get back to me though I have followed up; their MOQ is too small for me to even ask; I wasn’t able to answer them right away; they found another solution; and also they didn’t accept my service fee.

Below are several things I want to share from the experiences helping Clients:

I. Problems in finding manufacturers:

Common problems of suppliers to find a suitable manufacturer are: MOQ, quality and making samples/prototypes.

These problems happen mostly to Clients who are new/first time work in this industry of producing bag/backpack.

Since they are new, they want to produce a small quantity to test the market first. And when the sale is good, they will produce more. Of course, it’s ideal for the Client, but not for the manufacturer and the manufacturer mostly don’t want it. They usually want to work with big Client who order big quantity.

If you are producing for the 1st time, it’s understandable if you think that: “Why don’t they just accept small quantity? One day when I can sell a lot, I will order more and more and I will work with them forever (if nothing goes wrong)”. But I’ve spoken with the sales manager of a big manufacturer, and she said: “If we selected to accept small orders, we would be overload of work now. But we prioritize to work with big Clients”. And if they accept small orders now, when big Clients come, they may not be able to accommodate the big Client. Also as in my previous post, some manufacturers are already overload by the work from their big Clients.

The first time supplier also need to make samples. Even if you have made backpacks for years, you may still need to produce sample if you have a new design, upgrade version of the backpack and it’s not the same with the previous one anymore. And of course you are willing to pay for sample making, but that doesn’t entertain the manufacturer. They would like to process to production more than making samples. Also for complicate sample, it would take longer time to make. I have a Client who have been working with a manufacturer for a couple of months and the sample still hasn’t been made exactly, though the Client flew to Ho Chi Minh city and came to the manufacturer to discuss twice. He also sent detailed drawings and made cardboard sample to send them before he flew in.

However, it doesn’t mean that there are not supplier and manufacturer can work well with each other. It also doesn’t mean that things go smoothly and better with big Client. I’ve spoke with a person who in charge of manufacturing for Osprey, and he said that he himself need to constantly follow up with the manufacturer to make sure that they produce and send the products on time. He can’t just expect and depend on professionalism of the manufacturer.

Bag/backpack manufacturing sounds not easy, but because of that, it’s not for everyone, it’s for those who committed on it.

II. Minimum of Quotation:

I’ve talked about Client usually wants a smaller MOQ than the manufacturer wants.
Well, so what’s the figure for the MOQ here?

To answer this question, we first need to identify type of manufacturers. I temporarily address them “High-end manufacturer” and “Medium manufacturer”. They aren’t exact terms, but let’s just call them like that.

So High-end manufacturer is the one who might:

+ has bigger factory & better facility
+ has more workers
+ had bigger initial investment
+ has more years of experiences
+ is more professional
+ serve more big Clients
+ has more experience in exporting
+ has more experience in making complicated products such as: hiking, mountain biking and skiing backpacks.
+ requires higher MOQ

Many high-end manufacturers in Vietnam are Korean-owned.

Medium manufacturer is the other way around of all above.

When I say about professionalism of the manufacturer, here is the picture:

+ High-end manufacturer has better website (if any) and brochure.
+ High-end manufacturer’s factory and production process are more tidy and neat. Medium manufacturer maybe more messy.
+ The workers of the high-end manufacturer mostly wear uniforms. Workers of medium ones may not.
+ You can expect to meet the English-speaking people in the management board of the high-end manufacturer to discuss with. For the medium ones, you should less expect about it.
+ The managers of high-end manufacturer may join more international conferences to learn and update about manufacturing in the world.

Many medium manufacturers are Vietnamese-owned.

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