Simply testing for compliance against mandatory standards is no longer enough to succeed in heavily regulated markets. Manufacturers and suppliers need to have granular understanding of the legislation to which their products must conform, and the performance requirements demanded by the market. They must also have the right documentary evidence and be certain their labeling is compliant and in the right language.
Regulations surrounding finished products and manufacturing processes are constantly being made stricter in order to improve safety, performance and sustainability. Maintaining access to these regulated markets can be difficult if companies aren’t certain their products and processes remain compliant with the latest regulations.
Manufacturers and suppliers should ideally employ a proactive, holistic approach that considers both where legislation is at the moment and also how the regulatory landscape is changing. This can be time-consuming and is perhaps beyond their sphere of expertise but working with industry experts will simplify the process and help to ensure their products remain safe and compliant. This approach has other benefits, because delivering safe and compliant products that perform to recognized standards will give the supplier real advantage in competitive markets.
Why testing and inspection are no longer enough
Manufacturers and suppliers of consumer goods have traditionally relied on testing and inspection to prove safety and compliance.
This no longer goes far enough. Regulations in complex markets now cover more than simply safety. For example, products must carry the right labeling and have the necessary documentary evidence to back up claims regarding compliance, performance, sustainability, etc. In addition, new areas of regulation are being opened up to cover e-commerce, as it becomes a dominant avenue of consumer products purchases. New legislation, such as European Union (EU) Regulation 2019/1020, which came into force in July 2021, is designed to create a level playing field for products that originate from within or without a market’s authority.
A major problem in the e-commerce market for consumer products has been nonconformity. The reasons behind nonconformity are multiple and include a failure to conform to safety requirements, labeling in the wrong language, or the absence of appropriate markings (EU CE-marking, etc.), responsible person information, or mandatory product documents (e.g., energy labeling).
Safety remains the primary driver for manufacturers but to succeed in regulated markets there is now also the need to be able to demonstrate conformity in order to allow consumers to make better purchasing decisions. Manufacturers and suppliers need to remain cognizant of the fact that the internet has democratized markets by providing greater choice and then giving consumers the ability to share opinions and product reviews.
Regulatory complexity and purchasing democratization mean manufacturers and suppliers now need to adopt a holistic approach to compliance that encompasses more than just testing. Each product must be considered from the perspective of relevant regulatory standards and what elements should be tested in order to give it smooth access to the marketplace. In a democratized market, going beyond means also winning the attention of the consumer.
Simplifying market access
Regulations and client requirements may differ between markets. To simplify the process of navigating complex markets, manufacturers and suppliers of consumer goods can create a ‘passport’ that brings together all relevant documents. Each ‘passport’ is individual to the product, considering only market standards, client needs, and industry and end-user requirements.
Working in this way means going beyond compliance to include consultancy solutions that enable competitive advantage, while also providing the information regarding performance, sustainability and safety that consumers now demand.
SGS Beyond has been developed to help manufacturers optimize a product’s route to market. It answers the need in today’s complex markets for a consultancy service that goes beyond testing and inspection to create a holistic approach that adds value to their product while giving them competitive advantage.
A single ‘passport’ is created using tailored solutions that can be adopted individually or as part of a package. Services include the listing of mandatory and/or performance requirements for relevant product groups (legislation, test standards and labeling), document reviews covering both mandatory market and client-specific requirements, and/or labeling reviews to ensure compliance with mandatory labeling requirements. Each passport is individualized to the needs of the client, the product, and its target market(s).
Working in this way ensures a smooth and successful access onto tightly regulated markets and enables cost-efficiencies by allowing each market’s requirements to be covered in a single ‘passport’.