Product quality assurance is a challenge for small business owners
China has emerged as the most popular sourcing destination since its initiation of open policy. Many international companies may resort to importing products given its low labor cost, material cost, and high quality. However, it may be a challenging task for small business to maintain product quality because of the demographic and cultural differences. This is because you don’t know how to ensure the quality of imported products. So small business owners fully rely on suppliers when it comes to product quality assurance.
Generally, the quality of products and quality assurance plays an essential role in the success of your business. That’s why you have to keep an eye on the quality of your outsourced products. Products with bad quality will definitely take a toll on your business. For you importers, quality control should be an essential part of your sourcing process.
This means you have to make sure your products are great quality before they are finally shipped to your warehouse.
In our previous article we have listed some tips and tricks when it comes to sourcing product from China , If you are still struggling on this please make sure to check this article –6 IMPORTANT STEPS YOU MUST KNOW WHEN YOU SOURCING PRODUCT FROM CHINA
Some misconception about quality assurance.
You may think, “Don’t the manufacturers do a quality check?” They do. The factory has its own QC team and quality assurance procedures.
They inspect the raw material and manufactured products. However, the truth is that the factory QC is not enough for a quality inspection because of the possibility of loose quality standards, cultural barriers, lack of trained inspectors and equipment checks. Besides, quality control will ensure the quality of the imported products and monitor their manufacturing schedule.
How to Conduct Quality Control and Quality Assurance When You Source Products from China
1. Understand the value of your products
When you plan to source a product from China, you must have a full understanding of the product. With the product value in mind, you can then get quotes from suppliers and choose the raw material you want to go with. You will also pick the function and design.
The most important thing you have to understand is product quality. You have to know the price range of the product at a certain level of quality. Normally, you will find a different price on the market for similar products because of different quality standards. As such, you have to understand the value of the product.
The full understanding of your products will help you to specify the quality standards in detail in the contract when you cooperate with manufacturers.
2. Work with a quality supplier
Remember to work with quality suppliers when you start sourcing from China. First and foremost, you have to reach out to them to check their quality. You can find these suppliers on different platforms such as B2B websites, Google, trade shows, and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Get their contact info and background info and find out more about the supplier.
What if these suppliers are scammers? Verify their info. Firstly, you can arrange an office visit if possible. Jump on a flight, and check the business license, quality certificate, financial status of the factory, and inspect the manufacturing base. This is a good way for you to verify the supplier. Secondly, you can ask somebody you trust in China to visit the manufacturer on your behalf. This is a great way for you to save time. Thirdly, you can entrust a third-party inspection company to inspect the manufacturer. Remember to ask for the inspection report. This helps you narrow down your choices.
Then we have sample orders. You can order then ship the samples to your inspector to check if the quality is up to your standards or check them yourself. This may be costly.
Finally, identify the most suitable supplier and contract with them. The key is to keep the relevant quality specifications in black and white. Draft all key quality items in the contract. This is absolutely important as the supplier will follow the specifications as contracted.
3. Quality Control and Quality Assurance Over Imports
When it comes to quality control and quality assurance over imports, there is a long checklist. It covers all the possible links ranging from the beginning of the production line to the end of the pre-shipping management. We’ve divided it into three different periods for the product.
The first thing is the pre-production inspection. During this period, you have to check the raw material and components. Generally, manufacturers are inclined to source the cheapest material and components, and they are not aware of the raw material restrictions in your country.
To ensure the quality of raw materials and components, you can draw a few samples randomly for lab testing. You can also check the prototype of the product to ensure its function. In addition, you have to communicate frequently with the factory before it enters mass production. All this is to make sure that your quality specifications, materials, components, and process are completely understood by the manufacturer.
This is the second step of the quality assurance procedure. This process is inspection period during mass production to check if any unsellable products are produced. During this period, check the quality of a few products that have already been manufactured to avoid possible issues in the remaining production. If you can afford it, check products ⅓ of the way through production, then ⅔ of the way through production then check again at the end.
Try to find the non-conforming products based on your requirements. Also pay attention to the visual defects of the products. This is very important before it enters the market. Monitor the forging and assembly process. Try to follow-up often with your supplier on the manufacturing process and make sure to give them specific details about the product. Frequent communication delivers a better understanding of the product specifications. Get manufacturing updates from the supplier, check if anything needs revision and correct it during the production period. You can get potential problems fixed before it’s too late.
