There are two primary types of sourcing samples that are used in a typical sourcing process: buyer provided samples and supplier produced samples. Prior to an ordering being completed, sample confirmation is often agreed upon in order to establish a particular standard or level of quality that the potential product must be held to. Due to the different regulations of each country with regards to product quality, there can be no one finite description of what standards each product requires. This makes a confirmed standard between suppliers and buyers very important. Let’s discuss in more detail the two primary types of sourcing samples that are found within the industry.

1. Buyer Provided Sample or Original Sample (客户原样 Ke Hu Yuan Yang)
This is a type of sample that the buyer provides, which is also called the original sample. Typically, a buyer searches for suppliers in other countries who can either match or offer higher quality, than the original sample. The buyer’s original sample is used to create a standard of quality and often the specification sheets and drawings are based off of the original sample if not already provided.

Clear block sourcing samples with CPG tags

2. Supplier Produced Sample or Vendor or Factory Sample (供应商样品 Gong Ying Shang Yang Pin)
In this instance, the buyer gives the supplier all the information required to manufacture the desired product. They provide the supplier with specific information, such as original samples, drawings, technical parameters, and specification sheets. The supplier then produces a sourcing sample to be accepted or rejected by the buyer. Passing the counter sample is one of the first steps for the supplier to begin a mass production of that product. Then there are other samples produced by the supplier throughout the process which can be divided into the following three sub-categories:

  • Stock Sample (库存样品 Ku Cun Yang Pin): The stock sample is a supplier's existing sample that they already own and have previously produced. It is not used as an attempt to match the customer provided sample. Typically, the vendor provides this sample to use as a reference to compare features or functions of a product. These samples are used as a quick reference to check the quality, workmanship, and capabilities of a supplier.
  • Counter Sample (供应商打样 Gong Ying Shang Da Yang): The counter sample is a sample made by the vendor specifically according to a buyer’s requirements for confirmation of product quality before order placement or before allowing production to start. There can be several counter samples during the approval process for all the adjustments and changes requested by the buyer. In some cases, even the original sample is altered and the new design is only available as a counter sample. This is seen when the factory aids in product development.
  • Production Sample (大货样品 Da Huo Yang Pin): The production sample refers to the samples from the actual purchase order. These can be selected randomly by the factory or third party inspectors to check the average quality of order production. This kind of sample should be confirmed by the buyer before approval on product shipment.

Understanding the terminology and definitions of samples is a start to gaining more control over your sourcing process. Though the basic ones have been described, the categories could be broken down to even more specific sourcing samples in different stages. Although the sourcing process begins with finding a suitable supplier, it also starts with how effectively you communicate and understand details about the different types of sourcing samples that are produced by your factories.