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Sofeast is a professional service provider that helps importers work more productively with, and get better results from, their Asian suppliers. Our main presence is in China, Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh.
We are not a “sourcing agent”, but we provide many of the functions of traditional “agents”. Our business model is closer to that of engineering firms and auditing companies — offering competent people’s time and a proven process.
Importers that don’t have a buying office close to their suppliers’ operations and that don’t work with the very best contract manufacturers.
Our clients typically need help on the ground from seasoned professionals, want a clear compensation model (no complex or hidden fees), and solutions to their issues (not just a menu of standard services).
We are organized in three departments that offer different solutions:
- Quality assurance — factory auditing, product checklist definition, product inspections, and related consulting. We offer the same services as the large testing houses, but we don’t just “tick the box and get to the next job”.
- Supply chain management — project managers and related functions (logistics, lab testing management, new supplier screening, procurement, VAT rebate processing…). We are not self-centered, we are very client-centric.
- Product engineering — assistance throughout the development of a new product (NPI/PPAP), including prototyping, with or without assistance of your manufacturer. Our mechanical and electronic engineers can help.
- Supplier performance management — we provide engineers & auditors to train, challenge, and/or support your suppliers’ factories in China, Vietnam, and wider Asia, so they improve systems, processes, & reliability.
Since we are client-centric and we have lined up a broad range of solutions over the past 14 years, we have a long list of competitors.
We are organized in separate departments, and each department aims at being among the best service providers on its market. And, at the same time, you can work with one of our project managers who will pull resources throughout the company in order to match your needs. This is a unique approach that we haven’t seen in “quality control agencies”, in “sourcing companies”. or in “new product development shops”
If you’d like to visit us, this is our main office address.
34th Floor, Hon Kwok Center, Shennan Middle Road, Futian District, Shenzhen city, China
Please always contact us in advance to arrange your visit OR to send us a package.
Invoices and contracts bear mention of our head office (5 Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung, N.T., Hong Kong).
Get full directions to our office by following this link.
Working with Sofeast
Non-food consumer goods (from textiles to electronics) and mechanical products (for industrial or automotive use).
This is obviously a key concern, since our clients often make important decisions based on our reports. We mitigate this risk by avoiding certain psychological profiles in the hiring process, by having a strong code of conduct, through internal management practices, by communicating what is unacceptable to suppliers early on, by rotating inspection staff, through random audits, and by logging many data during inspections. Clients are welcome to ask for more details.
First, we need to know what your needs are, including quantity, quality standard, special requirements, etc. Then, we start our proven process for searching and screening suitable suppliers. From experience, in most cases taking a shortcut is a mistake.
Please keep two things in mind. We don’t get paid a percentage of the order value like a typical agent does. We charge you for our time. And we can’t share with you the information we gathered for other clients (strict confidentiality policy).
Our new factory identification solution for souring suppliers may be suitable for you.
Yes, absolutely. This can be done in various ways. The easiest and fastest is to simply check their registration status with the government. We can do a more in-depth background check. We can also put you in contact with a lawyer who can drill down on the legal side, or a consultancy who can collect a lot of information about their operations. See our due diligence service.
We are a professional services company and we get paid based on the amount of work we provide. This eliminates the temptation of taking shortcuts (‘let’s see if that supplier that we already know can do a good job’) and all the usual suspicions of typical sourcing agents (who often get a hidden commission from the supplier side too).
No. We are a professional services company. We only get paid when our assistance is needed. Once we are no longer needed, there is no need to pay us.
We do not ever hide information from clients, since they pay us for doing the work of gathering that information.
Yes. Our engineers can go to a factory and study the issue (there is usually no alternative to going on site). We can investigate the root cause(s) of the issue, explain it to the manufacturer, and help set up an action plan. Depending on the exact source of the issue, we can often provide guidance along the way to ensure the problem is really fixed and won’t come back. See our production problem management service.
We invoice based on the time we spend, and on any expenses incurred (typically, traveling costs). Different employees’ time is billed at different rates, based on their expertise. The minimum amount of work billed is 1 man-hour for office activities, and 1 man-day for on-site operations.
The most common payment methods are:
- Bank transfer (we require full payment, without any intermediary fee) to our Hong Kong bank account. We also offer local bank accounts in the USA, Canada, EU, UK, and Australia, and an extra 1% fee applies in those cases where you wire to them.
- Paypal (faster and cheaper for small amounts, but it gets expensive for larger amounts. Paypal forces us to change the currency and gets a hidden margin there. The payer is to bear full fees that amount to 2% under “Friends & Family” or 7.5% otherwise)
- Stripe credit card payments. We also accept payments by credit card for many of our low-cost standard solutions. Please inquire if you need confirmation that it is possible in your case. We add the standard Stripe fees (3.4% and 0.3 USD).
