Because the manufacturers are on the other side of the world, in a different time zone, and using a different language, there can be problems when trying to source items from China. In order to avoid these problems and mistakes, you should practice due diligence and follow a set of steps to ensure there is transparency and that you and the supplier understand one another.
Save yourself from wasting time, money and energy with the wrong suppliers. Check out these five keys to successful sourcing in China:
Assess the suppliers’ ability to communicate
Many suppliers begin the process of sourcing from China by trying to look for suppliers based on whether they can offer the product they want at the right quality, level and price. However a supplier’s ability to communicate is equally important. In fact, poor communication between customers and suppliers is one of the major causes for manufacturing troubles.
You can assess the ability of potential suppliers to communicate with relative ease right from the start. Pay attention to the following when communicating with a potential supplier:
- attention to detail, and
2. Request product samples from the factory
Requesting product samples is an easy, no-commitment option for narrowing down your list of potential suppliers. An important step when sourcing from China, asking for product samples helps you gauge whether or not the supplier can actually provide what you’re looking for. Most reputable suppliers are willing to send a product sample to interested parties for a relatively small fee. Obtaining a sample lets you scrutinise every aspect of the product, from the parts and materials used to product dimensions and the supplier’s attention to fine details.
3. Audit the supplier’s facility
An important part of finding the right supplier is visiting the factory to conduct an audit. This is as true as sourcing from China as it is anywhere. You may choose to visit the factory yourself, however most importers generally send in-house or third-party professionals to conduct a more formal audit. There are several common types of audits used to assess a factory, the most common of which is the supplier review.
Auditing quality management systems
A supplier review is a general audit of a factory’s quality management systems, typically based on ISO 9001standards. Auditors conducting a supplier review will check a number of important areas in a factory, including:
- maintenance of basic facilities and production equipment
- production environment
- operational procedures and record keeping
- materials control
- during production control
- finished goods control
- lab testing
- engineering and design
- HR recruitment and training, and
- business development and management.
4. Set clear expectations for product requirements
If there’s one area of manufacturing importers are least likely to give adequate attention to, it’s setting clear expectations. It may seem like a simple concept, but unclear expectations are the chief cause of the majority of problems related to product quality, non-conformance to specifications and shipping delays.
5. Conduct product inspection
You’ve confirmed the supplier you’ll be working with, and there’s a mutual understanding of your expectations. The last key to sourcing from China is to check the quality of the goods before they are shipped over. There’s no better way to verify the order status and quality than by visiting the factory and conducting an inspection.
When working with a new supplier these tips and tricks can help prevent challenges to importing and ensure that you receive the quality product you wanted. By practicing due diligence every step of the way – from identifying a supplier, to setting expectations and making sure your supplier follows through – you’re sure to have a more positive experience.