How Can Amazon Sellers Evaluate Their Suppliers' Product Quality Management Capabilities?
7 min

How Can Amazon Sellers Evaluate Their Suppliers' Product Quality Management Capabilities?

Adam Joseph, January 4, 2022


This post was originally published on the Sellics blog. Any references to Sellics and/or Sellics software, missing/broken images and links will be updated soon.

No matter which kind of Amazon business you are running, you will need quality suppliers and vendors to be successful. Particularly if you are importing products from China, you will have to work with the best suppliers to ensure you get the highest quality products delivered at prices that give you a worthwhile profit margin.

There is no doubt that product quality is the most important factor that Amazon sellers consider when importing products from China. Amazon sellers don't compromise on product quality because they know that if there are any issues with the quality of their products, then there is little chance of their business surviving for very long.

Given how critical this is for a business' success, it is unsurprising that there are many established quality standards and key performance indicators that Amazon sellers use to evaluate a supplier’s product quality management capabilities.

If you're an Amazon seller and you want to understand how to ensure product quality standards on the goods you are importing from China, then this article is for you. We'll help you understand why maintaining product quality is essential and we'll explain the steps successful Amazon sellers take to carefully evaluate the product quality management capabilities of their suppliers.

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Why Is Amazon Product Quality Important?

If anyone needs convincing that product quality is the most critical factor in the success of any business—and particularly an Amazon business—then consider the following points:

  • First impressions: A brand or seller offering high-quality products has more potential to stand out on Amazon, either through images or in the description, and encourage customers to make an initial purchase

  • Fulfilling customer expectations: Maintaining product quality ensures your customers are satisfied when they receive their product. This increases the likelihood of positive Amazon reviews, which will help your listing stand out and drive sales.

  • Customer loyalty: Customers who are pleased with the quality of a product are more likely to make repeat purchases.

  • Brand strength: If your brand is associated with high product quality, then your whole business can benefit, and you can pursue upselling and cross-selling strategies.

For these reasons, it's essential that you pay attention to maintaining product quality throughout your business cycle.

Why Are Suppliers Important?

If you're importing your products for sale on Amazon from China, then to ensure high product quality you will have to connect with the best suppliers in the country. Suppliers are responsible for handling a wide range of duties, including:

  • helping you find the best product manufacturers

  • negotiating prices on your behalf

  • ensuring product quality

  • safely delivering products to your country.

These aren't trivial tasks, which underlines the importance of the supplier for your business. No matter which industry you're working in, a good relationship with your suppliers will make your business more efficient and more profitable. Maintaining healthy relationships with your suppliers offers numerous benefits for your business, including streamlining production timelines, minimizing operating costs, and guaranteeing high-quality products.

Some of the most successful Amazon sellers are the ones who embrace their suppliers and vendors and view them as business partners. As a result, these suppliers feel valued by the sellers and are happy to contribute to the growth of their business and help them achieve success.

Why Is Supplier Evaluation Necessary?

Firstly, supplier evaluation is necessary because the suppliers play such an important role in your business cycle. Secondly, evaluation is important because there is no guarantee that every supplier on the market will be well-suited to your business and be able to provide the service and the quality products that you and your customers expect.

That's why the most successful Amazon sellers are those who regularly evaluate their suppliers' performance. They understand that supplier performance is strongly linked to the success of their business.

By analyzing your suppliers' product management capabilities, technological resources, and delivery strategies, you significantly reduce the risk of receiving low-quality products or other situations arising that can have a negative impact on your business.

If you haven't been evaluating your suppliers and you haven't experienced any issues, then you've been lucky. So far. But if you're interested in long-term success, then it's never too early to make supplier evaluation a core aspect of your business strategy, especially if you're an Amazon seller.

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How Can I Evaluate the Product Quality Management Capabilities of My Suppliers?

Just as you, the Amazon seller, need to evaluate your suppliers, the suppliers themselves need to evaluate the quality of the products they are working with. That's why good suppliers build up their product quality management capabilities. They use performance indicators to analyze product quality and ensure that the sellers get the best quality products delivered, as per their requirements.