We are happy to start working with you without a contract if you want to keep the process ‘light’ on your side (our terms & conditions apply, in any case).
We can provide a service provision contract for those clients who see the potential for long-term cooperation and want their requirements to be documented. (That’s what we always advise buyers to do with their Asian suppliers.)
Please contact us. Typically, Kate, Renaud, or Fabien will respond to you within 10 hours. We welcome your inquiries and always try to respond quickly, however, please bear in mind that we are usually in the China/Hong Kong time zone and may be many hours ahead of your time which could result in a reply on your following day.
Yes, we can! As you probably know, to transfer tooling and molds between your old supplier in China to a new one isn’t as easy as just picking it up and delivering it to the new location.
A source of anxiety
If your relationship with your old supplier is coming to an end for whatever reason it can be an anxious time as tooling/molds are both costly and critical to your IP.
- You need to be careful that your old supplier doesn’t retain your tooling and start making your products with them off the books.
- You’ll also want to avoid creating brand new tooling and molds which could be very expensive.
- It’s tough to handle the transfer and assess the state of your tooling/molds from a different continent (assuming that you’re not in China).
This is where an orderly and methodical transfer will help you.
Sofeast’s 13 step tooling transfer process
Sofeast has performed these tooling and mold transfers for clients many times as we have engineers on the ground in China who work on your behalf to assure that it runs smoothly.
We split our tried-and-tested process into 2 phases:
This process is split into two phases:
- Checking and pickup of molds/tooling from the current supplier & shipping to new supplier
- Delivery & testing the molds/tooling in the new supplier’s factory and completing the transfer
You can read in detail about the entire 13 step tooling transfer process here.
We also wrote about how to package tooling to prevent damage and rust in transit, too!
Get help with your mold and tooling transfer
Are you in a similar situation and unsure about how to proceed?
Sofeast has dealt with this before for many clients.
Just click here to speak with us. We’ll subsequently arrange a consultation to listen to your situation and suggest how we can help you.
You will also enjoy our post which gives you a more top-level view of why and how molds need to be moved: How to move Plastic Injection Molds between China Factories [10 Tips]
In many cases, new Sofeast clients will benefit from choosing to work with a dedicated project manager who we can provide to handle your project on the ground in China. This takes away the stress of battling with time-difference, language barrier, and fire-fighting issues as they arise.
We provide your project manager at an affordable cost. This person acts as your single point of contact and works as a part of your team to assure that your project is kept on track, with costs, delays, and quality kept at an acceptable level.
What will my project manager do for me?
They will do the following to provide you with maximum peace of mind:
- Handle your supplier in person, on the phone, and can even visit their factory in order to keep them on track and add some pressure where required
- Track your project’s progress, reporting to you daily, and checking that the supplier is reaching your standards and following agreed-upon procedures
- Speak both Chinese and English, allowing them to communicate with your supplier and keep you updated at all times.
- Translate documents to assure that you have visibility over what is happening
- … and many more useful actions, too
Read more: You can learn even more about how Sofeast’s project managers can help you by reading this blog post and read the Sofeast client charter to get our guidance on how to work most effectively with your project manager and the rest of our team, too.
What does project management cost?
We bill 38 USD an hour for project management and supply chain-related work. (Amount negotiable for a consistent number of hours every month, on retainer.)
Expenses, if any, are charged separately.
Ready to get started with supplier management?
Many services of our Quality Assurance department are billed based on the number of man-days. A man day includes approximately 5 hours of productive work on site, but also accounts for transportation, lunch break, and the time to study the files before and to complete the draft report afterwards.
Extra expenses will only be incurred if, for instance, a lot of travelling is required – in these cases we are up front with you about these beforehand. We usually invoice only 50% of the man-day cost for a day spent travelling.
Yes, we have created this client charter which outlines what should be expected from each other when working with our project managers from the Supply Chain Management department in order to make projects run as smoothly as possible and get the results you need.
What does Sofeast need to know to get started working with me on my new product development project?
Let’s say you have a product idea that you want to work with us on development and then production. The good news is, we CAN help support at every stage as we have our own in-house R&D team and production/assembly facility.
Here’s what we’ll usually do:
- Usually, we start by signing an NDA for your peace-of-mind.
- We’ll need to know some of the basics of your project, to ensure we are a good fit for your needs:
– Type of product, functionalities
– Have you documented the requirements & specifications?
