When You Need To Be Sure

Lead paint?  Choking hazard?  Flammable materials?  Custom made promotional merchandise is one of the best tools for setting your brand apart from the crowd, but when you need to know that the item will be produced to the specifications of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and be safe for the end user, what questions should you be asking?

First, when contemplating the option of producing custom goods, only those distributors with strong overseas factory relationships and at least five years import experience should be considered for this type of project.  There are many ways to make costly mistakes in overseas production, and without the benefit of an established overseas network, the risk of problems occurring increases dramatically.

Once you and your team of experts have decided on the basics of quantity, budget, timing and design, there should be a unanimous understanding on how to confirm the quality of the product.  A few basic points to consider when having that discusssion:

  • 3rd Party Quality Check (QC):  For a relatively small amount of money (approximately $350), a 3rd party independent QC company can offer services such as product inspection, factory auditing and lab testing. This should be considered a non-negotiable part of the project cost.
  • Verify Raw Materials:  It’s absolutely imperative that you know exactly what materials are being used in your product.  For items that come in contact with food, is it food grade?  Is the tote bag material flame resistant?  Request written documentation from the supplier that the materials are safe.
  • Request Pre-Production Samples:  Photos are not sufficient!  Quality and design issues can only be caught with an actual sample.  If the first sample is not acceptable, request and wait for another sample – and don’t sign off on production until the final sample meets all specifications.
  • Create QC Checklist:  Don’t assume everyone has the same quality concerns.  Create a simple and effective list of the most important aspects of the item you’re producing. Then be sure everyone on the team has a copy and all key points have been addressed. Some of the most basic considerations should be contents and packaging; item details such as color and shape; appearance and function; special requirements; and photos.

A well-designed custom promotional product can make a bold marketing statement and increase your brand visibility.  But when you need to be sure that the product quality reflects the high standards of your company, be certain to insist on a well-defined quality control plan from your supplier.

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