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What is SOS?

No, I don’t mean the international morse code of Save Our Souls, but something that’s got to do with auditing your suppliers – Supplier On-site Survey. Today, I will tell you a glimpse about this procedure we do.
A supplier on-site survey is done to check the supplier (f. ex. trading company and/or manufacturer) by conducting a simple and economic on-site visit. We provide actual evidence of their operations and assess any specific elements our customer chooses. In simple words, we confirm that the supplier exists at the expected location. 

What info do you get?

A supplier on-site survey includes a lot of information about the factory’s operations. Next, I will open up what the SOS report consists of in general. Please note that this is not all the info that is included in the report, there is much more!

  1. Basic Supplier Contact Information – Supplier name, address, main contact, telephone
  2. Supplier Basic Commercial Information – Main products and industry, annual sales and purchasing, year registered, company certification, import & export percentages, accepted payment terms
  3. Manufacturer Basic Information – Business Model (OEM/ ODM), sample lead-time, production lead-time, no. of workers.
  4. Exporter Basic Information – Exporter name and mode.
  5. Commercial Relationship Matrix – Comparing the information of the supplier, beneficiary, exporter and manufacturer (sometimes these can be different).
  6. Official and Quality Standard Certificates
  7. Legal Registration Check – Checks done both offline and online to the supplier, beneficiary, exporter and manufacturer.
  8. On Site Confirmation Survey – Is the information provided real? Checking that the address is the same as declared on the business license, whether the factory building belongs to the manufacturing company, whether all licenses are under the same company name and whether the total number of employee is the same as estimated by the supplier.
  9. Identifying the products manufactured – Pictures showing the supplier’s premises, the products of customer’s interest, show room, raw material warehouse, overall factory, QA & QC area, packing methods.
  So, besides information only in text, pictures are provided to ensure the truthfulness.  

I took some pictures of a SOS report of a kitchenware factory where our inspector John went to last week:

wok pans
This factory produces wok pans!
show room
Show Room
raw material warehouse
Raw Material Warehouse
production line
Workshop View
finished goods warehouse
Finished Goods Warehouse


What is the difference between a factory audit and supplier on-site survey then? Basically, a factory audit (FAD) is more complete than SOS; assessing the manufacturing capabilities in more detail. All the things that are done in an SOS are also done in an FAD. So basically by doing a factory audit, you get a much better view of your potential supplier.

We suggest to start with Supplier On-Site Surveys (SOS) or Supplier Capability Self-Assessments (SCA) for your suppliers. These are very affordable reports that allow you to filter any potential suppliers based on a self assessment coordinated with a local SBE Analyst.


Real-Time Reporting

And remember! We do this (and all other audits and inspections) in real-time, which means that if you remember something that you want to ask/ check from the supplier, you can contact our inspector even though he/ she would already be at the site!

  See more about SOS and a sample report here. See the audits FAQ and video here.