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Import vs. Domestic

Is there really a difference?

In today’s global economy, this is a valid question, with a vague answer. The answer is in the details. With the explosion of new technology in recent years, it is a subject that provokes some controversy.

Consumers today want the lowest possible price, but also want high quality. The quest then becomes how do we, as suppliers and dealers, fulfill this challenging demand? One answer is to approach factories overseas. In the past when products were imported into the U.S. in mass quantities, such products tended to be lacking in quality. It was easy to spot the differences between domestic and imported product quality. Today, that line is blurred, if not altogether erased.

Pay Attention to Details

  • What is the fit and finish?
  • Does it meet accepted standards?
  • Is there valid documentation?
  • Obtainable product manual?
  • What about the warranty?
  • Available service?

It is very possible to have a reasonably priced, high-quality product imported from overseas.

The difference between a “cheap” import and a product you would be confident to sell is in the attention to details. A series of questions and standards must be taken into consideration.

The following are some things that should be examined:

Fit and Finish
On the surface, the “fit and finish” of the assembled product is the first thing most consumers notice. If the product is painted, did the factory use spray paint, or is the product powder coated? A painted surface may be fine, depending on the environment and the usage of the product, but a powder coated surface is more durable and will withstand more abuse.

Accepted Standards
Are there established and accepted standards for the product you are looking for? If there are accepted standards, does the imported product meet these standards?

Documentation
Is the supplier able to supply documentation to support their claim? A customer shouldn’t be afraid to ask the supplier to provide this type of information.

Product Manual
An often overlooked item is the product manual. If a company has taken the time to develop a comprehensive product manual, complete with parts breakdown and electrical schematics (if applicable), that shows they are committed to quality.

Warranty
Is the product backed by a reasonable warranty? Most reputable companies will support their products with a written warranty.

Easy Service
If the product needs to be serviced, does the customer have to send the product back to the factory? This usually means lengthy down time and most likely shipping costs that have to be incurred by the customer. Or is there a local authorized repair station that can service the product? This usually means a quicker turnaround for the product to be back in service.

Finding Good Product
When looking for a product or a supplier, the key is to ask questions and do research. If a company truly has a good product, they won’t mind providing the consumer with the information to back up the claim that the product is of good quality.

So the question really shouldn’t be about import vs. domestic. Rather, it should be: Is this specific product “worth it” based upon its details?

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Dustin Nielson Meet the Author
Dustin Nielson is director of market management material handling at WMH Tool Group/JET.

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