Under efforts to boost overseas sales, China suppliers of abdominal training equipment are widening their design selections and changing export strategies.
Responding to demand for more effective products, makers have introduced machines where users can kneel on a stool and utilize the arm grips and their core muscles to slide up and down the track.
The resulting arclike motion simulates the hanging leg raise exercise, one of the best ways of toning the midsection, without putting stress on the neck, back and shoulders. The movement targets hard-to-reach lower and oblique abdominal muscles.
Popular in the US and EU markets, such products are fitted with a repetition counter. Ergonomic knee and elbow cushions are incorporated for greater convenience and comfort.
Price is from $70 to $90, depending on the thickness of the steel frame, padding material, size and maximum load capacity. Models have a 1.5 to 3mm-thick steel body and a PU or PVC cushion. They can support between 120 and 150kg.
The miniaturization trend in fitness equipment is also driving China makers to launch lightweight and portable designs. These are foldable as well, allowing for a spacesaving function.
Going between $17 and $20, the latest releases enable users to perform smooth, full-range abdominal contractions while seated comfortably and supported properly by sponge rollers. These also help exercise the shoulder and back muscles.
Other versions work the midsection through circular or swinging movements of the body along a friction-free track. They feature three resistance intensities to match usersâ different fitness levels.
New designs account for about 60 percent of exports. The rest consists of conventional products, including sit-up benches and medicine balls.
Other means of encouraging growth in the line is the adjustment of certain terms in the purchasing agreement, including the minimum order requirement.
Several suppliers, for instance, have reduced the MOQ for certain product categories from 500 units to 200 or 300. Some companies even accept orders of as low as 50 systems.
Another is the shortening of the manufacturing time, leading to faster completion and delivery of products. The fabrication period has been cut by at least half, from the previous yearâs 30 to 45 days to 15 days. Although largely a result of shrinking order volume, which in turn is due to the volatile economic climate, many makers are capitalizing on shorter time to market to attract new customers.
Abdominal training equipment suppliers are also emphasizing aftersales service, with most offering a 6-month warranty that allows for free replacement of faulty components.
While inquiry from buyers based in the US and the EU are still pouring in, clients there are adopting a wait-and-see attitude toward actually placing orders. This is because many prefer to limit their inventories as demand from endusers falls amid financial challenges. As such, the monthly output of China companies is now 5 to 15 percent lower than in 2008.
To achieve a turnaround, alternative destinations are being cultivated. These include Panama, Chile, Venezuela, Canada, Spain, the Middle East, Japan and South Korea.
Some makers are also strengthening their foothold domestically. Diverse markets could prop up sales and soften the impact of the economic crisis.
Another challenge for the industry is the fact that buyers are more conscious of product prices. Quotes are now the primary factor influencing purchases of abdominal training equipment, thereby engendering cutthroat competition.
Adding to pressure is the stipulation from raw material and component suppliers that require payment 15 days after delivery instead of the traditional 30 days.
To ease the situation, makers are applying for loans from domestic banks. The governmentâs stimulus policy that supports small and medium enterprises plays an important role here.
China hosts about 100 makers of abdominal training equipment, most of which also offer other exercise machines.
An estimated 90 percent of the supplier base is composed of small and midsize companies. The former earn less than $3 million annually, while medium-scale operations generate between $5 million and $10 million.
The manufacturing pool contracted 5 to 10 percent last year due to the tough economy. Companies either closed down or shifted to more profitable lines.
In terms of production, the bulk of output comes from Zhejiang province, particularly Jinhua and Yongkang. Chinaâs abdominal training equipment industry actually started there 10 years ago.
As regards exports, the country ships about $600 million worth of abdominal training equipment on a yearly basis. Sixty percent of overseas sales are generated from the US and the EU.
This article "Abdominal training equipment: Makers revamp line to prop up exports" is originally posted in Global Sources.
BinSin Industry &Trade Co. Ltd (BinSin Group)
Ningbo Wealthy Import & Export Co. Ltd
Shanghai Zhensheng Stationery & Sports Goods Co. Ltd
Yongkang Leermei Machine Factory
Zhejiang Jintuo Mechanical & Electrical Co. Ltd
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