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Applying International Quality Standards to Chinese Manufacturers

6 / 2 / 2017

In general, Chinese manufacturers can be very flexible about their product standards, especially when it comes to new potential business cooperation.

Now, does a Chinese manufacturer comply with requests from a customer if the business in question is not substantial? Usually not, but it can often be negotiated through higher prices.

That’s the reason why the average quality of Made-in-China products has improved in some categories.

For example, an Italian distributor of stainless steel profiles has very high standards of finishing and packaging for their products. They are very strict about their products’ quality standards and usually require AQL Level 3 inspections for their orders. They applied clear specifications and tolerance to the factory in regards to each model of profile, and required the factory to purchase higher quality and more resistant packaging solutions to prevent the units from getting scratched and damaged during transportation.

Initially the factory resisted the requirements, but in the end, they agreed to do it, even though the volume of business was not high and the product unit price was very low. Needless to say, the European brand was charged slightly more.

In other words, the key word here is COMPLIANCE. If buyers set rules and clear standards to their products, there is no way the supplier will refuse the request.

Why has the quality of most products in China not improved?

Until today, many buyers continue to put more emphasis on the price than the quality. Take for example Christmas decorations, promotional items such as USBs, tote bags, pens etc.

They can easily switch to lower-grade suppliers when their regular suppliers announce a price increase, and there is no shortage of cheaper competitors in China. If your Dongguan factory is getting too expensive, you will find 30 cheaper ones in other locations, either sourcing from exhibitions or online B2B platforms.

Where do these lower- grade suppliers come from?

You will always find innumerous smaller suppliers and new comers around China. They can be either small factories or trading companies.

We have learned from the Blog article “Industry Geography of Chinese Suppliers” written by Daria Mishchuk, that each area of China has a particular industry characterized by higher technology and higher price. If you notice the supplier location doesn’t correlate to the industry geography, it is mostly sure that it is not a high-grade supplier.

In general, the Chinese market tolerates all levels of technology and quality. But any supplier, no matter how low its quality and level of technology is, will find a market for its products in China—if its price is cheap enough.

So the conclusion here is simple. Some Chinese suppliers are difficult to deal with, but if the buyer insists enough, present clear quality standards for the products since the beginning of the cooperation, establish rules and tolerances for acceptance of the goods and apply strict quality control of the orders, in the end the suppliers will follow what their customers require.

If you have high standards, be ready to pay a bit more. At the end, the responsibility for absence of standards lies on the shoulders of importers.

V-Trust team
Juliana Orenes
Graduated in Business Management at FACAMP, Top 10 University in Brazil
Living in China since 2009, acquiring cultural and work experience
4 years experience in Multinational Company
7 years experience with customer service

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