How Clear Quality Specifications Can Help You

“Oh my gosh! These are not what I ordered! This is terrible!”

Such things are often heard when some importers receive their goods in their warehouse. How do such things happen? It is likely because they did not have good specifications sheets in place.

quality specification

What you wanted (left) vs what you got (right)

This would never happen to an importer with a CPG sourcing team. Why not?  Because we have systems to prevent such problems.

Be clear about the details

CPG has two kinds of specification sheets to ensure quality conformity: the Product Specification Sheet (PSS) and the Inspection Specification Sheet (ISS). These two documents play important roles at different stages of the sourcing program.  Remember that quality assurance starts before the order is placed.

The PSS is a document that lists all the essential technical requirements, i.e., the specifications of a given product. This document is primarily used for two purposes:

– to obtain accurate price quotes for the products (i.e. During the RFQ or request for quote process)
– to establish quality standards for the product in the order

The ISS is a document that lists all the requirements for the quality inspection of the products ordered. Meaning exactly how to inspect the goods, when to inspect them, how often, to what level of detail etc.  This document is primarily used for two purposes:

– To establish the inspection standards and the methodology for inspecting the quality of the product
– To ensure that the factory understands the inspection requirements prior to production

Why you need a PSS and ISS

When you source your products in China, a PSS that lists technical requirements as well as necessary packing information can help suppliers to understand your request and quote more accurately. Without a PSS, suppliers cannot quote accurately because the information is fragmented and not systematic. Furthermore, without a PSS, suppliers might manufacture the goods incorrectly and you may see differences in dimensions, materials, or quality standards of the products you ordered. This will not only waste your time, but also your money.

The ISS, on the other hand, will clearly list the standards and processes for various inspections needed, such as those conducted during production or prior to shipment. Without the ISS, you cannot be sure the finished product will conform to the order and that it can be released for shipment to your warehouse.

How the PSS/ISS works

The buyer controls the process: Both the PSS and ISS must be approved in writing by the client to be valid. And they must be accepted in writing by the factory.

If you are clear about your product specifications, congratulations: you are off to a good start. If you are not, your CPG team can help you draft and present them. Once they are in place, you will have peace of mind, and you will not be concerned about getting incorrect merchandise as per above.


By Iris Zhou




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