Would You Risk a $10,000 Order to Raise Product Safety Questions?
You get a call one morning from a marketing manager referred to you by one of your customers. She desperately needs 7,500 tote bags for an event the following week and wants to know if you can deliver. You do some quick math and realize you could be talking about an order approaching $10,000. Now what questions are you going to ask?
Of course you're going to ask about budget, about the particular bag and imprint she has in mind, and where the bags are to be shipped, but are you willing to raise the product safety and compliance questions? Could there be a regulatory issue involved? Who is the intended audience for the product? Will children be recipients? What does the art look like? Is it a juvenile imprint? Will the bags be distributed in California? Does the end-buyer company have any policies regarding lead, phthalates, or cadmium in the bag or the imprint?
With a plum order in hand—especially a $10,000 order—even veteran distributors might shy away from questions like these if the client hasn't mentioned the issue first.
The same dilemma exists for suppliers. You receive a quote request for 2,500 custom-shaped flashlights and the client doesn't provide many details. What testing are you going to include? If the flashlights are for a Boy Scouts jamboree you have different considerations than if the flashlights are for a Mr. Goodwrench promotion. What should you build into your quote for testing and what specifications will you require of your factory when you ask for a quote? Every lab test you include and every product safety specification you require of your factory is likely to increase your cost. If you specify that the material must be lead- or cadmium-free, or that the inks must be phthalate-free, there will likely be an associated cost that your competitor might not be including. These are difficult questions, particularly when you are quoting blindly without knowing the whole story.