Most promotional product distributors understand that some amount of product can be damaged during the decoration process. Knowing how much to expect, how to communicate with your client and how to order exact quantities can take some extra finesse. In this article, we define spoilage, talk through spoilage allowances, and explore various order scenarios involving spoilage. By understanding the guidelines, you can communicate with your client as needed to be sure their expectations are met.
Know The Spoilage Allowance Guidelines
What Is Spoilage?
By definition, spoilage is a wastage or loss of material that is considered acceptable during the manufacturing process. A spoilage allowance is how much waste is considered acceptable on an order by the manufacturer’s standards.
A spoilage allowance guideline or policy is a manufacturer’s statement declaring how much waste is allowable with various protocols for order processing. Most manufacturers make their spoilage allowance guidelines available on their price list and/or website.
Some typical guidelines for screen print, embroidery, or direct-to-garment spoilage are:
- 2% of total quantity for standard items with standard decoration.
- 3% of total quantity for specialty decoration on standard items.
- 5% of total quantity for non-standard items.
- If the the percentage of the total quantity is less than 1, 1 piece is the allowance.
Here are some examples of spoilage allowance calculations:
- If you are ordering 500 t-shirts screen printed with a full chest logo, you should supply 10 extra t-shirts to make sure 500 are delivered.
- If you are ordering 500 t-shirts screen printed with a full chest in puff ink, you should supply 15 extra t-shirts to make sure 500 are delivered.
It’s a good idea to be familiar with the spoilage allowance guidelines for each manufacturer you work with as they may vary. Need help calculating percentages? Check out this handy percentage calculator.
When To Order Exact Quantities
Does my client need exact quantities?
In working with a manufacturer, it is assumed that delivery of an order less a spoilage allowance is acceptable unless you specify otherwise. While no specific communication is triggered, the order will be invoiced for the actual number of pieces less any spoilage.
Your client might naturally expect to receive the exact quantity they ordered based on different experiences they’ve had. The only way to know for sure is to ask.
Given some background information about manufacturing spoilage, you can help your client decide if exact amounts are necessary. Then, if exact quantities are a must, you can take the necessary steps to be sure the correct amount is delivered.
How To Order Exact Quantities
How do I order exact quantities for my client?
- Make a visible point on your purchase order that exact quantities are needed.
- List the garments designated for spoilage as a separate line item on your PO.
- Provide instructions on how the extra garments should be handled.
- Provide separate instructions on how to handle unprinted and/or damaged pieces when the decoration is complete.
Let's take a closer look at each of these steps.
If your client needs exact quantities delivered on an order, make this a visible point on your purchase order. If you are providing the garments to be customized, you will need to supply an overage in the amount of the spoilage allowance to cover the possible damages. Keep in mind that damages could happen in the same size. Your safest bet is to provide an overage in the amount of the spoilage allowance for each size.
List the garments designated for spoilage on a separate line item of your PO, and include instructions on how you want the extra garments handled. Do you want to decorate extras only if spoilage occurs or decorate all garments whether spoilage occurs or not?
Then, be sure to include specific instructions on what to do with any unprinted overages or misprinted damages.
Here are some common options:
- Print all extras and send overages to the client at the same delivery address.
- Print all extras and send overages to me at this address.
- Only use extras for misprints. Send any unused product back to the apparel company. Contact me for an RA number.
- Send misprinted items and remaining overage to me at this address.
Shipping costs for delivery of misprints and/or overages outside the primary ship to address will incur additional shipping costs.
How am I charged for spoilage?
Reputable decoration manufacturers will only charge for the quantity delivered. You should not be charged for the decoration of spoiled garments.
If you have requested to have the overages decorated, you will be charged for the decoration of additional pieces.
Decoration manufacturers are not responsible for damaged goods from a garment manufacturer or distributor. There is no reimbursement for blank apparel damaged within the spoilage allowance.
Notification About Spoilage
How will I know if there is spoilage on an order?
As long as damaged pieces are within the spoilage allowance no specific communication is triggered. Your invoice will indicate how many garments went to spoilage if any.
If the spoilage is over the allowed amount, you will be contacted by your client rep to determine the best course of action.
Can I provide replacements for spoilage after the job has been run?
Volume pricing is based on one set up. Any overages you are supplying must be available when the job is set up and the order is being produced. You cannot wait to see if there are misprints on an order before ordering replacements.
If you prefer to order replacements for spoilage after a job has been run, the order is treated as a new order and the original pricing may not apply.
There are exceptions, as some embroidery or DTG orders require very little set up. In these instances, it may be possible to order replacements for spoilage after a job has been completed. Arrangements can be made on a case-by-case basis with your customer service rep when you are placing the order.
Spoilage Over The Allowance
What if there are damages over the spoilage allowance?
While rare, going over the spoilage allowance is a possibility. In the event a manufacturer damages over the allowed spoilage amount, you will be contacted to work out a solution and timeline. The manufacturer assumes responsibility to replace garments damaged over the allowed spoilage and absorbs additional shipping costs.
Many variables affect the production of customized apparel and products in volume, making spoilage an inevitable reality in manufacturing. Understanding the spoilage allowance guidelines of the manufacturers you work with can help you accommodate the needs and expectations of your clients.
Keys To Ordering Exact Quantities
- Learn the spoilage allowance guidelines for each manufacturer you work with.
- Find out from your customer if exact quantities are needed.
- If exact quantities are needed, make this a very visible point on your PO.
- List garments being supplied in the case of spoilage as a separate line item on your PO.
- Include instructions on how/when to use the extra pieces you supply.
- Include instructions on how to handle extra pieces and/or misprints after the job is decorated.
- Follow up with your manufacturer if you are providing an RA for returning unused garments.