There are thousands of different factories in China making all sorts of products that ship internationally every day.  This means a buyer has plenty of different choices they can make when it comes to product manufacturing.  There is a problem – some of the factories cut corners, treat their employees poorly and damage the environment to make money.  Sourcing Nova believes in finding you reliable manufacturers in China for your products.  The easiest way we have learned to find manufacturers is by checking to see if a manufacturer holds certain standards.  This article will briefly explain the manufacturer standards Sourcing Nova looks for when selecting for your products.

Now the internationally accepted manufacturer standards are ISO9001, ISO14001, BSCI and SA8000. These standards are not set by the Chinese government and are not mandatory. However, if manufacturers can meet these standards and obtain corresponding certifications, it will have a more positive effect on their international image. Sourcing Nova uses these standards to select reliable manufacturers for your products and will not buy products from companies who do not have these standards.

In actual business practice, many buyers quickly eliminate some companies by checking factory standards. In China, some manufacturers do not maintain these standards for two main reasons: 1. The expense of the standard and required audit; 2. They do not want to enter overseas markets because it is not the manufacturer’s main customer base. The company only wants to sell within China and to Chinese customers.

When Sourcing Nova selects factories for importers, ISO9001 standard is the minimum requirement. Most of the time, we also require factories to have BSCI standard. Sourcing Nova believes that these standards represent basic quality and service guarantee.

If manufacturing companies have these standards, it shows that the manufacturers have a quality management system, and that their organization and production methods are in compliance with international standards. Although ISO9001 and ISO14001 are formulated by the International Standards Organization, they are audited by a third-party inspection company. Common examples include SGS, TUV, and Bureau Veritas. If the company applies for these standards, these third-party companies will audit the manufacturing companies and decide whether to issue a certificate based on the results of the audit. If the audit fails, they will also require the manufacturing company to re-work and fix the failed parts until the company passes the audit. Generally speaking, these standards are valid for one (1) to three (3) years. Because companies need to spend thousands of dollars per year on these standards, manufacturing quotes are relatively higher than those of non-certified factories.

Here is a brief introduction to the differences between each standard.

  1. ISO9001 certification

Sourcing Nova said earlier that ISO9001 is the most basic standard that a manufacturing company must have. If the factory does not have this standard, Sourcing Nova will remove them from the list of available suppliers. ISO9001 is not difficult to apply for or obtain; it only takes some time and a small fee, and most qualified enterprises easily earn this standard.

However, there are still many manufacturers in China that do not have this standard. There are three main reasons for this:

  • Business owners do not want to spend thousands of dollars each year to buy into standards;
  • These standards are not applicable to factories in every industry;
  • These companies may not be mainly exporting. If they are doing domestic trade, they do not need these standards.

Sourcing Nova believes that ISO9001 is the minimum standard for selecting reliable manufacturers in China. We believe that ISO9001 standards can help factories improve in the following areas:

  • ISO9001 is an effective quality management system;
  • Standards require factories better organize the enterprise structure;
  • Standards require continual improvement in the factory production process;
  • Standards require the factory to make and maintain production records;
  • Standards require factories to train workers in accordance with specifications;
  • Standards require production to be done according to a set process, and the production manager cannot change the production process at will according to personal mood and whim.

For importers, if your factory has ISO9001 standards, Sourcing Nova finds that the quality of their products and services are above average. The quality of products will be relatively stable, and quality will not fluctuate easily. Manufacturers with these standards pay more attention to details. If you are interested in the content of ISO9001 standards, you can check the content of the ISO9001 official website.

  1. ISO14001 standards

The scope of inspection of ISO14001 and ISO9001 is different. Product quality and service are not the main content of the ISO14001 inspection. These manufacturer standards are more concerned about the impact of the production process on the environment, including long-term and short-term effects. It is generally believed that ISO14001 is more difficult to obtain than ISO9001. If the products you need to import are related to environmental and energy conservation, you may want to emphasize the concept of green energy saving in the product promotion.  A company that meets the ISO14001 standards may be the right choice for you. You can learn more about ISO14001 on its official website.

  1. BSCI standards

The full name of BSCI is Business Social Compliance Initiative. As the name implies, it emphasizes the social and human aspects of the manufacturing industry. Caring for workers is part of its investigation, such as whether employees have clean drinking water and nutritious foods.  The standards also check if the production environment is healthy for humans, if the company uses child labor, and whether the employees are overloaded.

For European importers, BSCI represent minimum standards. However, these standards are difficult to obtain. Most factories in China undergo two to three recertifications when applying for standards, and few factories can pass the first audit. According to statistics, only 10 to 15 percent of production enterprises in China earn and maintain these standards. If the company can pass, it is undoubtedly more reassuring that the company uses safe practices and takes care of its employees. BSCI standards shows that the factory is not only concerned with the quality and service of its products, but also whether its employees are treated fairly.

If your target market is a developed country in Europe, Sourcing Nova will carefully check to see  if the manufacturer holds BSCI standards.  This means selecting production plants for you to ensure that these manufacturers meet the requirements of your country’s government.

For more details on BSCI standards, please visit their official website:

  1. SA8000 certification

The full name of SA8000 standard is Social Accountability 8000 International Standard.  These standards are the most stringent corporate certification a manufacturing company can earn. If you are lucky enough to visit such a factory, you will be amazed by their productivity and effectiveness. There are very few companies in the world that can earn SA8000 standards. Only those well-known retail companies and internationally branded companies will require factories to hold the SA8000 manufacturer standards. If factories earn these standards, they show that they are more advanced than factories in most western developed countries. These standards are expensive and very difficult to earn. The standards difficulty is much higher than ISO9001, but if the manufacturing company can earn SA8000 standards, the company will not need to do an additional ISO9001 audit.

Generally speaking, the SA8000 standards mean companies have a return rate of less than 1 percent, which indicates that their product quality is the highest in the world.  It is understandable that the cost of SA8000 standards is also the most expensive. For more information about the SA8000 certification, please visit their official website:

To sum up:

For most importers who purchase Chinese goods online, SA8000 standards is not the certificate you need to verify that manufacturing company has. Only large corporate companies and big brands will require factories to hold this certification. These big companies and internationally renowned brands usually have their own purchasing departments, and the companies generally do not need sourcing agents to provide services.

Although many manufacturing companies in China have not earned any standards, they have been operating for many years, and the quality of their products is very stable. The quality of ISO 9001 standard factories may not be better than those who fail audits or do not hold ISO 9001 standards. However, ISO9001 and BSCI are internationally mandated factory standards.  Sourcing Nova will still follow the practices of these procurement industries and select international manufacturers that meet these specifications.

Sourcing Nova always has your best interests in mind when finding reliable manufacturers in China for your products. We want you to understand that in searching for and choosing companies that maintain these standards and electing to buy from them means you will pay slightly more for production runs.  You will recover these costs quickly.  Your superior products you offer your customers will prove themselves better and more reliable than those of your competition.  This means happier customers and more profits.

Let Sourcing Nova be your buying partner in China.

If you are looking for the best products from the best manufacturers in China, Sourcing Nova can help by being your eyes and ears on the ground in China using only companies that hold certain manufacturing standards.  How can we help you get started?