Manufacturing in China: Advantages and Disadvantages

Are you considering making products in China? In this article, we explain why so many different products are manufactured in China today, and what advantages and disadvantages you should keep in mind as a Swedish importer.

What products can be made in China?

It is almost easier to answer what cannot be manufactured in China today. In practice, today all consumer products can today be manufactured in China.

Manufacturing in China

However, this does not mean that it is profitable to import all products from China. However, the following is an overview of a number of consumer products manufactured in China for export:

  • Clothes
  • Electronics
  • Jewelry
  • Wristwatch
  • Toys
  • Furniture
  • Kitchen items
  • Protective equipment
  • Machines
  • Spare parts
  • Molds
  • Groceries
  • Plaster
  • Textile products
  • Chemicals

Based on Zhengsourcing, China’s biggest advantage is that there is such a large industrial base. In practice, everything can be manufactured in China, which is not the case in India or Vietnam, for example. Most countries are much more specialized.

The situation is also such that many products can simply only be manufactured in China today. Take, for example, wristwatches – in addition to a couple of high-end manufacturers in Europe, almost all manufacturing takes place in Shenzhen, China. As far as I know, there is not a single manufacturer of wristwatches in Vietnam or India.

What does it depend on?

Probably because it takes so many subcontractors to make a watch, and these are today in Shenzhen. It is one thing to move a factory, but another when it comes to moving an entire ecosystem of suppliers. This also applies to the manufacture of electronics.

Shipping from China

What products are not manufactured in China?

There are many materials and components that are manufactured in the USA, Europe, Japan and Korea, but which are then imported to China for final production. This is something we see quite often when it comes to more advanced materials and components. However, final production often ends up in China as this is where the workforce is located.

In addition, there are also many other areas where China is not particularly globally competitive. However, similar products are usually manufactured for the domestic market.

How long does it take to make products in China?

As a rule, it usually takes 1 to 2 months to manufacture products in China. In addition, you can add the time it takes to ship the goods:

  • Air freight : 5 – 7 days
  • Train shipping : 21 -22 days
  • Sea freight : 31 – 32 days

Note, however, that the manufacture of prototypes can take significantly longer than that.

What are the benefits of manufacturing in China?

From the beginning, manufacturing in China has always been about being cheaper. However, this is not the only benefit to keep in mind.

As I said, today there are many products that are only manufactured in China today. Below are a few examples where China is very dominant:

  • Electronics
  • Wristwatch
  • Plastic products
  • Sportswear

Another advantage is that Chinese factories are actually more willing to work with small startup companies than suppliers in other countries. I can say from experience that manufacturers in Vietnam and Indian are much less interested in small businesses – while the Chinese are almost always willing to give you a chance.

I have also heard similar stories from customers who have tried to work with factories in Europe. They are met with indifference and disinterest.

What are the disadvantages?

Of course, not everything is a dance on roses when it comes to production in China.

Communication problems

First, communication is difficult. It is not just about language barriers, but also the way to communicate. Swedish importers often expect the supplier to only need their “vision” first, so the factory fixes the rest. That is not the case in reality.

When working with Chinese factories, it is critical that you give them crystal clear instructions. Their job is only to assemble the product.

Lead times

It takes significantly longer to manufacture and deliver products from China. Partly because Chinese factories could have been more efficient in many ways, but also because the country is a good distance from Sweden.

The brand

It is no secret that “Made in China” is associated with poor quality. Admittedly, I do not agree with that, but at the same time, for various reasons, more consumers also want to avoid products made in China – at least in cases where there are alternatives from other countries.

Manufacture of self-designed products

Most of our customers manufacture products according to their own design. However, this requires that you as the customer can enclose a complete product specification:

  • Design files
  • Logo
  • Material
  • Components
  • Färgkdoer
  • Dimensions
  • Standards

Note, however, that you as a customer must also pay for all the tools required, such as molds.

Manufacture of standard products

The second option is to manufacture standard products. These go under several names:

  • ODM products
  • Private label products
  • Factory designed products

This is more common when it comes to manufacturing electronics, machinery and more advanced products.