To find good, reliable suppliers in Asia, you need to do more than just search Google or check out trade shows. You’ll also need to inspect their work and make sure the product or service they’re providing is up to your standards. There are several methods of doing this, but here are the main two: pre-shipment inspection and factory audit.
Preparing to source from China
When it comes to getting started sourcing from China, it’s not enough to just find a supplier or factory – you also need to do your homework. You’ll want someone reliable, with a track record of producing quality products at an affordable price and within set deadlines. The best way to ensure you get all of these things is by going through a Pre-shipment Inspection (PSI). In short, a PSI will allow you and your supplier(s) to start working together on your product long before production begins – so that both parties know exactly what they’re getting into. One thing you may notice is that some suppliers offer lower prices than others – but then charge additional fees for things like inspection and certification.
Preparing to source from Taiwan
Before you travel to Taiwan, it’s important that you understand what your suppliers expect from you. For example, many factories require a pre-shipment inspection (PSI) prior to making your purchase. To have everything ready for your PSI, do as much research as possible on your supplier’s product and on their work ethics. Ask other businesses who buy from them if they think they’re reliable and how their products stand up under quality standards; get recommendations for good shipping companies and customs brokers; look at transportation costs based on volume and weight; and find out how long things typically take so that you know when they need to be finished by.
Preparing to source from Vietnam
The first step is preparing for afactory audit, or pre-shipment inspection. It’s an essential part of vetting your potential manufacturers and making sure that your first order turns out well. If you skip it, you may find yourself stuck with several thousand shirts printed on low-quality t-shirts that are too thin or misspelled or from unscrupulous factories who tried to cut corners at every turn. A pre-shipment inspection can cost between $500 and $1,000 but will give you peace of mind and ensure that your money isn’t wasted on dodgy suppliers.
Don’t Choose a Sourcing Agent Out of Desperation
Finding a reliable supplier doesn’t have to be a headache. In fact, it shouldn’t be hard at all if you know what you’re doing. For example, sourcing agents often charge on a per-project basis. So you may not get help after your first order or two with them. You can avoid being overcharged by working with an agent who charges one flat rate for the entire duration of a project—usually anywhere from three months to two years depending on how long it takes them to create your products and fulfill your orders. A reliable sourcing agent is willing and able to provide access into factories that are compliant with Western standards so you know you aren’t using child labor or toxic chemicals in your products.
Under-the-radar places are often better than those near well-trodden trade routes
Finding your way around a new culture, language and geography can be a challenge. And when you have limited resources or time, it’s even more important that you choose an efficient route. You can start by doing factory audits—just make sure they’re not trying to get rich on commissions or simply offering you whatever they think you want. Instead, ask them questions about their work so they can determine what makes sense for your project and your needs. Pre-shipment inspections are also crucial: These provide a critical safety net and will ensure your products come out as planned and don’t run into any last-minute issues before shipment (which is especially common with Chinese factories). The more prep work you do ahead of time, the less headaches and delays you’ll experience down line.
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