What is a Pre-Shipment Inspection and Why is it Important?

Pre-Shipment Inspection

Before logistics providers send goods over to their destinations, they conduct a pre-shipment inspection. This might seem like a tedious or bureaucratic process if you need to send goods urgently, but a pre-shipment inspection is vital.

According to industry research, shipping errors occur on 2% of the average merchant’s packages. This means 2 out of 10 packages will experience an error and add costs to your fulfillment expenses. Can pre-shipment inspections cut this error rate?

Let’s look at what they are and why you need them.

What Are Pre-Shipment Inspections?

A pre-shipment inspection is a step conducted by manufacturers where they inspect finished goods before sending them on for shipment or packaging.

These inspections check merchandise quality, defects, and safety factors. Usually, defects caught at this stage will be cheaper to replace and mitigate. They also reduce the number of hurdles your logistics partners must jump over to address returns and other consequences of shipping errors.

In most cases, manufacturers outsource pre-shipment inspection processes to agencies. This prevents any conflict of interest that may exist within internal departments and ensures that finished goods are fully vetted for safety.

Let us now look at why pre-shipment inspections are vital.

Pre-Shipment Inspections Keep You Compliant

Many modern products contain a combination of chemicals in the form of raw materials or dyes. While these chemicals may be allowed in your local jurisdiction, they might be illegal in your destination.

Pre-shipment inspectors examine your manufacturing facilities and product for the presence of such chemicals. For instance, chemicals derived from azo-dyes are banned within products sold in the EU and United States.

Fail to adhere to these regulations and your business will face hefty fines. Aside from these fines, your company’s brand will also take a beating in the market, jeopardizing future revenues. As environmental and safety regulations ramp up, pre-shipment inspections are more vital than ever.

Pre-Shipment Inspections Prevent Quantity Errors

One of the most common shipping mistakes is sending goods in the wrong quantities to your destinations. These errors occur for a wide range of reasons. No matter the reason, they damage customer experiences and cost money to fix.

Pre-shipment inspectors examine your shipments for quantity, along with quality. They double-check your inventory lists and destination details to make sure you’re sending goods in the right quantities.

Additionally, they also verify whether your packaging materials pass muster. They check them for safety and the presence of hazardous materials that might damage your product en route to their destinations.

In short, they vet your shipments before they leave your premises, giving you ample time to make adjustments and avoid costly errors.

Pre-Shipment Inspections Catch Quality Issues

Inspecting products for quality is one of the main tasks a pre-shipment inspector conducts. While checking every single product in a batch is impossible, inspectors use internationally recognized standards to statistically sample portions of your shipment.

They check for everything from product craftsmanship to functionality. They verify whether your products conform to recognized safety standards. Pre-shipment inspectors also classify each inspected product on a scale to gauge the degree of defects in them.

This helps you identify what you need to improve quickly, instead of having your customers tell you what’s wrong and experiencing the negative brand effects of such complaints.

Pre-Shipment Inspections Cover Industry-Specific Safety Tests

Some products need more rigorous testing for safety. Electronics, heavy machinery, and children’s goods must adhere to stringent safety standards. While manufacturing processes take care of these, it never hurts to have an external expert take a look at your products.

For instance, garments might seem like harmless items on the surface, but they must pass functionality tests. Moving parts like zippers and clasps must pass muster and any clothing branded for specific uses must adhere to manufacturing guidelines revolving around fabric density, weight, and thickness.

In some instances, inspectors even verify the number of stitches per inch to make sure garments stick to published regulations. With machinery, pre-shipment inspectors look at moving parts to verify whether any of them might entrap human limbs and other sensitive areas.

These inspections are vital to proving your product’s safety characteristics and passing regulatory tests once your goods land at their destinations. Most importantly, the pre-shipment testing report gives you proof and protects you from liability in case any of your goods suffer from damage en route.

If such damage creates a consumer liability issue, your report will prove that your goods passed inspection and that damages incurred during shipping (caused by logistics partners) must be at fault.

A Safety Net

Pre-shipment inspections might seem like a tedious process at first, but they’re essential to smooth business functioning. Aside from catching product shipping errors upfront, they help you address defects quickly before they become a cost headache.

As such, they’re a critical safety net for every business that ships goods.

Article and permission to publish here provided by Hazel Raoult. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on March 25, 2204.

Cover photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash.