I have always wondered how international buyers can still order from Chinese factories without any background check or goods inspection. I even saw that from experienced buyers that rely on their instincts or believe that a long-term relationship will prevent problems.
From my experience, I can say that you’re never totally protected when you order from China. Chinese factories are 100% focused on cost and margin. If you think you get a great deal, be careful. The factories will often find a way to make as much money as before. They will change a part of the raw material that is invisible on the final product or use cheaper accessories or manage fewer people to handle your order or all of the above. This can seriously harm your products and your business.
The risks can go from mild to severe, depending on how you prepare yourself. Here are a few questions that put things into perspective and can prevent the worst.
How did you find the supplier? Did you do a background check? Have you audited them? Have you visited their factory? Do they even have a factory to visit? How are they organized (sales department, production dept., inspection dept., etc.)? Did they give you a factory address or only an office address?
This is a basic and extremely important checkup. This will allow you to avoid purchasing from scammers or individuals with no experience or no real link to the factories. Consider a third-party Supplier Audit.
Communication with the Supplier
Do the sales speak English? Is the communication easy? Do they understand what you want? Have you explained clearly your order details? Are they available on the phone? Do they have a company email? How knowledgeable/experienced are the sales?
Communication’s quality can have an impact on product quality. Problems can appear from misunderstandings, like a wrong date or a forgotten important product detail. Consider getting help from a professional sourcing company.
Did the supplier give you all the details of the products? Are their documents clear and complete? Can you get HD pictures? Are the purchasing conditions (incoterm, payment terms, etc.) clearly indicated on all the documents? Did you get technical details of the products? Is everything (all product details, production dates, quality level, etc.) clearly indicated on their PI?
Getting 100% of all the product details on paper is crucial when ordering from Chinese factories. Firstly, it helps you recollect and verify all the order details. Secondly, it sets the ground for efficient purchasing conditions negotiation and most importantly for quality levels that you require on your order. Quality is not universal. Do not assume a Chinese supplier will match your quality level without a proper explanation. They produce similar goods for different countries (Russia, South America, North America, Europe, India), and all of them have different quality standards. Consider getting help from a professional sourcing company.
Did they give you all the production dates (order raw material, start to manufacture the final products, internal inspections)? Are they willing to let you see the production line pictures? Have they organized an inspection of your goods? Will they send you a QC report? What are the conditions if the products have defects?
A better knowledge of the production conditions will help you or your third-party inspection partner to plan the QC efficiently and according to your shipment schedule. Consider a third-party Inspection (DUPRO/FRI/Container Loading).
All these questions, and must be dealt with BEFORE the production starts, better yet, even before you pay the deposit because everything here will have an impact on the inspections preparation and outcome. The necessity of checking the supplier and inspecting the goods depends on the purchasers’ expectations. For those who value the goods purchased in China and who want to get the most out of the sales, should seriously consider having a third-party specialist to control their suppliers and the goods before, during and after the production.