3.3 – Sample Production

Product Sample Production

Hopefully by now you will have the “Product Sample Agreement” confirmed and agreed by the supplier.

Payment will require discussion directly between you and your supplier.

Upon payment is made the supplier should begin the production process.

This tutorial gives you an overview of what to expect, timescales and how to approach each step of the process to keep it moving forward and efficient.


Once payment has been made inform your supplier via email. Request from your contact a “final sample completion date”.

To give you a general idea of timescales you should expect the following:

Custom Design (OEM) Products: 45 – 60 days (+ Revisions)

  • Technical element creation by the supplier
  • Procurement of required materials and parts
  • Tooling build
  • Product sample completion

Private Label (ODM) Products: 14 – 30 days (+ Revisions)

  • Procure materials and parts
  • Product sample completion

It is important to keep a small amount of pressure on your point of contact at the supplier.

If done well this will help you build a bond with them and also to clarify any issues that are being encountered on the way.

It is important to always be polite and professional and keep the messages short and simple. That way you will get a faster response.

Let them know that you want to help and will be available if there are any questions or concerns. That way they will inform you more of any areas that need clarification so that you can spot issues early on.

Request product pictures of the initial version created also which could save you time when receiving the final version of the sample.

Point to note: The supplier should be completing the final product for you if they have agreed to the “sample agreement” in the previous section. However, they may still require materials and parts from their partners to complete the sample. They may mention this to you. If they do then be accommodating but stick to your agreed schedule with them for the final delivery of the sample.

Sample Revisions

In a perfect world your sample will be perfect first time. However, this is probably not going to happen. It will often take two to three samples to reach your desired result.

In the previous section the “product sample agreement” aimed to cover all bases with regard to the supplier not conforming completely to your requirements.

You may find that you have missed some essential details in which case you will need to negotiate. Therefore, ensure you have been as precise as possible in all of the previous stages to clarify all information.

Once you receive photos or the sample itself you need to ensure that you have checked completely and carefully every aspect of the sample to spot any defects or quality issues.

Quality Issues

If you find any issues with the quality or design that are not correct as per your requirements you should notify the supplier immediately.

Refrain from wording such as “this is not what I expected”.

You need to be clear and concise. Feedback should include the following:

  • Images showing the defect
  • Description of why it is incorrect and the reason for you being dissatisfied
  • Your ideas for corrective action
Issue Description and Why Suggested Solution

It is essential that you aim to support the supplier here rather than just point out faults.

You have done a lot of work to source this supplier so use this opportunity to build a bond with them.

Suggest solutions and workarounds if possible.

The more transparent you are the easier it will be for your supplier to make a revision and remake the correct and expected sample for you.

Be mindful of language barriers also. Keep it clear concise and to the point that will get your result.

Approving the Sample

It may be the case that your supplier informs you that there will be some inconsistency between the sample and the finished product due to limitations on a small sample production.

This can and occasionally does happen so don’t be alarmed if it does. Sometimes only the bulk production produces the exact same colour, plating or material stipulated. They will inform you of this and you will need to assess the situation on a case by case basis.

Ensure that you are happy before you move forward. This stage is crucial. Be certain of your decision.

If your received sample is not up to scratch or if you are in any way sceptical of the reason then you can “Contact an Ultimahub expert” to assist you with this negotiation and clarification stage.

Receiving Your Sample

Smaller products are usually sent by air. (Air Freight).

Reputable and frequently used companies are:

  • FedEx
  • DHL
  • UPS
  • TNT
  • China EMS

The supplier should book this for you although you will usually be required to pay the delivery charge so ensure you have verified the freight provider or stipulate that you require one of the above to be used.

Be sure to provide your:

  • Contact Name
  • Company name
  • Complete Address including post codes and country
  • Phone Number
  • Request the “customs value amount” (see below)

Important: Request that your supplier informs you of the “customs value” that they will be stating when sending. You will need this if you encounter any issues with customs when the sample is received.

Tracking ID

Once your sample is sent and on route, you should expect to receive a “Tracking ID” from the supplier. They may provide a picture of the proof of posting also, but not always.

If you do not receive the tracking ID then request it. That way you can follow up with the shipment company directly using their freight company website.

Timescales for delivery:

  • DHL and Fedex – 4 to 7 working days
  • China EMS – 10 – 12 working days

Approximate costing for delivery:

  • 0.5kg–1kg: $25
  • 1kg–5kgs: $40
  • 5kgs–10kgs: $80
  • 10kgs–20 kgs: $150

(The above costings are approximate. They could vary.)

Import duties

If you are receiving a sample, you may be required to pay import duties. This is not common and a case by case basis. It depends on the type and value of the product.

In Section 5 of this course we go into more detail regarding “Import Duties”.  

To avoid confusion, ensure that you keep a hard copy of all correspondence and documentation with your supplier.

Ensure that you have both a digital and hard copy of your invoice for the sample so that you can confirm the value if customs request it.

See you in the next module.