By Wayne Zhang
This product is horrible, and the quality is just bad, I get requests for returns all the time! Customers are writing bad reviews. I am losing money. I am losing my business standing. Where did I go wrong? I am ruined!
Nope, this is not a prologue to a horror or a Halloween story. This is real life, the real life of a person who sources from China. This is real, and it happens every day. People source products and they do everything right except one thing: they do not do the final inspection before the goods are loaded into the container.
So, for you not to be one of those unlucky people who lose their money, but rather appear in the rank of the success stories, I suggest you keep on reading. You, for yourself, will understand the importance and procedures of “the last inspection”.
Final random inspection: who, what and how to check
I seemed to have missed one of the “W” questions in the title, and that is why do you need to do the final inspection at all? Well, most of the people conduct several inspections when it comes to sourcing from China, and those are very smart people. Quality of your product can be impaired at every stage of the production process, and that’s why you basically need to be a hawk. You can learn more from this article. A lot of people employ freelancers, trading companies and agents to do their bidding and if you find the right person or an organization your life will be a lot more relaxed.
So, conducting the final inspection means checking the quality of the products right before they are loaded into a container or on a truck that takes the products to the container. Meaning the quality inspector will be the last person to touch the products and check the products before they will arrive at the final destination. We will talk details and guidelines of the final inspection in minutes.
(1) Who should do the inspection, who should check the quality of your product?
Well, almost every Chinese factory has a quality control manager on staff. But in reality, that doesn’t mean anything. Yes, this person does check the quality of the products at some factories better than at the others. On most of the occasions, factory quality control should be rechecked by a person that you trust. That person can be any individual that you know or will find through internet resources.
Trading companies usually have more people on staff whose job is specifically control of your products’ quality. Agents can also be very experienced, but as most of the agents do everything from finding a supplier, getting the quotations and conducting the inspection, just like Qulito is doing, they are not as experienced regarding hours they clocked in performing the job.
You can also search an inspector on Upwork, Freelancer or other similar sites. There are so many Chinese people looking for a part-time job on there. This is the cheapest method. But they maybe not as professional as you expect if you do not train them first.
Finally, you can come to China (unless you already live there) and perform the inspection yourself. No one knows your product better than you!
(2) Now we need to see what actually do we need to inspect.
First of all, I suggest that the inspection takes place only when 100% of goods are packed and are ready to be shipped out. Usually, the final inspection will be conducted in the warehouse that belongs to your supplier and most of the time it will be located at the factory premises or nearby.
The first action to be taken is to calculate the total quantity of MC’s (master cartons) that are available. The reason is simple. Some factories pack up the products that have no defects and present them for inspections, whereas they hide away the rest of the order somewhere before shipment. So, make sure the number of MC’s is as per your order.
Next, let us check all the markings on the MC. The common information that is usually displayed is the size of the MC, GW (growth weight), NW (net weight), item number, the quantity of products in that one carton. Number of pcs (pieces) per master carton should be the same as was stated by the supplier before. Otherwise, the total number of your products might be wrong. Not only that, but it might affect the weight of the products.
Let me explain in more detail, every time before your products are shipped from China to anywhere in the world you give shipping companies, an estimate of the size of the carton/cartons you will be sending, total weight and cbm size (cubic meters). If one of the specification will be wrong, the shipping price can increase substantially, or your goods won’t be shipped at all until all the information is synced.
When you check the data that is printed on MC you need to make sure it is correct as well. It should be identical to the information provided to the supplier and also it should be true. Means the QC should have a ruler and measure the MC and weigh it with goods in it.
Cartons are counted and checked time to move to the selection process. Cartons need to be randomly selected and opened for the inspection. I have seen factories that produce shoes that had orders that accounted for 3,000 large cartons. They were stacked up to 5 meters high, and god knows how much space that took, but we needed to check the goods. So, you tell the factory 4th row from me, 5th carton from the bottom and they have to dig it out.
Random inspection means you select the MC’s randomly from places that are hard to reach or easy to reach or anywhere, that’s the point, need to select randomly. How many cartons to select is up to you, there are tons of guidelines out there that can be useful to you.
So, you got your cartons, and it is time to check the goods. On this, it is hard to give a guideline as every product is unique. If you have a trusted person or a party conducting the inspection make sure to tell them exactly what to check. Even better is to make a list that the QC can use. Not only that but make sure that your representative has the sample that both you and factory have agreed on. He/she can use this sample to see if there are defects in the mass production.
Post inspection action
Of course, everything depends on the outcome of the said inspection. In all my years of practice, 80% of orders were produced in the way they were supposed to be and according to requirements. Every order will have some percentage of goods that are not 100% according to the sample. But as you know a certain amount of discrepancies can be accepted.
If all went well, your inspector will contact you and give you the report that goods should be shipped and that’s great. What do you do on those occasions when the inspection and container loading is on the same day and pretty much at the same time. So, basically the goods are being checked, and a guy with a truck and container is standing there and waiting for it to be loaded. Trust me, this happens. Well, then you need to give authority to your inspector to make the final call without your approval (in case you cannot be reached) “to ship or not to ship”.
If too many damages and defects were found then the decision should be simple, goods should be sorted and redone. Most of the factories will accept that because they are with you at the inspection and they know when they are in the wrong. Usually, all the cartons will be opened all the products taken out and inspected every piece again. Afterwards, the supplier will substitute the bad items for good ones.
This is not pleasant or something that would make you happy, but it happens. Additionally, it can be very time-consuming, so make sure to conduct a quality inspection at several production stages if possible.
You know why
Final inspection is one of those things that in sports is called “Hail Mary”. Small chance of success made by a desperate attempt and inspection before loading reminds me of that. This is the last chance you have to make sure your products are what you ordered, and you desperately rely on other people or yourself to make that determination. If all goes well your chances of success will increase with every sale you make.
You know why you need to perform quality control because you need to control the quality of your goods. You need to stay on top of every process your goods are going through, and you need to be persistent when that is required. I had people telling me that I can’t inspect because this would ruin the trust between supplier and buyer. Supplier literally said, “if the customer wants inspection that means he doesn’t trust us how can we work together”. And after somehow arranging for QC to happen, I have seen damaged goods everywhere, and it was time for my trust to waiver. Do trust, but make sure to check as this is your investment, your money, and your product.
Wayne Zhang is the founder of Qulito Sourcing, a China-made products sourcing agent. Qulito helps worldwide importers and purchasers source from China.