Quality fade is a supplier’s behavior of progressively degrading the quality of the products to earn more profits. When a factory voluntarily participates in quality fade, disputes may arise between the buyer and the supplier, which can ultimately lead to early termination of agreements. Quality fade is not an unknown occurrence within the sourcing realm. More specifically, this issue seems to be constantly associated with goods exported from low-cost countries, such as China and Vietnam. However, quality fade is a phenomenon that exists throughout the world.

Bad Quality proof

An example of quality fade

Why does quality fade occur?

The most important reasons why quality fade can occur is due to:

1. Issues concerning business ethics
Business is business. Naturally, a businessman’s end goal is to pursue high profit margins. If you do not investigate your vendors carefully prior to engaging in trade, you may experience issues with certain vendors beginning to fade quality little by little over time in order to lower its costs.
2. Disconnect between quality levels of supplier and buyer
Buyers can sometimes forget to specify clear levels of desired quality in their quality specifications and criteria to their suppliers. Additionally, suppliers tend to sway more to the side of providing final products at their lowest cost. This may cause an issue between intended quality levels of the buyer and the final quality levels of products produced by the supplier.
3. Difficulty controlling vendors overseas
Some quality fade can be found in the production process; however, catching subtle quality fade issues can be difficult if you are located thousands of miles away. These issues are hardly monitored from far way in such detail. Having awareness that factories may participate in quality fade can help you stay on top of issues that may occur later on.

Quality Control worker

Performing quality control procedures

Can the quality fade issue be avoided?

We believe this problem can be avoided, if the importer focuses on the following:

1. Select a reliable Chinese factory
Perform a factory audit and investigate the factory carefully before placing an order. This can help in finding a reliable factory to work with. To find a factory with integrity also means you will save that much more time and money in the future.
2. Have backup suppliers
When you have an alternative suppler, your primary vendor will worry about being replaced and could put in more effort to pay attention to quality if they value your business.
3. Set up quality control system
Perhaps you do not know that nearly all buyers in China do raw material/outsourced parts inspection. Even if vendors have quality assurance staff in place, their products may still experience issues with quality. A quality control should be performed by your company’s representative or from a professional third party. Certain third party companies can help you with various aspects of your China sourcing endeavors, including factory audits, pre-production monitoring, production monitoring, pre-shipment inspection, etc. Here are some general tips on how to prepare before a quality control inspection.

Quality fade is an issue that can happen to anybody. It is important to always make sure you have effective quality control procedures in place and to stay aware of your products that you source from China. I hope the points I listed above can give you some insight into the possible quality fade issues you might face with factories.