Following are the main questions we have been asked over the years. If you do not find the answers you are looking for please don't hesitate to get in touch.
How can I be sure the quality standards will be met?
We deal with a sample and with companies who already made the right product now, or if new, similar products. This alone makes a great difference. The sample and specification become the agreement. Money changes hands on that agreement.
Where agreed we have the items inspected independently before shipment, which adds to peace of mind. There is always risk, but from experience, most issues occur where the specification is either not clear enough, or a client retrospectively introduces a technical or packing detail that they assumed everyone knows.
The Far East is full of good business people and they understand the value of the second order, things can go wrong, but then people come to us in order to remove or reduce that risk.
How long will the goods take to reach me?
Typically 2 to 3 months from order. Occasionally less, but rarely more. Production is usually 20 – 30 days, and shipping including loading and unloading is typically a 5 – 6 weeks.
Won't you also sell to my competitors?
We are prepared to sign a confidentially agreement, stating we will not sell anyone the same product for at least a year or longer after the last shipment for you. We are in the business of building up long term relationships with clients, not merely selling products, so we do not sell on the same products to others
How much do I need to buy?
Whilst everybody assumes you have to buy in FCL (full container loads), many orders are less. FCL are the best value for shipping, however volumes can be two cubic meters and upwards. The only aspect understandably is cost of shipping as a proportion of the goods - the smaller the amount, then the higher the shipping cost is as a total percentage of the deal, and the less the savings may be. Value is far more relevant than volume. Typical deals are £8,000 - £12,000 but we find manufacturers are not interested if the spend is less than £3,000 - £4,000.
You deal with China, aren't they rogues?
Not at all. From experience, I think there are more Western crooks than Chinese. There are always those after the easy fortune, the con men, but there are ways to find a sincere supplier. There are crooks in all countries, India, China, America and the UK. Our job is to find them out before we part with any money.
What currency do I deal in?
If the cost is delivered, then understandably it is in your local currency £, $, € . If the client is worried about currency fluctuations, then it can be in RMB, the Chinese currency if you wish.
Can we source quality items?
China's infrastructure is well developed, as is their top level of education. They can make items of the best quality completely, and do now. However, quality is related to price, and so just because you have experienced poor quality does mean good quality cannot be bought, it might mean the customer was only prepared to pay 2/3rds the prices needed. China does make fake x-boxes, but they also make the genuine ones. The only difference is what their respective owners specified and were prepared to pay for.
Won't they just copy my product?
It does happen, but it is not as likely as people think, and steps can be made to remove the risk. It comes down to how easy it would be for the factory to sell it to other people, how many you buy, and if we think it to be a problem, but don't take the practical steps to avoid it. If the factory help us make it, we don't buy very many, it's a recognizable item and they do worldwide exhibitions, then indeed it is probable your item will be displayed, and if someone wants to buy loads, then they night weaken. If it is a factory who just makes parts, has no idea what the item is, and we get packaging and assembly done else where, then no. The Chinese are good business people, and don't like to jeopardize repeat orders, but equally an open door may temp a saint, so we take measure to keep the door shut.
What products typically come out of China?
Pretty much anything. However, the better question is what is worth buying from China, and then the simplest rule of thumb groupings are items which – have a high tooling cost, high labour element, pack well and can ship tightly. For example, high volume plastic items especially for the building industry, are often as cheap from Germany as from China, yet the Germans give payment terms, and it takes a few days to drive them here. Anything can come from China, but it is only worth considering the items which it makes financial sense to look for.
What will you inspect?
Only what is important to have right. So if everything is important, then we check everything.
In practical terms, few factories want to risk items being rejected, so we do three things-
- We ask you what is important, and if poor quality were to show up, where will that be, and we include that in our list.
- We tell the factory what we are going to inspect, so they know what to pay attention to.
- We might inspect, get a sample from the batch flown over, test something with them, what ever is practical and agreed to do, so that we get what we want.
However, please be clear, if you the client do not make clear what is key in the specification, want the very cheapest price, and cannot direct us as to what is crucial to inspect, then the Chinese will make to a level that they think is acceptable. If that turns out to be different to what you in hindsight realise you should have asked for, then you have to take some responsibility here.
What if, despite all the assurances, the products are not up to scratch?
The agreement is with the sample and specification. If in the unlikely event the product is different to that, then we work to resolve the problem. Be it replacement goods, correction of the product, reduction in price. What is the most practical solution for both parties? Business is always a relationship game, and almost all of our clients are after repeat orders, so they want to find a practical solution going forward. We never walk away. This is a major benefit of dealing with Product Sourcing Services.
What can go wrong?
Assumptions and timings. If it was not agreed for the goods to be packed in 50's then they may come in outers of 20's or 100's. Was it agreed they are wrapped in paper, sealed bag or left loose? – it is the little details that we work hard to quantify, but the assumptions are a key risk. The other is a slight risk of delay in shipping, or slight risk of damage in transit.
Customs are understandably a rule unto themselves and can have a delaying capability as can the weather.
We insure all goods, inspect before shipment, and use the best of our experience to check all that we can, but as mentioned it is the small oversights that will catch us out if anything will. The sample not inspected correctly, so for example a glue fails in heavy use, but it was as per sample, however the sample was never tested heavily. Rust from salt air on painted goods where no antirust paint was specified. Inadequate packing when something heavy next to them in the container moved. An assumption that the part will also fit other models, slightly different to the main one tested, because it does with those from the existing supplier.
As you can see, there can be a range of potential issues, which is why we are perfect to help you, we have experience to guide matters. But even where there are issues which are grey as to who is at fault, we work to resolve any problems, and move on to get the next shipment perfect.
Do I really need you?
Well of course not. People deal directly all the time, mostly with few or no issues. But it is that risk / reward ratio that is important. What is the cost if something goes wrong, and what is the value of having a safe pair of hands?
Most companies could make do without ever using a solicitor, but is it best use of management time to go through the learning curve, and what is the cost if it goes wrong?
For those who choose to use a professional – Product Sourcing Services is the China Sourcing expert you can trust. If you did not find the answers you are looking for please don't hesitate to get in touch.