Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report 2015 Sears Holdings Corporation

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Integral to providing our members with products they will love is our commitment to ensuring that those products are both safe for their intended use and high in quality. This commitment requires dedication to quality and safety at every stage of the product cycle, including research, design, specification development, manufacturing and shipping. 

We have developed quality assurance protocols for all categories of products to provide our suppliers with detailed information on our expectations regarding product quality, measures of conformance, product testing and inspection. We work together with our suppliers to develop a shared commitment to quality and safety, and require that all of our suppliers abide by our quality performance standards, requirements, processes and procedures.

Going beyond setting standards and expectations, we have quality assurance staff in over 10 countries that perform inspections to ensure private brand products are being produced in accordance with our quality standards. Wherever we do not have our own staff on the ground, we outsource inspections to independent third parties making sure that the products we sell have been checked. Inspections can occur in various stages of the production process:

  • Factory evaluations assess our supplier factories prior to placing orders to ensure that the factory has the right capacity, equipment and skill for the particular products we are asking them to produce.
  • Pre-Production Meetings take place before production starts and brings together all parties involved in the production of the product. Each step of the process is reviewed to ensure that the production will respect the product specifications.
  • Pilot-run inspections entail an assessment of product quality and compliance with the approved product sample at an early stage in the production procoess once a required minimum quantity has been produced.
  • In-line inspections take place during product production and allow us to identify quality issues early in the manufacturing process.
  • Final inspections assess products after production is complete. This stage compares finished products with previously approved samples, checks for accurate sizing and evaluates overall workmanship.

We also conduct inspections on a random basis at our distribution centers and stores once products have been shipped from our suppliers' factories. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 100,000 quality assurance inspections took place.

While our quality assurance team works to ensure products are produced according to our design standards, our product testing team works to ensure that products will perform and function as intended. Using in-house laboratory testing, as well as independent third-party testing, our product testing team evaluates whether products comply with regulatory and industry standards, function as intended initially and over time with usage, and meet or exceed customer expectations.