China Sourcing of footwear: Know-how and Management


Back in 2012, we published a blog about the Main Area of Shoe Production in China. To date, this is one of our most popular blogs and this is a bit surprising to us because, today, the skill in  China sourcing is a lot more than just knowing where to get shoes, which is relatively easy in this age of information, but it is about managing the process of sourcing the right quality footwear at the right price, and making sure you get it on time.

We noticed that over the years, this blog has done exceptionally well on our website on a consistent basis, which means that people for years have been searching for the same thing – where are shoes made in China, where is footwear produced? But that’s no big mystery really, and even if you found the right factory, that would be only half the battle. What do you do once you found a good supplier? Below are some examples of additional elements that are key for managing your China sourcing of footwear:

  • PSS: Start with a detailed Product Specification Sheet.  Why go to the trouble? Because, if not, you will (a) lack credibility; (b) not be able to accurately compare quotes from different manufacturers; (c) you will find it very difficult to find a qualified supplier for your shoes, and (d) you will have nothing specific to attach to your order or contract. So, even if you found the main areas of shoe production in China it does not mean that you will get good, competitive shoes out of it. Add this extra step to your procedure to avoid problems later, it is well worth the effort.
  • ISS: When you are ready to place the order, Inspection Specification Sheets become very important.  That is the document that lists, in great detail, every aspect of the quality control process you will apply to this order of shoes.  This is a companion to the PSS, but it does a lot more: it covers everything related to quality assurance, from raw materials to packaging and labels, from a specific method of testing the shoe construction to possible lab tests for certain raw materials. What should be in it? Whatever you deem necessary, the kind of things your own quality assurance team would require.  Don’t leave anything to chance.
  • Good management is about written Procedures: Some of the written procedures are related to quality assurance from your suppliers (the PSS & ISS), but you should have written instructions and procedures about all aspects of your China sourcing process. You want to know that your China team is 100% aligned with your vision, you want them to know not just what the mission is, but how that mission is going to be executed. Make step by step procedures to execute specific aspects of your China sourcing program to avoid wasting time, making costly mistakes or delays and to ensure not just good results, but also, repeatable and scalable results.

In conclusion, when it comes to China sourcing, knowing where the suppliers are is only the beginning. Once you know that, you need to know what to do with them. How do you manage your suppliers? How do you control the order process? And finally, how does your China sourcing team manage the production process? Let us know in the comments below.

For more information on China sourcing, check out our Ultimate China Sourcing Solution.


By Jocelyn Trigueros

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