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Q: Consumer Electronics Product Supply and Fulfillment Chain ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Consumer Electronics Product Supply and Fulfillment Chain
Category: Business and Money > Small Businesses
Asked by: timelag-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 14 Oct 2005 02:03 PDT
Expires: 13 Nov 2005 01:03 PST
Question ID: 580141
We are trying to create a small consumer electronics device. It is
designed and prototyped, so we have a bill of materials, a layout
design, as near to what we think the production board will be (save
changes we make for manufacturability), and built on that board, a
working prototype that meets our test cases.
The missing elements to bring our product to market are:

   Appropriate changes to design for manufacturability
   An appropriate board manufacturer
   An enclosure design and provider
   An appropriate assembly shop 
   A contract packaging provider
   A fulfillment house that can integrate easily with our eCommerce
site and that will handle returns and call center traffic.
   I'll fess up. We are an eCommerce company making our first foray
(stop the laughing) into the real world of product manufacturing, so
much of this will be new to us. As in anything, there is a path of
least resistance to getting these sort of things done. It is usually
most expensive. We don't mind spending the time to learn some of the
in's and out's, but we also need to get to market.
   Therefore we are looking for providers that add an appropriate
level of service to their portion of the chain. For example, we would
love to find an enclosure maker who will help us with the enclosure
design. We would like to have our product completely assembled
(including enclosure) under one roof, or at least by one vendor. We
would like the same company that does our packaging to handle our
fulfillment if possible. And we would like a fulfillment company that
provides returns management and call center services.
     As I said, we are new to this, so we may be way off base with
what services can be found under one roof, or how they are combined.
   What we are looking for in essence is a list of prospective
companies, a range of prices for the services mentioned, and some
understanding of the lead times involved.
     We are looking to do an initial run of 1000. If that goes well,
we estimate we'll ramp up to 10,000 a month within 1 year.
     About our product.
     It is a small consumer electronic device that we would like
packaged in an upscale plastic clamshell type package or equivalent.
It will be sold both on the web, and in brick and mortar venues.
     The product itself consists of a various electronic components on
a small circuit board within a plastic enclosure (about the size and
shape of a small flash memory device or mp3 player), one connector
within the enclosure at one end of the device, some lead cord at the
other end, and a connector on the end of the lead cord. The entire
thing will fit easily in a clamshell cavity of 4.0 inches in diameter
and 1.5 inches deep.
     On the engineering side, it is two sided printed circuit board
construction, and our product enclosure design needs to be very
     The packaging needs to be upscale also. We can handle the artwork
inhouse, but will obviously need guidance on actually printing it for
the package (never had to actually PRINT something before :)
     What we would really like to do is to follow a tried and true
path through this process, and in addition to recommended companies,
price and lead time expectations, it would be nice to have a case
study of an existing consumer electronics product such as an MP3
player, or some iPod add-on or something.
(I know, and big sacks of money would be nice too....)
      Realistically, some guidance on the companies, prices, lead
times, and minimum quantities would be great. The case study would be
a bonus (and deserve one :)
Subject: Re: Consumer Electronics Product Supply and Fulfillment Chain
Answered By: jbf777-ga on 25 Oct 2005 14:05 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello -

Thank you for your question. 

You can essentially look to having two companies handle this project. 
One would handle everything *other* than the fufillment/call-center
aspects.  The other would handle both fulfillment and call center work
(or you may elect to split that between a call-center house and a
fulfillment house).

For the manufacturing/production side of things, I have discussed your
project with three companies who work in turnkey manufacturing
solutions.  They all have experience with manufacturing/engineering
projects on this order, and will either handle everything under their
own roof, or manage other company(s) to handle any other tasks as
necessary.  The costs involved with your project are going to be
determined by several variables, such as material types, electronic
components, packaging materials, etc. -- but all three of them were
able to provide a basic, ballpark price range estimate, and all of
them echo similar prices (aside from additional engineering).

