Even though there are many challenges inherent in designing a new product from scratch, you also have a big advantage when you go this route: you aren’t trying to fix a failing relationship with an existing supplier. Instead, you’re making a fresh start. To maximize the benefits of this, it’s important to choose a supplier for your new product with care.
Here are some tips for establishing mutually beneficial supplier relationships when starting on new product design.
Seek A Collaborative Relationship
Rather than looking for someone to simply take your order and fulfill it, look for a partner who can collaborate with you and really invest in the success of your product. Effective design comes from collaboration. You and your supplier need to cooperate and share ideas in order to uncover problems or misunderstandings and watch each other’s blind spots. The right supplier will give you many different tools to visualize and experience the way their component can enhance your end product.
Don’t Worry About Exact Specifications Right Away
I always advise people not to get wrapped up in the exact specifications upfront. It’s hard to understand what brightness or contrast means in layman’s terms. The description on paper doesn’t necessarily convey the experience of seeing or interacting with the product in real life. You want your supplier to understand your purpose and help you design the best product for your application and not fall back on saying, “Well, this is the specification we agreed to.”
Trust Each Other’s Expertise
At Phoenix Display International, our customers lean on our product knowledge because they typically have minimal experience building electronics. Even when our customers do build physical products, few clients are well-versed in the details of our specific LCD niche in the industry. That’s exactly as it should be!
You are the expert in your end product, and you should be able to trust your component supplier to be the expert in their own field. By bringing their expertise to meet your expertise, the right supplier can actually improve your design process. Lean on each other’s knowledge, and you’ll achieve the best result.
Know Your End Customer
Along the same lines as the previous point, you not only need to know your field and product but also need to know your end user thoroughly. Your supplier can’t tell you what your customer wants. How will they use the product? What sort of environment will they be in? What content will they need to have on the display, or how will they interact with a touch panel? Once you know this, your trusted advisor can guide you to the right component options.
Begin Interviewing Suppliers
When you thoroughly understand your customer and your product, it’s time to start talking to suppliers. You don’t need to have all the component specs determined before you start discovering what options are out there for you. I recommend talking to several different vendors to figure out how they are steering you toward the right technology that is going to serve your end customers the best. From there, you can begin to determine which ones have the best offer and the best process to work with you.
Don’t start with super-technical details. The perfect place to start is, “I have a new product. Here’s how it’s intended to be used. What do you think might work well for this application?” A 20-minute conversation early on can save you so much effort. It actually moves you ahead in your design process and is well worth the time.
The Best Suppliers Go The Extra Mile
A good partner won’t stop there. You need to paint a scenario together and see where it leads you, and that’s what a helpful advisor can do for you. They can lead off with some assumptions they need to make to test out different parameters: if you need color, if you need a certain size and resolution. Then they can give a ballpark price and see if that might work for your project. You might respond with more detail about the environment or special performance needs. That’s great! Now you can find a path to the best solution.
When working on a new product design, you are in the perfect position to set up mutually beneficial supplier relationships. Follow the tips outlined here, and you’ll have a clear advantage in finding the right custom LCD display manufacturer for your needs. We invite you to give us a call so we can discuss your needs and see if we might be a good fit.