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How to Eliminate Product Quality Fade For Your eCommerce Brand with Sajag Agarwal of Movley

Sajag Agarwal 8:15

Yeah, the biggest city that we actually work with is Shenzhen. Shenzhen is one of the biggest cities, but we cover essentially any city in China, we cover almost 99% of factories.

Joshua Chin 8:27

Wow, that’s that’s that that is crazy. Talk me through the the way you conduct tests, and how do you kind of think about sample sizes? And what makes sense? and How frequently do you think about inspections, and, you know, typically, with, with what most brands are going through what people are getting back home are typically just photos of the product. And that that’s about it? How do you know what to look out for in product tests? And how do you select a good sample size for them?

Sajag Agarwal 9:06

That’s a really good question. So it really comes to almost like a teamwork approach. Because a lot of stuff has to be you know, we have to pull from the brands. So as a brand, you want to make sure your inspection company understands your products. So for example, let’s say you know, you you work with, you know, an inspection company, your inspector doesn’t really know your customers or kind of what you expect in your products. A really good example I would like to use is that you can have combs, so in $1 store, you can have a 30 cents comb, and that can be super flimsy can be cheap, that’s not a big deal, that’s fine. But if you’re selling that same comb for $15 in the on Amazon, then at that point, you have to change it up a little bit because that fuzziness is not acceptable. So, you know, things like that, you know, is really, really important to convey over to the inspection company. So it really is kind of almost a little bit like a partnership so we work with clients to kind of honor And what are their expectations, what their problems are, we give them the ability to specify their own custom instructions during the inspection process. And the second thing we do is actually we work with inspectors, and with other clients and actually aggregate data. So say we have 100 customers doing, you know, similar products, we’ll actually take tests from all of those clients and aggregate them together in our system to give really good recommendations. So when we go work with a client, let’s say doing a comb will actually go through, you know, 100, other columns that we’ve inspected, and actually see, okay, hey, these are the best tests from all these other columns that we’ve inspected, here are some recommendations on things like that you can do. So it’s really kind of a two part approach to really coming up with good tests. And it also comes down to just, you know, understanding the product on an iteration level. So one really good way of coming up with product tests, is actually letting your suppliers do the heavy work, heavy lifting for you. And that’s really cool. Because when you actually go through the inspection process with the supplier, and even the quality control process, it’s really, really helpful to kind of go through this process, when you’re doing the initial negotiations, your additional, your initial sourcing. So you’re talking to these 1015, suppliers on Alibaba, wherever you found that, you want to make sure those inspections are good, they’re effective. So you can actually talk with your supplier in that stage. And when they’re all trying to sell you, they’re all trying to say, Hey, you know, work with us. Ask them, you know, hey, what do you do for quality control on your products? You know, how do you properly check your units? Do you have labs, you know, to check your products, use any equipment or machinery when you’re running quality control on your products in the standard production. And essentially, by talking to 1015 different suppliers, you can aggregate and put together a really strong list of product test product items and things like that you can check and how to check them, and then give that to the inspection company like Movley. So that way, we can do a really effective inspection, in addition to our recommendations and our suggestions,

Joshua Chin 11:54

that’s amazing. I love how you’re pulling to your basically collective intelligence and data of different brands and different products. And that’s, that’s beautiful. Is that, uh, is that what makes Movley different from most inspection companies? Because from, from my perspective, I would imagine, if, if I was working with a supplier, I would want to have my supplier run the the inspections themselves, and basically submit their results to me directly. So that’s kind of more streamlined, so that I don’t have to work with multiple parties and in the process, what’s your take on that? And how does Movley play a part in? in that?

