How to choose the best bag factory – six important things to consider

Prototyping is an essential part of the order process – be sure your manufacturer offers this.

Bags are an essential accessory. Virtually universal, they’re used by almost everybody, all over the world. After all, we humans have stuff, and we often need to carry it around. Sometimes in a backpack, a handbag, or a duffle bag. As much as we love our stuff, we love the bags we put it in.

So of course, it’s an understatement to say there is a high demand for bags. Every day, trend forecasters and designers collaborate to conceptualise thousands of ideas for bags. But that’s not necessarily the hard part. Making a few prototypes is easy. Scaling production is not.

Asia still presents by far the most compelling case for manufacturing, especially when it comes to bags. See why in some of our other posts. But not all factories are the same. Choosing a manufacturing partner can be a bewildering process with the vast array of options available, and finding a suitable one is crucial. The first rule is to treat the search as a process, not just a decision, weighing up many factors (not just price and speed, believe it or not). Here are the most important points to consider:

1. Experience and Expertise

Look for a bag factory in China that has a proven track record of producing high-quality bags, over a period of time. Ensure that the factory has expertise in the specific type of bag you require, such as backpacks, tote bags, messenger bags, or cooler bags.

2. Manufacturing Capability

Verify the factory’s manufacturing capability, such as the number of production lines, the production capacity, suitable machinery, lead times and ability to be agile and manufacture to a specific standard or design (rather than just shoehorn your design ideas into an existing production line machinery. Check the factory’s quality control process to ensure that all bags produced meet your required quality standards.

3. Cost and Pricing

Compare the pricing and cost structure of different bag factories. Ask for a detailed breakdown of all costs, including material cost, production cost, and other expenses, to avoid hidden costs and unexpected charges. Ask about customs duties and also shipping.

4. Communication and Customer Service

This is key. Be certain you’re going to be working with someone who can transfer the design vision of the item and how it fits into the range. Sure, communication should be clear and response prompt. But it’s the soft skills that are often overlooked. Selection should be based on who’d you build a relationship with.

5. Sustainability and Compliance

Sustainability isn’t just about using recycled plastic bottles. Yes, be sure to check if the factory has the relevant certifications or accreditations, such as ISO 9001, SEDEX, and BSCI, to ensure that they meet international standards. These certifications demonstrate that the factory has implemented quality management systems, environmental management systems, and social accountability standards. Be sure also to ask about the bigger picture, specifically related to your particular order. Also verify that the factory operates responsibly and exceeds all environmental regulations and labor laws.

6. Clients

Look into what other brands have chosen the manufacturer as their partner. A well-established client list is a very good sign that solid, reliable business practices are established and running well. Big brands require exhaustive audits, so this also works to your advantage.

7. Look for value-add

A few factories have in-house creative departments, including designers and even trend forecasters. They’re likely to be generous with their offerings and this can often add highly valuable perspective and insight into the market you’re working in. After all, there’s a chance they’re making bags for the entire sector…

In short, choosing the right bag factory in China requires careful consideration, balancing several factors. Evaluating all these factors and adding to a spreadsheet is important and equally so is gut feel. Your company’s reputation is at stake so if you’re getting a good sense from the people you’d be working with, match your instincts with the numbers and you should receive an order that exceeds your expectations.