– Have you been working on prototypes? What is the general status?
– Volume expectation (first batch, year 1, year 3), roughly
– Do you have some evidence of market traction?
Learn more about how we support new product development projects.
Let’s say you’re just starting to design a new electro-mechanical product that is very new and relatively complex and want to outsource its design, testing, and prototyping for eventual manufacturing in China. You are no doubt concerned with IP protection of your idea, too.
Now is probably too early to engage us.
Tips for getting prepared
If you want to develop a new product idea you need to know your target market. We don’t know it as we are probably far away from the market, and that’s not one of our core competences. We can’t help in giving direction to the product designers.
The first steps we usually recommend are:
- Prepare an initial draft of the user manual (how the product works).
- Describe the typical way users will use the product, in what situations, etc. (it will be useful for the designer).
- Work with an industrial designer to nail the outside appearance of your product – typically with a designer in your country.
Here are some reading materials about the protection of your IP rights. We can help you with that, and it is good to plan for it, but you are probably too early in your project.
- How to create an enforceable manufacturing contract in China
- Can Sofeast help me to draft an NNN agreement to protect my IP?
It’s not too early to work with us on vetting your potential supplier/s, though
Since you’re yet to choose a supplier, we can help you in the following ways at this very early stage:
- New factory identification
- Supplier background check
- Supplier legal records check
- Initial factory evaluation audit (IFE)
- Technical quality audit (TQA)
These solutions all constitute a thorough vetting process, giving you as much reassurance as possible that the supplier you choose will be reliable, trustworthy, and capable of fulfilling your requirements.
How Sofeast can help you when your design is more mature
We are good at making the link between a product idea and a good production batch. But the “idea” needs to be somewhat formed. And some of the best ways to make an “idea” more mature are working on the aesthetic design, working on the user manual, etc.
Here are some testimonials from our customers
It may help you to see some testimonials here.
For new/customized products
China offers creators, entrepreneurs, and hardware startups the manufacturing infrastructure to handle new product manufacturing, but it’s the preparation and management of mass production that often leaves hardware startups & SMEs over-budget and running behind on delivery.
One only needs to visit Kickstarter or Indiegogo to see the abysmal proportion of projects that are not delivered on time due to unexpected problems and extra costs.
Inexperienced founders are overly optimistic about the capabilities of Chinese manufacturers and about the ‘readiness for production’ of their new product design.
99% of Chinese manufacturers want to go to mass production as soon as possible, even if this has relatively high-quality risks. They are consistently over-enthusiastic and tend to under-deliver on their promises.
Subsequently, hardware startups don’t see all the risks, don’t challenge predictions and reassurances, and don’t enlist the assistance of people who have done it before. They also have pressure to get first to market and increase the product ROI (Return on Investment) by an early introduction.
We’ve seen people in this position in our home city of Shenzhen and the rest of China get burnt too often, so this is why Sofeast’s production engineers and project managers specialize in new product introduction (NPI) and design for manufacturing (DFM).
First, you will need more than an idea. At the very least, get a first version of the design, as well as a general description (intended use, etc.) on paper.
Second, before sharing the design with anybody, make sure to have a solid agreement in place that targets all the usual risks (not your standard non-disclosure agreement).
Third, you might go in the wrong direction and spend many months working with the wrong type of suppliers and, in the end, get nowhere. Talk with a company like ours. We have worked with a number of people who were in your situation.
You may also like our guide to manufacturing a new product in China.
Yes, for several reasons.
Because you might need to make changes to your design to make it easy to manufacture in China or to have a chance at hitting your budget & timing targets.
👉 Our product engineers are ready to help if you need assistance with product design and development.
And because you need to know what type of supplier you should work with even before starting the search:
- OEM? ODM, already making a very similar product? Contract manufacturer?
- Small, midsize, large?
- Past experience in a certain critical process or technology? In your country’s compliance standards?
👉 Listen to this episode of our podcast about supplier selection.
Yes. And this should be planned from the design stage. Many projects have gone very far into prototyping and even production, only to be dropped because they had to get back to square 1… a new iteration of the design that takes certification constraints into account.
We have experience with the most common types of certification for the US and Europe.
Learn more about certifications and compliance here: Compliance Testing Consulting
What we do most often is a hybrid approach:
- Reviewing your design and providing suggestions
- Doing some of the design, development, and prototyping work
- Letting the manufacturer do what they have strong internal capabilities for
Learn more about how we can help with product design and development here.
Our liability is limited to the amount of fees you paid to us for the particular job that led to that issue.
