Import controls: differing quality awareness poses a risk

Imports without control are unthinkable for Bisseling, especially when it comes to customization. And even with checks, things can go wrong, he says. “I was sent a drawing of a modification of production machines. I quickly gave my consent but was not aware that much more would change. Then the sweaters I ordered came in with a completely different fit than before. The items have been returned and adjusted. “

Quality difference

If, like Bisseling, you import goods or want to start importing goods, you expect your goods to be of a certain quality. Do Asian suppliers meet our standard? Ties Coolen has no qualms about it: “The sense of quality is completely different in Asia.”
His company QC China, Vietnam, India & Turkey performs inspections in 4 major production countries with its own trained quality engineers.

As the owner of We R Asia, Jasper Delisse also conducts inspections in Asia. He confirms Coolen’s statement. “We in Northern Europe are the most demanding customers you can imagine. At the same time, we are perhaps the least interesting target group for the Chinese manufacturer. Simply because they can produce more mass to other parts of the world where quality requirements are lower. I think That out of 20 Chinese manufacturers, maybe 1 or 2 can meet our needs. “

With an order of $ 3,000, you can just take the bet

Both Coolen and Delisse emphasize that it is therefore important that everything is properly arranged ‘in front’. Coolen: “If you make good agreements in advance, you can avoid many problems. In fact, you need to register everything in a good and complete purchase contract. From the color to the packaging. ”

Coolen and Delisse also point to the use of a so-called golden sample. This is a perfect implementation of your product, exactly as you want it. At best, the manufacturer, inspector and importer have a golden sample.

Wasted money?

Doing business is not without risks. Still, it’s nice if you can let go of certain concerns. An inspection before your products are shipped contributes to this. The downside is the economic part. An inspection takes at least half a day and you pay for hours, travel time and expenses.

“With an order of $ 3,000, you can just take the bet. Then you talk about a relatively small risk,” says Coolen. “If you import goods with a purchase value of about $ 10,000 or $ 15,000, an inspection pays for itself.”

Coolen knows that there are plenty of importers who ‘order blind’. – It often goes well. Still, he can cite plenty of reasons that speak in favor of an inspection. “If you receive a cargo that does not meet the requirements, you have a significant loss. You may not be able to sell things. The cost of transportation causes even more losses, and then you still have the risk of injury. Because if your stuff is bad, you get bad reviews in no time. Or you have to sell your customer number. ”

Another reason, according to Coolen, lies in the production process. Even when it goes smoothly. “Staff turnover in China is currently very high at 23.8%. It increases the risk of new people making mistakes in your production. ”


Practical examples show that it can go wrong. “Shirts with sleeves that are 30 inches too short. Kitchen utensils that are moldy in a box, ”Coolen begins.

And sometimes the problem is more complicated, says Delisse: “We just discovered that there were problems with a mirror that a customer had ordered. That mirror shows videos, animations and instructions for doing a sports lesson at home. So instead of in the gym. Only our client’s software did not work on that mirror. “The order was still able to go through when part of the mirror was changed.” And that is what one hopes for. That your inspection makes the difference, and that both manufacturer and importer are happy in the end. ”

Control in practice

With a check before transport, you as an importer can avoid significant damage. But when do you check? And how does it work in practice?

Prior to the production process, you can check the use of the right raw materials and materials (first item check), during the production process you check for defects (during production check), and when your order is largely ready, you can check if you get what you have ordered .. The latter variant is called pre-shipment inspection. “A trained quality inspector checks whether the end product is in order and whether the packaging is as agreed. Your production is so completely ready, and at least 80% of your order is already packed, ”says Coolen.
“Which inspection you have carried out, for example, depends on your product. Are you into fashion, or are you importing garden items, you can check if everything is going well during production. You want to meet the agreed deadline so that you do not receive deliveries after the season. ”

Control during charging

Check is also possible when loading your goods (container loading check). An inspector makes sure that your goods are securely packed, neatly placed in a container, and that the container itself is in order. “It is not a matter of course,” says Coolen, who especially with the current scarcity sees that importers have long been happy if a container is available. “Sometimes they are really dirty, wet or broken. It is not useful if, for example, there is a television placed in the container. But the manufacturers want to use every single container that becomes available. Otherwise they are left with stock and it costs money.”

Control manufacturer

In addition to inspections regarding the production process and transport, you can also have inspections carried out on your manufacturer and his factory (factory audit). This allows you to discover, for example, more about working conditions, the condition of existing machines and how your manufacturer handles issues such as the environment and sustainability.

This is how an inspection works

Inspection takes place by appointment. “The manufacturer knows how the products should be ready for inspection. The inspector naturally selects the boxes he opens, «emphasizes Delisse, who outlines a practical example of what happens next. “For example, we test the quality of the paint on a bicycle. The inspector drops a metal ball onto the frame from a height. The paint must be able to withstand that. ”

Sometimes inspections are more complicated. Then, for example, research in a laboratory is needed to find out if the right alloy has been used for a metal product or a metal part. Or your product needs to undergo a longer test. “With drawer guide e.g. They must be able to open and close at least 200,000 times, and I will only mention a number without error. ”


Whether an inspection turns out to be positive or negative is decided by an inspector based on the AQL standard. Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL) is an international standard that ensures a weighted assessment after an inspection. It is already clear in advance how many products the inspector checks and how many small and large errors he accepts. “A scratch on a package weighs less than a scratch on the TV screen itself,” says Coolen. In addition to AQL, you as an importer can make additional requirements for an overhaul.

If an inspection goes well, there is nothing wrong and within a few weeks you will be the satisfied owner of a load of brand new products. If in doubt, or if control is poor, the choice is yours as an importer. Both Quality Control and We R Asia will then discuss a solution. Depending on the situation, you can think about new production, discount, repair or cancellation of the order.

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