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Common Sourcing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

As a buyer or importer, sourcing high-quality products at competitive prices from reliable suppliers is crucial to your business. However, it's easy to make mistakes that can lead to poor quality, delays, or higher costs. Here are some common sourcing mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not visiting your supplier's manufacturing facility

Visiting the supplier's facility can give you a deeper understanding of their operations, quality control processes, and overall capability to meet your needs. Neglecting to do so can result in working with suppliers who are not equipped to meet your standards and expectations. Don't source from a supplier without verifying their real manufacturing capabilities.

Not setting clear quality expectations

If you don't provide specific quality requirements and standards, the supplier will not know what is expected. This can lead to products being rejected or needing expensive rework. It's essential to communicate your quality expectations to your supplier from the start. Be highly detailed in specifying your quality needs. This will help ensure that the products you receive meet your standards and help avoid issues down the road.

Not getting physical samples

Pictures and specifications are not enough. Always get physical samples from your supplier before placing a large order. Inspect the samples closely to ensure they meet your quality expectations. As things progress, you’ll want to obtain an “Approved Sample” of your product – one that will represent the gold standard that each item in your shipment should match.

Neglecting inspections

Don't assume your supplier will consistently meet quality requirements without oversight. Regular inspections are necessary to verify quality and ensure you are getting what you paid for. Neglecting to do so can result in accepting products that are not up to par, leading to costly returns and damaged relationships with your supplier.

To avoid these common mistakes and source successfully, you may want to work with a reliable and experienced partner like FSE. With years of experience sourcing for US and European clients, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you find the right suppliers, set proper expectations, thoroughly inspect samples and production, and manage risks. If you want to improve your sourcing and avoid costly errors, feel free to reach out to us at


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