Packing the goods
Many importers forget to specify how their goods should be packed, and huge quantities of products – being not adequately protected – are unsellable or simply need to be replaced with others in good conditions. Adequate packaging protects goods in many ways during shipment and prevents complaints and hard disputes with the suppliers.
By the way, before the shipment it is important to agree with the supplier and coordinate the way your products should be packed. Of course, each type of goods has a particular packaging due to its peculiar material or function (e.g. glass, plastic, electronic devices). Surely, you have to rely on a trusted partner who is responsible for the packaging and be very clear about the conditions of your agreement which has to focus also on how to manage complaints.
Moreover, if the goods are in cartons, it is advisable to place them on pallets wrapped in plastic. This way the products will be better protected and probably it will be easier to move them around.
Once you get your goods, it is advisable to carry out a thorough inspection of all the goods and note possible damaged or missing items. Keep the packing materials, damaged materials and all the shipping documents as evidence, to fill in a survey on all the damage.
Complaints and warranty
Once you claim the goods, performing a product inspection is fundamental and necessary.
If the goods are damaged due to unsatisfying packaging, you need to open a claim with the company in charge of the shipment, and if you have an insurance, apply for it according to the internal bureaucratic procedures.
Certainly you will be asked to document all damage with a video or pictures and, of course, fill in the requested documents . A value loss calculation based on the declared amount on the invoice has to be prepared and reported to the claim department. Do not forget that some costs, such as VAT, are not always refundable.
By the way, it is fundamental to prevent such situations by making sure that all correct steps for a safe packaging are followed prior to the departure and complaint.
Refund or no refund?
If it happens to you to receive a non-satisfactory batch, what are the possible scenarios?
First of all, you have to get in touch with your supplier and be sure that he has followed all the steps of your agreement (that is why it is highly recommended to sign an OEM that includes also info and details on packaging and labelling).
If the supplier is proved to be wrong, then you will be probably proposed a replacement and a discount on your next order.
Sometimes it can be risky because in most cases, the quality of the spare parts will not satisfy you anyway, and, on the other hand, the discount may prove that the supplier cares less about your order, since the profit margins are even less than expected.
There are also some other options such as sending back the items to be fixed in China (evaluate the costs and the timing first), fix the items within your company or find a company which can fix it in your country.
Anyway, the best solution is to investigate the problem in order to solve it and prevent the occurrence of similar situations in the future.
Laboratory certifications: better to have them
Proper attention has to be paid to laboratory certification to be sure that the products you are buying meet the regulations of the country where you sell them. Keep in mind that as an importer you are responsible for the safety of the products and all their components. There are some sensitive products such as toys, chemical agents, electronic-electrical components that shall be in compliance with the rules of the country of destination or you will incur serious legal troubles.
This is the reason why it is very useful to ask the suppliers the for certifications issued by authorized and recognized laboratories which perform the tests.
It is fundamental to be sure that:
- The certification applies to all your products (the whole batch), because generally the tests are performed on samples that are sent before the production starts;
- Check that the documents and the testing reports are true;
- As long as all the parts of your production do not change, the laboratory certification is valid but be aware that if any change occurs, you should re-apply for the test to be performed;
- Verify if the laboratory is allowed to perform tests on your products and if they are ISO 17025 certified.
Last but not least, you may find useful tips about authorized laboratories on this webpage:
- For exporting to China: http://www.liaa.gov.lv/files/liaa/attachments/export_guideline.pdf
- Guideline for packaging: http://www.liaa.gov.lv/files/liaa/attachments/guideline_packaging_en.pdf
- Certificates: http://qualityinspection.org/laboratory-certificate/, http://qualityinspection.org/certification-cdf-china/