November 6, 2018

Electronics Manufacturing in China: 4 Tips & 2 Warnings

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Success in the electronics industry comes from longevity. Here’s how to start producing & keep selling, while not wasting months & thousands at the same time.

Want to avoid finding out your product could have been made cheaper, better, or both after launching?

Want to avoid having to recall thousands of units because they have excessive amounts of calcium or lead? All because your manufacturer had zero idea (or care) for your market or import regulations?

These might sound obvious. But there are a dozen more pitfalls even experienced companies and entrepreneurs fall into when they take ODM manufacturing of consumer electronics to China.

Don’t get me wrong…

Taking your electronic ODM to China is the single best thing you can do. But you have to make sure you do it right. That’s the catch when going to China.

Here’s what we’ve got in store for you today: 

  • 4 things that say you’ve found a capable & experienced manufacturing partner in China
  • 2 warnings to help you avoid losing months and thousands in deposits
  • 1 example how going with a no-name manufacturer can destroy your momentum at launch
  • Product compliance tips
  • Would MorphoMFG be the best fit for your ODM?

If you are serious about manufacturing something new, unique, a higher quality ODM - we’re interested

For those who prefer video content, here’s a video summary of what you’re about to read below.

4 things that say you’ve found the right ODM manufacturing partner in China

Best electronics manufacturers in China will have a longstanding high-quality and product innovation support history. Take note of the following factors:

1. They will offer everything from design files to after sales support

You want your Chinese partner to handle all manufacturing activities for you. With the right partner, you’ll also get advice along the way so you can avoid the common traps. 


From either reviewing & revising, or creating design files for your electronics ODM from scratch, to negotiating with factories on your behalf, to prototyping, to doing trial runs, delegating manufacturing of components, mass production, and after sales support. 


Manufacturing consumer electronics is complex enough in itself, add to that the language barrier, and two years later, you look back and realize how it all could have been done better, cheaper, and faster.

2. They will charge you a 4-5 figure onboarding fee

As part of their onboarding fee, your new eyes and ears in mainland China will assemble an engineering mastermind team in house, just for your project.

Engineers will look at your ODM and ask you questions about product applications that you might have not even considered.

This is a critical phase because this is how you find out if your ODM is viable. This also makes sure your production strategy, budget, and timelines make sense for what you want to do.

The engineering team can also provide advice and suggest improvements wherever necessary. In the electronics industry, testing your product and correcting any design defects before manufacturing is essential.

Negotiators will crawl the entire Chinese market, including their own list of vetted factories and suppliers - to find the best factories for each of the electronic components for your ODM. (I'll explain why you want each component made in a different factory below).

This takes time (30 days on average in our experience) for the team to brainstorm your ODM, ask you questions, and physically visit dozens of factories to find the best options for your product.

This gives you cost estimates & a clear path forward that you can count on.

On the other hand:

Manufacturers without much experience or successful projects to stand behind will take just about any project, and they’ll make wild promises just to get you on board.

One example would be a trade agent from Alibaba promising he can get you cost estimates for your ODM within 24-72 hours. This is simply not possible.

Those numbers will be wrong, and due to lack of a better analogy, it would be like filling out all your cost tables in your business plan with a random number generator.

Additionally, getting component costs from platforms like Alibaba and basing your manufacturing costs around that is equally… not viable. Just remember the lead and calcium example.

There are many more traps to fall into with the electronic manufacturing industry, and if you try to save too much on early price-per-unit, you're setting yourself up for disaster. If you want long-term success in electronic devices, you must invest more in early development, but more on that below.

3. They will take responsibility for quality assurance (and everything else)

The right Chinese manufacturing partner will be able to offer nothing short of perfect electronic products. Manufacturing partners that can confidently handle exceptional quality control will not crawl away from responsibility.

That’s why competent and serious manufacturing partners in China have “inside” lists of vetted factories and suppliers that they go to for their clients. Their bottom line is… well, on the line. They have to ensure quality is there, else they are the first to fall off the cliff.

Morpho’s Quality Control Standard Document defines the requirements that we strive to achieve. The document holds us accountable for any mistakes or diversion from the requirements we set.

But it’s not any “document” that holds us to our standards. We’re simply in the business of quality, and the reputation we gained over the past 7 years speaks for itself.

4. They can quickly adapt to market swings

Responding to demand is one of the key factors of success for any electronics company.

Every part of your global production base should be able to scale production when demand surges. In such situations, supplier delays and lengthy back orders would kill your company's growth momentum.

This happens with inexperienced manufacturers more than you’d think.

You should choose a manufacturer that has experience adapting to market changes as they come. You should prepare well for scalability and select a supplier who can mass-produce and help you meet increasing demand.

Other equally important factors that you should demand:

  • The range of certifications secured
  • Industry-leading IP protection services
  • Competitive costing
  • Technical abilities of our vetted factories
  • Strength of production capability, material, and component procurement

2 Tips to Avoid Wasting Months & Thousands

1. Having one factory manufacture all the components of your electronics ODM

Two things here:

Having a single factory manufacture all the components for your electronic products is a terrible idea because no single factory is specialized in everything.

If you’re going for quality, your best option is to have a manufacturing partner in China delegate each part to a factory they know will do the best job with. 

This process protects your IP too because every factory only gets one piece of the puzzle. No single factory gets files for your assembled product, so they can’t know what the assembled product looks like, and your IP is safe. 

