7 Steps to Make Your Sample Management Easier

Managing samples is a pervasive need for every sourcing and trade company. Due to a less variety and quantity with product types than those shipping to warehouses, small companies are unlikely to have an electronic system to manage all the messy samples, instead, manual labor is required in these cases. Reliably tracking these samples as they make their way throughout the buying process is difficult yet absolutely necessary.

Nevertheless, many mistakes may occur and can lead to delayed product rollouts—or may even result in a product never making it to market. So how to improve efficiency as well as lower the chance of errors is worth discussing.

Based on experiences, I would suggest taking the following 7 steps to make your sample management easy:

Firstly, 4 steps for preparation work before suppliers actually send out samples, including:

1. Confirm with suppliers about the final samples, photo them if necessary.

Make sure if it’s ok for you. (If the sample is not a final customized one, for the sake of comparison, kindly ask suppliers to attach a note with differences between the current one and requested one.) Have you ever encountered a situation like this: You receive a package without knowing who sent it, just a factory address maybe, not even a company name, samples are not marked either. It’s more common to receive packages with faded name & address on it, and you’ll need to track it according to the pictures in your emails for example, which would be very bothersome and time-consuming.

However, we can develop a habit which is to inform suppliers to attach a piece of paper or product category with notes: product name, label number, company names etc. to avoid this situation and for future tracking.

2. Confirm courier and payer

3. To be more organized, make a sample tracker sheet, including supplier name, label number (make it simple and easy to remember), delivery date, courier/waybill number/charges, sample qty, notes,etc.

Secondly, when you receive sample packages, first thing is to LABEL THEM.

1. As more and more samples are coming, your office might soon become nothing but chaos, filled with packaging papers, boxes… So to avoid this, try to get one done at a time. You can label a sample with its label number using a post-it. Then quickly fill out the sample tracker each time you receive a new package before you moving to the next one.

2. Don’t forget to keep all the invoices.

3. In some cases, you will have to photo those samples, and put them in a sample pics folder, file name can be correspondingly to sample label number.

4. Storage: try to wrap up your samples the way they are packed. And stick a label outside the package so you can track down easily in the future.

A simple and easy practice will make your customer’s life much easier!

By Marissa Lam

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