The challenge for Amazon sellers is therefore identifying and analyzing the product quality management capabilities of their suppliers. Here are a few ways this can be done to ensure that you are working with suppliers who can reliably provide high-quality products for your Amazon business.

1. Establish Key Performance Indicators

The first thing Amazon sellers can do to analyze their suppliers' product management capabilities is establish suitable key performance indicators (KPIs). These performance indicators depend on the product you import and may vary for different sellers.

In all cases, your key performance indicators should include all the characteristics you wish to see in your product and anything you have discussed with your supplier. Once you have finalized the deal with your supplier and the products have been delivered to your doorstep, you can use your key performance indicators to identify whether the products meet your criteria or not.

If the product meets the criteria in line with your KPIs, then you know that your supplier has set proper quality standards and that they have thoroughly analyzed the product before delivering it to you. 

If the product quality falls short in any respect, you will quickly identify this using your KPIs, and you might have to reconsider your choice of supplier.

Crucially, you should communicate your KPIs to your supplier and always include them in your agreement so that they know what your expectations are and so that you have a clear, written basis for any queries or negotiations.

2. Ask to See Your Suppliers' Certifications

Another essential factor that can help you analyze your suppliers' quality management capabilities is their certifications. It is usually recommended that buyers have minimal requirements when considering supplier quality certifications. 

If you have experience looking for suppliers, you will know that most product suppliers aren't willing to show their certifications. However, as an Amazon seller (or any product buyer), you have the right to view and verify the certifications of any supplier you intend to enter a business arrangement with. 

You should always ask your prospective suppliers for their credentials and choose those who are certified according to internationally recognized quality standards such as ISO, QS, and others. If a supplier refuses to share their credentials, then this is a clear indication that you should give them a wide berth.

3. Design an Evaluation Method

There can be various methods of assessing supplier performance, including evaluation forms, system metrics, surveys, and software applications. Amazon sellers should design a method that helps them to evaluate their suppliers' product quality management capabilities.

For example, you can design a survey that asks your employees to answer a few questions related to your suppliers and rate their services. Here, it's best to use an evaluation system that provides quantifiable answers, and to use questions that are applicable to all suppliers.

As well as surveying your staff, you can also track and record hard performance numbers. A useful metric could be how many corrective actions you had to issue to your supplier regarding returning or scrapping the products because they did not meet the agreed specifications. Another option could be the number of times you received a customer complaint that you can attribute to the poor services of the supplier. 

Whichever metrics you include in the evaluation method, you should ensure that it enables a fair comparison between suppliers. For example, if you are counting customer complaints, this should be measured in relation to the quantity of products sold and not as an absolute number. The aim is to have a clear understanding of which suppliers are providing the performance you need, and which are not.

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4. Conduct Performance Audits

Regular performance audits are another means of evaluating the product quality management capability of your suppliers. Conducting audits at regular intervals allows you to keep track of the quality of products you are receiving at your warehouse.

If the defined standards are met every time, you know your supplier is capable of maintaining a high level of quality. Otherwise, you need to talk to your supplier and identify the cause of any drop in quality. Clearly, if quality standards consistently fall below expectations consistently, then this is a great risk to your business, and you should consider alternative options.

As well as assessing product quality, regular supplier audits can also be used to keep record of which products you have been buying in which quantities and whether you need to order more.

5. Assess Scaling Capacity

Ensuring that the supplier you choose has sufficient scaling capacity might be the most critical factor to consider when evaluating their product management capabilities. 

This means that your supplier must be able to deliver as many units as you might need for your business as it grows in the future. And remember: it's not only about providing the number of required units. It is essential that the supplier has the capacity to scale up without compromising on quality standards.

Suppose you are running a store on Amazon and you currently only need 300 units per month. In this case, it will be fairly easy for all suppliers to provide and maintain the quality of 300 units for your business. But what if your business suddenly grows and you need 1,000 units per month in the next few months?

