The benefits of working with a production agency in China

Shanghai Aug 25, 2018

Interview with Frank Peng Ren
Partner and Chief Consultant of Direct Marketing Service Ltd.

An engineer by education, Frank has over a decade of experience working in the manufacturing business related to promotional items. He started his longstanding career of POS Material and Global Production manager with big industry giants such as AB-InBev, Bacardi, and TWE. After years of work, Frank decided to start his own company focusing on providing end-to-end POS sourcing solutions and seamless supply chain management.

Hubbers interviewed Frank about his experience working with international clients, brands in Asia, Chinese factories, handling international deliveries according to various expectations while ensuring that he is running a lucrative and reputable business.


1. Why do people choose to work with sourcing agents when everything can be found on Alibaba?

Indeed Alibaba is just a click away on the Internet. Still, many companies decide to work with a middleman instead of leveraging the direct contact with the factory. This happens because they want to ensure they get what they paid for. Alibaba offers a myriad of consumer goods. However, it is not easy to navigate when looking for good quality and reliability. Even communication in English can be challenging.

2. What kind of goods and how are manufactured in China?

Any and every kind! My portfolio consists of point of sales materials and various marketing promotion materials made of wood, plastic, glass, acrylic, or any other specific materials. Manufacturing in China has a long history, but it is essential to be diligent and careful with the details when committing to a factory. The quality of the goods cannot be assumed, and it is not guaranteed.

Some customers have concrete ideas, but the design they would like isn’t catering to their real needs. Instead of just processing information, I offer my customers help to achieve their production goals and to optimize design, production methods, and the materials used.


3. What do you suggest for new creators before confirming a job with a manufacturer?

  1. It is crutial to understand the client's or the brand's target Go-To markets, channels, as well their consumers. How, when, and where will the manufactured products be used to help amplify the branding. Once we know the final destination of the product, we can adjust and personalize our production and design processes accordingly.
  2. Knowing the target (or POS investment) market also helps with the planning of logistics, shipping, and scheduling.
  3. What is the client's budget, the desired % of POS spend vs. ROI of a promotional campaign, perceived market value, and what quantity is required for the item?
  4. Ensure that the artwork and branding with detailed guidance are readily available in high resolution.

4. What type of design work is required to be able to start the prototyping of a product?

  • If the design is just an idea or drawing, we help our clients to form it into a technical, 3D blueprint/design.
  • We prefer it when the design is tangible and has its visuals ready such as a 3D design with clear description, color, size, and material used. In this case, our task is to find the connection between design and functionality.

5. What services do you hope to try on the Hubbers platform?

As we are not strong in design services, (we are not specialized in design), we hope to connect with more creatives, product- and graphic designers. Our expertise is in prototyping, mock-ups, and working on workshop floors. With Hubbers we are considering to list our projects as "Contests" or post creative jobs at the Marketplace.

6. What are your suggestions for Hubbers creators:

  1. Find a good manufacturer who won’t overpromise something they say they can do, but don’t deliver. Audit the supplier’s capability to ensure they can do the job.
  2. Visit the factory, qualify and audit them in the field by a set of criteria.
  3. Some factories want to get the order as fast as possible, but once they get it, they don’t prioritize it anymore, and instead, they choose to work on their bigger volume jobs. You must have good quality control – either send your team to follow the production or find someone to do a continuous quality inspection.

I recommended the following inspections:

  • Raw material in-coming inspection
  • In-process inspection during the entire production process
  • Final product checking
  • Pre-shipping inspection (details of delivery are secured, the packaging is safe, the supply chain is well-planned with inbuilt time buffer.)**

Frank is an expert in point of sales (POS) product development, merchandising, new product development, mock-up, and prototyping, new concept creation, innovation support, manufacturing supervision in Asia (especially in China, Thailand, Malaysia). He also offers consulting services for sales, brand marketing, trade marketing, supplier selection, and productivity maximization.


Hubbers Team

co-writing stories about Hubbers creators, experts and investors co-building a better tomorrow.

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