Tatiana Trukhina

- Graduated with honors in Asian Studies at Higher School of Economics
- Delegate on International Youth Summits (BRICS, SCO)
- Experienced in International trade with Asian countries
- 2 years of working in Quality Control industry
- 8 years experience in China
- Fluent in English, Chinese (HSK6) and Russian

Feb 04, 2021

Reference Sample | How to Confirm It Before Placing an Order

Are you sourcing new products? Be sure to confirm the product reference sample with your supplier before starting mass production of your order!

The V-Trust Team (www.v-trust.com) conducts product inspections and factory audits in Asia and we, like no one else, know how important it is to approve the reference sample of products before production, because neglecting this point can lead to serious quality problems in the order.

Why Do I Need to Approve a Reference Sample? 

Perhaps you are a lucky person for whom production in Asia always goes smoothly and painlessly - you just choose the sample of product you like online or at the trade show and ask the supplier to produce exactly the same.

However, with such sample confirmation, mass production often comes out problematic and defective due to the lack of confirmation of requirements, details and stages of production, as well as unclear communication with your supplier.

The key solution in this situation is to establish a universal language of communication - your technical specifications. The more detailed and understandable the technical specifications and production requirements are, the higher your chance of getting high-quality products at the output.

After several rounds of development and improvement of product prototypes, you and the supplier will come to an acceptable product sample that will reflect the most desirable price/quality ratio for you - this final prototype will be your reference sample.

When to Approve the Reference Sample

The reference sample is always approved before starting mass production, and before signing the order. Prior to this process, you will go through the negotiations and development of your product prototype, and already on the basis of your reference sample, confirm the main parameters of the mass order and the cost of production.

Another very important time of your sample approval - the beginning of production. After the factory has purchased all the necessary materials and components for the production of your order, ask them to produce 1-2% of the order quantity and provide production samples for evaluation. If some product parameters do not meet the reference sample or your requirements, stop production and ask to replace the incoming materials or adjust the assembly process.

What Exactly Should Be Confirmed in the Reference Sample?

Every detail of it! This applies to its appearance, components, dimensions, marking, packaging of the sample, etc.

1. Appearance 

When approving the appearance of the sample, write down how your products should look and how it should be assembled, indicating the properties of the material: (matte, glossy, etc.), the color number according to the swatches of materials or Pantone number, as well as the quality of the product assembly (maximum gap allowed, surface flatness requirements, etc.) 

For example, if your product requires assembly during production, determine the acceptable of assembly quality for you (tolerance levels, deviations, leakage distances, etc.) 

2. Product dimensions

When approving product sizes, provide your own measurements (especially when designing clothing and shoes), and specify acceptable tolerance levels for deviations (usually 1-5%). Remember to confirm the points of measurements of your products, and units of measurement (cm, inch), to make sure that you are both on the same page.

3. Product materials / components

Specify the quality of materials and components in your product. For example, the type of plastic and its specifications, as well as all components assembled in your product. It’s crucial to check compliance of your confirmed sample with the output mass production, to make sure that your internal components are not switched. For electrical and electronic products, confirm the CDF (Component Data Form).

4. Internal and external packaging

Determine the materials, cardboard density, packaging colors, and protective materials for packaging your products. Also, do not forget the humidity prevention and mold & corrosion prevention materials, such as silica gel, Micro Pak, Super Dry, etc.

5. Compliance with the standards of retailers / online platforms 

If you are going to sell products through online platforms or in retail, such as Walmart or Costco, they will probably have their own product compliance requirements. For example, Amazon has certain requirements for product packaging, labels, and barcodes (ASIN & FNSKU).

6. Compliance with the standards of the import market

Before importing your products to the destination country, check whether they meet market standards.

For example, Europe requires compliance with LVD/EMC, RoHS standards for electronic products, EN-71 for toys, REACH for many consumer products, and many other standards.

For each country / market there are different national or international standard requirements, so make sure to do your research on which standards your product needs to pass, and consult with your supplier on whether they know how to produce products that will meet your country’s requirements.

Once you have developed the product according to these parameters, approve and sign the sample with your supplier!

Leave one sample at your factory, pass some samples to your inspection company for further use during the product inspection, and keep some at your location for the further use.

How to Use a Reference Sample for Quality Control

Comparing mass production with a reference sample is the most effective way to check the quality of mass production. V-Trust inspectors conduct an itemized comparative inspection with our technical checklists to determine nonconformities and defects between the reference sample and mass production.

At the end of the inspection, the inspector will issue a detailed report indicating the results and detailed photo and video information of the identified inconsistencies.

Check out our detailed inspection report, where we compare a sample with mass production!

If you would like to learn more about the other tools to set a quality level to your supplier, read our detailed article.

At V-Trust we help control the quality of products in Asia. Since 2006, our company has been offering a wide range of quality control services - product inspections, factory audits, and laboratory tests in China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Bangladesh.

Visit our website (www.v-trust.com) to learn more about our company and service. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@v-trust.com.

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