Critical defects vs acceptable defects. Giving vendors a break is good for buyers too.

What people are saying about Mulberry Fields
“I have already learned a great deal about China and your business through your website and blog posts. Very impressive. ” – A Company in Toronto.

A client of mine is about to give an order to a vendor in China. I have advised him to give the vendor a QC checklist as well as adding all QC points in an appendix to the Sales Contract. QC points should also go on all product spec sheets submitted to the vendor. The idea is that whenever that vendor is looking at your order, your QC points are going to be reinforced.

At the same time you should establish in your own mind what are “critical” QC defects and what are acceptable QC defects. Critical defects are things that would make the product unsellable or returnable by your customer. For example on a wooden picture frame a “critical” defect would be a broken clasp, a cracked frame or glass. An acceptable defect might be a shade of color lighter than specified, a streak in the velvet fabric on the picture frame backing, etc. These are things a customer might notice but would not likely result in a return or lost sale.

In your discussions with your vendor on the QC checklist you should make sure you tell your vendor which defects are going to be considered “critical.” And give these points special emphasis. This is not to say you should not make equal mention of acceptable defects. You should but the tone of your directive should be “please try to avoid these problems” instead of “we will not accept product with these problems.” The idea here is to cut your vendor some slack so that they can feel confident in making your order and to avoid confrontations about quality unless it is your perception that the issue clearly jeopardizes sales of your product.

As I always say “Work with your vendor. Not against them.”

Here are some related posts that will help you work with your vendors, and not against them.

Setting tolerances for production
Being on the same page with your vendor
Inspections are good for your vendor
Give your vendors specs ASAP

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