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How do I go about getting product samples from China manufacturers before placing an order?

Posted: 2011-03-22

Full Question

I wish to import tennis balls from China. I teach tennis here in southern California with a lot of other instructors as well. We are having found several companies that manufacture their own tennis balls for kids. We have heard horror stories about ordering large quantities from China and the goods that where shipped back to California where not the intended goods. We don't wish that to happen to us. Aside from going there and seeing first-hand the quality of the products would be time consuming to us. We would like to know how we could obtain samples for several of the tennis ball manufactures to test their products before we embark on a larger quantity. Thank you most kindly if you have an answer for our group.

Answer

The first step is to find a reliable supplier. I highly suggest you use the star rating system of verified suppliers found at www.GlobalSources.com. Many buyers don't bother to ask suppliers for a couple of references, but it is a simple and cost effective tool to evaluate suppliers. If a supplier can't give you a couple of happy clients to speak to, then run away and find another supplier. The second part of your question is about sampling and quality assurance. Luckily, a few cans of tennis balls won't cost that much to ship to you for trial. Most suppliers don't send out samples free of charge, but if you pay for the samples and mailing, it is normal to ask that these expenses be subtracted from the value of the order if you make a purchase in the future. But have that term agreed in advance to be safe. Assuming you find the tennis balls you like, consider engaging the services of a 3rd party inspection agency if you don't want to fly to China to inspect the production before it ships out. It is important that you or somebody you trust is on-site to check product quality BEFORE the goods ship out of China and BEFORE you make final payment. The good news is that inspection agents like the one mentioned above are very affordable and easy to work with.As a new buyer you may find that you need sourcing support in other areas beyond inspection, so it is probably advantageous for you to review our endorsed service providers list (http://www.smartchinasourcing.com/service-providers.html) for future reference. Speaking of resources, you may also want to check out http://www.globalsources.com/SITE/BUYER/MAIN.HTM and subscribe to the free "China Sourcer" magazine.

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