The most important thing to focus on is to find ways to avoid such issues or to detect them through reviews and reliability testing. As a general rule, all design changes have to be approved by your side and their impact has to be evaluated with a proper testing plan.
You understand that, if we provide services for 1,000 USD, we can’t accept liability for 1 million USD. We are not aware of any company that accepts this level of risk. However, naturally, we will do the design work to correct any mistake for free.
Who owns all the intellectual property generated when Sofeast does design/engineering work for us?
You pay for that work and you own all the resulting deliverables.
The only exception is the templates we have developed over the years — you do not have the right to re-use them.
Yes, we can assist you to draft a bilingual NNN agreement or full manufacturing contract with an NNN section.
‘NNN’ stands for:
- Non-use – the supplier cannot use your IP in any way, for any purpose
- Non-disclosure – the supplier cannot make public your IP or share with others (such as a friend’s factory, or via unauthorised subcontracting) except in very specific cases
- Non-circumvention – the supplier cannot start making your products themselves and selling (usually at a lower price) to steal your customer base
If your needs are in line with these three principles, our NNN agreement is probably a good fit for your company. It is bilingual and calls for enforcement in China, where your Chinese suppliers are more likely to have assets.
(We are not lawyers, but this template has worked well in the past for our other clients. And, of course, you can have it reviewed by your lawyer.)
Some suppliers are reluctant to sign a strong NNN agreement at the quotation stage. Our NNN is very protective but does not call for a set amount of damages (that’s an example of clause that tends to frighten suppliers away).
Then, at a later stage, the NNN section of the manufacturing agreement (when the time comes to plan for manufacturing) is typically stricter, and that tends to be better accepted by suppliers.
You’ll provide us with information about product specifications and components, the intended usage, and the warranty duration (if any), etc, and we use this to make a reliability testing plan suitable for your needs and provide a quotation.
Your products will then be lab-tested and we’ll get a thorough test report to you which includes results and feedback.
Creators, inventors, entrepreneurs, SMEs, and hardware startups can get assistance from our team of experienced project managers and engineers to get into a position where they can successfully launch the production of a new product.
We achieve this by providing a comprehensive new product introduction framework and support throughout.
If you only have the design of your product and you still have all the development work ahead of you, you will generally need to go through these 6 NPI steps:
- 1. Defining specifications
- 2. Feasibility/proof of concept
- 3. Prototyping
- 4. Tooling
- 5. Pre-production prep
- 6. Production
You can explore our NPI process in detail in this video walkthrough:
Quality assurance solutions
Product inspections are one of our most popular solutions and we perform throughout China, Vietnam, India, and SE Asia.
Explore them all on this page, or hit the individual inspections below to go to their page and get a quotation:
If you are a new client, contact us and give us the product details & photos, as well as the order quantity breakdown. We will suggest an inspection plan and, once we know what city the factory is located in, we will confirm a quotation.
If you are a new client, simply log in www.sofeast-booking.com and schedule the inspection. We will get back to you shortly.
If you need guidance on how to use the system to set up your inspection, please read this page.
Follow this link to explore the product inspections that we offer, and learn more about what they include, their cost, and how long they take.
This video also introduces Sofeast’s product inspection solutions further, too.
Here’s a list:
Once you have selected the product inspection that you require, you will need to use our simple booking system to organize your inspection.
You first need to create your company’s private account.
Then, you need to log in at https://sofeast-booking.com, select the right service, and fill out the form.
It is all explained in How To Use Sofeast’s Booking System For Product Inspections.
After we conduct product inspections for you your inspector will provide you with a detailed inspection report which outlines the results.
Take a look at some real sample reports here:
The reports include:
- Inspection checkpoints
- Images (of defects etc)
Product quality inspections can’t guarantee 100% perfect quality, because a product’s quality comes from its initial design, the inputs used, and the production processes, as well as other factors, too. Rather, inspections will help you reduce risks and find quality issues early enough to make a difference (such as before a production run is completed).
We see ‘quality’ as a continually improving concept (a robust Quality Assurance Plan can help this happen) and inspections are a part of that.
But to truly guarantee better quality, work needs to be done at an earlier stage with product design (DFQ), reliability testing, and controlling risks in your supply chain. We can help with reliability testing and lab testing, so contact us to discuss these.
In general, we use random sampling inspections where the inspector will use AQL tables to produce the correct sample number. This allows us to randomly select a sample of products from a given batch which will be representative of the overall quality of the batch.
Not all inspections benefit from this method, though, and so other inspections, such as 100% inspections (where every piece is checked), are also provided.
If you’re interested in defining your own sample sizes, try our free AQL calculator tool to work out your own.
