There are a lot of horror stories out there on sourcing from China. Many people complain about how difficult it is. But if you dig deeper, you will find those with problems are usually the ones skipped out on preparation work. Followings are some of the things you should do when working with a new supplier. Skipping them can potentially cost you a lot of money or even you whole business.
Know your supplier with samples and audit/visit
It’s always a good idea to assess your new supplier with a visit or some type of audit. But before that, get the samples and filter out those that cannot meet your quality expectations. Once you are sure they can make the products you want, go pay them a visit to make sure they actually exist, then develop that relationship and make suggestions on product improvements if you can.
Assess your supplier’s communication capability
You can also assess this during the supplier filtering stage. Pay attention to their response time and how detailed their questions and answers are. One tip is you can actually leave out some important points and see if they can pick it up. Your contact person is very important. No matter how good your factory is, if you contact person cannot communicate well, you will definitely encounter issues later on.
Assess the quality levels of the goods
Make sure factory understands that they need to make the same quality standard as the sample they sent you. Lower quality is not accepted. Factory often makes multiple levels of quality so they can sell to those clients with different requirements. If you are not specific, they may charge you top level price but only produce mid-level products.
Establish golden sample and limit defect samples
Once the quality standard is understood by all parties, it’s time to sign a golden sample so there will be no questions later on regarding the type of product is expected. Limit samples on the defects is also a good idea but you won’t have those until you actually make the products. Of course, unless it’s a mature product you have been producing in other places.
Set up inspection points at different production stages
This is strongly recommended when first working with a supplier. Inspection should be done at early stage so all issues can be corrected before moving on. Second inspection should be around 50% to make sure quality stays consistent. Last inspection at minimum of 80% to make sure the overall quality is up to the standards.
When working with a new supplier, there will be many unforeseen issues you will have to work around. Your ultimate goal should be minimizing the potential risks and make the transition as smooth as possible. The above steps will help you do that.