What You Must Know About Product Samples

Obtaining a product sample is one step in the process of importing to Australia. The sample will hopefully give you a rough indication of the kind of quality you can expect in the finished product.

It’s important to remember, though, that it’s only a sample. The finished product will rarely be exactly the same and you should not expect it to be.

The sample will most likely have been made under different circumstances to a full production run. Quite possibly it was made by hand, so it stands to reason that it would not be truly representative of the finished product.

Or it could be an accurate-looking sample with hidden flaws in its materials or components that may compromise its strength or functionality.

One way to avoid this happening is to provide the manufacturer with detailed specifications to reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings.

The sample could also be a scam; a better quality product the factory uses as a sample, because the version they produce is inferior.

There may also be genuine reasons why your finished product does not end up the same as the sample you were initially given.

The sample could be a bad example of the factory’s workmanship, produced in a hurry and without much care. This doesn’t necessarily mean the factory does not produce good work, and if you do receive an inferior sample, it may be worth your while to request another sample be sent.

In the same vein, if a factory refuses to give you a sample at all, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are not to be trusted. They may have plenty of work on already and are simply not going out of their way to find more.

Or alternatively, conditions at the factory may have changed since you approved the sample. They may now be using another supplier, resulting in a change in the quality of materials, or they may have stepped up production and are spending less time producing each item.

Always take samples with a grain of salt. Don’t assume that because they’re good, the finished product will also be good, or because they’re bad or non-existent, the finished product will be inferior.

A sample is only an indication and it is much more important to make sure you have procedures in place to maintain quality control during production.

Many overseas factories will cut corners to save money where they can and once you approve the sample and they begin manufacturing your product, there is nothing to stop them reducing quality here and there where it suits them.

Unless you have an import agent representing you on the factory floor, you have no control over the quality of your final product.

Samples are useful in that they give you a broad indication of what your product will be like and allow you to road test it on your customers. But it is just one step in the importation process and maintaining consistency in manufacture is far more important. The more time your agent spends overseeing QC on the factory floor, the better quality your product is likely to be.

See also 5 things about samples every importer should know.

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    About the Author: Adam

    Adam Gilbourne is the Founder and Managing Director of Easy Imex. Since 2005, he has helped hundreds of companies worldwide to successfully import from China. He has a large expertise on product sourcing, quality assurance, and supply chain management.

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