Unfortunately, some product inspections are failed as for whatever reason/s the products don’t reach your quality standard. A positive of this is that you found out before products were shipped to you all the way from China!
We will help you take the next steps to solve the issues. Here’s how…
- You may choose to accept all of the products anyway after receiving the inspection report. Perhaps it’s possible to negotiate a rebate or discount with the supplier?
- You may follow up the inspection with a 100% inspection to filter out the ‘good’ products which can then be shipped to you, while the ‘bad’ products are returned to your supplier for repair, rework, or scrap while you get a rebate.
- The supplier can send staff to our free trade zone facility in Shenzhen to do rework or repair. Alternatively, we can do the repair/rework for you with our own team, too.
As we’re a 2nd party firm, you can expect us to provide some guidance on why the quality issues are occurring and how to fix them in the future. Our supplier performance management solutions can be very helpful if you need help in pushing suppliers to reach your standards.
Yes. The rate we’ll charge for clients who consistently use us for product inspections is negotiable starting at 5 regular man-days per month.
If you are a current client and have any questions about this, contact us or speak with your project manager who will be happy to come to an arrangement with you.
Let’s take a quick example question.
If Sofeast conducts a product inspection on a batch of our goods in China, passes them as reaching acceptable quality, and then upon arrival to us in the USA it’s found that there are unacceptable defects; does Sofeast bear liability for these defects and have insurance?
As a quality inspection agency, we have a cap on our liability in case there are clear signs of negligence in doing our work. Basically, that cap is not high, so it never makes sense to sue us. It’s the same for everybody in the industry.
The only circumstance in which this will change is if you book many thousands of inspections a year through a company like ours. If so, you can probably negotiate for a high liability and force the inspection agency to contract liability insurance. Below that level, no inspection agency will accept to be associated with “insurance”. In this business, we are paid to do a job, not to be responsible for some risks.
For very high-risk products where defects can put lives at risk, we suggest contracting insurance for your company or working with a manufacturer that has a liability insurance policy. Inspection companies can provide some extra assurance here, but not in the form of insurance.
Fundamentally, this is why it is so important to work with good manufacturers and to ensure they have solid systems & processes in order to reduce the risks of ever needing to litigate due to product defects causing dangers when in the field.
Here’s how we can help you reduce risks…
As you know, we conduct product inspections, but in order to reduce supply chain and product quality risks some key parts of our business are:
Yes, we work with you to create your checklist as per your requirements so suppliers are very clear on what’s expected. Explore this affordable solution here.
When we build out your QC checklist we use our in-house IT system to create it.
The QC technician carrying out your inspection then uses the system to input results against your standards, results are fed back to you in a PDF report, and they’re also saved for traceability.
Learn more about how we use our IT system to create your QC checklist.
Do your quality inspectors confirm that the products are fully compliant based on certificates provided by the factory?
We always look at product safety during inspections. For example, we know the difference between Class I vs. Class II for the hi-pot test and their parameters, conduct incline tests for furniture regularly, and know that drawstrings on children garments are dangerous. We perform these kinds of tests every day in our organization.
And of course, we do look at certificates. In particular, for electrical products, sometimes the client sends us a certificate or requests that we check the certificate provided by the factory, and we use it. For example, we look at the CDF (Constructional Data Form) and we compare it with what we see on the critical components (same appearance, same marking, etc.), and that’s quite typical.
However, our inspectors are not compliance consultants. They won’t call the issuer of a certificate or report in order to confirm authenticity or ask for missing results on key standards. That has to be documented in advance by the compliance/quality manager of the importing company. The compliance/quality manager has to know what is required and has to archive all that information in a technical file for years to come.
Importers need to know what the safety requirements of their products are. We do not pretend we can replace your compliance manager.
Factory audits are one of our core solutions and we provide them throughout China, India, Vietnam, and SE Asia.
Here are the individual audits for your information. Hit the links to explore them and get a quotation if you like:
Sofeast quality engineers and technicians can help reduce your quality risks in a preventive manner. They put in place processes that are better controlled, resulting in more consistent quality products. The ultimate goal is to lower your costs and reduce unexpected delays.
Explore this solution further here.
If you work with us on a manufacturing project we commonly provide a customized Quality Assurance program for you covering all of the QA/QC activities that fit your project’s needs.
What is a QA program?
The program will vary from project to project as we understand that your product and needs are unique, but it is a plan that guides activities throughout the manufacturing project in order to reduce risks that could lead to poor quality and will, roughly, include the following sections:
- Defining product requirements
- Planning for compliance, quality, safety, and reliability
- Monitoring during production
- Process improvement
Why you need one…
By implementing a Quality Assurance program you will:
- Identify and reduce key risks.
