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Why most importers don’t conduct product inspection themselves

Final product inspection is an important step within the importing process. This is crucial for confirming product requirements and quality before shipping. It doesn’t make much sense if you are buying twenty-thousand-dollar worth of products and try to save a few bucks on inspections. This is something most importers will not neglect. Some importers prefer to carry out inspection on their own or send someone from their home office, rather than hiring their own local inspection staff to visit their supplier’s factory. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons and drawbacks.

Why some importers prefer to inspect on their own

Some importers may feel they know their product better than anyone, so they should inspect it themselves. Which can be true, but keep in mind that your local inspection staff may have years and years of experience inspecting the same type of products. They are trained to locate even the smallest flaw.

Importers prefer to personally check the first order from a factory. This is not cost effective and takes a lot of time if you are located on the other side of the world. But this is a good habit if you don’t have anyone you trust to do the inspection on your behalf.

If the importer has hired a full-time inspector or third-party inspection staff, they may prefer to be with them at the factory for the first inspection. I also recommended this because you can look at how they inspect, train them, set up inspection requirements, approved samples, and defect limit samples.

Why inspecting on your own may not be best

Cost is probably the first thing that comes to most importer’s mind. Time and money can be quite high if you have to take a 15-hour flight to China. Other than the flight cost, you will also have the costs for accommodation, transportation to factory, possibly hiring a translator and food. It’s hard to justify this and the opportunity cost if you already have someone you trust on the ground.

Unless you have a strong quality background, it doesn’t make sense for you to come personally to inspect the products every time. You may be familiar with your products, but that doesn’t mean you know how to inspect professionally. Things like how to pull samples, what AQL standard to use and additional testing are the standards you may not know but an experienced quality staff can help you with.

Last issue is also the most important one, communication challenges. Communication can be tough even when you speak the same language. Trying to clarify your inspection criteria or product requirements to a bunch of people with English as their second language. Well, good luck with that. I personally experienced many cases where the client said something to the factory sales, and sales nod to show understanding, but turns around explained something completely different in Chinese.


Again, it is recommended to go with third-party or full-time inspectors during the first inspection. This gives you the opportunity to clarify inspection criteria and requirements. Set up approve sample and limit samples. But travelling to the factory every time you have an order that needs to be inspected just doesn’t make sense. I’m sure that time and money can be utilized much more effectively on other part of your operation.

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