Ian Monk, CEO and founder of Bathrooms.com, explains how local manufacturing can increase competitive ability by enabling companies to be more responsive to consumer demands and market trends.
Internet shopping has provided consumers with access to products from anywhere and anyone, which means that they have absolute freedom in their choice of the latest designs and trends. Formerly it might have taken years for a new product range to be developed, but the increased pace of today’s markets commands producers to react quicker to consumer demands and market trends to avoid falling behind. Long gone are the days when buyers had to wait for months for the next product range to become available, now they have the opportunity to immediately access the latest designs from any producer.
The quickened pace and high expectations in regards to affordable yet well designed products has led to highly competitive markets that make it vital for producers to find ways to stay ahead of the game. Overseas production in countries like China is convenient for commodity products, but products that offer a high design value to consumers can reach a satisfying quality standard more easily if produced in environments with management oversight. With certain high-end, high-design products it is even essential to monitor processes on site to ensure quality standards are met.
Shortened delivery times
Relocating production to local areas provides a number of advantages. Bathrooms.com recently announced that it is going to move 25 per cent of its production to the UK, and commissioned two British manufacturers in the West Midlands, a historically renowned industrial area, with the production of new product ranges. In comparison to companies producing in China, delivery times can be reduced to a sixth of the regular time. While products from production sites in China require six to twelve weeks to be delivered to the customer, delivery from manufacturers in the UK can be sped up to only one to two weeks.
Faster design to manufacturing process
Besides faster turnaround local manufacturing also offers a much quicker design to manufacture process through shortened supply chains. Whereas overseas production facilities typically require six months for this process, it can be done in under six weeks through domestic manufacturing, which means that producers can be more responsive to consumer and market demands. Consumers want the latest designs at an ever quicker pace and it is therefore important to turn around certain product ranges as quick as possible.
Despite a lot of discussions surrounding the issue of British trade, businesses cannot make changes simply to support domestic trade. Bringing 25 per cent of the manufacturing process to the UK offers a big advantage in quality assurance and “allows us to be leaders in design rather than followers”, as Lucy Powell, buying director at bathrooms.com, points out. High design standards and shorter turnaround times will lead to an increase in sales of bespoke products and attract new customers, which will allow the company to increase revenues in their bathroom furniture category by 50 per cent within 12 months without raising the costs to consumers. In return for the assurance of high design standards the British trade will benefit from a £2.5 million investment and the creation of additional workplaces.
The essential factor for increasing revenue through domestic production is to understand which processes offer the biggest advantages when manufactured locally and which can be sourced from distant production sites. Processes that require close monitoring of design and production standards while demanding for quick delivery are best kept locally and British-based manufacturing is more cost-effective, flexible and faster than overseas options for introducing new product ranges.
About the Bathrooms.com
Bathrooms.com was founded in 2004 by Ian Monk. In his day-to-day job, Ian works with his team to deliver against our commitments to customers to help everyone afford good design. His work history is steeped in entrepreneurship, formerly running a successful IT software development company and prior to that, within the banking industry. He frequently contributes to the inspiration blog at bathrooms.com.