Sajag Agarwal 12:41

That’s a really good question. So inspect. So factories should be doing their own inspections on all of the orders, it’s actually a part that should be built into their production line. So say, for example, you have a production line with 10 steps, two of those steps might be quality control, and they just go through each unit that they go through the manufacturing process with, make sure the product was manufactured correctly up to that part, and then making sure that checks off. And if it doesn’t, you know, maybe cycle it back or put it aside things like that. So quality control is a part that should be part of the inspection process standard. And in addition to that, it’s also something that needs to be embedded at the end of production. So factories should be doing that as well, maybe random spot checks, things like that, to make sure the products that they assembled are correct. But the thing with factory quality control is that inherently they’re working for the factory. So if your factory wants to cut corners, they’re also going to cut corners on quality control, they’re also going to cut corners here and there. So businesses like from whether you’re a startup, you’re a small business, just doing you know, few orders a year, all the way to large fortune 500. All fortune 500 companies are doing their own inspections, either they have their own in house inspectors, or they hire third party inspections. And they do that on every single order. So those are really critical because third party inspectors like companies like Movley, are actually working on the behalf of you, not the supplier. So our job is to make sure you know we catch defective products before your customers do. Whereas your suppliers job for quality control is just to catch enough problems and make sure that you buy the order. So that’s kind of what is holding them accountable is that you’re consistently coming back to buy the order, but they don’t see the bigger picture of the negative reviews coming in every day, or the customer complaints or the returns, you know, those are things that you as a brand see, so Movley represents the brand, we don’t represent the supplier, and that removes that sense of bias.

Joshua Chin 14:29

That’s, that’s amazing. So what you saying is having a third party like Movley who’s independent and and built just for inspections, is basically acts as a check and balance on what could inherently be wrong or a problem with the supplier themselves.

Sajag Agarwal 14:50

Exactly where essentially like the accountability to make sure that the supplier is doing the right manufacturing the right checks, because what ends up happening is that quality fade is a real thing. So maybe your first order is good, your second order is good or third order is good, then your fourth orders kind of bad. And then your fifth order gets a little bit worse, then your sixth order gets a little bit worse. So quality fade is essentially when you have, you know, really good quality, and then it just kind of goes downhill after that. And sometimes it’s consistent. Sometimes it’s, you know, all of a sudden, after a couple of orders, it really depends. We’ve had clients reach out to us where they’ve worked with the same supplier for two years, and then all of a sudden, they have this bad order. And then all the orders after that had been bad as well. And when that one bad order happens, it’s catastrophic. So you know, especially if you’re selling on marketplaces, like on Amazon, and you get those negative reviews, it’s almost like product suicide, you might have to re rank the product, you might have to rebuild the whole listing, and it creates a lot of issues. And Shopify Shopify store owners are actually really lucky because they kind of control their own review system. So it’s a lot easier for them to say, okay, hey, we’ll replace the product, we’ll take care of that. But even then, you know, with returns and warranty claims, replacing those units that are defective or not working, that can add up. So actually, we made a really simple calculation, if you have about $3,000 of defective goods, that is enough to pay for all your inspections for seven years, if you do them quarterly, just in the cost of returns and warranty claims for administering for $3,000 defective products. And when you’re doing an order of $30,000 $300,000, and 50% of those units, or even 5% of those units are defective, that adds up to a lot of money and can pay for your inspections 10s, hundreds and 1000s of times over. So that’s really where that accountability process is really critical. Because if there’s a lack of accountability, and you’re not verifying that the quality is done properly, then your supplier is essentially on free reigns. And as long as you keep buying, which you know, you’re not gonna find out, you’re gonna have problems until you know, you’ve already spent the money, you’ve already lost the money. At that point, it’s a little bit too late. So it’s preventative maintenance to prevent that from happening when it does.

Joshua Chin 16:56

Amazing and $1 saved is $1 earned and the bottom line. So exactly, I don’t see any brands that should not be doing this at all. Let’s talk a little bit about negative reviews and negative feedback and complaints, or before they turn into negative reviews, hopefully, what does that loop look like? As far as feedback from customers? Going back to the brand and from the brand, to the manufacturer and the supplier? I find that that can often be disjointed and a an issue, especially in communicating with, you know, companies and and and factories that may speak a different language than than you do. How do you manage that process? Is there an automation for that?

