Most likely, your supplier will not be near where you work or live. Dealing with factories from a distance requires a few critical checks and steps. In this article we’re going to cover the top tips for dealing with remote suppliers.
At the end of the day, it is 100% your responsibility to make sure you select a supplier that produces a high quality product.
Even if you go with a reputable supplier there can be production and quality issues. Sometimes a supplier that has delivered 10 orders successfully suddenly has issues on the 11th order.
By taking the time to follow a process for every order you minimize the risk that something goes wrong.
Check The Factory Before Ordering
Get the full address of your supplier and verify they exist on google maps. Google even lets you use street view so you can see if they are at the location they claim to be.
A google search for their name also tends to give you some ideas about their credibility. Ask the factory for their quality control process, if they have shipped your product to your market before.
Check all the pricing, the quality of the samples and products before ordering.
Trading Company or Factory
Most suppliers on the sourcing website such as Alibaba will tell you that they are the factory.
In reality, many of them will be agents or trading companies who don’t own any factory or manufacturing facilities. Even if you visit a factory you may still be dealing with an agent.
An office inside the factory may have 4 or 5 companies all claiming that the factory is theirs. Agents may send you powerpoints of the factory or share photos of the factory on their website, but the whole thing could be fake.
It’s very hard to know if you are dealing with the factory directly or with an agent. You need to use a third-party inspection company to check the quality of the goods for every shipment to make sure that what you’re getting is good.
Price v Quality
Pricing and quality are not always linked. Sometimes the cheapest supplier may also have a much better quality product. The final cost depends on the size of the supplier, how familiar they are with the product they are making for you and many other factors.
When you get quotes, you still have a lot of work to do before you know which supplier will be the best. Just because one factory is more expensive doesn’t mean that their quality is better, but they will tell you it is.
Ask for samples from the cheapest five suppliers that have the best-looking products and then use the different prices to make them negotiate against each other. Tell factory B that factory A is 20% cheaper and ask if they can match the price to get the order.
Be persistent in driving down costs.
You need to stay on top of your order, because late delivery is very common. Do not leave it until the order is about to be ready before verifying that production is on time.
The factory will prioritize larger, more profitable orders and push yours back in the queue. Most likely you’ll be dealing with a junior salesperson who has little power in the factory.
Check regularly with the factory how your order is progressing so you can catch any issues early. If your lead time is 6 weeks – be sure to check in at the halfway point to ensure everything is on track.
The quality of products coming from your supplier is your responsibility.
Once you’ve paid the factory and the goods are shipped, it’s very hard to get the factory to fix any issues. You need to arrange an inspection of the products before they ever leave the facility.
There are dozens of companies that offer professional checks and inspections of products – so that you can be assured you are getting what you ordered.
Visit Your Supplier
Always try and visit any factory you plan to work with before placing the order. If it’s your first time in a factory listen more than you talk. Use the time to watch, learn and then ask questions about the process.
You will even get the chance to see them making products for other companies which may inspire new ideas for you.