Many importers don’t organise their product specifications and dealings with suppliers at all well
Some importers send information about the product they expect through many different channels:
- Email threads
- Skype, WeChat, or QQ conversations
- In the form of samples or validations of counter-samples
- Drawings and explanations in face-to-face meetings
And they expect the supplier’s salesperson to gather all this information, translate it, and present it in a unified and coherent manner to the engineers and technicians who will manage production!!
As you can imagine, this can become chaotic and inefficient, and, should things go wrong, finding out the cause can be like looking for a needle in a haystack when so many different sources of information need to be searched through.
In fact, we discussed this messy way of working with suppliers in relation to what happens when problems occur between you in this episode of our podcast:
The better way? Collecting product specifications in a master document
In my view, it is the importer’s responsibility to gather all product specifications in one master document and to keep it updated.
The difficulty, of course, is to find a template that makes sense. Well, you are in luck. I’ve made a free template based on what we use here at Sofeast which you can download and modify where required:
Product Specifications Template Best Practices
If you want to get closer to the best practices when using this product specifications template, I have some more advice:
- Think of the QC inspection and testing process when writing this document. It means you will include tolerances, descriptions of potential defects, and so on. (More info on this topic in How to prepare a QC inspection checklist).
- Get this document reviewed by a quality assurance agency, if you want feedback to make it more precise and more useful.
- Have someone translate it if you don’t fully trust the supplier’s salesperson to do so (a simple rule of thumb is that, if she doesn’t want to show you the translated document, it was never translated in the first place).
- Get a factory manager to comment on it, and adapt it if necessary. Two-way communication is very important.
- Ask the supplier to date, sign, and stamp it to indicate their acceptance of your specifications.
This FREE eBook starts from the beginning, discussing whether you need to hire a sourcing agent, and follows the sourcing process right through to developing a trusted supplier’s quality and productivity.
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