- Implement preventive measures such as defining product specifications, clarifying your standard and explaining it to the factory staff, finding weaknesses in your product’s designs, documenting a process control plan, etc.
- Stop problems from recurring.
- Assure that your suppliers have a framework in order to maintain great quality.
To get a better understanding of what the QA program includes, take a look at an example on this page and get a quotation for yours if you like:
Supply chain management solutions
Take a look at our supply chain management solutions page, but here’s a list of individual solutions, too:
Sofeast carry out these checks to assure you that a potential supplier is not a ‘scammer’ and has their story straight, is offering competitive pricing, and is a good match for your business.
If you are concerned about being scammed or employing a middle-man posing as a factory to produce your orders (and you should be) then you should run background checks.
Is there a reliable website that tracks costs of cold rolled steel, aluminum, zinc, plastics, corrugate, etc?
Yes, we can help you to source export-ready components suppliers in China, Vietnam, India, or SE Asia.
We’ll need to know information such as:
- Product you want to buy (description and photos/drawings)
- Is it an existing product or completely new?
- Desired quality standard
- Expected volume (amount you plan to purchase)
- Have you already contacted some suppliers of this type of product?
- In what country(ies) will you sell this product?
If you’d prefer to take a hands-off approach, we can also act as your procurement office where we not only source suppliers, but also take delivery of components or products, inspect them, pack and ship them, and pay the suppliers on your behalf.
Yes, we can!
As you know, leaving your tooling, which is an expensive investment and important IP, at your supplier’s facility opens you up to certain issues:
- It may not be stored correctly and could be damaged.
- They may decide to use it without authorization, producing copies of your product which are then shared or sold without your knowledge or agreement.
So in order to prevent your supplier from holding all of the cards, we provide a tooling custody and management solution where we pick or receive your tooling and store it safely and securely at our Dongguan facility, returning it to your supplier only when needed once more.
Compliance and Certification
No, we don’t. It is not at the core of what we do. We only do some tests on some very specific products such as batteries. (We have set up client-specific programs and developed gauges, jigs, and fixtures to carry out specific tests.) We plan and manage certifications and testing for compliance, in outside labs. We also handle many reliability testing jobs, particularly on electronic products.
Costs for air freight are based either on volume or weight using the below formula:
Length (m) x height (m) x width (m) multiply by volumetric factor*
*If volumetric weight > actual weight, volumetric weight is applied to the shipping rate OR If volumetric weight < actual weight, actual weight is applied to the shipping rate.
The minimum weight of air cargo is 45 kg.
We recommend using air freight when:
- Total weight > 150 kg, depending on different countries
- Total volume > 0.5 CBM
- High density, high-value cargo (i.e. Jewelry, Electronics)
Shipping insurance may be suitable for you if your business has a low tolerance for risk, loss of packages, or you are shipping high-value products.
It is not normally not included in quotations.
The average cost is 0.3% of goods value.
If you need help arranging shipping insurance, please speak to us, we can help.
To help you:
For US – http://hts.usitc.gov/?query=9503
For EU – http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/dds2/taric/taric_consultation.jsp?Lang=en
For Canada – http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/trade-commerce/tariff-tarif/menu-eng.html
The formula you should use to calculate import taxes is as follows:
Import Duty ($) = Customs Value ($) x Duty Rate (%)
US – Goods value (FOB)
EU – Good value + Insurance + Shipping (CIF)
These import duties are to be paid by the importer (you) at the destination, following customs clearance.
In the international shipping industry, “peak season” refer to months leading up to holiday seasons resulting in shipping costs to increase and warehouses to blast.
- Peak season – October to February
- Off-season – March to May
- Normal season – June to September
Shipping costs can also increase if the carrier is on strike or due to bad weather.
Lead-time given is only for international transit time, customs clearance at the destination is excluded from this and may vary.
- Express courier: 4-5 days for Priority shipments and 7-8 days for Economy shipments
- Air shipment: 7-10 working days
- Sea shipment: 29-45 days
Transit time between booking and loading onto the ship is approximately 3-7 days.
Transit time at the destination for cargo clearance is 1-3 days.
I dropship products from China to customers around the world. Where can I find rates for shipping packages?
We provide a handy dropshipping rates calculator which will provide you with shipping rates for quick reference!
We update it regularly and you can get rates for shipping from China to a selection of countries including the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Australia, and more.
Yes, we are a 3PL (third-party logistics warehouse) among the many other things we provide such as product quality inspection, product engineering, sourcing, and more.
