Ten Qualities

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They might offer to remove the untrimmed threads and implement stricter quality controls or revise work instructions to prevent the same defect from appearing in future production runs. But a supplier without accountability is more likely to deflect responsibility.

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They might tell you the quality of the fabric was poor and difficult to work with. Or, if you used a third-party inspector to check the goods, the supplier might accuse the inspector of incompetence or unprofessionalism. Look for signs of accountability as a key characteristic of a good supplier. Most importers understand the importance of looking for suppliers who can actually manufacture the product they want.

In fact, many importers focus so much on production capabilities of a prospective supplier that they overlook other vital considerations. A quality supplier should be able to consistently manufacture a product that meets your requirements. You may not be sure what to look for during a visit or may prefer to avoid the cost of traveling abroad to the factory.

Many suppliers will tell you they can supply the products you need.

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But the best suppliers will allow you to verify claims by visiting or auditing their factory. This second method of verifying production capabilities is less thorough than an audit but generally easier to conduct. You should ideally audit your suppliers and review product samples before mass production. Ask your supplier to send you a product sample for your approval before moving ahead with mass production. You can also send the sample to a lab for testing for further confirmation. A supplier is more likely to be familiar with common quality issues related to your product if they have experience manufacturing a similar product.

You might be able to verify where some suppliers export by checking their Alibaba profile.

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Most factories only specialize in manufacturing a single product type or category. A supplier that claims to manufacture a wide variety of different products is mostly likely a trading company or vendor, not a factory. But you might find prospective suppliers unwilling to provide preferences. This is not uncommon in China due to buyer confidentiality clauses.

A manufacturing giant like Apple will have different standards for their suppliers than a first-time buyer that sells on Amazon. Some suppliers might be more inclined toward developing new products. Others might prioritize reducing their environmental footprint. The key is to find a supplier whose goals align with yours.

Culture fit is particularly important for smaller buyers or those with custom requirements. Some large suppliers will simply be unavailable to smaller importers, due to minimum order quantity requirements. And even if larger suppliers accept your business, they might prioritize other orders ahead of yours, likely leading to frequent production delays. Suppliers with a customer profile similar to your business will be better equipped to meet your requirements. A willing to work with you and prioritize your requirements is a vital characteristic of a good supplier. Language and cultural barriers can present real challenges for importers looking for suppliers overseas.

Effective communication can prevent a variety of problems ranging from production delays to product nonconformities. This first mark of effective communication is obvious. Communication problems often arise from the way a supplier communicates, rather than language difficulties. But instead of directly notifying you right away, your contact may understate the delay or wait for you to ask about it yourself related : 3 Cultural Barriers You Must Face for Effective China Quality Control.

The best suppliers are open and direct. They know you may have made promises to your own customers. If they need clarification about requirements, they ask for it. Third-party inspection has become a standard requirement for most importers manufacturing in Asia. Some suppliers will try to ship the goods quickly before you have a chance to raise concerns. Such a supplier may be trying to hide an issue from the you. Outside oversight can actually help the factory by:. The best suppliers typically book inspections on time and assist inspectors on site. If problems are found during inspection, they provide objective feedback and advise how to resolve issues.

The same suppliers are also open with their internal documentation and processes during audits related : 4 Keys to Smoothly Introduce Third-Party Inspection to Your Factory.

Ethical sourcing has made its way into the spotlight. As larger brands have made headlines in recent years for social compliance violations in their supply chain, countries have taken steps to outlaw goods made with forced labor. By choosing to work only with the best suppliers that meet popular social compliance standards , you can verify that:.

And disregarding ethics entirely could lead to problems down the road for your business. Aside from ethical compliance, importers need to ensure their supplier complies with laws in both their manufacturing country and their target market.

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Communication is not top-down or unidirectional. It's essential to be a good listener. Invest the time to get in the arena and listen to your team. Don't focus on what your team can do for you. Focus on what you can do for them - and how you can work with them to advance the goals and mission of the organization. Not only can you help achieve better outcomes, but also you can gain credibility with your team when you demonstrate your technical expertise. You must collaborate across the organization.

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You have expertise that someone in another group can use. They too have skills that can benefit you.

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