3.1 – Sampling Section-Overview


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A key stage in the importing process is to obtain samples from your narrowed down list of potential suppliers.

This should always be carried out before production for a number of reasons:

  1. You will be able to physically test the finished product rather than just having to envisage how it will be.
  2. It will help you to ensure the practicality of your design including functionality.
  3. Upon receiving the samples, this will be one of the last opportunities before production to alter the design.
  4. You will be able to assess the manufacturers production ability and attention to detail as well as being able to directly compare them to the samples from your other potential suppliers.
  5. Skipping the sample order stage completely could cost you heavily moneywise due to an incorrect production.
  6. An incorrect sample specification could also cost you both in time and money due to having to request repeated design sample amendments.

Achieving an accurate “Sample Design” first time will be a great step forward in ensuring that the rest of the process runs smoothly.

In this section we will be covering the following:

  1. Creating a “Product Sample – T&C Contract” for you to use when requesting samples.
  2. Manage the sampling process.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need samples if I am buying ODM products or just for OEM?

You should request samples for both. Ordering production samples are an essential step whether you are buying custom designed (OEM) products or private label (ODM) products.

2. How many suppliers should I approach to obtain samples?

In our opinion and from experience it is best to order samples from between 3-5 suppliers. Ordering from just one supplier may work for you however you are leaving yourself open to risk of: orders not received, time wasted if the manufacturer is not satisfactory, inability to compare and choose the ideal supplier.

It may not be possible for you to request samples from multiple suppliers due to sample production costs, in which case you will need to weigh up the options and ensure that you have taken every precaution from the previous steps to ensure your choice of supplier is a sound decision.

If you require help with this our experts will be happy to assist you. Contact our experts by clicking on the contact block on your “My Profile” page.

3. Can I make design changes during the sample production process?

Generally, you will not be able to. Once production begins you will need to wait to receive the completed sample.

If the sample is in line with information provided, then you would have to request a new sample.

If the manufacturer is at fault, they should reproduce the sample correctly. This is why it is essential for your “Product Sample: Terms and Conditions” and “Products Specifications” documents to be completely correct and specific in their detail.

4. How much should product samples cost?

This really depends on a number of factors.

If new tooling is required then this will raise the cost of your sample as the factory will have to design and manufacture your tooling before the production of your sample can begin.

If you are ordering an ODM product sample then usually you will only be charged the shipping fee.

For OEM, customized product samples the cost could be anything at all. There are no set guidelines. The major outlay would be the tooling cost however you may be lucky and find that additional tooling costs are not required. The supplier will inform you of this. Again, this is yet another reason to approach multiple suppliers for samples so that you can continually compare.

5. Will a supplier refuse to provide a sample?

A reputable and proficient supplier will not refuse to provide a sample. Samples may not be free and could even be at a large cost, however they should always be purchasable.

If a supplier refuses to provide a sample then you should take this as a red flag and consider removing this supplier from your list of potential partners.

6. What if the product sample is incorrect when we receive it?

It is common for manufacturers to not get it completely correct first time. This is why your product specifications have to be as detailed as possible. If they are at fault they should reproduce it for you. If it is something that you have missed then you may have to pay again for the sample.

There is no set science or formula as to how patient you should be with your supplier if they are manufacturing incorrect samples for you however we would suggest that you allow no more than two or three revisions. Again this is another reason for approaching multiple manufacturers for samples.

7. How will the product sample be sent to me?

Due to the small quantity the product samples are usually sent by air. Most commonly wither DHL or FedEx.

8. Do I need to pay import duties and taxes for product samples?

This depends on where you are importing to. It also depends on the import destinations minimum thresholds.

In the past it was sufficient in some jurisdictions to just write “sample” on the labelling.

Nowadays it is often a requirement for the sample to be defaced in some way for example by permanent marker for it to be acceptable without duties.

You would need to check with the relevant jurisdictions updated regulations regarding this as they are subject to continual change.