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Hit, hit, miss – quality of repeat orders

AQF_Touché, touché, raté - la qualité lors des renouvellements de commandes selon le Quality Control Blog

I spoke with our Director and as we have dealt with this supplier before, we are not going to do quality control this time.” Many SME importing from Asia employ this strategy to reduce spending for repeat orders. However, the quality of repeat orders evolve within time, it usually goes down. In such situation, which strategy can save cost and minimize risk?

How the quality of repeat orders evolves over time

Evidence is mixed and some buyers report that over 20 years, they never needed any quality control, however they usually also mention that in case of quality issues the supplier is willing to offer discount. Conclusion: they do have quality problems. Here is how it usually goes:

  • The first order is always scrupulously prepared: the factory is audited, the goods are inspected. The inspection result is generally a success: the quantity is right, the specifications are met and there are only few visual defects. Given this good result, importers are willing to reorder the same product.
  • The second order is almost routine. The same PO is sent, there is less communication. At this stage, some importers already decide to skip the inspection step. The quality result often is as good as in the first shipment.
  • When come the third and other subsequent shipments, it becomes a routine for everyone. Trust is set for the buyer on the manufacturer; the need of inspecting the goods is low. But for many reasons, the quality starts to deteriorate at this stage and the buyer only finds it out when receiving the goods: material quality is poorer, product specifications are not conformed, major and minor defects are numerous, etc.

There is one big reason that explains the quality deterioration of repeat orders: the supplier (including workers) has less pressure to work properly as he won’t be inspected. He prefers offering discounts when defects are found as it costs less money than reworking goods and the seller has the leverage as payment has most likely been received.


How retailers to save cost and minimize risk for repeat orders

Even on regular orders, there is always a risk of bad quality. Independent quality control should not be considered as optional.  In fact, even the ubiquitous inspection standard ISO 2859 (“AQL”) proposes several ways to deal with repeat orders.

In order to save cost and minimize risks for repeat orders the best is to switch to a lower sampling plan which reduces the time needed for inspection, thus the inspection cost. Most importers select AQL General inspection level II by default. If a supplier passes inspections with ease, then it may be good option to reduce the general inspection level to AQL level I.

And you: how to you deal with the control of the quality of repeat orders?


AQF Operations team

Our team consists of supervisors specialized in various types of products. We handle client requests, analyse their instructions & specifications to provide qualitative inspection protocols to the inspectors for high quality reports. With the Quality Control Blog we want to tell stories taken from our daily activity to help the importers in sourcing better and safer. Get to know us!

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2 responses to “Hit, hit, miss – quality of repeat orders”

  1. ScottXe says:

    It tells by experience that their quality depends on the level of the monitoring. The 3rd party inspection is not part of internal quality management. Thus the suppliers are unreliable. How can we find reliable suppliers so 3rd party inspection becomes unnecessary?

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