Over the years China quality control has gotten a bad reputation. Media reports of toy recalls due to lead content in paint used on the toys are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to quality control problems in China. Nonetheless, in China, manufacturing has come a long way.
As the business owner, it’s up to you to set specifications for your products and communicate a thorough quality control plan with your supplier. You are still responsible for the quality of your products even though you have outsourced manufacturing to someone else.
It’s always a good idea as a small business owner to visit any overseas operations you work with at least once or twice per year, if your business cash flow could allow such expenses. On the other hand if you’re just starting out or you simply can’t afford onsite visits to your suppliers, then it could be very practical and cost effective to hire a company like “China Quality Control”, which specializes in inspecting and auditing factories for business owners who do not live in the country.
“Asia Quality Focus” is another company you might be able to work with for quality assurance and quality control.
In China, wholesale prices are often less expensive than they are in other countries, mainly because of the lower labor costs in China. However, this geo-arbitrage (outsourcing ones personal or business tasks to markets where labor is at a discount) is constantly changing in China and around the globe. So as wages keep rising in some of these Asian countries, it becomes very important for the entrepreneur or small business owner to periodically assess the markets to see if it is advantageous to outsource to China or elsewhere.
Also, shipping costs must always be factored in, as they can be very significant depending on the product you’re dealing with. So look closer to home for a company you can outsource your manufacturing to if this is a more workable option. For example manufacturing in Mexico could be a beneficial alternative for businesses in North America. The average wage for workers in Mexico is higher than it is in China, although the work force in Mexico also tends to be more skilled. Your shipping costs and lead times will also be lower.
Domestic outsourcing is one choice of course, but the cost may still be outside what a small business owner who is just getting started can afford to pay.
Should a small business entrepreneur worry too much about China quality control? The simple answer is no; not if this would cause you to miss out on great outsourcing opportunities to cut significant costs from your operations.
Of course, this is a simplified view of the whole China quality control issue. There is a lot more to it that even big businesses struggle to keep up with the fast changing pace of manufacturing in China and elsewhere.
You want to make sure you do your due diligence before outsourcing to China or anywhere else. Political orientation aside, if it makes business sense for you to outsource to China or elsewhere, then you should do so.