The age old debate of quality vs compliance or compliance over quality is something that we still wrestle with today.
By defining what these concepts mean, we can start to paint a picture of why one may take precedence over the other in your eyes:
Quality - This specifically refers to the ability of a product or service to consistently meet and exceed customer expectation from its design to its functionality.
Compliance - This specifically refers to whether or not your product meets specific product compliance regulations so as to be responsibly bought or consumed by a customer.
Now, depending on your brand’s positioning and goals, you will likely be placing value on one over the other, putting your brand at unnecessarily high risks that can result in avoidable costs for you.
"Does it really have to be one over the other?"
When quality and compliance are able to strike a harmonious balance within your supply chain, you create operational efficiencies that are able to create opportunities for growth in the marketplace, something your brand can benefit from by setting you at a bench mark above the rest
In this blog post, we seek to uncover the importance of both quality and compliance and the benefits they have to manufacturers, suppliers and retailers all over the world, ultimately taking a closer look at what the perfect union of these two concepts can mean for you.
The case for quality
When one speaks of the quality of a product from a manufacturing perspective, it refers to the external review of a product. It seeks to satisfy consumers through its quality with regards to design, functionality, durability and aesthetic appeal.
The quality of a product can be defined in many ways and is almost always dependent on your specific consumer and their definition of quality for your specific item. So in that light, you will need to know exactly what your consumer is looking for to create the quality your brand is looking to achieve.
When a consumer sets out to look for a quality product, they want to feel as though they have paid less than what the actual product is worth, the quality of the product far surpassing the amount they ended up paying. Fulfilling the need to exceed the consumer's expectations, this is what true quality is all about.
If fulfilling the need to meet your consumer’s expectations is at the top of your company’s agenda, is it not essential for your brand’s products to meet a level of quality that does just that? Let me leave you pondering that for a bit.
In attempting to understand your customer's definition of quality, it will be important to note that fulfilling consumer expectation and experience forms a part of that definition.
Let me give you an example; If a consumer orders a product that has met and passed all quality tests it needed to meet, that product for all intents and purposes is a quality item. But, if the order arrives later than promised or arrives with a missing screw or the incorrect color, the consumer may not define this product as an item of value and quality.
Striving for product quality is a stems right from the raw materials used, to the way in which it arrives to your customer, therefore every step needs to be taken into consideration.
The case for compliance
When a brand takes on compliance, it seeks to meet the minimum regulatory requirements specific to a product or item sold to a retailer. This may mean that although the product is not of the highest quality, it at least meets the minimum mandatory regulation requirements specific to it.
Depending on your product’s destination market, it will likely need to comply with one or more of the following;
* Product safety regulations
* Substance regulations
* Document requirements
* Labeling requirements
* Testing requirements
You do not have to comply with all of these; as it will depend very much on your product and the market that it needs to enter.
The importance of compliance is highlighted none the better than with the recent global craze of fidget spinners and, where 200, 000 of these spinners have been recalled due to it massive non-compliance failures. Many of these items that are being imported have been found to be non-compliant with the regulatory requirements specific to its markets. This is becoming a big problem as they have also proven to be a danger to children as the small parts they are made out of can and are causing serious harm.
Where the confusion sets in, is that a product is capable of being compliant, but also not be the best quality product. The opposite is also true; you can have a quality item that does not meet all the regulatory requirements either.
An issue like this can often arise within your supply chain whether it be in the design process, or even within the manufacturing process. This can create a high level of risk for your brand, and could land you in a position you do not want to be in.
The case for supply chain synergy
So as the debate goes, we seek to uncover the myth that quality supersedes compliance and vice versa. They need to work together, hand-in-hand, where they can create true value for your brand through optimized quality procedures from your factory to the consumers.
Striving for compliance means to create operational efficiency for your supply chain. This means continuous improvements for your brand and its systems. These improvements can take the form of a compliance program which will begin to address the quality procedures (operationally and product quality) of your entire supply chain.
The improvement of these systems will mean that you reduce your exposure to risk and also create a more visible and transparent supply chain, which consumers today base their buying decisions on. Always keep this in mind.
A compliance program will also extend into the manner in which you select your supplier and evaluate the factory that your product will ultimately be made in.
Ensuring that your supply chain is compliant will mean that you are essentially creating quality operating systems. Quality operating systems will mean that the product you produce is being made in the most optimal environment. A well-functioning environment where quality and compliance is a part of every operating system will flow into the very essence of your product, making consumers want to purchase your product at a price that they feel is undervalued for an item of such great quality
Today’s consumer is empowered with access and knowledge into your product and your supply chain; they want to know where its raw materials were sourced, how it was made, who made it and what its level of quality is. They ask themselves whether or not your product will be an investment in their lives.
The key here will be to know your target market, know your consumer. If you do not know what they want, you will struggle to be their go-to brand; you will lose out on their brand evangelism and praise affecting your bottom line
“Is this the type of brand and product you wish to create?”
Retailers today are under so much pressure with the current supply and demand of products, that quality and/or compliance is not always a priority.
“But, it should be!”
Bad quality and non-compliance both mean that your brand is at an unnecessarily high risk with regards to meeting regulations and your reputation. It will be worth all the hard yards that you put in from the creation and design to the manufacturing and distribution of your products. This will help mitigate unnecessary risk, saving you money and precious time.
These two concepts can be integrated into your supply chain through a Quality Management System - “QMS is a set of policies, processes and procedures required for planning and execution of a product or service.” This should help you create a structured system for continuous improvements that can be made to all areas of your supply chain and its operations.
Today’s empowered consumers show us just how important both quality and compliance are for your products and brand. It will be important to make these a priority in order to maintain that globally competitive advantage.
If you are interested in learning how to build a compliance program that also addresses product compliance within your supply chain take a look at the eBook we wrote on how to go about doing just that.