Quality control of promotional goods: top 10 problems

Posted on 16/06/2011 by Henk KROON Categorized: Case studies, Interesting Market information

Importing promotional goods is a risky activity. Purchasers are often in contact with tens of different suppliers located in developing Asian countries. To make matters worse, they often select suppliers on the basis of price alone. This is a recipe for frequent quality problems.

We have performed thousands of QC inspections on promotional goods, and we have compiled a “top ten” list of the most frequent defects:

1. Proportion of visual defects on the products

Most products are made by hand in Asian factories. The products’ workmanship and finishing are seldom perfect. And, for the Western consumer, too many imperfections are a sign of poor quality.

In nearly 30% of cases, the proportion of defects on the products is above the limits. In most of these cases, the buyer asks the factory to rework the products because they are unsellable in their current condition.


2. Labeling & marking

The logo is often the most important aspect of promo items. Yet, once the order is in production, the buyer’s requirements are not always respected. For example, the colors might be off, or the placement might not conform.

Mistakes on general labeling and on the cartons’ shipping marks are also frequent. Often times, they are printed incorrectly, or they are in the wrong place.

3. Function test

A lighter might not work, a bag’s zipper might resist normal use, or a calculator might be unable to perform the most basic operations.

The fact that a product works as intended is fundamental. Unfortunately, if you place one-shot orders and if you negotiate prices hard, you cannot assume that the manufacturer will respect his commitments.


4. Tests relative to importing country’s regulations

If you purchase sweaters for kids, did you think of limiting the length of the strings in the neck? If you buy flip-flops, did you remind your supplier that you need a composition sticker?

The European Union has developed an impressive body of directives designed to protect consumers. Make sure you respect them, or be prepared for heavy consequences (confiscation of the goods by customs, or legal action after the products are on the market).

5. Colors or general appearance of the product

The average Chinese engineer does not know about the consequences of using the wrong shade of red on your products. Yet it can be essential, in case several items from various suppliers are side by side on store shelves. This is a frequent cause of misunderstandings and disputes.


6. Inner packing

If the gift box does not look nice, has a printing defect, or was crushed during transport, the accompanying product often has to be thrown away, too. Make sure you explain this to your manufacturers.

7. Export packing

Many importers forget to define the export packing requirements. They tell the supplier “you can use your usual packaging materials”, which actually means “you can buy the cheapest cartons you find” in the hears of the factory managers.


A common procedure, during pre-shipment inspections, is the “carton drop test”. The inspector checks whether the products will be broken if a carton falls down during transport, and if the carton itself will remain closed.

8. Size & weight

It is very tempting for a factory to save on the materials used during production. For example, for a T-shirt, they might use a thinner fabric. They might also use a pattern that is a bit too small, resulting in “L” garments are actually in “S” size.

9. Drop test

What good is a pen or a key ring if it breaks the first time it falls on the ground? It gives a feeling of “cheap product” that your brand might not want to be associated with.

The free-fall test, from about 150cm, is another test that inspectors frequently perform in the factory.

10. Wrong assortment or wrong quantity inside cartons

The employees in the packing department of factories are often the lowest paid and the least trained. If they have to pack the whole order before the container arrives at 2pm, and if their working environment is a mess, the result won’t be pretty. They often will not count the pieces when they place them in the export cartons.

How to avoid receiving products with the above defects?

First, make sure you describe what you require clearly, with a drawing whenever possible. Don’t leave the choice to the factory.

Second, approve a perfect pre-production sample, and make it clear that you expect production to be up to that standard. Keep a sample for you, and send one to the factory.

Third, send an inspector to the factory to check quality. Most buyers schedule quality control after production is finished. However, if you deal with an untested supplier and you need to deliver an important customer on time, you should also send an inspector during production. This will allow you to catch the problems early and to push the manufacturer to take corrective actions.

Renaud Anjoran works at Asia Quality Focus , an inspection agency helping importers avoid the problems mentioned in this article.

Are you interested by this promotional product or this post ?


On this blog you will find a lot of information concerning the Gift and Premium industry. If you are looking for a specific product or if you want to submit an article, contact-us !


Les articles de la rubrique

custom pens

custom pens

colorful custom pens! everyone uses a pen at least once a day. why wouldn’t you print your company name on it? these pens with print have been the most sold promotional item for years on end, [...] 



wobblers wobblers are one of the most understated promotional articles. once you’ve got to know the wobbler you’ll soon appreciate their promotional worth. the wobblers  will make your [...] 

customised buttons!

customised buttons!

  buttons are one of the most timeless commercial items, and they are getting more and more popular as well. to show everyone what you stand for or what you’re a fan of, you can order buttons [...] 

Water on Mars

Water on Mars

BREAKING NEWS !! NASA just published the first photo of water on Mars   So what  did you expect?   More interesting posts here :Is Social Media Right For Your BusinessMaking Field Marketing [...] 

Metallic silicone wristbands: express your personality!

Metallic silicone wristbands: express your personality!

Nowadays everybody knows silicone wristbands and their success story. It is a steady and solid success, why? Well, because the price is really attractive and because it is a fashion accessorize. A [...] 

Disney and its fascinating promotional products

Disney and its fascinating promotional products

If we were to cite an example of a success story, Walt Disney would definitely fit the profile. Everything started even before the World War Two with the creation of Disney Brothers Studio on October [...] 



Written by B dynamic Australia If you look in your stationary drawer at work, you’re most likely to find countless plastic company pens rolling around inside. You’ll grab one, realise it doesn’t [...] 

Survey: stylish and not expensive, but toxic!

Survey: stylish and not expensive, but toxic!

Written on 24/11/2010 by DocLogo+ Source: Marianne In order to produce clothes or shoes, take some tissue or leather, threads and of course..toxic elements of different kind. According to the Arte [...] 

Free promotional pocket ashtray

Free promotional pocket ashtray

Our pocket ashtray is a free packet case made in carton. The pocket ashtray just makes up one with the packet of the smoker who has always it with him. With a large printable surface, it is a main [...] 

The « weight » of promotional products in France

The « weight » of promotional products in France

Promotional products are a very effective means of communication and therefore they are more and more used. Very often companies make themselves known by giving out promotional gadgets to their potential [...] 


Search for interesting information, products, promotional merchandise amongst the 619 articles and more than 750 comments of the blog.


Advertise Here

Partners's links