Improving Your Product's Quality With Product Specification Sheets When Importing from China Suppliers.
“Made in China” products are often associated with being cheap or, of bad quality. The truth is, you can find almost any product in China in varying qualities. There are high quality factories as well as low quality factories...and everything in between. When e-commerce sellers source and import products from China, they need to utilize every tool available to ensure they are setting themselves up for success.
It’s not uncommon to hear buyers talk of their bad experiences with Chinese manufacturers. However, many of these stories, once dug deeper, paint a clearer picture - many of these buyers lacked or downright failed to implement quality procedures.
A quality plan is crucial and should never be left out of an importers sourcing process. Setting up quality processes achieves smoother production, delivery, and puts safeguards in place.
We are going to go over a very simple tool to assist you in having a strong quality plan.
What is a Specification Sheet?
A product specification sheet is a detailed, concise document that clearly labels all of your products specifications. This document, often fit onto one or two pages, is the ideal tool to assist not only your potential suppliers but also assist yourself in keeping your product specifications organized and clear throughout the sourcing and production process.
Creating A Clear Specification Sheet
Specification sheets don’t have a required template, rather, their intention is to list all the necessary requirements in an organized and easy to understand format for all parties to understand.
While the specification sheet is great for defining the specifications, it can also define the required quality.
Let’s face it - There is no universal definition of “good quality”.
“Good quality” is subjective from person to person. Your idea of “good quality” and your customers will be very different; this will also be true of your manufacturer. With this in mind, it is important to clarify your quality requirements in detail with product specifications.
As a rule of thumb, be as descriptive as you can and list your specifications, imagining your manufacturer as new to the industry. Be specific and include as much as you can to define your product. Picture your supplier as a newcomer to the industry.
You should include possible defects and make your quality parameters very clear — for example “scratch more than 3mm long on the surface of the product will be considered a major defect”. You can use your specification sheet as an inspection checklist later on, once production has finished. I also highly recommend you get your specification sheet translated to Chinese to receive the best results.
The following are a list of tips for writing your specification sheet:
- What is the application for your product?
- What is the product material?
- What are the dimensions? (Ex: thickness, length, width, height)
- Are there any other needs? (Ex: color, wood type, durability, water resistant etc.)
- Compliance standards based on region sold to (ISO, FDA, CE, etc.)
- Machining requirements? (Rough, soft, flexible)
- Every industry will have jargon, terminology and abbreviations. Define as much as you can (a definition section is recommended).
- Wording should be short and direct.
- What is the destination your product being shipped to?
- Dimensions and weight requirements should include tolerance levels.
- Color specifications should be referred under Pantone code.
- Product performance should be included (for example, extreme temperatures and humidity)
- When specific tests are required, standards used to measure precise measurements should be included (Materials, Conditions…)
This may seem like a lot of work, but consider the consequences of not implementing this crucial document. Some manufacturers will take your lack of instructions as an advantage and use cheaper materials to cut down on costs. Do yourself the favor and reduce your risks and provide your supplier with clear product specifications, this will save you a lot of time and costs in the future.
If you’re a Guided Imports client, this is also a document you are more than welcome to send us when you have your product idea ready. I will be more than happy to personally take a look at it and let you know what things we can add to improve your specification sheet. Remember, it never hurts to be overly detailed, as long as you stay organized and concise.