How to Create a Product Specification Sheet for your FBA Product
How to create a product spec sheet that ensure you get the exact product you want from you supplier!
If you can imagine a product, then there is a probably a factory who can build it. China and Vietnam have a seemingly endless number of manufacturers that have the capabilities to make a wide variety of products. But how do you know that the supplier makes your product exactly as you want? With a well-written product specification sheet. While it takes several steps to make your idea into a product, one of the first things you need to do is create a product specification sheet. Cosmo Sourcing has simplified this process into our simple sourcing, which has 4 steps: Plan, find, make and ship.
What is a product specification sheet?
A product specification sheet is a document that details what your product is. There should a broad overview as well as numerous sections that detail the individual components that you want to be delivered in a product. A good product sheet is concise yet thorough, having everything that the product needs, but without any fluff. The product specification sheet will be received by your manufacturers and used as a reference for quotes and for the manufacturing of your product. Even before your product is made it is essential that a manufacturer has a product specification in order to give you an accurate quote.
A product specification sheet will also be used later when you order samples. We tend to use a modified product specification sheet as our sample evaluation form. IN the sample evaluation process, which we’ll discuss later, we create a checklist from the Product specification sheet, and we’ll go through line by line to check each detail on the sample to what was requested.
One thing to keep in mind when creating a product specification sheet is that manufacturers often cut corners. Be mindful of this and think of details that you want to highlight in order to ensure quality. You need to know that there is no such thing as a supplier that will get 100% of the product and details perfect, so you need to have an idea of what is acceptable quality to you and fill in your product spec sheet accordingly.
Here’s a free Product Specification template!
If you’re not sure what a product sheet should look like, feel free to download a template we made. This is a basic template, so your template should be heavily modified to suit your product. Regardless fill in the email and we’ll send you our template that we use for our projects!
How to make a Product Specification
We’ll go over how to make a product spec sheet but for the most part, there should be a fairly well-structured outline. There’s are the main sections needed for a standard product spec sheet. This sections follows along with our template and goes more in-depth with instructions for each part. So please follow the link and get the template and then follow along and fill in each part as instructed. IF you do not have the template then just create a simple outline with each section below.
Most people overthink this one, but it helps to keep it simple. Just use a few sentences to a paragraph to describe your product, how it will be used and some other details. For more complex products you may want 2 paragraphs, but beyond that you’re just going to bog down the reader. Save the details for later, this just needs to give the recipient the general idea of the product.
These will be the raw stats of your product, things like weight, dimensions, colors materials, Estimated order quantity, Target price, Ip Rights, intended market etc. should be here. For the most part, this is organized in a bulleted list or a table. This part is focused on the raw stats of your product.
Bill of Materials
This again is a bulleted list. For this part simply state the exact materials that will be used. For some items simply stating ‘a strong Fabric” is fine but for most, you want to be specific, such as stating 60D Nylon as the fabric. You also want to run down every material that will be used in your product. Most factories that specialize in your product will have everything already in house, but sometime they will need to order raw materials for a product.
Photos are one of the most important parts of your product spec sheet, for the simple reason that, most people will only look at this part. Keep in mind that if you are sourcing from China or Vietnam, English is likely their second language. Photos, however, transcend language and can be understood by almost everyone.
There are two types of photos you will need. The first is basic photos of the product if it exists. IF the product does not exist then sketches or mock-up work well. And the second is technical diagrams that show the dimensions of products
Most clients overlook packaging when it comes to the product. The fact is Packaging is not just an essential part of the product experience and branding, but necessary to keep your product protected when it ships from China to a warehouse, and from a warehouse to the customer.
In addition you need to specify the master carton dimension as well. Master Carton is the big box that will carry your smaller items to the States. IF you are ordering 1,000 units of a gizmo, it’s a little crazy to ship each item separate from China to the US. Instead, most people place the units into a larger box, perhaps 50-200 units per box.
Many products need to meet certain compliance standards in order to be manufactured and imported into their respective countries. Figuring out compliance standards can get a little bit tricky, so we’ll go over that later. Types of Compliance standards to look out for are any regulatory approval needed by a country, which is up to the buyer to obtain, and factory certifications, such as ISO standards, that is up to the supplier to obtain.
What else should be in a product specification sheet?
There isn’t a single good template for a product specification sheet, as each product is different and has its own attributes. Nonetheless, here is a list of potential points to cover:
What is the purpose of your product
What material do you want your product made of
What features do you want it to have
What Color(s) should the product be?
Pantone color codes are universally accepted color standards so be exact if you need to.
What packaging do you want?
What standards does the product need to meet?
On major aspect or product, validation is figuring out what compliance standards are necessary for a product.
Diagrams and graphics
Overall wording should be short and to the point. Pictures are also a great way to show what product you want to be made. You can find pictures of existing products, pictures of details, or pictures of a prototype you have made. Pictures and other graphics example are one way you can make sure that something doesn’t get lost in translation.
Draft the Product Spec Sheet
At this point, you should take the outline and have a very rough draft. In order to get a great product spec sheet, you need to go through and edit about three times. This will be the first time you have on the sheet. With this build, you should still continue to research and learn more about your product. For the most part just use the outline that we have provided, as it covers the basics for most products.
