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overseas sourcingIf you?re looking to gain a significant cost savings, it may be time for you to consider sourcing your promotional products overseas. There are certainly risks associating when sourcing products overseas, so knowing what you?re getting into before placing your order is key.

However, despite the risks, there is a huge opportunity to create some great products with the unique manufacturing technology that is available overseas and not here in the United States. Put that together with the cost saving opportunities and you will find how beneficial overseas sourcing can truly be.

Not Understanding Lead Time

Lead time from placing the order to an in hand date is typically 70-90 days but depends on how customized the product is. There are many tangibles with shipping so understanding lead time is key to ensuring smooth delivery. Here are some of the more notable issues:

Issues with Customs

Certain products can easily get flagged by customs when they arrive in the US. This can easily add 2-3 weeks to your delivery time, understanding issues that you might have, and how the inspection process works when products arrive can help you predict your lead time.

Shipping Issues 

Shipping can be delayed because of the weather, infestation. It is crucial to leave time for errors. If you have to air freight your product, you will lose your profit margins to save the in hand date. Giving yourself enough lead time can help avoid any issues that may come up.

Quality Control Process

Say you get a decent sample and then when you get the product it?s not of the same quality you saw with the sample. You pay for the goods when they ship but if you receive the product and it?s not up to the quality of the sample ? you are in essence, out of luck. Make sure there is a good quality control process with the factory you choose so you get the quality product you?re paying for.

Safety Testing and Auditing

Make sure your factory partner is up to par in regards to workplace safety and standards. While factory standards aren?t kept up overseas, issues surrounding workplace standards are sanctioned in the US where we take safety much more seriously. CPSIA and Prop 65 are two important standards to follow in the US and products should be tested to assure compliance. You need to check testing requirements based upon the countries, states or territories you are shipping to.

Make sure you are aware of the requirements for children?s products especially. In numerous cases of overseas sourcing, there have been large lawsuits and recalls on a toy for children. Why? The product hadn?t been tested and was later deemed unsafe for children. Not only do you probably lose a customer ? but you also see your reputation tarnished and it can be very expensive to do a recall.

Finally, don?t forget about your social responsibility. Being able to prove where your products and materials come from and that they don?t come from an area of conflict. The Dodd Frank Act recently regulated where certain raw materials such as tin or diamonds come from to ensure people are not buying blood” materials from certain regions of Africa such as The Congo. You are required by law to be able to produce documentation on the origin of your raw materials. Not only can these issues have legal complications but the public relations and marketing implications can send a brand into crisis mode fairly easily.

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