The year 2007 has been rythmed by numerous international scandals linked to the poor quality of Chinese products that have been exported worldwide. The strong presence of medias, added to the people ‘s tendancy to think « Chinese product = bad quality » can’t help it but just demolish the general image of Chinese products, and a fortiori the image of the Chinese manufacturers who are at the source of these productions.
Meanwhile, an experimented buyer would have noticed that it has been 3 years that the general quality of Chinese products has phenomenally jumped forward. Tighter international norms of security for products, added to the aggressivity of commercial competition among Chinese suppliers from a same sector, have left the factories with no other choice : price and delivery time can no longer be the only factors of decision for foreign buyers.
Generally speaking, one defines the good quality of a product by its ability to positively respond to some criterias of functionality, eventually aesthetics, and of course of conformity with the necessary norms of security of the product. But watch out ! The good quality of a product can also be defined by the fact that each of all criterias is reaching the level of satisfaction wished by the company that purchases it with the goal of importing and distributing it on a specific market. All countries not having the same level of quality requirement for a similar product, this is finally very subjective, and we will only talk here about general objective criterias of quality.
What do we usually look at when we want to certify an item if made of good quality ? We mainly look at :
- Product functionality : can it be correctly used for its original function ?
- Its design and finish : is it the exact copy of the one that the buyer has pre-confirmed when giving his order, and are the finishing details in accordance with his criterias of aesthetism ?
- Its solidity
- Its packaging
- Its correspondance with established norms of security
If during mass production and before the goods loading in the container the good quality of the goods is validated, the supplier gains the trust of his client. As curious as this sentence might sound like, the client must, as a duty, tell his Chinese supplier that, if quality is validated for the first order, then he will be tempted to give him later a second order. More and more, the Chinese start to get, as us, a long term vision of business with their one and each customer, therefore it is pretty good to pre-confirm it with this sentence – unfortunately you’ll only be able to verify it after your first mass production is started. It is important that the manufacturer understands that if he succeeds in satisfaying his client, this one will repeat the order with more trust, less stress, and will be able to consider ordering full ranges of items, negotiate better payment terms etc. All these are part of the concept of “getting the Chinese interested into Quality
In theory, a supplier who has been selected according to a very strict sourcing process is supposed to be able to deliver a certain level of quality (otherwise, why having qualified him…). However, if you have a specific request about an existing product, such as a technical modification, the development of a new range of products starting from a first existing one, or the use of a new technology for mass production of an existing product, it is necessary to get back to Speech Number One with your supplier : what do You consider as quality? In order to be able to do this, you Must masterize the knowledge about your product. It is not well seen by a Chinese that you come in and play the role of the client who controls it all when you actually dont masterize certain aspects of the product you come and talk about. The supplier would feel it, but will not say a word to avoid making you loose the face, and he lets you go forward, foresseing huge quality problems to come… On the other hand, a buyer who knows what he is talking about will gain all the esteem of his supplier, and most importantly will gain his full cooperation for reaching a better standard of quality.
There are several methods and several possible ways to teach your supplier what you consider as being a good quality product. Direct contacts with him are preferred everytime it is possible. Of course, it depends a lot on your geographical location, however in all cases solutions can be brought to solve your issues, but above all to anticipate them.
If you are dealing with your business from China because you are living there or because you are on a business trip, you can simply explain the most explicitly possible to your supplier what you are expecting from him in terms of quality, and why not by taking examples around in his own showroom, or by drawing some details that you could discuss with your supplier’s designer on the spot. If discussions about your goods quality only happen when issues start to come out during mass production, and if these issues are severe, then you will (almost) always be able to go by yourself on the production site and look around on the production lines. During this visit, it is sometimes possible to give a nice theoretical explanation and then show the workers how to do what you want.
If you can’t physically be with your supplier to chat about quality, you could then use the following means :
- Compare on pictures what you consider as being good and bad quality
- By phone, when you are conducting your follow-up meetings (if possible every week), think about repeating again and again your quality requirements
- If possible, offer your supplier a perfect sample that you have found at another potential supplier ‘s, but at a probably higher price, and say you want the same result with the right price.
- Finally, it is highly recommanded to guarantee a perfect result of your mass production by providing in advance your manufacturer with the exact template of the QC report you will use for the QC session of your goods. This way, the factory will be able to make a last quality check before you visit them to QC yourself, and will maybe avoid other bad surprises in the end.
In conclusion, it is an absolute necessity to have your suppliers understand that you work together and with the same objective : satisfy the end consumers. For this, a very close communication is required, as well as the practice of common ways of working in order to succeed.
Sophie Rebibo – Consultante Objectif Chine – email@example.com
Vous partez bientôt en Chine, un projet d’implantation, une négociation à mener, n’hésitez pas à contacter Sophie Rebibo : +86 135 277 07 199
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