Once all components are made, they're shipped to your manufacturing partner, who assembles products and tests finished devices.

The best part for you is that the manufacturing partner takes responsibility for the entire process. This is one reason why strategic partnerships are vital.

2. Trying to save money on price-per-unit with your first order

When it comes to quality manufacturing, competent Chinese manufacturers have their hands full. The world has seen what they can do, and business is booming.

This translates to the Chinese not needing to take on every client that comes along. They’ve started filtering out nitpicky, unserious clients that don’t put money where their mouth is.

They can now demand higher margins, and they do. On your first order, you have no leverage, so if you negotiate too hard on the price, they might oblige, but at the cost of quality.

So the advice here is:

Invest in early price per unit, development, and tooling so you can build a big business long term. Then you continue placing orders, and with each one, you get more leverage. 

Once a certain factory knows how to build your component (and see you’re a serious long-term client) they’ll be more than willing to talk price again.

In summary, this means you need to pay more at the beginning to ensure long-term success. Yes you’re going to China partly to cut costs, but if you cut too deep, well, let’s just say the chair won’t stand on three legs. 

Example: How Lead and Calcium Can Destroy Your Product At Launch

Here’s just one example of what you can avoid with a manufacturing partner who has the know-how in mainland China.

Going with a typical no-name or new manufacturer in China could result in them using suppliers that manufacture products with excessive amounts of restricted chemicals such as calcium and lead.

This typically happens because they are unaware of product regulations in different territories. There are those that also simply do not care.

So it’s best to find a manufacturing partner that uses factories with proven compliance with EU and US substance directives.

And since previous compliance is not a guarantee for future compliance, you should always submit batches of your product for compliance testing to avoid releasing non-compliant goods to the market.

An experienced, serious manufacturing partner will assist you here as well.

Product Compliance

Foreign companies that import Chinese-manufactured electronics in the EU and the US must ensure that the products they import are compliant with product regulations.

The law holds the importers responsible for non-compliance. They may be fined heavily or have their products forcefully recalled.

However, ensuring your Chinese electronics manufacturer complies with regulations in your region is easier said than done.

Manufacturers may assemble components from numerous subcontractors to develop your product. It is taxing to ensure that all components comply with product regulations.

Electronics manufacturers in China offer different services and start product development at various stages. Some need you to be ready for mass production when you come to them.

Others also offer product design and testing services in addition to mass production. This is what you want. 

Why Go to China for ODM Electronics Manufacturing

China is the global products manufacturing hub, owing to the exponential expansion of internal and external markets that led to the exportation of most China-manufactured electronics.

More than half of the world’s mobile phones are made in China, along with almost every PCB. The section below covers the benefits of manufacturing electronics in China.

High Quality

Chinese electronics manufacturers have had a bad rap in the manufacturing space for a while now. Many people are falsely led to believe that China only has low-quality products.

While China did produce cheap, low-quality products around the 80s and 90s, the reason was to meet the massive demand for mass-produced low-quality products.

While there are still low-quality products exported from China, the country has manufactured high-quality products for close to two decades now.

China’s high-quality products have even attracted business from the most prominent global brands, including Louis Vuitton, Microsoft, Tesla, Apple, Vender, Volkswagen, and DJI.


One of the most significant advantages that draws product owners to manufacture their products in China is the low cost of production compared to Western countries.

China owes the low cost of production mainly to cheap and abundant labor. Lowering the cost of production often translates to an increase in sales.

Is MorphoMFG the right manufacturing partner for you?

MorphoMFG would be the best fit if you are producing an ODM electronics product. We focus on quality, not quantity, and therefore we provide the best value for your money if you are producing something unique and of higher quality.

Note that higher quality doesn’t mean manufacturing needs to be expensive. Cost-effectiveness is half the reason why we’re in China in the first place.

But we are not here to be cheap. We are here to provide the best manufacturing quality, engineering minds, and quality control possible - at best possible prices.

We can also be a great fit if you’re already manufacturing with someone, but now are looking to move manufacturing to China for its cost-effectiveness.

Learn more about our services to find out how we do things the MorphoMFG way.

Schedule a call now to get started.

We’ll quickly find out if we’re a good fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can you find electronics manufacturing quotes on Alibaba?

Answer: Yes, but tread carefully. Trade agents on Alibaba often have one goal in mind: Sell to you by any means necessary. Unfortunately, this means they might make unrealistic promises, or even outright lie to you. It’s much better to directly get in touch with an established, reputable manufacturing partner in mainland China.

Question: Is high quality electronics manufacturing in China really cheap?

Answer: It's cost-effective. The main thing is that you have options. You can choose the cheapest option and push low-quality products into the market. Or, you can manufacture a high-quality ODM at a fraction of what it costs to manufacture in the US or UK. It's not only about going to China; it's about choosing the right manufacturing partner in China.

About the author

Josh Fairbairn

CEO of MorphoMFG, fluent in Mandarin, Blogger, and Youtuber. Josh loves interesting materials and the craftsmanship that goes into creating innovative products - watches, tech, games, whisky, leather, wood, blockchain & electronics. Josh and his team in Guangzhou, China are striving to create (& consume) the world’s highest quality products. Partnering with entrepreneurs globally to help solve the world's problems - whether small or large.

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