After settling down terms and conditions with the supplier for the new product, the next step is to purchase a sample. A proper sample communication is necessary. Unless the customer has a long term business with the supplier, most suppliers will charge for sending a sample. So, here are some questions. How do you get samples? Are you able to get samples for FREE?

How to Get Free Samples?

Even for a local customer who deals with suppliers on a daily basis, they are not guaranteed that they don’t have to pay for the sample.

Tips to acquire a free sample

  • It is beneficial for a customer to portray himself as an assistant to a large organization because the supplier always shows more interest in dealing with large scale organizations and is likely to give those samples for free.
  • Also, the customer has to make the supplier believe that if the required sample is acceptable to the customer, then a large order might be placed.
  • Make the supplier realize that he has been chosen exclusively as the sole supplier for the particular product and more orders will be placed for future business.
  • Try to convince the supplier that the sample cost will be paid with the official order after the acceptance of the sample, in case if the supplier is not willing to give a sample for free.
  • It is better to make the supplier realize that the official company policy doesn’t allow paying for the sample. Therefore, the supplier has to agree and abide by the terms and conditions of the company.
  • If the supplier is still not convinced, try to split the costs. Either offer to pay for the sample or the delivery cost.

You wish to save some costs in sourcing from China, If the supplier is still not convinced about the above-mentioned points, it will be more beneficial to make the supplier agree to deduct a sample cost from a larger order. In this case, the sample cost will be saved.

Samples Cost

It is better to be aware of sample cost in general e.g. an item that is available for 2 USD approximately, let us suppose that 10 suppliers have been found for the particular product and the selection goes down to 5, they all have a similar price range.

After choosing one supplier to order the sample, the supplier charges 100 USD for that particular chosen sample which obviously doesn’t make any sense. This can simply give the idea to the customer that it is a trading company or a third party involvement and they are not actually the makers or producers of the product. Therefore, it is better to eliminate such suppliers as they are ready to sell the product or even a sample at a higher price to get their margin out of the particular product.

The samples are usually 10-50% more expansive than the quoted price. The two main reasons for the costly samples might be that the samples are handmade especially if the customer demands a change in the offered sample. Also for the benefit of the supplier, he/she makes sure whether the customer is serious in placing the order or not.

Mostly the manufacturer gets at least 5 sample orders per week and they usually demand samples free of cost. But in this way, if the buyer is not willing to pay the sample price, the manufacturer will think the buyer will not place any order and just wants a sample.

In some cases, the suppliers have stock of their products. If the customer doesn’t demand any change in the product and just want to check the quality of the product, the customer can ask for a sample from stock that is already present in the inventory, in this case, the supplier will charge the regular price for the sample.

Sample Communication

It will be more beneficial to communicate in different ways with the Chinese suppliers as compared to Western companies or suppliers.

It has been noticed that whatever product quality is promised on the phone/ chat or email, is not always being followed by companies or suppliers. E.g. a sample is ordered in a certain color and in a certain amount but the customer gets completely different colors and in different amounts.

Usually, there are 2 or 3 people in between the sales contact and engineering department, which leads to misinformation about the actually ordered sample.

Unlike in the Western world, there are no detailed meetings on a particular project or product, only a quick email is sent to a concerned person which is misunderstood and because of which the manufactured sample is completely different from the one that has actually been ordered.

Often there is no message or notification that the product sample needs to be delivered on an urgent basis or need special part i.e. to make a sample with US-plug or adapter. Therefore, obviously, if the sample team is not fully informed and guided, the customer will not be satisfied and will not get the exact sample which he has ordered.

Sample Supervision

Supervision and monitoring of order or sample or other projects is the most important aspect in business with the supplier.

The Westerners have a completely different way of working. The work in detail and expect others to work thoroughly and have a common sense of dealing with different issues. One needs planning; otherwise, the information might get lost or go off target. After having a detailed telephonic conversation or conversation through email, follow up with written or agreed points are necessary.

It is recommended to try to make things easy for the supplier and make things easily understandable for him and instruct him in a way that he can fulfill the requirements of the customer the way customer expects.

After every detailed communication whether it is through telephone/ mobile or email, better to show satisfaction and praise to the supplier and make him sure that the supplier has the potential to be the customer’s permanent supplier in the future.

Example (Email)

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the conversation we had a while ago. I would like to summarize the points that have been discussed earlier:

            Sample to be sent to …. (Your address)

The sample has got to be in working mode. A malfunctioning or non-working sample is not acceptable, as the sample might go through quality tests in a third party laboratory…. (Obviously this part is not true but the supplier might think twice and send a perfect working sample which will be in good condition).

The sample needs to have a US plug …. (Better to attach a picture of a US plug to make it easily understandable for the supplier)

Kindly make sure the sample is tested on your side before it is dispatched

The model number and supplier name-tag to the sample as I receive many samples from different suppliers, thus I will find it easy to know which supplier sent that particular sample …. (In this way you will not lose the reference of the supplier in case if the same sample is ordered from different suppliers)

Make sure to mention “Not for sale” to the sample invoice (in order to avoid customs tax on the sample before it reaches the customer destination)

Kindly send me a written confirmation of all the points that have been agreed upon.

If the sample is accepted and things work out well as it has been agreed, the supplier can expect an order of ……… pieces.

Best Regards,


More Tips

  • It is better to give a deadline to the supplier on the agreed product sample.
  • It is recommended to set a reminder on a smartphone/ computer that will help the customer remind the supplier of product delivery.
  • To make a better understanding of the product, it is highly recommended to make sketches and drawings of the products so that the supplier clearly understands the requirement of the customer.
  • Better to get a confirmation of each and every step if there is any modification or request.
  • The emails have to be typed in an easy, clear and understandable way with bullets to make the requests or changes understandable to the suppliers

For example, if someone finds it difficult to explain what changes he wants in a sample and it is also not possible to explain it in email or phone, so one should simply draw it on a paper.

Withdrawing, the email should also be sent to the supplier in detail so that a perfect sample can be sent to the customer. In order to save money and time, video calls should be placed between both parties to show a sample online via video.

If a customer clearly knows what he actually wants in a sample, it will be easier to order a perfect sample.