1. Consider the two categories of products that Timbuk2 makes and sells. For the custom messenger bag, what are the key competitive dimensions that are driving sales? Are their competitive priorities different for the new laptop bags sourced in China?
For the custom messenger bag, the key competitive dimensions that are driving sales are high-quality custom (bags are worn daily for a decade), reasonable price, high differentiated design (customers select the basic bag configuration, size, color, pocket and strap options themselves), convenience in purchasing (customers can buy bags that are tailored to the exact specifications they like by just getting on the website), quick delivery speed (sent by overnight delivery directly to the customer), flexible and very quick new product introduction speed (people design new products online everyday).
Since the new laptop bags are made in China, the shipping speed is not as quick as that of the messenger bags made in San Francisco. But other competitive priorities are not so different, especially for the retail price, which is lower comparing to the other laptop bags of the same quality, features and functions. Since these bags are more complex to build and require more labor and a variety of different machines (more expensive) to produce these products, to keep the prices lower for the consumer, outsourcing the manufacturing of these bags is necessary. Putting up factories in China makes labor costs cheaper, though the design was still built in San Francisco.
2. The assembly line in China and San Francisco have similarities and differences when comparing the volume or rate of production, required skill of workers, level of automation, and amount of raw materials and the inventory of finished goods. In San Francisco, Timbuk2 found it most effective to have work cells of 5 employees manufacture...