Guide to Successfully Ordering and Approving Samples from Potential Suppliers
Be 100% Sure Before You Approve the Final Sample
The quickest way to ensure your new, exciting product gets poor reviews and suffers a high return rate is by not carefully examining and testing the factory samples that you received prior to production. Guaranteed.
Ordering Product Samples from a potential supplier should be standard operating procedure for every business. This is especially true for anyone importing from China. Chinese manufacturers are notorious for promising they can make anything, and then figuring it out later. This all has to do with the cultural differences of China vs. most of the Western world. It’s something that importers need to be keenly aware of, and why ordering, testing, and inspecting the factory samples of your potential product are vital to the success of that product.
You also need to be aware of the different types of samples that suppliers may offer since there can be major differences between the various types. For reference, head to our recent post that details the samples types, differences, and which type would best suit your needs.
The Biggest Misconceptions
One of the biggest misconceptions of the sample approval process is that buyers often think that the final production of their product will be inherently better quality than the samples they receive. This is 100% NOT true. The samples the factory ships to you will be the exact product they manufacture in your production run. Again, this is why it is of the utmost importance to rigorously inspect and test the samples you are sent. This is the only way you’ll be certain the supplier can produce a product that meets your exact requirements and specifications.
If any details of the sample are unsatisfactory, you need to document them with as much detail as possible and request another sample. However, be aware that 1 of 2 things will usually occur at this point.
- The factory agrees they have the capability to make the changes. While this is the ideal outcome, it will mean a possible delay in your timeline, depending on what needs to be changed on the product. Again, this is why having a comprehensive product specification sheet is fundamental to the success of your product.
- The factory may tell you they can’t make the product to your new requirements. If this happens, it’s time to decide if you want to work with the factory and agree on something they can produce, or if you’d rather look for a different factory who can make your product to your desired specifications. If you find the same answer from multiple factories, it usually means that your product can’t reliably be manufactured to your specs.
Analyze, Test, Inspect and Repeat
We can’t stress this point enough: The sample you approve will be the exact product that the supplier manufacturers for you. As such, the onus is on you to make absolutely sure that the quality, colors, materials, operation, and safety of the sample are exactly what you want the factory to mass produce.
The customers who conduct real-world testing and meticulous inspection of their samples will always be happier with their final product than the customer who gives it a quick glance and a cursory check of function. Make sure you fall in the latter group! Ordering a production run is usually your largest expense. Once you give the sample final approval, and the factory signs off on it, the opportunity to change specifications no longer exists without either a production delay or a significant expense…often times both!
If, for example, your product is a hose sprayer, make sure to test the sample on various hoses and under varying water pressure. This ensures that the threads will fit the hose in your country and will also reveal any leaks. Take the sprayer off and on again as many times as you think you’ll need to discern the quality of the connection and the absence of leaks. This is also the time to check all of the spray patterns to ensure they not only work but represent the type of pattern the label suggests. Some buyers will take their unit apart to perform a quality check on all materials, adhesives, connections, and parts. The more thorough you are during this stage, the better chance of your product being high quality and adhering to your exact specifications. A little time and money spent during this phase can potentially save thousands of dollars down the road!