Can your supplier produce 1,000 units without the quality suffering? Will they deliver the highest quality products at the same price and in the specified time? If the answer is yes, your supplier has the required scaling capacity and you can confidently choose them for your long-term business. Otherwise, you should look for alternative options and select one that is able to offer scaling opportunities without compromising on cost, quality, and/or time

In simple words, a supplier that cannot scale products to meet your requirements isn't a good choice at any point. If you go with such a supplier, you might start out well but you are almost betting on your business not growing, as any significant growth will create challenges you could have avoided with a more considered supplier selection.

6. Visit Your Suppliers' Facilities

Visiting suppliers' facilities is an excellent way of building trust and it often helps develop a long-term business relationship. If you can visit your supplier's facilities by any means, you must take the opportunity to do so.

Visiting a supplier's facilities isn't just a way of strengthening your partnership either. Seeing their operations first-hand will provide a detailed insight into their working procedures. This is a great way of identifying and understanding the steps they take to meet the agreed product quality standards and to fulfill their customer needs.

Therefore, if it is at all possible for you to visit your supplier's facilities, get to know your suppliers better, and review their working culture, then your business will undoubtedly benefit from what you learn.

7. Work with a Third-Party Quality Inspection Team

Third-party quality inspection has become vital for almost all importers manufacturing in Asia. Fortunately, suppliers usually comply with an importer's request to have a third-party inspector verify the goods before shipment.

One notable quality of a good supplier is they are happy and willing to cooperate with a third-party inspection team for quality checks. If your supplier is hesitant about collaborating with a third-party quality inspector, or if they outright refuse, then this is a major red flag. You should treat this as a matter of serious concern, as it could indicate that your supplier is trying to hide an issue from you. Some suppliers will try to avoid inspection and ship the products before you raise any concerns.

Some of the ways third-party quality inspectors can help are:

  • Pointing out defects which the supplier’s quality control team might have missed

  • Improving customer relationships by ensuring product quality before shipment

  • Fulfilling product requirements and inspection expectations and hence preventing customer returns and refunds.

The best suppliers will book quality inspections on time and assist third-party quality inspectors on site. If they observe any complications, they then provide valuable feedback and advise on how issues can be resolved.

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8. Check Your Suppliers' Documentation History

One of the characteristic features of quality standards is they do not remain static throughout your relationship with your supplier. Amazon product quality standards keep changing, as do your requirements.

The best suppliers update their records and information, and take steps to implement any changes necessary to comply with new standards. Some of the information that suppliers need to keep organized and continuously updated includes:

  • Quality standards that highlight quality issues, defects, classifications, and performance standards

  • Product specifications and requirements, including dimensions, colors, and materials

  • Packaging requirements including labels, shipping marking, and retail printing files.

Maintaining precise quality records is amongst the essential tenets of ISO 9001 certification. If your supplier has maintained clear documentation policies, this is a strong indication that you are working with a quality supplier.

Also, it is worth mentioning here that keeping the information updated isn't only the supplier's responsibility. It's also your responsibility as an Amazon seller to clearly outline the latest requirements to your supplier. And it's in your interest too, as any failure to comply with standards will ultimately harm your business. However, the best suppliers are always well organized and proactively update their internal documents with new requirements.

Summary: Amazon Product Quality Depends on the Right Suppliers

As an Amazon seller, importing high-quality products from China can be challenging, but it certainly isn't something you can treat as an afterthought. It's essential that you find the best suppliers to make your product sourcing task more manageable and help you import the best quality products at prices that enable you to build a profitable business.

There are several qualities that a supplier should be able to demonstrate, which means you need to consider many factors when choosing the right suppliers for your business. 

One of the most important factors is the supplier's capability in the area of product quality management. It's up to you to ensure that you have systems in place to be able to evaluate your suppliers and ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to providing you with high-quality products at competitive prices.

We hope this article has helped you understand the importance of finding the best suppliers for your business and given you useful information on how to identify their quality assessment methods so that your business can sell high-quality products on Amazon that make you a profit and make your customers happy.

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