Quality Control in China: meaningless without sales order specifications

Ben Boterkooper China Import Leads BV.

Sourcing from China requires skill and expertise. My firm opinion is that extensive knowledge on this subject cannot be obtained through a course or just reading a book. Gaining lots of experience in the field and personal interaction with the unique business climate in China will make you an expert on the subject. These experiences quickly cause entrepreneurs to put quality control measures into place. Something that is widely deemed necessary by the general.

Does quality control guarantee quality?

The term “quality control” has the clue in the name. This process checks if the product is of acceptable quality. It provides insight into the condition of a product. However, it does not automatically generate a product of perfect quality. Manufacturing which is subject to quality control will often result in a good product but there is no guarantee. So as an entrepreneur you have a way to go yet. It becomes a bigger issue when products fail to meet quality expectations and requirements. In the meantime the products are loaded and ready for transport and the factory is less than keen on further expenses in order to re-manufacture your product. At this point you have no products to trade and would rather not see your deposit go to waste. How do you plan to resolve these matters as an entrepreneur based in the Netherlands?

Preparation is half the job

Following a quality check of your in China manufactured products, you would expect a comprehensive report showing that the products meet quality standards. This is after all the most cost-effective starting point. Initiating a quality check alone is not sufficient. A work method and preparation is required where a great deal of experience and expertise is involved. The entrepreneur must arrange matters in such a way that the factory in China manufactures the products correctly straight away. As the saying goes “Preparation is half the job”. On the other hand, a false start can cause twice the work and ultimately twice the expense. Preparation means that you can reduce risk as much as possible in advance where production errors are concerned. This makes it imperative that quality standards and manufacturing processes are specified in the sales contract. Prevention is better than cure after all.


Clearly specified sales contract

A well specified sales contract will cover the following points in detail:

– Product description
– Parts and components of the  product
– Design
– Colours and external features
– Functions
– Materials
– Cost breakdown of raw materials for products
– Extensions
– Assembly
– Optional coatings and finishing
– Labels, barcodes, text processing etc.
– Certification

Every stage of the manufacturing process is specified in the sales contract. Quality guaranteed? My answer to that would be no. Aside specifying the completed product, one must also carefully assess individual components which will ultimately  form the finished article. A faulty component could prevent a product from functioning. This means that products can be checked for quality and correctness during the manufacturing process also. So adequate steps can be taken if it becomes apparent that the components will not function as a whole. So you must not leave anything to chance. We have a certain responsibility to our customers but the client must also take responsibility for their own procurement process and products.

Packaging in the sales order

In addition to the product, a principle part of the finished article also, is the packaging. Packaging can either make or break a product. It is therefore important that one must spend equal care and attention to the packaging by specifying requirements in the contract before manufacturing.

– Description of packaging
– Design
– Appearance of packaging
– Materials of packaging
– Functions of packaging
– Cost breakdown of raw materials for packaging
– Optional text, barcodes, labels, logo’s on the packaging

The contractual documenting of all these specifications ensures a high likelihood that the product is manufactured correctly initially.  This way a quality inspection monitors whether the Chinese factory adheres to the production contract. Therefore the risk of the Chinese supplier manufacturing products of sub standard quality is minimized.

Purchasing is a custom job

The process which I describe in this article is leading within my buying agency. Although this does not mean a “one size fits all” process. Sourcing from China is always a custom job. There are several points which contribute to the success rate of a purchasing process. Not every factory is suitable to manufacture your product. In addition, a factory may refuse to work under a specified contractual order. How do you arrange a factory to agree to your contract conditions? What recognition factors indicate that a factory is incapable of manufacturing your products? Answers to these questions and much more you are able to find by reading my articles on our blog page and social media. Sourcing from China requires expertise. I will gladly advise you about the right approach.