Most Chinese manufacturers are likely to produce products very close to your required standard. The in-process inspection will help prevent possible loss due to the “close enough” attitude. You also have to pay attention to your intellectual property and your schedule during this period. This will help you get clear about the lead times. Remember to follow up on these key issues for your business and make necessary changes based on the market price of your raw material.
Literally, pre-shipment inspection means the product inspection prior to shipping. Normally, you will get the finished product quality control check from the manufacturer but that’s not enough. Pre-shipment inspection is normally carried out once 100% of the order is produced and almost 80% packed. Some may even wait until the whole order gets packed. This is to identify possible faults and errors in the batch before shipping. This makes it easier for suppliers to rectify an issue.
For this part, you may not be able to check the product one by one. The best solution is to carry out the sampling test onsite. Sampling plans are available for you to determine the acceptable number of defects. Pick randomly and figure out an accurate overview of the quality of the batch order. Get the test report and evaluate if it is up to your quality standards.
Problems with products may be dimension and color discrepancy between the samples and the rest of the order. You may also find scratches, holes, and other damage to the product. You have to pay special attention to these defects.
4. Who Will Carry Out Quality Control?
It’s important for you to entrust quality control to a reliable partner to ensure quality product sourcing. As such, you can inspect yourself, hire inspectors, or entrust a professional quality inspection agency. Make sure they fully understand the requirements for your products. Normally, there are three ways for you to get the right person to conduct quality control over imported products.
Travel to China to Inspect Products Personally
In our previous article we have listed 9 benefits of visiting Chinese supplier , if you are planning to visit your supplier , you can learn more from here :9 BENEFITS OF VISITING YOUR CHINESE SUPPLIERS
You can check the products based on the quality standards that you set up.
You may not know the best way to conduct a product inspection. Remember to take the details of the process into account, and get the necessary training. You have to figure out the inspection quantity. As we know, it is impossible for you to inspect all the products one by one. You have to know the sampling inspection process, the on-site testing procedure, and the equipment for inspection. Besides, traveling to China takes time and money which may take away from your other business activities at home.
Hire a Full-time Inspector
To ensure a regular product quality inspection, you are allowed to build your own QC team in China. This means you can hire a full-time inspection staff to conduct quality control.
Your inspection team is able to communicate with you about your terms directly, and they are professional inspectors of industry. As such, they have strong inspection expertise. They can determine if the products they inspect can be shipped or not according to the inspection results. These local inspectors have to be employed under your company and have to be accountable to your company’s culture and contractual obligations. They will inspect your imported products based on your company-wide standards. What’s more, it will be cost-effective if you have to inspect regularly and frequently.
To establish a team means that you have to set up your own office in China legally, and comply with the local applicable labor laws. This may be challenging for you given the possibly complicated requirements and procedures. For hiring local employees, you have to meet the particular taxes and salaries required by the Chinese authorities. And if you have to terminate a contract with an employee, you are required to pay severance and relevant proof for the termination. It will be not worth maintaining a full-time salaried inspection team if there aren’t many inspections on a regular basis.
Hire a third-party inspection company
A third-party inspection company will be the best option for those who don’t have a big budget to fly to China or hire your own inspection staff.
The third-party inspection company will offer you their best service with their expertise. First and foremost, you will get a detailed and unbiased report of quality issues including the total quantity of finished and packed units, the number and types of defective units, the nonconformance with the contracted specifications, and the results of any on-site testing, including photos of the inspected units, packaging, test result, and any defects or other findings. Make sure the entrusted company can work for your business interest and keep integrous during their inspections. Typically, inspections conducted by a third-party partner are not long-term partnerships. You may use them just for one order or keep using them for your subsequent orders.
Working with a third-party inspector may not be stable. You have to investigate the relationship between the inspector and the supplier, and the business integrity of the inspector.
When you decide to hire a third-party inspector, remember to choose it based on your product. If your products are technology-intensive, professionals inspectors in that field should be hired. But if your products just need its appearance and function inspected, a video inspection will be the best option.
Remember to keep product specifications and inspection requirements clear with your supplier and inspectors and check-in frequently. Review the inspection reports carefully, notifying the supplier of corrective actions, and update product specifications for future orders with the supplier and inspectors.
In conclusion, we do hope the above tips will be helpful for importers. Incorporate some of them into your importing practice. Now, it’s time for you to go ahead and get started. If you still have any problems, AMZONSOURCE will be the best partner for your sourcing business. If you have any questions, leave your message in the comments section.
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