Sajag Agarwal 17:47

That’s a really good question. And I think ecommerce companies have it way easier than brick and mortar. Previously, you know, if you sold like wildfire you sold to target or like, you know, 100 brick and mortar stores, what would happen is you have 100 different feedback sources, reports, and each report would be structured differently. And, you know, if retailers returning a few items to you or things like that, they return it to the retailer, not to you. So when you’re trying to compile it as a supply chain team, you’re kind of working in a silo, you’re like, Hey, you know, we’re getting a couple returns. We’re not sure what the problems are, what the reasons are, things like that. And it just ends up being this weird silo. But ecommerce brands have this additive vantage of basically having everything in one place, whether it’s Amazon, Shopify, or just a couple of different online channels that are responsible for all their sales. So what’s really cool is you can actually take data from returns from warranty claims and things like that and cycle that data back into the manufacturing process work with the supplier to improve those issues. And also work with the inspection company to verify those problems have been fixed, you don’t see those issues over and over again. And essentially, the way you can do that is you can pretty much as you said automate and streamline that process, you can have your customer support team, anytime they have return or warranty claim put that in an Excel spreadsheet sorted by skew and you know, put the most common reasons and things like that you can actually see that and then convey that over to the supply chain team. And what’s really cool is you can essentially take that and take it to your supplier and say hey, these are the issues we’re having you know, we need you to work with us to fix these How can we fix these and you can also ask them you know, how do we test to make sure that you did fix these and kind of bridge it on the supplier to kind of figure that out. And then from there once you have your pretty clear idea of okay hey you know the the issue is fixed the supplier is going to make sure these issues are fixed moving forwards, you can actually factor that feedback back into the inspection process. So you can use the inspection process to actually improve your product more so than just check your products so you can tell our you know, you can talk Movley for example, or any inspection company hey, here’s some additional checks that we need done. And with Movley especially, you know if you come to us and say hey, you know I have these negative reviews I have these problems. Our team can actually work with you to get those problems checked. add them to the inspection process. Make sure we’re testing enough units. So that way, next time we do an inspection, we can catch those problems. And then make sure that you know those don’t get to the customer. So you can reduce your return rate over time, and reduce your warranty claim rate. If you’re, you know, having warranty replacements.

Joshua Chin 20:15

As That’s amazing, and talk to me about fraud and bribery, I know we are taking a step back here. But before we started this, this interview, we were having a conversation earlier, and you told me that you had a very interesting story around fraud and bribery. In your experience in in that area, was it in China? Or was it? What was that like?