For the manufacturing side, a mold would firstly have to be built for
the project, which should come in at around $8,000-$15,000.  The
board, next, can be made for $1000-$3000.  This would typically
include assembly.  KMS Instruments, the first company on the list,
would include engineering/designing in this quote.  Atek Instruments
would add a nominal fee.  Time to Market Technologies charges an
additional several thousand dollars for additional
designing/engineering.  Packaging typically comes in at under $1.00
per unit, and all three companies can handle this as well.  All of
them invite you to contact them directly so you can work out very
specific quotes with them (at no charge).  Ask for the respective
names in the sales department that I include below:

KNS Instruments
PO Box 10158 
Bedford, NH US 03110	
800-356-4920 (8-5 Mon-Fri EST) (Contact: Mark)
Atek Manufacturing
(320) 761-5054 (Contact: Mike)  
Case studies on their involvement with product development are here:

Time to Market Technologies
2475 Big Oak Road
Langhorne, PA 19047
(215) 757 9611x222 (Contact: Gary)

With regard to order fulfillment and customer service, I spoke with
two firms who provided ballpark estimates on costs per item.  These
companies supply complete turnkey solutions for order fulfillment,
customer service, and returns.  They will integrate their
hardware/software into your existing web site.  See below for

Innovative Fulfillment Solutions LLC (has Sprint PCS as a client)
210 NW Plaza Drive
Kansas City, MO 64150
1-888-275-3000x101 (Keith)
816-587-5881 Fax
Cost: $2-$4 per unit.
Start-up fee: $500-$1000.
Advantageous due to being in the center of the united states (for shipping costs).

Progressive Distribution
1.800.304.3699x170 (Tracy)
Cost: $5-$8 per order
Start-up fee: from $10,000 to $25,000.

Additional link
Echo Data (provides order fulfillment; no customer service, but refers
to another company)
$1-2 per order (or $.65)
Start-up fee around $1000.
800-511-3870x114 (Contact: Bob)

Additional manufacturing/production companies may be found here...
DMOZ Directory

Additional order fulfillment/customer contact companies may be found here:

DMOZ Directory

Sources/Search strategy
Thomas Register Link 1

Thomas Register Link 2

Select Google search terms: order fulfillment, call center, turnkey manufacturing

If you need any additional clarification or information on this
answer, please don't hesitate to ask.  Thank you!

Google Answers

Request for Answer Clarification by timelag-ga on 27 Oct 2005 20:24 PDT
Hi jb,

    Thank you for responding. As I said we were looking for "guidance
on the companies, prices, lead times, and minimum quantities." I
didn't see any information regarding lead times, or minimum
quantities, or even any connection between the prices your were
quoting and quantity except in the case of the per unit pricing for
fulfillment. With regards to that, $2 to $4 a unit for fulfillment is
an awfully large spread. What governs wether it is $2, or $4? And
under the Echodata link you wrote "$1to2 per order or ($.65)"  - what
does that mean?
     For the pcb fabrication, assembly, and enclosure: What are the
lead times on manufacturing 1000, 10,000? Are there minimum quantites?


Clarification of Answer by jbf777-ga on 28 Oct 2005 22:23 PDT
Timelag -

I will get back to you on Monday with additional information (some of
the companies were unavailable today).

Thanks for your patience.


Clarification of Answer by jbf777-ga on 31 Oct 2005 11:30 PST
Timelag -

The prices I quoted are setup costs which are separate from a "per
unit" manufacturing cost.  I did not include the latter with the
answer because I did not know what your bill of materials is. 
However, I further spoke with two of the companies today and asked
them to give me an estimated figure for what it actually costs to
fabricate, enclose, and assemble the product on a "per unit" basis
irrespective of the bill of materials (and assuming the B/O/M includes
packaging).  For confidentiality reasons, I won't say which two.  They
both quoted around $1.00 for 1000 units, and a little less ($.10-$.25)
for quantities in the 10,000 range.  The remaining company said they
can be competitive, but don't want to quote a price without further
detail from you.  KNS has a minimum quantity of 1000.  There is no
minimum quantity with the others.

It was also further clarified by Atek on their pricing for a mold. 
Atek's mold may cost much more for higher quantities, if their tooling
is done in America (as opposed to Asian territories, where it will
cost less, but potentially not as low as the others).
With regard to lead times, you'll be looking at somewhere in the 8-15
week region, depending on the complexity of setup.  Add another week
or so for higher quantities.  My apologies for that omission.
As for fulfillment, the price range is dependent on several variables,
volume being a large part of it.  In addition, inventory (stocking
more, more expensive; charges per pallet), how many orders received
for web/phone, return rate, hours spent on phone, technicalities for
order receipt (data capture efficiencies), etc. all play a part.

Let me know if you have any questions.


timelag-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Thank you jbf for your answer. I appreciate the time you spent on this.

Subject: Re: Consumer Electronics Product Supply and Fulfillment Chain
From: jbf777-ga on 09 Nov 2005 14:16 PST
Timelag -

You're welcome.  All the best for your project!  Please stop by again.


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