1.1 – Product Specification Document (Explained)

Product Specification Document

In this chapter we are going to show you how to make a comprehensive “Product Specification” document.

This document is essential as it will make things clear for your chosen supplier and also be used by you to keep track of your expected product specifications.

A “Product Specification Document” is a detailed, precise document that clearly lays out your product requirements.

Above all this document clearly accounts for the requirements and specifications of your product. It is one of the most important considerations that both you and your supplier can refer back to on a continual basis.

This document will help to plan and ensure that your product specifications are organized and clear throughout the sourcing and production process.

To establish the key elements and enable you to complete your “Product Specification” sheet you should consider the following:

  • Functionality explanation
  • Sketches and drawings
  • Product materials
  • Design files ( Color specifications should be referred under Pantone code)
  • Labeling files
  • Reference samples
  • Product Size (Ex: thickness, length, width, height and tolerance levels)
  • Packaging requirements (Ex: plastic bag, wood box, paper box etc.)
  • Compliance standards based on region sold to (ISO, FDA, CE, etc.)
  • Destination your product will be shipped to
  • Product performance should be included (i.e when subject to temperatures and humidity)
  • When specific tests are required, standards used to measure exact readings should be clearly stated (Materials, Conditions…)

Your first task is to be specific regarding all the relevant product information.

This should include datasheets, as well as files for the design and labeling. This is essential as in the next section you will be submitting your specific requirements to prospective suppliers.

The more detailed description you can give them will ensure a more seamless process and eliminate any confusion from outset.

a. Tutorial Overview

Task / Tutorial Comment
Create Your “Product Specification Document”How to create a product specification file using the “Product Specification Document Template”.
Compliance RegulationsWhy and how you need to research product regulations before contacting suppliers.
Artwork, Branding, Labeling Design FilesHow to create design files( includes your brand logo/labeling files) or how to hire a designer to create them for you.

b. Document Templates

Product Specification TemplateA product specification template that you will submit to suppliers in Part 2.

c. Material Guides

  • Material Guide: (PDF)

e. Q&A

Why do I need to provide such specific product information?

Imagine that you are producing the product.

All manufacturers whether they be in Asia or worldwide manufacture products based on specifications. Unless you are clear in your definition of the materials, colours, dimensions, functionality and anything else that is required to manufacture your product then you could face difficulties in the later stages. There are two main risks:

  • The supplier may misunderstand your complete expectations
  • The supplier may use inferior or inadequate materials and parts

If this stage of the process is tight and clear from outset it will save you time later on at the sampling stage and also in regards to the quality of your product. Getting this perfect now will save time and money rather than later finding out that there are inconsistencies when the product sampling stage occurs or even worse when the products are manufactured.

I only have a rough idea; can I ask the supplier to make the product specification for me?

If your product’s function is similar to the suppliers existing series then you can sometimes provide the overall appearance design and ask for a sample from the factory. Alternatively you can provide a sample to them for them to decide your product material and quality then you can derive the product specification from that. If your product has new functions or variations in shape then you will need to confirm with the supplier if they have the ability and tooling to make the changes and perhaps even prepare the product specification for you.

Can I just ask for the “Best Quality Materials”?

No, you could be lucky however in actuality this is fairly rare. Best quality is based on interpretation. When manufacturing your products you need to be specific.

Can I just send a reference sample and then get it reproduced?

Sending a sample as reference can definitely help to display your overall expectation. This should never be used as a substitute though for providing specifics. To make the process as error free as it can be you should focus on the specifics and also send a sample if possible. The more you can provide the better, however if you just rely on a sample then further down the line you could run into difficulties without the full product specifications.

Will I have to provide a specification for private label (ODM) products?

Yes, even if your intention is to import ODM ‘factory designed’ products, you should still always provide a specification to give complete clarification to the supplier.

With ODM products you base the product specification on a product sample. With OEM products you base the expected sample on the specifications that you provide.

ODM products will usually be able to be reproduced without any tooling being required. OEM product manufacturers will need to make tooling following your complete specifications for manufacturer to be able to manufacture your product.

Can I make a change of my product specification after sending to the supplier?

This is possible however not ideal as every change following the start of production will costs you money.

Before production begins be sure and establish what changes may be possible at each step of the procedure. We will discuss this in later modules.

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