4 Tips for Sourcing Toys from China

Every time when you look at a toy, you will probably see the “Made in China” inscription. Indeed, a lot of well-known brands such as Disney World, Mattel, Lego, and McDonald’s are sourcing toys from China. In fact, 80 percent of the merchandise sold worldwide is produced there. That is the reason why this market produces $12 billion USD per year and employs around 3.5 million people in more than 8,000 factories. The most parts are located in Guangdong Province, where on average more than 500 manufacturing plants open per year. These are some of the reasons why sourcing toys in China seems a complicated decision and a big deal. Through this article, we will reveal what are the main aspects you should consider in order to successfully source your production from China.

Guangdong’s location map: most of the toy manufacturers in China are located in Guangdong (source: author’s elaboration)

Most of the toy manufacturers in China are located in Guangdong
(source: author’s elaboration)

The price-quality rate: keep your expectations on earth

If you take the decision to outsource your toys, you will need to specify a quality standard for them. This can be done by sending samples to the sourcing agent or according to the standard specifications in a contract. Although the specifications are properly carried out, the quality might not be what you expected. This happens, because most of the people used to believe that Chinese manufacturing is incredibly cheap. This is certainly true, but magic does not exist. They are able to produce a wide range of quality products depending on the demand of their clients and the offered price. It is possible to fabricate from $1 knickers to luxury products like shoes and purses from Prada. Consequently, the first recommendation is to keep your feet on ground and communicate clearly with your sourcing agent about the price-quality rate and your expectations.

Disney World toy made in China (Source:disneyatdisleelandiablog.blogspot.com)

Disney World toy made in China

What is Quality Certification?

Toys are commonly used by children, hence it is fundamental to ensure they are safe. The material used in the product is important to guarantee the toy safety. This is the reason that most countries have certifications to testify that the products are appropriate for kid’s use.

The certification is proof that the product fulfills the toy safety standards of the corresponding country. There are also some international criterions; the required number varies depending on the country. It also depends on the type of product; there are some common rules for all toys and others specifically for every kind. In order to obtain the documentation, it is necessary to have the product tested by an accredited third party laboratory. You should keep in mind that toy safety standards are continually updated and modified as the understanding of risks increases and new products are developed. So before looking out for a testing part, it is necessary to review the site of the inspection organization of the respective country.

CE logo from European Union quality certification(Source: satra.co.uk)

CE logo from European Union quality certification (Source: satra.co.uk)

The International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) is the international association committed to the promotion of toy safety standards. They have plenty of information on their website; these are some examples of toy safety standards test.

Some examples of certification tests for the United States and the European Union (Source: toy-icti.org)

Some examples of certification tests for the United States and the European Union
(Source: toy-icti.org)

It is important to consider the certificate acquirement, because if the test is not approved, then the shipping date will be delayed until the production passes it. This is one of the reasons the shipping date can be postponed, if you want to know other reasons, you can consult one of our previous blogs here.

About Green manufacturing

Even if sourcing toys from China does not make you the direct responsible for the manufacturing process; you may feel concerned by the impact it has in the environment. The concept of “Green manufacturing” refers to the transformation of the whole production process, from materials to packaging and delivery, into a less environmentally damaging procedure. For example, replacing plastic with other biodegradable or recyclable materials, using non-toxic chemicals and decrease packaging. Eco-friendly toys sounds great, however there are not any industry standards for this classification. Actually, the main issues raised by green manufacturing are the use of materials that are recycled or are renewable, production fueled by environmental energy sources, and the production and use of biopolymers. Besides these aspects, there are some other considerations you can take if you want to adopt green manufacturing properties.

Social responsibility

Social responsibility refers to companies that are fully committed to environmental issues such as recycling or investing in research and development for green manufacturing. Social responsibility also concerns the way the enterprise behaves with regards to its employees, if they have good working conditions and if they receive an equitable proportion of the benefits made by the company.

Green investment is one of the ways for companies to social responsibility (Source:zeinabdo.com)

Green investment is one of the ways for
companies to social responsibility (Source:zeinabdo.com)

Materials used

This subject is extremely wide; however we will just mention the most common green materials. One example is the use of organic materials (such as cotton) that are grown without pesticides or other chemicals that damage the earth. There are also sustainable materials such as those which are recyclable (plastic, wood), renewable materials or wood from replanted forests. One other example is the use of non-toxic paint coating, which can be replaced by using vegetable dyes instead of chemical ones that cause a lot of pollution. These considerations are not just for the toy itself, but they should apply to the packaging too.

Use of alternative energy

There are many highly contaminating sources of energy, such as coal, so there are some companies that use alternatives energies such as wind and hydro-electric. The use of renewable energies is not just for production; as it can also be used for the toys itself. In fact, there are some toys that do not use batteries and run by an alternative source such as solar, or by the child’s kinetic energy, avoiding battery waste.

Final user

This engagement is related to the child that will use the toy. The producer might wonder if the child will learn something, such as environmental responsibility, by using the toy. Also one should consider whether or not the materials will last and thus allow to toy to be handed down when child grows up, or if it is likely to be thrown out.

Consider Chinese holidays in your delivery dates

The most important celebration in China is the Chinese New Year. During this holiday, it is common for people to return home to spend time with their family. Because of this, it is possible that factories are closed for up to a month during this date. It is essential that you consider this when scheduling your delivery. The Chinese New Year date is not fixed as it depends on the lunar calendar, and so it is necessary to be aware of the date every year. For further suggestions, you can visit another article about this topic here.

Chinese New Year festival (Source: eslpod.com)

Chinese New Year festival (Source: eslpod.com)

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