Should I Pay for Samples?
In most cases, the answer is both yes and no. Samples of materials, other products like the supplier has made, or a ‘dummy’ sample of your product that did not require any customization like molds or printing, are typically free. The shipping of those items however, often falls on the shoulders of the potential buyer. It’s a good idea to set up UPS and DHL accounts prior to beginning the sourcing process, as you can provide these numbers to suppliers who will then bill the shipments to your account. Some suppliers also accept Paypal to cover shipping costs, although this is not as common.
Samples that require customization, such as the creation of a mold, pattern, or printing screen may come at a price. Most suppliers will note that the cost is a one-time fee, or offer to deduct the amount from a future purchase order if you decide to do business together.
If you have already submitted a purchase order, the supplier should be more willing to provide free samples. This does not mean however that mold fees and other set-up costs will be waived. Many suppliers operate on tight margins and cannot afford to cover your initial production costs. This is especially true with lower-volume orders.