Sometimes in life, we bite off more than we can chew. Other times, we are just dealing with a slice that is to darn big. Most of the time we never know it. We just keep plotting along on our course without ever thinking about what we have just accomplished.
Welcome to the world of manufacturing. I recently posted a piece (rather long actually) about packaging. This is a follow-up, hopefully a short one. Last week I realized that despite the fact that I had learned a lot about packaging in the post couple of months I still new next to nothing about supply chains, distributing, order fulfillment, shipping, and order processing. I realized that I was about to have product to sell, but had no idea how to actually sell it once I got it. So, I turned to Debra and asked her about the pending issue. Fortunately, she had an excellent solution. She was well acquainted with a woman who ran distribution and warehousing for a major company. This individual was also local, so a meeting was feasible. We sent her an e-mail and she agreed to meet with me the following week. Great, not I was going to get some answers and figure out how all of this worked and came together. Now I met with this woman yesterday, in fact we spend a good two hours together talking about mostly distribution and customer contact management. She was truly a wealth of information, knowledge, and experience. Throughout the course of the conversation we (and by that I mean she) was able to come up with some terrific ideas and plans. For example, it may be cost effective for us to assemble our products ourselves in house rather than in a foreign country at the low production levels we are initially considering. Who knew, I certainly didn’t. Although when considering it it makes perfect the sense. The advantages countries like China and India have is pure numbers, because of the huge surplus labor force, they are able to pay nothing for labor. Which, at high volume levels saves a
great deal of money. At low levels however there isn’t enough labor involved to offset the shipping costs. It is actually more complex than that, but for the sake of keeping this post slightly reasonable I will refrain from digressing into explaining the complexities associated with international commerce. Essentially, it may be the same price to produce our initial run here in the United States. The bonus of this is that we will be able to state that our product is “made in the U.S.A” which we feel many socially responsible teachers will have a possible attitude towards.
I also gained a great deal of insight into the world of contact management from speaking with this woman. As far as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and our website, I have some new marching orders which should improve our presence as well as our ability to procure e-mails which will be extremely important come time for product launch. I have to say that by no means do I feel that I learned everything I need to know to succeed at all of this, but I feel much more confident that I will be able to figure it out and more importantly that I now have some resources I can use to find out what I need to know. All told it was a great day and a wonderful opportunity.