Sofeast’s CEO Renaud was recently a panellist on a fireside chat webinar from Global sources where he spoke about QC trends in 2021 and some other key topics that concern importers right now.
In case you missed this webinar, here are some of the key points he discussed:
Q: What are some trends and changes you’re seeing in terms of QC and inspections currently (especially given that there’s no travel; logistics challenges; and pandemic still affecting many countries)?
No face time means there is less trust and misunderstandings & suspicions accumulate over time – Many buyer/seller relationships have gone sour recently.
More and more buyers are starting to use enforceable contracts with a good QC checklist and know how to get a supplier to pay. They rely less on ‘personal feelings’ and on long dinners with factory bosses, and they get more professional.
More reliance on specialized companies for inspection, since travelling is so restricted.
More cases where the goods go through a third party facility for 100% QC, labelling, and packing, to avoid shipping directly to a customer’s facility.
Q: How is technology being used to conduct QC – software, virtual factory audits etc?
We have been using our own IT platform with an inspection mobile app for years – a good fit for many inspections, although not 100%.
The main benefits are:
- Fast issuance of an initial report before review.
- Better visibility on the way the inspector works.
Q: What are some pitfalls buyers need to avoid when conducting QC remotely and in a pandemic situation?
If that production batch comes with high risks (high amount of money at stake, unproven supplier, mistakes are expensive…), do everything you can to avoid shipping without a “real” product inspection.
Remember the limitations of off-site inspections (done through a video call, without being on site):
- Not realistic to draw samples at random
- No way to confirm the touch & feel…
Q: Raw material costs are rising – Do you have any advice for buyers on how they can deal with rising raw material costs? Do you find suppliers tend to cut corners to offset rising costs?
Lower margins do push some suppliers to use substandard materials! Monitor that.
If you can’t afford to pay higher prices, try to find ways to reduce the materials & production cost of your products – see this blog post: Rising Raw Material Prices: What Strategy To Follow? (6 Approaches).
Q: How do you think new product development has changed in the last year?
In mass-market electronics and also many complex mechanical products, product development engineers used to fly over and spend weeks at the factory during the industrialization phase — now they are having many video calls and they have to work early/late at night.
In garments, they used to send samples and photos. Now there is more focus on developing digital libraries of materials & accessories, etc. (Discussed here: Vietnam VS China Manufacturers & Digitizing Processes In The Factory).
- More in-depth design reviews, as there is no margin for extra rounds of prototypes
- On Global Sources, pick suppliers with engineering capabilities
Q: What should buyers be mindful of in terms of QC in a post-COVID era?
- Don’t plan for any “post covid” period for the next 3 years!
- Arrange face to face conversations if possible.
- Zoom or similar apps that show people’s faces are better than Wechat chats.
Think of how to adjust your way of working!
Have you seen any other QC trends occurring recently that you can share? Let us know in the comments.
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