Skip to main content

& Design

Product Samples from China: A Complete Guide

When importing products in bulk from China and elsewhere in Asia it is essential to ask for product samples. Ofcourse, it’s always better to see and feel the products before production starts. Or maybe you may also want to check if the supplier is legit.
As an Importer, we must let you know about Complete procedure of product samples, including costs, types and lead times.

Types of Product sample

Factory samples

A Factory sample is a ‘ready-made’ product sample that is not manufactured according to the buyer’s design or customized specifications.

Custom Made Product Samples

A Pre-Production Sample customized according to the buyer’s specifications is used for verifying the manufacturer’s capability to produce their product.

Production Samples

A production Sample (Or Batch Sample) is randomly picked from a mass-produced lot. These Samples are used for various purposes like

  • Laboratory testing
  • Functional tests
  • Quality control

Virtual Product Samples

Virtual product samples can be anything from a 2D rendering created in photoshop or more sophisticated 3D product models that can be performance tested in a digital environment.

3D printed samples

A great way to test the design and certain aspects of functionality. 3D printing can help you create demonstration samples in a matter of hours.

Counter Samples

A reference Sample sent to the supplier to demonstrate certain aspects of a product. It is basically your sample that you want the supplier to replicate the same for you.

Why do I need to order product samples?

When importing products in bulk from China and elsewhere in Asia it is essential to ask for product samples. Of course, it’s always better to see and feel the products before production starts. Or maybe you may also want to check if the supplier is legit.

There are three key reasons why you must buy product samples:

You must test your supplier: It could be his capability or to prove that they can deliver acceptable product samples before you could commit to placing an order. 

Test Molds, or tooling: Certain products you cannot even start production as they are part of a Product or used for further manufacturing Finished products. Example Lid of Bottle.

Testing your Product Quality & Design: Design, functionality and overall quality must be ‘verified’ before you enter mass production. You need to see, feel and test your product before you go into mass production.

limitations of Product sample and prototyping

There are limitations to what manufacturers can achieve when it comes to pre-production samples.
A Specific Pantone Colour requires a certain order volume, and cannot be done on a small material sample.
This is also applicable to raw materials, Factories may only able to use stock material to produce your products. They cannot custom-make materials for a single product sample

For Example

  • Incorrect Colours
  • Incorrect Materials
  • Incorrect Packing
  • Handmade prototype instead of Machine production
  • Other technical and economical limitations also exist when it comes to materials, components, and design.

It’s important to be aware of these limitations before you order product samples. If not, you might end up waiting forever for a level of perfection that no supplier can ever match.

Frequently Asked Questions?

How Much Does it Cost to Produce a Samples?

Cost depends on the type and size of the product, whether new mold or tooling is required to produce as per your specification.

In most cases, you only pay for shipping when ordering factory samples.

However, while ordering customized product samples price may vary from $5 to $10,000 – all depending on the cost of tooling (if any).


Plastic Products: $5 – 100
Garments: $10 – $50
ODM Electrnoics: $10 – $500
OEM Electronics: $500 – $5000


How much Service Charge you would Charge me for handling Samples?

We do not charge any service charge to handle samples. You just need to pay us a Security Deposit of $300 or Rs. 20,000 for your Future bulk Order and we would handle the sample free of cost for you. You are only required to pay for the Courier Delivery fees.

In case you require Production Samples for Testing or QC you can opt for our third-party Quality Inspection services. Where our officer will pick up a random sample and ship them to your office for further testing. You are only required to pay for the Courier Delivery fees

Can I order product samples on

Yes, however, you are required to find suppliers offering to make product samples.

Further, We also recommend you to pay for product samples using Alibaba Trade Assurance. It’s increasingly common that suppliers create digital invoices via the Alibaba payment gateway. guarantees that the payment is sent to the right company – and not diverted to a different supplier.

Are samples Free?

While some suppliers may offer free product samples, they always expect you to pay the DHL or FedEx delivery fee which normally ranges between $30 to $40.

How long does it take to make product samples?

This Depends on the Complexity of specifications and suppliers’ capabilities. 

Simple material samples can be sent via DHL and FedEx in a day or two, while more complex products can take more than a year to develop.

Typical Time Frame has taken by most Suppliers:

  • Material samples (in-stock): 3 – 7 days
  • Material samples (made to order): 14 – 30 days
  • Clothing samples: 14 – 45 days
  • Injection-molded samples: 45 – 70 days
How do I communicate my product specifications prior to buying a product sample?

Most specifications are jotted down while giving a Purchase order. This is considered the main document it usually contains


This is the document that the supplier will use, during sample production.

As this document will be passed between engineers and subcontractors (i.e., material suppliers), it is crucial that the product specification is extremely clear and simple to understand.

Do not leave anything open to interpretation, as this can easily result in misunderstandings.

Can I send product samples to my factory and ask them to make the product that way?

Yes, and sometimes it’s easier to ‘communicate’ your design and material requirements by sending a physical reference sample.

That said, the supplier must still provide counter-samples made in their factory and using materials from their subcontractors. Keep in mind that a key reason you need product samples is to test the supplier’s ability to make the product the way you want it.

Individual Solutions

In case you want something unique, we are always happy to find a solution that suits your vision and wishes.

Hi... Need help? Click to Chat