Checklist for importers who are manufacturing products in China or low-cost AsiaMany people come to us and ask: “What are the steps we need to take now that we have decided to manufacture our products in China/Vietnam/SE Asia?”

While no two manufacturing projects are the same, I’ve tried to distill the process into a checklist that covers 95% of situations for importers of consumer goods and simple industrial products here. (If you are simply picking an off-the-shelf product, you will need to ignore some of the points.)

Checklist for importers from China/Low-cost Asia

Here are the basics you should be on top of before importing products from China/low-cost Asia. If you can follow all of these tips then you’ll be in a far stronger position where your project will run more smoothly.

Describe the product you need

  • Write down precise product specifications – this will be the basis of your quality standard

Identify and pre-qualify supplier(s)

👉 Listen to our series of podcasts about vetting Chinese suppliers

Share product information with potential supplier(s) [for a new product]

  • Ask the supplier to sign and chop an enforceable non-disclosure, non-use, non-circumvention agreement
  • Share product specs with supplier(s)
  • Send a sample/prototype to supplier(s), if applicable
  • Get feedback about your product specs

Develop tooling with the chosen supplier, if necessary [for a new product]

  • Find an initial price agreement
  • Get a development agreement signed and chopped by the supplier
  • If necessary, wire money

👉 Later on, you may need this information if you own tooling: How to move Plastic Injection Molds between China Factories [10 Tips]

Develop samples with supplier(s) [for a new product]

  • Supplier sends a first prototype/sample made with tooling
  • Client comments about it
  • If necessary, supplier sends more samples
  • Approval of golden sample
  • Comments for production

Develop samples with supplier(s) [for a new labeling or packing]

  • Same as above, for packaging materials (should be done in parallel)

👉 Read our guide to types of packaging for smaller products

Finalize product specs

  • Confirm with supplier that product specs are correct
  • If the product is new for this factory: place a small order for a pilot run and make sure there are no major issues

Confirm the order for mass production

  • If not done yet, sign a manufacturing agreement (to be signed and chopped by the supplier)
  • Make the product spec sheet an exhibit of that agreement
  • Launch the payment process (transfer of deposit / opening of letter of credit)
  • Remind the supplier to book the materials/components immediately

👉 You may find this blog post helpful: How To Create A Valid Manufacturing Contract In China To Protect Your IP

Comment on production samples

  • Supplier sends samples taken from mass production
  • Comment on samples
  • If necessary, supplier sends samples again

Inspection/testing during production

  • Share PO & share product specs with inspection firm/staff
  • Get an estimate of the price/time necessary, and confirm
  • Tell supplier about inspection plans
  • Supplier proposes timing of inspection
  • Get report & give feedback to supplier

👉 Examine inspections during production here

Book shipment with a forwarder

  • Get quotes and compare them
  • Confirm a quote
  • Start tracking shipment with forwarder

👉 Understanding Incoterms will be helpful

Approve quality before shipment

  • Share PO & share product specs with inspection firm/staff
  • Get an estimate of the price/time necessary, and confirm
  • Tell supplier about inspection plans
  • Supplier proposes timing of the inspection
  • Get inspection report & give feedback to supplier
  • If necessary, proceed to re-inspection and issue a debit note to supplier

👉 See Sofeast’s product inspection solutions, including final random inspection and container packing & loading inspections

Shipment

  • Forwarder advises closing date
  • Authorize shipment
  • Forwarder confirms the products were made available in time
  • Forwarder confirms the products were shipped out
  • Supplier sends a copy of the documents
  • Confirm that the documents are all correct

👉 Logistics management can support you at this point

Final payment

  • Check the quantity of shipped products
  • If payment by bank wire: transfer the balance
  • Supplier sends all original documents
  • Confirm receipt of all original documents

Customs clearance

  • Forwarder/agent applies for clearance
  • Payment of import duties

Domestic transport

  • Arrange domestic transport
  • Confirm receipt of products

Warehousing

  • Arrange sufficient manpower and space

👉 You can utilize our free trade zone China fulfilment center for warehousing and shipping if it makes sense to keep some of the goods in China for some time

QC on incoming products

  • Share PO & share product specs with internal QC staff
  • QC service checks conformity & quality
  • If necessary, give feedback to supplier and inspectors

*****

Do you have any questions or any points to add here? Tell us by commenting, please.


 

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There are 15 chapters over 80+ pages to explore, providing exhaustive guidance on the entire sourcing and supplier development process from start to finish, including:

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