China’s skilled labour force is what makes China one of the popular manufacturing hubs for businesses. If you own a business and plan on outsourcing your manufacturing process to China, then you need to do your homework properly.
Knowing what you want from your product
Now, before you go about searching for suppliers to manufacture products in China, you need to first understand your requirements. This will help you communicate better with your suppliers and help them understand your specifications.
Ensure that you have a detailed plan in place. This should include CAD drawings of your product, materials that will be required, and dimensions. If you have any additional requirements, ensure that you mention those also in your plan.
Next comes, searching for the right suppliers. These can be done through:
Trade shows and exhibitions
You can take the help of sourcing sites such as Alibaba, trade fairs or trading companies. Alibaba is one of the popular platforms wherein you can find factories in China. They even have a blacklist which you can refer to if you are sceptical about a supplier you had shortlisted.
Alibaba also comes with an organized category of products to choose from. This makes it easier for you to choose suppliers who specialize in your category.
It is always better to visit suppliers in person to understand their services. The perfect chance to do so is by visiting trade fairs, or exhibitions. Here you can also get introduced to potential suppliers, see samples of their work and build rapport with them.
If you feel that you like the works of the supplier, ensure to ask relevant questions. This will help you analyse further if the supplier can produce the products as per your requirements or not.
If you plan on manufacturing small MOQ, then you can resort to trading companies for your requirements. These are companies that buy products from manufacturers and sell them to you.
After finalizing your suppliers to manufacture products in China, you need to continuously monitor them to see if the products are getting manufactured as per your requirements. Ask for samples after the first order.
You also need to select the right shipment platform to have the products delivered to your customers. If you are using online platforms such as Amazon or Shopify, then you need to ensure your supplier has warehouse facilities to store your product and have them shipped directly to your customers.
You might also need to ensure that your products meet the shipment guidelines of the e-commerce platform that you wish to supply your products. In case you feel to meet their requirements, your products might get rejected, resulting in a negative impact on your business.
Need for quality inspections
Quality inspections also play a crucial role here. You can hire third-party quality inspectors to conduct factory and shipment audits and share the reports with you. Inspections help you to ensure that your products are manufactured as per your requirements and meet the quality standards.
You might want to check their fees. Every company offers a different fee structure depending on a variety of factors:
Type of inspection carried out
Distance from the inspection site
The type of agency you are dealing with
If you are going with small China inspection companies that only do basic checks, then they might charge you a nominal fee. If you want detailed audits, then you might have to shell out more money. So, before signing up with any third-party inspection companies, you might want to determine your budget and the type of inspection that you are looking out for.
If this is your first time working with outsourcing suppliers, this can be a bit overwhelming. In such cases, it is always better to hire sourcing agents to do the job for you. Credible sourcing agents will:
Have good networks that can help you find the right suppliers
Be fluent in Mandarin and can act as a mediator between you and the suppliers
Be good at negotiating cost and MOQ with the suppliers
Conduct quality audits to check for defects in products
Help with logistics and shipment of your products to your customers
Clear custom and other legal requirements as they will have good knowledge of Chinese laws
Searching for the right quality inspection company might need a bit of time and effort on your part. Some of the key factors that you need to take into consideration when searching for quality inspection companies include:
What type of business license do they hold?
Do they have an AQSIQ license?
Are they ISO 9001 certified?
How many quality inspectors does the firm have?
Are their inspectors qualified?
How long have they been in this business?
Can they give any references to their works?
How are the quality inspections carried out?
Ask for their pricing structure to check for hidden costs
Now you might wonder why quality inspection is important and if it is required even if the suppliers are credible. The question to this is yes. No matter how credible or popular your supplier is quality inspections need to be done.
Quality inspections can:
Minimize the risks associated with poor-quality materials
Helps improve your brand image amongst your consumers
Improves the sales boost
Leads to customer satisfaction
Ensures that good quality products are delivered to your customers
It is always better to have a fair knowledge about the type of quality inspection you are planning to do after choosing your suppliers to manufacture products in China. Quality inspections can be of 3 types:
Pre-Production Inspection (PPI)
During Production Check (DUPRO)
Final Random inspection or Pre-Shipment Inspection
Pre-production inspection (PPI) is carried out before the batch production begins. Here, the quality and quantity of the raw materials are inspected before the actual production starts. These types of inspections are carried out when you are working with new suppliers to ensure that the right raw materials are used as per your expectations.
One of the greatest benefits of conducting PPI inspections is that it helps you identify defects in the earlier stages and rectify them at the earliest.
During Production Check (DUPRO), as the name suggests is carried out during the production process. Here the product line and timelines are evaluated to ensure that the entire production process is as per the timeframe stated in the contracts.
Third-party inspection companies might even take samples of semi-finished goods to inspect for defects. In addition to this, the packaging details are also taken into consideration.
Pre-shipment or random inspections are conducted before the final products are shipped. These inspections are carried out to ensure that the products are aligned as per your expectations or letter of credit. These inspections include verification of:
Labelling and packaging
Safety measures taken
Quality inspections can either be Quality assurance or Quality control. Quality assurance majorly focuses on preventing defects by ensuring that your suppliers follow the standard quality protocol.
Quality control, on the other hand, focuses on identifying the defects and is usually done after the production is complete.
It is always better to have a quality control checklist prepared so that the supplier that you have chosen to manufacture products in China knows exactly what you are looking for in your requirements.
Your QC checklist should be simple, yet precise so that the inspectors can quickly glance through it and understand the inspection protocols. Now, the question that will come to your mind would be what you should include in your QC list. Your QC list should comprise 5 crucial components which are:
Labelling and packaging requirements
Classification of flaws
Specifying your product requirements is a crucial component of your QC checklist. If the supplier does not understand what type of materials to be used, the size or dimension of the product, then there is no point in going ahead with the production process.
The QC checklist should also have the labelling and packaging details on it. It should include details such as shipper dimensions, weight, marking, and labelling. Certain products might require them to be tested and certified by labs before they are deemed fit for shipping.
On-site checks on products help you identify defects at an earlier stage and resolve them. The next thing to include in your QC checklist is the defects classification, which can be divided into minor, major, and critical.
Last, but not least, carton drop tests need to be done to check the durability of the packaging before they are shipped. If you are manufacturing electronics, then you need to conduct function tests to ensure that the products are functioning properly before they are shipped off to your customers.
In case of pharmaceutical products, specimens might be given to labs to test for impurities, endotoxin testing, and environmental monitoring to ensure that they are safe and within the specified quality standards.
Having a quality control inspection plan in place can ensure that high-quality products are getting shipped to your customers. This will not only help in boosting your sales but can ensure customer retention.