Early on, many newer companies outsource the production of their secondary packaging to a variety of overseas locations, most commonly China. Cheap prices on bulk orders typically drive this decision, and it can be a practical one for many younger companies or manufacturers whose packaging needs are very simple and consistent, and are not particularly time-sensitive or innovative. Many manufacturers, however, find that there are several unforeseen costs of producing packaging overseas, which quickly start to outweigh the benefits.
More and more companies, as they grow, choose to “re-shore” their secondary packaging, or move package production back to the United States. Is it time to consider if a similar move could be the right decision for your company? Some common reasons for making the switch include:
1. Better Quality Control and Oversight
As many companies discover too late, what you see isn’t always what you get with low-cost overseas packaging manufacturers. Trying to control the quality of your packaging from thousands of miles away is nearly impossible. Getting consistent print, color, finishing or any one of the critical elements of the packaging is extremely difficult with an overseas provider. Having a domestic partner means you can visit, do press approvals and take care of project changes and corrections quicker and with more accuracy.
Additionally, the norms governing what are considered acceptable business practices vary from country to country, and it can be easy for a company to justify cutting corners when they’ve already been paid, and the client is on the other side of the world. Labor practices and suppliers aren’t as stringently regulated as they are in the United States, and may not be regularly inspected to ensure safety and quality.
International contracts are difficult to negotiate and enforce. If a dispute arises, under what legal jurisdiction will it fall? If shortcuts are taken and poorly-made packaging fails, an overseas manufacturer may escape liability altogether, leaving you to clean up the mess – and damaging your brand.
2. More Opportunities for Innovation
To make a packaging order from overseas worth the investment, you will need to process orders in bulk. This may work if your packaging needs never change – a rare situation. A manufacturer who wants to be on the cutting edge, creating innovative and imaginative packaging solution, will need its packaging produced closer to home, allowing for testing, experimentation and collaboration. Keeping things close to home allows you to take risks, create unique packaging designs for smaller projects, and ensure rapid turnaround when needs change last minute.
3.Overseas Manufacturing Isn’t Always as “Cheap” as it Seems
Low prices are typically what draw US manufacturers to contract with overseas packaging suppliers, but the initial cost may be deceiving. Depending on the type of packaging, the costs associated with shipping can increase price to a level comparable with what you would pay domestically. An important factor to keep in mind is that fluctuating prices of fuel can have a dramatic impact on overseas shipping costs, and are unpredictable.
The time can be costly as well. A shipment from China will take two to four weeks to arrive and be cleared in the US, so unexpected changes are all but impossible to accommodate, and any quality control issues will take weeks, if not months, to resolve.
If you’re uncertain about reshoring your packaging, talk to a packaging supplier with a track record of success like JohnsByrne to learn how your packaging and products can benefit from making the switch.
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