When it comes to success in e-commerce, one of the most important things you can do is regularly offer your customers new products. After all, an ever-evolving product lineup is what will keep your most loyal customers coming back for more. It’s why electronics companies introduce new versions of their devices each year, and why clothing retailers offer new styles with each season.
Of course, new products don’t appear overnight. It requires time to develop, manufacture and successfully launch a new product — regardless of how complex or simple the product itself may seem.
Understanding how long it takes to develop a new product is crucial for understanding when to start sourcing from vendors so you can time things for a successful product launch. That being said, there are several factors that will influence how long it takes to develop your product.
The complexity of the product is going to be one of the biggest factors influencing product development time. Regardless of industry, there is a major difference between designing a brand new product from scratch and private-labeling or white-labeling an existing product.
Private-labeling and white-labeling generally involve only a small set of alterations to an already-existing product that is produced by another company. These changes could be as small as changing the logo, or altering minor aspects of the product design and dimensions. Implementing these design changes is generally quite simple for manufacturers, and as a result, new products can be produced relatively quickly.
For a fully custom new product, on the other hand, design and manufacturing will take much longer. The product will likely need to go through several design iterations and prototypes to finalize key details like dimensions, materials, included features and even the basic look of the product. A business could spend several months prototyping before it settles on a final design that it feels is ready to go to market.
A more complex product may also require additional research for marketing purposes. A successful product launch often depends on finding a unique differentiating factor that makes it appealing to e-commerce shoppers. Understanding how you will “pitch” the new product to customers must be determined before you go through all the effort to manufacture it.
With these factors in mind, you can expect product development (the period before you begin full-scale manufacturing) to take anywhere from six weeks to eight months, based on how complex your product is.
Outside of the complexity or simplicity of your new product, you must also be mindful of manufacturing norms for your industry. With finalized designs and specifications in place, it will typically take 30 to 60 days to manufacture a new product (not accounting for any time a manufacturer might need to produce a sample product to confirm they meet your quality standards).
However, the amount of time required to produce a single item can vary significantly. For example, manufacturers of formal shirts report being able to produce a median of over 15 shirts per machine per day. Depending on the number of machines in a facility, this can allow for a large batch of shirts to be produced in a relatively short amount of time.
On the other hand, it takes anywhere from 11 to 18 hours to assemble a single car — and that doesn’t account for the hours that go into manufacturing the thousands of parts that make up a single vehicle.
Needless to say, manufacturing partners should always be able to provide a general timeline of how long it should take to manufacture your order, based on their industry and factory capabilities.
Supply chain issues have dominated the news cycle the last few years, with global disruptions dramatically extending manufacturing lead times for many industries and businesses. Issues such as labor and raw materials shortages and transportation challenges are just a few factors that could delay the ability to launch a new product as soon as expected.
For example, in 2021, supply chain issues for electronic supplies such as semiconductors caused expected lead times for electronics products to increase from an average of 16 weeks to 52 weeks. Similar issues plagued furniture brands like La-Z-Boy, which saw its lead times extend from four to six weeks to four to nine months.
Not every manufacturing sector is equally affected by such challenges, and e-commerce sellers must be willing to adapt if they want products to launch in a timely manner.
For example, if your original plans were to use a less-expensive vendor in China, but port congestion will lead to months-long delays, you may be better served by switching to a domestic vendor. Alternatively, you may need to reduce your order size when raw materials shortages could create manufacturing delays.
While manufacturing costs may be higher in such circumstances, the trade-off of launching your product at the desired season could be worth it. That being said, working with the right partners ensures that you should be able to receive shipments of finished products in weeks, not months. For example, when shipping from China, air freight can take as little as one to two weeks.
Improve Product Development With Manufactured
Whether you’re designing an original product from scratch or wanting to create a white-label version of an existing product, the right manufacturing partner can make all the difference. Manufactured can help you find the right vendors to ensure that you can enjoy a timely launch or production for your goods.
In fact, depending on your product readiness and stage of launch, Manufactured could help you produce your goods in less than eight weeks. With over 500 vendors from 25 countries, our team can help you source products in apparel, consumer electronics, tools and hardware, home and garden, office supplies and more.
Even more importantly, you’ll be able to track your manufacturing progress all in one place, with Manufactured’s team helping manage everything from workmanship samples to finalizing compliance checks and assisting with shipping and delivery.
You won’t just get new products in a timely manner — you’ll get the quality your e-commerce business needs to make a lasting impression with its customers.
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