Sajag Agarwal 20:39

Yes, a really good question. So that was actually right here in Chicago. So I’m based out of Chicago for everybody listening. And my story on fraud, I guess, was right here in Chicago. So this is something pretty close to home. And it really puts fraud and bribery into a new perspective. So I was like talking about it. But essentially, you know, I went to my local foot doctor here, and I have flat feet. So I went to the foot doctor here in Chicago, and I went to his office, first time I met the guy, and basically, you know, I found out I have flat feet, and he said, you know, hey, Sajag, you’re gonna need this pair of orthotics. And he gave me a pair of these $50 orthotics. And he said, Hey, you know, try these on. So I tried them on had a really good conversation with a guy, you know, through the appointment while I was trying them on. And he’s asking a little bit about me my line of work, things like that. And I was talking to him about him, you know, his line of work, you just had a good conversation, we kind of hit it off. And after the end of the conversation, he was like, Alright, cool, you know, these orthotics fit you. These are good to go. And I said, Okay, awesome, you know, how do I check out? Do I just, you know, pay for these at the front desk, when I leave? Do you bill, my insurance? How does it work? And he said, you know, your insurance doesn’t cover it, but I’m gonna give it to you for free. And I was like, oh, okay, awesome. Yeah. Like, I’ll take a free pair of orthotics. And then he said, Okay, all right. Sounds good. Like, let me get a nurse to check you out. So two minutes later, he walks in with his nurse, and she’s there. And he’s like, Alright, Sajag I’m gonna need you to follow the nurse out, she’s gonna kind of take you a little bit of a weird way out through the back entrance, because they don’t like me giving away shit for free. I was like, Oh, you know, like, you know, it’s fine. You know, it’s 50 bucks, I can pay for it, you know, it’s no big deal. And he says, No, no, I insist I like your cool guy, what’s an extra 50 bucks to you versus this, you know, billion dollar hospital group, you know, they don’t care about it. So we’re, I’m gonna, I insist you’re going to leave here for it, and you’re not going to pay a dime. I was like, okay, you know, sounds good. You know, I took it. But you know, I didn’t give him $25 to get a $50 pair of orthotics, you know, I didn’t bribe him. And there was a human element that resulted in that, you know, transaction. And that’s the same thing that happens when it comes to inspections. So a lot of people have this misconception, you know, the inspector goes to the factory, they’re gonna find a lot of problems. And then the factory is going to say, Hey, you know, we want to pay you to get rid of these problems. But what most often happens is that, number one, there’s a human element, which crowds out the fraud. So there may not even be a bribe involved. Or if there is a bribe involved, the human element comes first. So the inspector might feel, you know, hey, you know, I like you, you’re a cool guy, I’ll take your money and pass your products because of that human element. And that’s one of the biggest differentiators the term that a lot of people like to use, what I’ve noticed, especially one of my good friends, who’s a lawyer who works with China, he likes to use the word honest thieves, that’s kind of the way that they look at it. But there’s that human element, which makes them feel like it’s not as bad. And then the second thing is that the biggest thing is like when you have fraud and bribery. A lot of times, you know, it’s not because you’re having bad actors and things like that, a lot of times, you’re just you might feel there’s fraud, or you might feel that, you know, there’s problems in the supply chain. And that’s because the inspectors don’t know what to do, and they don’t have that personal connection with your brand, maybe they’re not inspecting your products properly, or they’re lacking that human connection with your brand. And that’s something that, you know, all inspection companies should be doing a really good job of addressing. And that’s one of the things like we address with our service pods, because we try to keep it really personal, we get to know you as a brand, we get to keep that human element. And then we like to convey that over to the inspector, you know, hey, a lot of our clients are, you know, these small brands, you know, when you pass a defective batch of products, even by 1%, that’s sometimes enough to completely demolish their Amazon listing, right, that 1% extra defects, if you’re only getting reviews from one 2% of customers. And now you have a 2% defect rate, that’s product suicide, that can destroy your Amazon listing. But to an inspector, it’s just 1% 2% you know, what’s a few extra defects to this billion dollar American company or, you know, UK company, Canadian company. So creating that human connection is really critical to prevent fraud and bribery. And number two, is really just making sure the inspectors equipped you know, if you’re not paying them, well, you’re giving them unreasonable time quotas, you know, where you’re saying, hey, you have eight hours. You have an eight hour inspection and you have three hours to do it. Like in my case, when I was watching my Inspector, you had two to three other inspections that same day, that’s why he only came to the factory for three hours. And you know, he was like, okay, You know, I know you gave me a nine hour inspection, you know, I, that’s probably what was going through his mind. You know, I know you gave me a nine hour inspection. But I have three other inspections to do today. You know, clearly management doesn’t care about me doing a good inspection. So obviously, the clients don’t care either because they’re hiring this company. So why should I care, and that’s how it kind of, you know, becomes a domino effect. So that’s really kind of the approach to fraud and bribery, at least in my opinion, that I’ve seen and what I’ve observed when it comes to inspections, quality control, and even just general manufacturing in China, you know, with my inspectors and my own team taking bribes from factories.

Joshua Chin 25:36

Oh, that’s, that’s a that’s a tough one to to, to resolve. What, you know, aside from that, what are some of the most common mistakes that you see brands make when they manufacturer or source from China? I know, it’s a broad question, but just want to throw it out there? What are some common trends?

