Christmas is coming. You have an order of 50,000 commemorative, promotional hats and glasses that needs to be shipped to a major customer in California by December 1st. The question you’re asking yourself – and your supplier in Taiwan – is this: will the order leave the factory on time to meet your shipping deadline?
Many importers worry about meeting commitments they’ve made to their customers. One such commitment, particularly for buyers importing promotional goods, is meeting a particular shipping deadline. And this commitment is often especially important around the holiday season.
What’s the solution? Product inspection helps importers meet shipping deadlines.
One of the more obvious ways importers receive value from regular inspections of orders is improved product quality. But any experienced importer knows that delivering the product to the customer when they want it is just as important as getting them the product they want.
Here are three ways product inspection helps importers satisfy this customer need without breaking into a nervous sweat:
1. Regular product inspections let you check in on your supplier
Imagine being able to check in on your supplier at various stages in production to make sure they are on track to meet their shipping deadline. A product inspector visiting the factory at various intervals can tell you:
- If the factory has received raw materials for your order and what kind of incoming quality control (IQC) factory staff are performing on the materials
- If the factory has started production and, if so, how many pieces are currently at each stage of production
- The state of the goods in production (with during production inspection) – the quality level and whether or not the goods are meeting your specifications; and
- How many pieces are finished and packaged, as well as the state of finished goods
Inspection could reveal the factory started production on the glasses two weeks ago but is still waiting on the felt material needed for the hats. Or maybe you’ll find the factory is printing the wrong logo on the hats. Then again, it’s possible the goods are being produced at the same time and meeting quality expectations but won’t be ready to ship by your deadline.
You can judge the odds of shipping on time with reports from your inspector at different production milestones. This insight helps importers meet shipping deadlines because they can find any issues and address them with their supplier early before it’s too late."You can judge the odds of shipping on time with reports from the inspector at different production milestones."
2. Product inspection can reduce time needed for rework
It’s clear that product inspection can give you a good look at the state of your order at the factory – as if you were standing on the line yourself. There are a couple ways that regular product inspection can reduce time needed for rework.
Rework needed after shipping
The fact that inspection can save you time on reworking defective product yourself may seem obvious and straightforward. But it’s the rework you have to do after receiving defective goods at a distribution center that is the most costly.
For one thing, you may not have the necessary equipment, skillset or tools to repair or rework the goods yourself. And if you are capable, the cost of labor to rework the goods is usually much higher than if the factory had carried out the rework, which they will typically do at no extra cost.
Product inspection, particularly at the final stage of production before shipping, can save you both time and money you might otherwise spend on rework.
Rework needed before shipping
Final inspection of packaged goods almost always reveals quality defects. But many times these defects are introduced to products well before the goods are packaged."Final inspection of packaged goods almost always reveals quality defects."
Let’s say your inspector finds that the felt hats you’ve ordered are missing a label that should have been sewn inside each one. The factory may be able to unpack the goods, sew in a label and repackage without delaying shipping. And you can breathe a sigh of relief.
But what if those same felt hats have the wrong logo printed on the front? This would be a serious issue that would likely delay the ex-factory date.
If product inspection was carried out earlier in production, ideally at the logo printing stage, you would’ve discovered the wrong logo was being printed. Then you could address this issue with the factory right away, rather than having the whole order compromised and not knowing until the hats had been finished and packaged.
Finding issues earlier helps you save time in resolving them. And the sooner you resolve any product issues the sooner your goods will be ready to ship.
3. Improving overall communication
An overwhelming number of importers report difficulties communicating with suppliers and the delays caused by their misunderstandings. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Importers are often working with a supplier half a world away that speaks a very different language. Cultural and legal differences can complicate the business relationship even further (see 3 Ways to Improve Communication with Suppliers).
Product inspection helps to improve communication between importers and their suppliers. Better communication often helps the supplier meet or exceed the importer’s expectations for shipping and product quality. How is that?
"Product inspection helps to improve communication between importers and their suppliers.
Western-managed, locally-hired inspectors
Your typical product inspector is usually locally hired. This means they have no problem communicating with factory management and staff during inspection in the local language. Depending on whether you hire an inspector internally or hire an independent third-party inspector, that person might be managed by a combination of local and Western staff that speak the local language as well."Your typical product inspector is usually locally hired."
So when you receive an inspection report for the promotional hats and glasses you’re manufacturing in Taiwan you can be confident that any haziness about the results can be cleared up quickly. Your inspection contact can voice your questions or concerns to the relevant inspector directly and get back to you quickly with answers or suggested solutions.
More clarity and faster response
Let’s say the promotional glasses you’ve ordered have a small medallion glued into the frame to showcase a logo. A product inspection report shows that the medallion is easily falling out of some of the frames. Naturally, you want to know if the problem lies in the glue being used or in the gluing process.
By getting your message to the inspector quickly and clearly, your inspector advises that the issue is related to the gluing process, which allows you to address this with the supplier right away. Factory staff can then make a simple adjustment to the gluing method to prevent the issue from recurring. Alternatively, a misunderstanding could have led to changing the glue itself and regluing all of the medallions in the order, which would have likely led to shipping delays.
Product inspection illuminates the situation at your supplier’s factory and limits the chances of having your message misinterpreted and the delays that can follow.
Importers commit to delivering a certain product at an acceptable level of quality within a given deadline. As an importer, the success or failure of your business hangs in the balance of satisfying your commitment to your customers. And regular product inspection, for many importers, is one way of ensuring that commitment is met.
We’ll leave you with a quote from English writer Douglas Adams (1952-2001): “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Don’t work with a supplier that has this attitude! Let product inspection be the lighthouse that guides you safely to shore.
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