Importing various promotional items can be a critical activity. Buyers often come into contact with dozens of different suppliers located in developing countries in Asia. Even worse, they often choose suppliers based on price alone.
We have conducted thousands of quality control service providers that checks on promotional products and have compiled a list of the ten most common defects.
1. Percentage of visual defects in promotional products
Most products are handmade in Asian factories. The quality of artistry and finish of the product is rarely perfect. And, for Western consumers, many defects are an indication of poor quality.
In almost 30% of cases, the percentage of defects in the product exceeds the threshold. In most cases, the buyer requires the factory to remanufacture the product because it cannot be sold in its current condition.
2. Marking and labeling
Labeling is often the most critical aspect of a promotional item. However, when an order is in production, the buyer’s requirements are not always met. For example, the colors may not be correct, or the placement may not be consistent.
Errors in general marking and shipping marks on cartons are also common. Often, they are printed incorrectly or placed in the wrong position.
3. Operational testing
A lighter may not work, a bag’s zipper may resist everyday use, or a calculator may not perform its most basic function.
The fact that a product works as expected is the most basic of all. Unfortunately, if you place a one-time order and negotiate the price hard, you can’t assume that the manufacturer will deliver on its promises.
4. Test according to the regulations of the importing country
If you are buying a sweater for a child, are you considering limiting the length of the neck cord? If you are buying flip-flops, have you notified your supplier that you need an ingredient patch?
The EU has developed an impressive set of consumer protection guidelines. Make sure you follow them, otherwise be prepared for severe consequences (confiscation of the product by customs or legal action if the product is placed on the market).
5. The color or general appearance of the product
The average Chinese engineer is not aware of the consequences of using the wrong shade of red on your product. However, if several products from different suppliers are placed side by side on a store shelf, it can be pretty significant. This is a frequent cause of disputes and misunderstandings.
6. Internal packaging
If the gift box doesn’t look nice, has a typographical flaw, or has been crushed in transit, the accompanying product often needs to be discarded. Be sure to explain this to your manufacturer.
7. Export packaging
Many importers forget to specify export packaging requirements. They tell suppliers, “you can use your standard packaging materials,” which in the mind of the factory manager means “you can buy the cheapest cardboard box you can find.”
A standard procedure used in pre-shipment inspections is the “carton drop test.” The inspector will check whether the product will break if the carton is dropped in transit and whether the carton itself will remain closed.
8. Size & weight
For factories, it is beautiful to save materials during production. For example, a T-shirt can use thinner fabric. Also, a slightly smaller pattern may be used so that a size “L” garment becomes a size “S.”
9. Mismatch of varieties and quantities in cartons
Workers in the factory’s packaging department are the lowest paid and often the least trained. When they have to pack all ordered goods before the container arrives at 2 p.m., the results are not good working in a chaotic environment. Often, the pieces are not measured when they are put into the export carton.
How to avoid receiving a product with these defects?
First, explain what you are asking for, using drawings whenever possible. Don’t leave the choice up to the factory.
Second, make it clear that you approve perfect pre-production samples and want them to be produced to meet these standards. Prepare a piece for yourself and a model for the factory.
Third, send a pre-shipment inspections pecialist to the factory to check the quality. Most buyers do quality control after production is complete. However, if you are dealing with an untested supplier and you have to deliver on time to an important customer, you need to send inspectors during the production process. This also allows you to detect problems on early-stage and seek corrective action from the manufacturer.