FQ’s guide to onboarding new suppliers

FQ’s guide to onboarding new suppliers

How to ensure your commitment to quality standards extends to every supplier.

Suppliers are the backbone of DTC brands. Their materials and services ensure your products meet the highest quality standards for maximum customer satisfaction. Once you find the perfect supplier for your business, you’ll want to set them up for success with a strong onboarding process.

A robust onboarding process equips suppliers with the expectations and knowledge they need to deliver quality products. With a strong foundation for your supplier partnerships, you can guarantee that your dedication to quality is upheld.

Why brands need quality-focused supplier onboarding

With sky-high customer expectations, the quality of your products should always be the priority. Ensuring the quality of your product requires a smooth supplier onboarding.

A well-structured onboarding process provides complete visibility into your expectations and product requirements. That clarity helps your supplier understand and deliver exactly what your product needs to succeed.

Partnering with reputable suppliers and fully onboarding them is more than just a business transaction; it’s an opportunity to reinforce your brand’s positive reputation. When you choose and prepare suppliers who share your commitment to quality, it’s easier to guarantee product integrity. As a result, every product that bears your brand’s name becomes a clear promise of unmatched quality.

3 best practices for supplier onboarding

Setting, relaying, and enforcing clear standards when onboarding a new supplier ensures both partners are set up for long-term success. Clarity and transparency are paramount to establishing a trusted foundation for effective supplier collaboration.

1. Clearly define your quality standards

Clear, easy-to-understand quality standards benefit brands and suppliers alike. When onboarding a new supplier, you must cover your expectations for everything from product specifications and regulatory requirements to specific manufacturing processes. Making sure everyone's on the same page from the start makes it easier to prevent deviations and guarantee an error-free product journey.

Collaboratively setting QC practices lays the groundwork for a successful partnership built on shared goals. Visual aids like slide decks and flowcharts help show what quality looks like throughout the product journey. They give suppliers a reference they can refer to repeatedly to ensure they're always fulfilling your quality needs.

Whenever new or revised quality expectations are set, it’s essential to document them in a clear and accessible format. FQ Certification upholds these standards by ensuring consistency, clarity, and accountability throughout your supplier relationship. This approach helps prevent mistakes while supporting easy communication and collaboration among all parties.

2. Provide an accessible quality guidebook

A well-structured guide helps suppliers quickly get up to speed on your company’s best practices during onboarding. It ensures the suppliers are properly informed so they avoid errors and maintain transparent QC processes. Suppliers won't have to ask for confirmation or direction when they can find the answers themselves, allowing them to achieve your exact quality standards more efficiently.

A standard supplier onboarding guidebook should include:

  • Product specifications and standards
  • Regulatory requirements that suppliers need to adhere to
  • All steps and procedures for quality control during production
  • Packaging and labeling standards
  • Communication channels for queries and clarifications

Including each of these items lays a foundation for your quality expectations and product requirements. They collectively establish clear guidelines for suppliers to adhere to, which leads to more consistency and compliance throughout production.

It’s crucial to make your guidebook easily accessible to suppliers for real-time reference. Each item included should have clear explanations so that your supplier’s key stakeholders fully understand your brand’s expectations. When suppliers don’t need to clarify certain aspects of your product or quality requirements, they can produce goods with minimal confusion and inconsistencies.

3. Conduct regular supplier audits

Maintaining your quality standards and compliance over time requires detailed evaluation. Routine and standardized audits help you see your suppliers’ strengths and weaknesses, minimizing defects and compliance issues.

Standardized audit criteria provide a clear framework to evaluate supplier performance, ensuring objectivity for each assessment. Using consistent criteria, your brand can easily compare results across multiple audits and suppliers for unbiased evaluations. This consistency helps identify trends and areas for improvement more accurately, leading to more effective quality practices.

Set a regular audit schedule to evaluate supplier performance and ongoing adherence to your standards. How often you audit will depend on your suppliers. Trustworthy partners conduct yearly audits to ensure compliance. But if you're seeing consistent issues from a specific supplier, you should start auditing more frequently to prevent those issues proactively.

Instead of simply spotting problems, approach audits as a collaborative effort to drive continuous improvement. Tell your suppliers about audits beforehand so they aren’t caught off guard. Emphasizing the constructive nature of your audits builds healthy supplier relations to ensure any potential issues are addressed head-on and immediately.

How Freestyle reinforced quality through strong supplier onboarding with FQ

Baby care brand Freestyle needed thorough quality inspections to ensure its one-of-a-kind diaper designs stood out in a crowded market. Monitoring production processes wasn’t easy with their overseas-based suppliers. Their team needed an affordable, sustainable solution to ensure quality and maintain visibility on the factory floor.

By partnering with Factored Quality, they found a cost-effective solution to establish a straightforward supplier onboarding process. Their team gained access to a vast network of vetted suppliers filtered by baby care expertise. Suppliers are onboarded with clear quality guidelines based on Freestyle’s unique product requirements. With real-time access to reliable quality reporting, they could clearly track how suppliers adhere to expectations set during onboarding.

Leveraging FQ’s expertise and vast network of suppliers made it easy to maintain the best partnerships for their products, leading to impressive results:

  • $15k+ saved annually in travel costs
  • 40% spike in product quality confidence
  • 24-hour lead time for reliable, data-driven QC reports after every inspection

FQ amplifies your quality standards for smooth supplier onboarding

FQ helps brands navigate the complex landscape of supplier onboarding — ensuring a future of consistent quality and risk aversion.

As a single source of truth for QC and compliance, FQ empowers your brand to prioritize QC efforts at every stage of the product journey. Our support ranges from in-house QC inspections to a network of over 2,000 quality professionals ready to reinforce compliance and quality needs.

Becoming Factored Quality Certified demonstrates your commitment to quality control and ethical labor practices — making it easier to find suppliers who do the same. Our rigorous certification process ensures that your suppliers adhere to the highest standards for consistent quality throughout your supply chain.

Apply for your certification today.

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