Last week we got into the Design of amiibo, and what types of measures were taken to not only ensure their safety in the marketplace, but also their ability to bring joy to the lives of the children who would interact with them (young and old). This week we will be looking into how exactly Nintendo goes about getting the amiibo manufactured.
One thing is often very apparent when new waves of amiibo are released into the marketplace, and that is the fact that most people don’t know that Nintendo, as a company, does not actually manufacture the amiibo figures themselves.
Nintendo employs a fabless production model, meaning we do not own the facilities that manufacture our products. We work with production partners to enhance the quality and safety of our products, and aim for production efficiency. In this section, we introduce how “amiibo” was created with our new production partners.
Now, with the understanding that the manufacturing process is outsourced, we not only know that Nintendo is not intentionally shorting supply which was something that I have heard them being accused of, but it also allows us to look further into how they work to “ensure” their quality and standards when utilizing outside resources.
How did you choose the production partners to outsource production of amiibo?
Although we already had relationships with the manufacturers entrusted to make amiibo, the actual factories that produce amiibo are new business partners for Nintendo. The Procurement Department that I belong to played a central role in the selection of partners who could achieve “Nintendo Quality” in regard to the quality and safety of amiibo. In addition, part of the selection criteria emphasized that they not only ensure quality and safety, but they also understand Nintendo’s CSR procurement efforts and would promote these efforts inside their organizations. Their operational status was reviewed according to the Nintendo CSR Procurement Guidelines, which contains specific requirements that Nintendo asks production partners to comply with, and requests for improvement were made in necessary areas.
What do you value in relationships with new production partners?
amiibo is our first experience creating figures, which means it is also the first time that these production partners have worked with Nintendo. We have had relationships of more than ten years with many of the production partners who manufacture our game systems and hence have had time to build our relationships with them. However, we had to build relationships from scratch with these new production partners. Therefore, we were conscious of building strong mutual trust by helping them understand who we are as a company and what our values are in regard to making high-quality products.
Because Nintendo is a fabless company, we are limited in what we can do by ourselves. We want production partners to be glad they decided to work with us and, as a result, help us to deliver high-quality products that make consumers happy and spread the ring of smiles. In this respect, building long-term relationships based on mutual trust with our production partners is indispensable to making good products.
While building mutual trust, we value face-to-face communication. By having staff responsible for amiibo or production managers visit the actual production sites and convey our thoughts about amiibo to our production partners’ managers or factory staff, I think we help them understand how special the amiibo product is for Nintendo.
How do you feel about your involvement in the production of this brand-new product called amiibo?
Not only internal stakeholders, but also our production partners worked together as a united group as we developed various methods by trial and error. Personally, the largely new experience of transforming things that used to exist only in a virtual game world into tangible objects helped me to grow, and I think that our production partners feel the same way. amiibo is the result of the aspirations of everyone involved in the entire process. I really hope that when consumers use amiibo, they will love it for many years to come.
The critical nature of the types of relationships that Nintendo has with their production partners cannot be overstated, as they are essentially the hands of the company not only putting the products together, but also, in essence, handing those products directly to the customers. That’s a vital role, and it is certainly not wasted on the company, in the least.
Our partners are essential in delivering smiles to our consumers. I always am conscious of making sure everyone involved feels glad that they work with Nintendo.
I look forward to hearing your feedback on this third part of our amiibo Mini-Series, and next week we will be concluded the series. Until then…
As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!
- Junichi Nakano — Domestic Procurement Group Procurement Department Nintendo Co., Ltd.