Own business: selling ceramic knives

* The calculations use the average data for the World

Ceramic knives appeared on the Russian market relatively recently, but quickly gained popularity, despite its relatively high cost and fragility. The ceramic knife is made, as the name implies, of solid ceramics, usually based on zirconia, by dry pressing and long firing. Ceramics for the production of knives can be used both white and black. And in fact, and in another case, there are certain features. For example, knives that are made of black ceramic have better strength and are more durable than knives made of white ceramic. This is due to the fact that when black dyes are added to ceramics, products from this composition are fired longer than white ceramic knives. Accordingly, their strength increases (although the cost also increases due to greater energy consumption).

The main material for the production of ceramic knives is the mineral zircon, which is quite rare. Colorless zircon is mined in Australia, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, India, and the USA. Zircon, intended for the manufacture of both Japanese and European ceramic knives, is sent to Chinese factories, where it is used to produce white powder - zirconium dioxide. At knife manufacturing plants, finely dispersed zirconia powder is pressed into blade-shaped plates under a pressure of about 300 tons. The resulting billets are fired in an oven at a temperature of 1400-1500 degrees Celsius for 48 hours (two days - the minimum time). At the furnace exit, brittle plates turn into light and durable ceramics, which in hardness can be compared with the hardest steel and even surpass it. So, the hardness of Damascus steel is 6.3 points on the Mohs scale, and the hardness of ceramic blades is in the range of 8.2-8.5 points. At the last stage, ceramic knives are sharpened. Expensive products manufactured in factories in Japan and Switzerland are manually sharpened on a diamond-coated wheel. This is a very lengthy and expensive process. Obviously, the quality and high performance characteristics of ceramic knives depend, first of all, on the composition used and careful observance of production technology.

Zirconia knives are distinguished by an ultra-sharp blade, which does not require additional sharpening for a long time; resistance to external physical influences (they are very difficult to scratch); chemical neutrality when using (do not enter a chemical reaction with acids). In addition, they are convenient to use and do not require special care. However, ceramics is a rather fragile material, which is contraindicated in shock, kinks of the blade and falling from a great height. Ceramic knife can not cut solid, tough and very dense products. It is not recommended to use them for slicing fruits and vegetables with a firm and strong peel (watermelon, melon, cabbage, etc.). It is not suitable for chopping and cutting on a hard surface, as all this can damage the blade.

Today, the largest and most famous manufacturers of zirconia knives are Japan and China. In these countries of the eastern region, hundreds, if not thousands, of different industries are located - from semi-artisanal to largest plants. Two Japanese brands, Samura and Kyocera, are most popular throughout the market. In much smaller quantities, ceramic knives are produced in Switzerland and Germany. However, the "produced" in this case is not quite the right word. Even well-known European companies that own the brands Franc Muller, Bergner, Kelli, place their production in the People's Republic of China, which is famous for its cheap labor. At the same time, European managers exercise strict control over the quality of products. It is in Chinese factories that almost all orders under third-party brands for the domestic markets of various countries of the world are carried out.

What is the difference between Japanese and Chinese knives? Leading Japanese companies are constantly working to improve the quality of their products and their operational properties, experiment with materials and improve the technology used. However, due to the high cost of modern equipment for production, as well as the use of various innovative materials, the retail cost of Japanese products is much higher than the average market. Previously, the high cost of ceramic knives was explained by their novelty and small selection, but as competitors (primarily from China) appeared and prices for ceramic knives fell, products of Japanese brands ceased to be very popular. Chinese manufacturers focus primarily on the mass buyer. Of course, a reduction in price will inevitably lead to some deterioration in quality. Blades for Chinese-made products require sharpening more frequently than Japanese counterparts. In addition, it does not have a reliable handle mount. And, despite all this, affordable prices and compliance with quality standards have provided ceramic knives from China with high popularity among Russian consumers.

Moreover, some Russian manufacturing companies conclude contracts for the supply of ceramic knives together with Japanese manufacturers and at the same time place most of their orders in China. Such triangular cooperation allows maintaining product quality at a sufficiently high level, adhering to global quality standards and at the same time maintaining affordable prices. Establishing the production of ceramic knives in Russia is unprofitable, since one equipment will “pull” several tens of millions. At the same time, the cost of one ceramic knife in the manufacture in China in the simplest version is about 30-35 rubles apiece. The cost of more expensive models can be 10 times higher due to the use of high-quality materials, manual labor when sharpening blades and the cost of electricity for additional firing blanks. For example, a ceramic knife of one of the Japanese brands with a universal blade 5 inches long can be purchased from the manufacturer for 500-600 rubles in translation with our money. The exact cost of one product depends on the volume of the purchased lot.

In this case, the domestic wholesale companies the same knife will cost already 900-1200 rubles. In retail stores, the same knife is sold at a price of at least 2500 rubles and above. Thus, when working with Japanese knives, it is more profitable to purchase them in large quantities directly from the manufacturer and sell them in Russia through retail chains. To organize such a business will require from one million rubles. These funds will be used for registration of individual entrepreneurs, purchase of the first batch of goods, customs clearance, receipt of all necessary documents, sales organization. When ordering ceramic knives at a Chinese nameless factory, the wholesale price will be 30-150 rubles per product with a minimum batch of 300 units. You can buy them at retail (often even with free shipping worldwide) at a price of 300 rubles apiece (in the set it will come out even cheaper - from 150 rubles per knife).

Depending on the capital that you have, you can either order the production of knives in China under your own brand, or purchase finished products and draw up all the necessary documents for it. The first option, of course, is more cost-effective and suitable for long-term work, since you can not only determine the volume of the purchased lot, assortment, etc., but also brand your products, giving it personality and developing your own brand. The only drawback is the high costs. You will need to register your own brand, track changes in demand, collaborate with designers, organize sales, engage in pricing and perform many more functions. Effective work will require a whole staff - from a procurement manager to a marketer. In fact, it will already be a real production company, placing orders in China (as most domestic and Western enterprises do).

If you have a small amount, then it would be more expedient to purchase batches of knives from Chinese manufacturers and wholesale companies and sell them in Russia through your own and third-party online stores and retail chains. This option is no less promising, although the level of competition in this case will be an order of magnitude higher. It is best to focus on products of a low price category, for which you can set a large margin (it can reach up to 300%), and even then it will still cost significantly less than Japanese knives.

There is a third option, which is less profitable, but attracts entrepreneurs with a low level of competition. You can buy ceramic knives of European manufacture made in China in compliance with European quality and from Japanese materials. They will cost 1.5-2 times more expensive than Chinese knives due to the presence of another link in the chain. You will have to pay extra for a well-known and sonorous brand. In general, this segment is quite promising. But you will have to spend a lot of time and money promoting your products: ceramic knives are associated with Japan by domestic consumers, and you will have to convince them that European products are in no way inferior in quality and strength to Japanese ones.

Please note: although this direction still remains promising, but the market is already close to saturation. Therefore, if you want to succeed, you must carefully monitor the quality of your product, invest in advertising and promotion, organize sales and plan further business development (creating a chain of company stores, expanding the product line, reaching the federal level).

Sysoeva Lilia

(c) www.clogicsecure.com - a portal to business plans and guidelines for starting a small business 08/18/2019

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