At this point you should have everything that you want in your product, now the next step is to add everything that your product needs.
Learn as much as you can about your product
When you learn about your product there are a few things you need to focus on: how it's manufactured, The first time you add information tends to be what you want out of a product, and the next step is to learn as much as you can about your product. Fortunately we live the information age where all the resources you need are at your fingertips.
Learn about how it’s manufactured
When you make a product spec sheet you are making it so that your product is designed for manufacturing. This step makes sure that your product is grounded in reality. Many people have these fantastic ideas for a product that sounds great on paper but are difficult to manufacture. For many products, you can find youtube videos of the manufacturing process, and get a good idea, and for other, you may need to dive deep into industry publications.
Look up product details on Amazon and Alibaba
This goes in from the tip, but the easiest way is to just find similar products on these or other websites and more or less copy or paste them. Make sure that the product is as same or similar to your and adjust as needed.
Learn about certifications
When looking at the product on websites you’ll start to notice that the products have various certifications. The easiest way to start is to look at what certifications are included in amazon description. But ultimately finding the exact certification is complicated process. We go over in more detail in our blog about Tariffs and regulation here!
Custom designs often need custom tools
Creating a custom product is an excellent way to make sure your product stands out in a crowded marketplace. Many of our clients request custom designs which we are happy to help them with. That being said you need to understand that customizing often times requires a more upfront cost. For many products, you need to have a mold made, for other projects we need to have a design made on a computer, both of which require a significant upfront cost. The good news is most of these costs are a one-time cost. The higher the upfront, one-time cost the more product you need to order to recoup the cost.
Tooling is the process of acquiring the machinery, molds, design files and everything that is needed to make your product. When you are vetting factories it important that you make sure that they have the equipment, for the most part, they will let you know but it’s important to double check. The best way is to visit in person but if you cannot then hire an inspection company to do it for you.
Molding is one of the most common items we work with, for many products we need to make a mold, to be sued. The most common mold is used in plastic injection molding. The process of molding involves creating a cast that can be injected with a liquid that then hardens into a shape. Most molds are made out of metal, and a good one can cost a few thousand dollars. Although once you have it made it can often be used for years.
CNC, 3D Printing and more
3D Printing is more complex than people think, a digital model has to be designed using specialized software by a trained individual. They then need to upload the file to the printer and let it run. CNC works under a similar concept, however CNC machine carve the object from an existing material, while a 3-D printer creates it from scratch. The process of designing files and digital models is similar so expect to pay for someone to do this if you need this for your product.
Make it so that it can be manufactured
In the previous step, you should have done a significant amount of research on how it’s manufactured. Now you should read through your details and adjust them so that they can be made. Most of the time you will take off and adjust features, but other times you may learn that you can add or make something that you didn’t know was possible. Those times can
Regardless you need to keep in mind that the more steps it takes, tends to increase the cost. So for cost-conscious people you want to make sure that your product is as easy to manufacture as possible. Ideally, you would also want to have the product made in just one factory with no outsourcing for parts. This means you need to make a product that can be made simply and understood by a single factory.
By now you should go through your product sheet again and make adjustments to the desired features, to make it supplier to manufactured or add features that you learned about in the research.
A good product spec sheet has many pictures, illustrations and diagrams, that show exactly what the product should look like. As the old saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words. The more pictures you include the better. If you have your product or a prototype already made include photos with a measuring tapes so that the factory can know the dimensions. If you want an exact color include color swatches, so that they have an exact reference. Take photos of the details that you want, such as stitching. ANd feel free to use a basic imaging program to add arrows and text boxes to the highlight feature.
Finish the Product Spec Sheet
First you made the product spec sheet with everything you want, then you made it with everything you need, now you need to make it so that it has everything needed to be made.
By now you should have everything already in the product spec sheet, and modified it so that it can be made. Now you need to go through and polish it so that it is clean and readable. Keep technical details as is, but for the summaries and other parts use simple English that can be easily understood. Remember that almost all the salespeople and engineers are not native English speakers, and they often will use translation software to read it.
Frankly, you’ll likely still update this a few more times as you go through the sourcing process. It’s not uncommon for us to make multiple revisions all the way until the final manufacturing stage.
What format should this be in?
Most Product spec sheets are created in Excel or Word, but you should send it to your potential suppliers as a PDF. the reason for this is so the supplier does not alter it and you can make sure that there aren’t any formatting changes when emailed. Keep in mind that when you send out a Product spec sheet it will likely be shared any time by email and printed among staff at the supplier. Include page numbers and either a header or footer with your contact info on every page, as well as a page number.
Let Cosmo Sourcing help you!
Creating a product specification sheet is one of the deliverables in the first step of our Simple Sourcing process, We call this step PLAN. If you sign up for the PLAN package you’ll get an RFQ and validation report in addition to the Product specification sheet. You are free to use this guide and template to create your own Product specification sheet, however, if you want us to look over it and make sure it’s great, so feel free to reach out to us, and if you are interested