How to Improve Product Quality With Third-Party Inspections
Recently, a company that makes water bottles and travel mugs had to recall about 5.7 million kids water bottles.
The water bottles, some of which featured cute images of cartoon animals, were recalled because they posed a choking hazard to children.
The silicone spout at the top of the bottle could detach and end up in their mouth, creating a dangerous situation that would strike fear into the heart of any parent.
Product quality and product safety are important for importers. No company wants to face a situation where their products are deemed unsafe or unsuitable for consumers.
Products that break unexpectedly or wear out before they are supposed to can hurt your brand’s reputation, leading to a loss in sales or a deluge of one-star product reviews.
So, how can importers ensure product quality when their suppliers are an ocean away and they cannot be physically present at the factory during production?
One step they can take is to hire a third-party quality control company to conduct product inspections.
Let’s talk about what third-party inspections are and how importers can use them to improve their product quality.
What is a Third-Party Inspection?
A third-party product inspection, as the name implies, is one that is not conducted by the factory or by the buyer. Instead, it is conducted by a neutral third-party quality control services company.
These inspections are conducted on-site at the factory, either before, during or after production.
The most common type of inspection is the Final Random Inspection, also called a Pre-Shipment Inspection. These are conducted once 100% of the products in a purchase order are finished and they are 80% packaged.
A quality inspector travels to the factory and selects products at random, based on the industry-standard sampling procedure called AQL.
They perform a range of tests and checks to ensure that the products inspected are in line with specifications.
Once the inspection process is finished and any defects have been identified, the inspector will give the goods a Pass, Fail, or Hold result.
The results of each check, along with photographs of the products, are put into an inspection report. We’ve provided an example of this report at the end of this article, which you can download for free.
This inspection report is sent to the buyer for review so that they can then determine what corrective action, if any, should be taken.
So, how can importers use these inspections to improve product quality?
3 Ways to Use Third-Party Inspections to Improve Product Quality
Third-party inspections help many importers to get better results from their suppliers, ensure product safety, and improve their brand reputation.
Here are three ways you can use third-party inspections to get similar results.
#1 Conduct Inspections at the Factory to Catch Defects Early
The inspection methods used by inspectors are designed to catch issues with your products before your purchase order leaves the factory.
Once they have discovered an issue, you’ll be able to work with your supplier to deal with it before the products are sent to you.
This is important because, once the order ships, it is normally too late to deal with it and few factories will be willing or able to corrective action at that point.
#2 Use Your Inspection Reports to Gain Leverage with the Factory
When you are sitting at your desk on the other side of the ocean, it can sometimes feel as if you are at the mercy of circumstances outside of your control.
Setting the expectation with your factory that you will periodically conduct inspections helps make it more likely that you will get the result you want from them.
The detailed inspection report provides insight into the status of your order and the factory will generally trust the results of the inspection, as they are coming from a neutral third party.
This puts you in a better position to hold them accountable for their work.
#3 Use the Data From Your Reports to Track Progress Over Time
When you conduct inspections on a regular basis, you now have a clearer picture of how your relationship with a supplier is progressing.
Is their quality improving or getting worse? Are there certain recurring issues that still haven’t been dealt with?
The historical data contained in your inspection results can be useful for supplier development and in helping you to manage factory relationships.
Conclusion: How Third-Party Inspections Will Help You Improve Product Quality
If you want to avoid disastrous product recalls, improve the results you get from your factory, and improve the reputation of your brand, it is a good idea to consider working with a third-party inspection services company like ours.
When you do, you’ll be more likely to catch defects early, gain leverage with your suppliers, and improve the results you get from them over time.
To get a better idea of how these inspection work, we recommend downloading the sample inspection report, below.
Free Download: Third-Party Inspection Report Sample
Final Random Inspections (also called Pre-Shipment Inspections) are an important tool to help importers manage the quality control for their products.
After every inspection, a detailed report is provided that shows the results of each check and provides photos taken by the inspector to give you a close-up view of the condition of the items in your shipment.
Download this sample inspection report to get a clear idea of what is included.