Across our different fulfillment facilities in China we provide all of the types of activities that companies who are manufacturing products in China need to ship them to customers globally:
Take a look at our 3PL services and see pricing here:
- 3PL at our Dongguan and Shenzhen Free Trade zone facilities
- Dropshipping from china
- Logistics management
- Value-added procurement office (we act as your local buying office in China)
- Amazon FBA seller support
Here’s an explanation of how your suppliers can send components or products to either our Dongguan facility within China or export to our Shenzhen Free Trade Zone facility, the services we provide, and then where the finished goods are sent by us.
Product engineering solutions pricing FAQs
If you have a very clearly documented project, you are used to developing new products for manufacturing in Asia, and you are comfortable managing all the technical work, Upwork may be a great place to find engineers. We will still be happy to provide reviews and guidance where and if you need.
We need to review your product idea, and how mature it is. If you don’t have a design yet, we can put you in contact with a design house. What we can do at an early stage is a review of your project in order to identify the main risks and challenges you will encounter.
Quality Assurance solutions pricing FAQs
We need to know where the factory is (which city, and if possible which district), what you are buying and in what quantity, and what your needs and requirements are.
Price and payment terms are linked to your order quantity, and to the supplier’s motivation to get your business.
What we can say is, we have a proven process to find what the market price is. If you can “sell” your project to a potential supplier, it is often a good idea for you to talk to the short list we came up with, and to try and get their price down.
However, for many importers, the search of the ever-lower FOB price often leads to issues that raise the total cost of ownership of the goods. It is not always a good idea.
To determine the average market price, we typically request quotations from 5-10 suppliers (depending on the product/component) and compare prices. We also encourage our clients to look on Alibaba.com and GlobalSources.com, to see what offers they get first-hand.
Based on the short list of the top 3 suppliers, we request samples to check the quality and review their capabilities, as well as clarify some critical points further.
Here is how we usually proceed:
1. Collect product requirements (from the client)
2. Run a quick market study to evaluate the time we will have to spend
3. Provide a quotation for the first service, and get approval from the client
4. Identify a list of suppliers from various sources
5. Provide a report in Excel with information collected and full contact details.
When working with us to identify new suppliers, this is basically the process we follow for you.
First, we need to know what your needs are, including quantity, quality standard, special requirements, etc. We encourage our clients to look on Alibaba.com and GlobalSources.com and to point some potential suppliers to us, as it clarifies your expectations.
Then, if we see this is something we can help you with, we start our proven process for searching and screening suitable suppliers. From experience, taking a shortcut is a mistake in most cases.
Please keep two things in mind. We don’t get paid a percentage of the order value like most agents do. We charge based on the time we spend. And we can’t share with you the information we gathered for other clients (we have a strict confidentiality policy).
Please go to this page for more details about our supplier identification service.
New Factory Identification
China is blessed with the world’s best manufacturing resources for complex products, such as consumer electronics.
The tech hub of Southern China (where we’re based) is known as ‘China’s silicon valley.’
There are too many suppliers to count here, but before you start searching on Alibaba or Global sources, give this list of recommended contract manufacturers a try:
Compliance Testing Consulting FAQs
Ask three testing houses and you might get 3 different lists of applicable tests since each one interprets regulations in its own way.
They don’t always clarify what is mandatory vs. suggested tests (since they want to sell you more testing).
They ignore elements that could be taken into consideration (e.g. certifications of certain materials, the fact that a key component comes from an international manufacturer…) since they decrease risk.
If your order includes several SKUs that are different but share some materials and/or colors, setting up a ‘reasonable’ testing plan (rather than testing every single SKU fully) can often cut costs by more than half while keeping risks down.
If your product is out of the ordinary or is across 2 sensitive categories (e.g. food contact and for children), they might forget some critical standards. This is a common issue due to the way they manage their databases.
Supply chain management solutions pricing FAQs
Instead of always paying for hours of work, is it possible to pay Sofeast a percentage of the orders?
No, we have never done this. Think of us as a professional service provider. We always have to be paid for our work. We can sometimes propose flat fees for specific deliverables, but we never do work on a contingency basis.
We fulfill many of the same functions, but our business model is a bit different. We keep our clients by providing value, not by making ourselves indispensable, and certainly not by keeping certain information close to our chest (our clients know everything).
Note, that we do provide a solution where we take on the role of your procurement office.
First, what is a good factory for importer A may not be a good factory for other buyers.
Second, we can probably help you source a supplier, and you can select this solution here. We will activate our network of suppliers, get them to confirm they are interested in your business and screen them to ensure they are a good fit for your project.