Sajag Agarwal 25:58

That’s a really good question, I think one of the biggest common problems I see is that a lot of times brands like to treat their suppliers very transactionally. So they like to say, okay, hey, you know, I’m giving you, you know, $100, I’m giving you $200, or whatever, $200,000. And I’m expecting this order delivered at this quality, and they kind of just treat them like, you know, a buying partner, like they’re going to like Nordstrom or Macy’s call and buying an order of 1000 units. And I don’t see, a lot of times, you know, there’s a lot of brands that do this really well. But essentially, you want to work with your brand, you want your brand to work with your supplier, almost like a partner, you know, a partner in crime, you know, hey, you know, we want to work together, we want to grow with you, you know, giving them an introduction, working with them through the kinks and things like that, and kind of treating it more relationship based more than transactional. Because at the end of the day, that relationship is what powers that transaction. So for example, if you have a really good relationship with your supplier, and you say, Hey, you know, where, you know, we’re having customer reviews, we’re having problems, and, you know, our customers are returning items, and you know, we want to work with you, we want to grow with you, can you look into this problem for us, that’s gonna go a lot better than Hey, you know, we paid you 50 grand for this order. And it’s not up to quality specs, we’re getting a lot of returns, we’re getting replacements, you know, we’re not, you know, you know, we’re not happy with your performance, we’re going to go talk with another supplier, if you don’t fix this, you know, it’s less of a relationship approach and more of a transactional approach. So keeping that relationship through your supply chain and with your suppliers, with your vendors, even with your service providers, is really critical to making sure that you know, you get the best out of it, because at the end of the day, the people running everything are humans, and it’s really easy to forget that.

Joshua Chin 27:48

Yeah. And that that’s the same with pretty much any service based business relationship as well. I mean, we experienced the same thing. And at Chronos, we try to keep things as you know, as as, as professional as possible, but sometimes when the relationship gets damaged, it does sour the communication to some degree, and just isn’t that productive anymore? Final question, before we wrap up here, what are some of the brands that you admire? Or clients that you have worked with, that you really admire? And why?

Sajag Agarwal 28:33

That’s a really good question. So we do have nondisclosure agreements with our clients. So we don’t really disclose the clients we work with on our site or anything like that. And so we don’t really have like a client reel, I’m sure some of our clients would be fine, but I guess we’ve not really discussed that with them. So I can’t really share that. But we worked with some really, really cool clients, I can kind of share in a generalization. So you worked with clients doing like custom car parts at one point for like, high end sports cars, which was really, really cool. We just we work with clients that, you know, do art, which is really interesting. It’s a little bit specialized. So you know, it’s not like we’re art inspectors, I was like to say that, so that’s the client to when we were onboarding her. But you know, we can’t get super detailed, we’re not gonna have that artistic eye, you know, because we’re not, you know, we’re inspectors, we’re not artists. So it’s a little bit different. But, you know, we’ve worked on art too. And we’ve just worked. You know, a lot of our clients are Amazon brands, e commerce brands, and sell online, on marketplaces and on Shopify. So that’s really our main target. We also have, you know, brands that we worked with that sell brick and mortar that sell brick and mortar and e commerce. So it’s a really wide variety. The only kind of customers we don’t really work with are more consumables. So we don’t work with customers, you know, doing, you know, food products or, you know, we don’t inspect final supplements, we can inspect the product, you know, as far as like on a holistic level, like packaging, things like that, but we don’t really inspect you know, final consumable products like we’re not going to be opening up supplements kind of thing. Make sense? Yeah.

Joshua Chin 30:04

Gotcha. Perfect. And Sajag, if anyone listening is interested to find out more about how they could work with Movley or they just want to get more information, what can they? What can they do to find out more?

Sajag Agarwal 30:18

Yeah, definitely. So can visit Movley.com and Movley.com. And we actually have that link, we can put in the description here, too. Where if you want to talk to your factories, kind of see what questions to ask for, which starts in the negotiations and the sourcing phase, you know, even long before you actually get started with the inspection process. We’ve actually put some really awesome questions that can be really useful to kind of understand your factories quality control, to understand you know, what checks what pounces to use when it comes to your inspection. So that can be something really good. Check that out. Hopefully, that’s valuable. But yeah, you can find us at Movley.com and Movley.com. And yeah, just reach out to us. We’d love to answer any questions. You can connect with me personally on Facebook, on LinkedIn, love to, you know, answer questions, things like that. So if you have questions on general supply chain manufacturing, run into any issues, love to hear your thoughts, your feedback, your stories, and, you know, love to see if we can produce content to, you know, better help you in the future, even if it’s not just inspections. Awesome.

Joshua Chin 31:23

Sajag thank you so much for being on the show. And good luck.

Sajag Agarwal 31:27

Thanks so much Joshua for having me on. I hope this episode was valuable to everybody listening.

Joshua Chin 31:33

I’m sure that it was.

Conclusion 31:37

Thanks for listening to the eCommerce Profits Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get notified of future episodes.

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