How Important is Quality and Social Compliance When Choosing Your Promotional Products Vendor?
Jan 24, 2012
Product Safety and Quality Taking a Lead Role in Promotional Products
Austin, Texas: In my years of experience, I can sort the buyers of promotional products into four main classifications:
1) Price is King
2) Need it Yesterday
3) Gimme the Newest, Latest & Greatest
4) Image is Everything
Up until recently, those four categories were sufficient. Sure, there were splinter groups–insisting only on eco-friendly promotional products or only promotional products Made in the USA.
But, with CPSIA and other health and safety related requirements and lawsuit threats, product safety and quality needs to become number one for any company that fears potential negative feedback or legal issues.
Eco Marketing Solutions has committed itself to working only with leading factories and suppliers that hold compliance issues at the forefront and build it into their business culture.
In fact, many of our top suppliers are active or founding members of the Quality Certification Alliance, an independent, accreditation organization whose mission is to elevate the standards by which industry firms that import and/or manufacture promotional products provide consistently safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise.
QCA Accreditation is granted to companies who complete multiple independent third-party audit and comply with stringent standards, which are based upon a combination of state and national laws, international standards and industry-accepted best practices that are recognized for their strength and effectiveness by QCA Accredited companies, the promotional products industry and end-user clients.
According to the QCA website, in order to provide the accountability necessary to assure buyers and end users that products meet applicable measures of compliance, QCA Accreditation tests not only for the presence of and completeness of compliance programs but also the effectiveness of these programs in detecting and deterring noncompliance. This comprehensive program assess five key areas:
A QCA Certified Supplier has policies and procedures that are robust and able to detect and deter non-compliant product from shipping to customers. Corporate brand equity is also protected by reducing the need for product recalls, thus keeping news of any unsafe product out of the headlines. The processes include:
- A commitment to assuring consumer safety and brand security
- Design guidelines that cover legal and product performance requirements as well as raw material specifications
- A product approval protocol that assures only product meeting specified design guidelines is approved for manufacture
- Testing guidelines for internal evaluations and third-party assessments
- Mechanisms for assuring traceability
- Recall protocols
A QCA Certified Supplier has procedures in place governing product quality from design through manufacturing that provide a means to monitor and verify quality standards are maintained throughout the process. An expectation of quality is established with:
- A formally documented Quality Manual
- A process that assures only product for which an approved standard exists are manufactured
- Inspections for both pre- and post-shipments
- A process for evaluating root cause and assigning corrective actions
- Supplier qualification programs
Supply Chain Security
A QCA Certified Supplier’s policies and procedures meet the security criteria established by U.S. Customs’ C-TPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) program that protects our borders. A supply chain security program should encompass both domestic and offshore process and facility review. It should include:
- Container security
- Facility physical security
- Procedural security
- Access control
- Supply chain visibility
A QCA Certified Supplier’s policies and procedures ensure that those facilities that are part of its supply chain adhere to legal and ethical standards that are based on internationally agreed upon protocols of the UN Global Compact. These include:
- Worker’s rights
- Legal compensation requirements
- Physical working and living conditions
- Worker safety
A QCA Certified Supplier’s policies and procedures promote an ongoing stewardship of the environment, which includes:
- Compliance with local environmental regulations
- Restriction and monitoring for banned substances
- Resource management
Does it cost a little bit extra to go with factories that test and re-test for the highest quality standards? Yes, but only minimally.
When we checked prices between QCA products and similar non-accredited products, there was a price discrepancy of between 1.4% and 5.7% on 100 randomly selected items, with an average of 2.33% difference.
Is it worth it to your organization to pay an extra 2.33% to ensure the highest standards in quality and product safety?
If you are looking for the absolute cheapest promotional products without concern for safety or social responsibility, we are not going to be your best bet.
If you are looking to get promotional products that portrays your brand and image in the most positive light, we aim to be your client and partner in your marketing efforts.
Give us a call and let’s discuss how we can help you promote an environmental message in a socially responsible way.