Free trade zone facility FAQs
Chinese free trade zones like that in Pingshan, Shenzhen where our facility is located usually offer specific benefits for overseas buyers:
- Duty-free importing (including goods received from overseas, repaired, and shipped out again)
- Less paperwork and bureaucracy leading to faster delivery times
- A perfect base for China fulfillment
- Ready-made location for RMA, repair, and rework activities
Essentially, you can use a facility in this kind of location to reduce your fulfillment, QA, and logistics costs.
Learn more about the zone and the solutions we offer there by visiting our page: Repair, Packing, & Fulfillment Solutions in the Shenzhen Free Trade Zone
Our free trade zone facility primarily provides repair, packing, & fulfillment solutions.
It is a warehousing facility near the Yantian container port which has low or no duties to pay so you can take advantage of it to receive your goods (from local suppliers or overseas) for inspection & repair, packing, warehousing, and/or fulfillment.
This makes it perfect for logistics, fulfillment, final inspections, and repair activities (as products with issues can be dealt with in China before shipping to you OR at least without needing to pay import duties to return them to your supplier from your location).
We provide the following affordable solutions:
- Kitting & Assembly
- We act as your China Fulfillment Center
- Defective Product Repair & Rework
- 100% Inspection Before Packing
For even more information, watch this video.
Here’s a quick summary of when Sofeast clients will benefit from using the Free Trade Zone facility:
- When some/all of the components come from outside mainland China. They can be stored, assembled, packed, and shipped out, without technically being ‘imported’ into China at any point.
- When the supplier can only handle a simple approach (get paid, process the export documentation, nothing else), but there is still a lot to do in China — for example shipping the goods in several batches to different countries in different phases, keeping some cartons there for some time (in a secure environment, and ready to be shipped out), etc.
Who will do the export, if our supplier(s) deliver products to your facility in the Shenzhen Free Trade Zone?
Your suppliers will do the export, just like if they shipped their goods to you in FOB terms.
By the way, that means their products’ quality needs to be confirmed before they bring us the products. If we receive a batch of defective products, it can be very hard to send them back. Let us know if you need quality control services to confirm quality.
It is possible, but not always easy. Please give us the details of your product and we will confirm.
We usually do drop shipping from our Dongguan facility, not from our Shenzhen facility.
There are 2 cases.
Materials coming from outside mainland China
These MUST be sent by following these rules:
- Do no use express courier.
- Use only air freight (to Shenzhen or HK airport) or ocean freight (to HK port only).
Materials coming from mainland China
These have to be exported by your supplier (it means your supplier needs to complete all export formalities) and to be delivered FOB Pingshan.
[Last update: Feb. 2021. please, contact us for confirmation before you send us anything.]
The best way to describe how Sofeast can help you with fulfilment, including warehousing, is to look at it in a visual format:
You have parts or products coming in from your suppliers to either of our facilities (either in the Sofeast Shenzhen Free Trade Zone facility or the Agilian Technology facility in Dongguan, near Shenzhen airport).
Then these services may be appropriate in the order you’d use them from warehousing through to them being shipped out to you (or your customers).
Free Trade Zone fulfilment services
Learn more about our warehousing, repair, and fulfilment services at our Shenzhen Free Trade Zone facility.
Dongguan facility fulfilment services
Read about our warehousing and consolidated shipping services from Dongguan, too.
The differences between Sofeast’s Free Trade Zone facility in Shenzhen and Dongguan fulfilment center are a matter of location and regulations.
We offer similar services at each, but the FTZ facility is classed as outside of China, so when receiving goods they attract less red tape as they’re never imported into China, for example.
Maintaining a facility in the FTZ is helpful for our customers for the following reasons:
- Ability to collect goods from your suppliers and flexibility to ship them when and where you need
- No duties to pay for goods coming from outside China, which allows us to pack them together with goods from China and ship them all together
- Ease of receiving goods from overseas for repairing, and shipped then out again
- Less paperwork and faster turnaround in some situations
For these reasons, it is the ideal location for a fulfillment center in certain situations.
It is not a good fit for drop shipping or if you need a quality gate that filters bad quality out. However, we do these well in Dongguan.
Dongguan fulfilment center
We provide the following services in Dongguan:
- Product inspections
- Label & pack
Due to being within Mainland China it is a better location for handling dropshipping, but is not preferable to the FTZ facility if you plan to ship goods to us in China to be repaired or reworked and then shipped again.
Here’s an explanation of how your suppliers can send components or products to either our Dongguan facility within China or export to our Shenzhen Free Trade Zone facility, the services we provide, and then where the finished goods are sent by us.