Working with a good sourcing agent can be advantageous for your company. They can help you locate quality factories and save you money. They can also play the middleman between you and your chosen factories.
But should you rely on them for quality control?
In most cases, probably not. You see, a lot of sourcing agents say that they will do quality checks but often times they don’t have the necessary specialized knowledge. Often, sourcing agents aren’t prepared to do proper inspections which can affect the consistency of their quality control efforts.
Are They Really Going to be Consistent?
For a sourcing agent to perform inspections, they need to have the time and resources to conduct them. You are likely not their only customer. They are working with multiple factories in different cities and provinces.
It’s not realistic to think they will go to Dongguan for an inspection today, then Wuzhou for an inspection tomorrow.
Quality control is not their source of income either. It’s very possible that they will let things slide, especially during their busy weeks, months or seasons.
If you want to ensure the quality of your products, you need to be performing inspections on every single shipment. Otherwise, things can slip through the cracks.
Remember that just because your most recent shipment was fine, doesn’t mean the next one will be. Issues can pop up at any time.
It’s not just consistent inspections that are necessary, for quality inspections to really be effective, your inspector needs to follow the correct methodologies.
A Sourcing Agent Probably Won’t Follow Proper Inspection Methodologies
Every industry has its standards. In the quality control industry, AQL (Acceptable Quality Limit) levels are an accepted international standard for most consumer products.
AQL levels help you determine, in a statistically valid way, exactly how many units need to be inspected in each shipment.
Your sourcing agent might think it’s ok to just walk into the factory, open up a random number of boxes and call it a day.
The company inspecting your goods needs to follow the AQL standard. If they don’t, there is a much greater risk of quality issues going unnoticed.
Aside from just knowing how many units to inspect, they need to have a well-defined methodology for determining what to look at.
Have you defined what would count as a major defect, minor defect or critical defect? To learn more about defect classifications refer to this blog.
For example, a large scratch on your product would be major. A slight color difference might be minor. A sharp edge capable of cutting someone would be critical.
Defining defect types is an important aspect of AQL. A quality control professional will help you define these different types of issues and know how to take appropriate action for each one.
Most sourcing agents will not follow the industry standards, leaving you at risk. Aside from skirting quality standards, agents may not be totally objective.
A Quality Inspector Should Have a Totally Objective Viewpoint
In order for the inspection process to be effective, you need to have a neutral third party doing your inspections.
Sourcing agents develop relationships with factories based on mutual benefit. So, they may not be as objective as they need to be. They will not always have your best interest in mind.
When your sourcing agent visits the factory they are visiting a friend and business partner. They’re there to catch up and talk about other business they have together.
When a third-party inspector visits, he’s there to hold the factory to task.
A third-party inspector will be professional and thorough. They will only have your best interest in mind. And they will work to ensure that no issue goes unnoticed.
Sourcing Agents are Great, But…
Sourcing agents can be great at what they do, helping you track down factories for your product. But sourcing and quality control don’t always mix.
If you want to get the best result, in terms of quality, inspections should be done by a third party.
A third-party inspection company will help you overcome the problems that arise from relying on your sourcing agent inspect shipments. They will be more consistent. They will follow international-standard methodologies. They will have a much more objective point of view.
Remember to always hire a third-party company to ensure the quality of your product.
By the way, If you’re looking for a third-party inspection company, we can help! Contact us for more information.