Why you should test every item you ship

25Jan10

My router broke over the weekend. After some trial and error, I determined the problem was the power adapter that plugs into the wall outlet. Since you can’t buy the power adapters separately, I was forced to buy a whole new router. So, I walked over to Staples and picked up a seemingly identical replacement model.

Unfortunately, the new power supply didn’t work, regardless of whether I tried it with my old router or the brand new one that came in the same box. I ended up going back to Staples, swapping out the new router I just bought for the only remaining unit they had in stock, and heading back home. Luckily, the second new unit had a working power supply, and my problem was solved.

Is this a rare problem? I doubt it. Power supplies and power adapters are notoriously problematic, and most companies seem to buy them from the lowest-cost supplier. And from my personal and professional experience, I can attest that a lot of power supplies are simply dead on arrival. They never worked, and no amount of troubleshooting is going to change that.

What’s the solution? As a technology vendor, you need to suck it up and test every single item before you ship it. In fact, that’s what we do at WireSpring. Before we ship a media player computer to a customer, we test the unit and all the parts that come with it. And sure enough, we find that a surprising number of parts — especially power supplies — are DOA. But since we do the testing before shipping anything to our customers, we catch the problems and correct them before our customers ever encounter an issue.

Is testing every unit overkill? If you’re a cheap and short-sighted vendor, you might think so. But for those of us who actually care about customers receiving a working, trouble-free product, testing 100% of your inventory prior to shipment is essential. It’s easy to convince yourself that choosing high-quality suppliers means you don’t have to test things. But in reality, a typical supplier probably only spot checks 5-10% of their shipments. Ultimately, if you want to ensure a consistently great experience when customers open up the box, then it’s your responsibility to test every single product before it leaves your hands.



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