If you have a small business and it depends on getting raw materials or goods from manufacturers, you know how costly this can be. One of the secrets to improving your profit is to reduce the cost of goods, and one of the ways to do this is to import products from China.
You might have several reasons to do this, other than acquiring merchandise to sell. Either way, importing goods from China might not be as straightforward as you think.
For example, small items of little value may get delivered right to your doorstep, but if you are ordering large quantities of materials for your business, these packages will surely be retained at customs. You’ll then probably have to pay a fee and prove that you have the import rights to bring these items into the country.
Also, if you’re relying on products arriving from China to refill your warehouse stocks, you must proceed with caution. There may be delays and long transit times that prevent these goods from arriving on time, which in turn will delay your customer orders, and this is bad news.
Today, we’re going to leave you some tips and best practices to follow when importing merchandise from China. Keep in mind that this is not the only guide available, as there are other quality sources out there with valuable insight. One of these sources is an e-book written by experts Walter Hay and Jim Cockrum, two successful importers that are now sharing their experiences.Recommended to read: FREE: 30 Ways To Find Profitable Products
Choose a Product to Import
First things first: You’ll have to decide which product you want to start importing. It all depends on the plans you have for those goods, but we have some tips for you here.
First off, it is preferable to choose products that have a high value and small size. This is because freight carriers will charge you according to the volume of the packaging. For example, stuffed animals or plush toys are not a very wise choice, because their packaging is really big and you won’t get much value per unit.
You’ll also want to choose a product that is unique in some way, maybe something that is uncommon and cannot be easily found where you live. This way, you’ll be able to charge more money to your customers.
Most importantly, go with a product that excites you. Regardless of the area where your business specializes, you should be passionate about your work, so work with something that keeps you motivated every day.
Know the Regulations
You’ve chosen a product, but don’t celebrate yet. If step 2 is not successful, you may have to go back to step 1. The thing here is to make sure that you can actually import the goods you are interested in.
First, you’ll have to consult your own country’s regulations. Different countries allow you to import different products, so don’t stick with something you read about online. Also, some products might be allowed, but require you to have a special permit to bring them in. If the rules are not followed, you may end up paying a fine or getting your goods confiscated.
Secondly, you’ll have to check China’s export regulations. Certain goods are not allowed out of the country, so make sure that everything is within the law before placing an order. For instance, certain animals or animal products cannot be exported. Another example are transmitting radios or two-way radios. If the goods you want to order also have this kind of restriction, you’ll have to reassess your strategy.
Find a Supplier
Now that you’ve chosen a product and checked that it respects every exportation and importation law, it is time to find a supplier. The most obvious choice is Alibaba, but it may not always be the best one.
You can search for Chinese suppliers on Alibaba, but there are some caveats. One of them is that certain suppliers might not ship a certain product if you’re buying it in small quantities, due to Minimum Order Quantities (MOQ). MOQ reflects the need for a supplier to ship large volumes of merchandise at each time so that they can profit from it.
If your Alibaba search fails, there are other portals you can try. DHgate and AliExpress are some popular ones, along with Global Sources.
Even after you’ve found a supplier, contacted them and got everything straight, it is best to order a sample of the product first. Be wary if the supplier does not agree to send you a small sample.
The first reason for this is that the product you receive may not exactly be what you were expecting. In other words, these suppliers might not work in a “what you see is what you get” sort of way. Maybe it is because there is a newer version of the product, or maybe the product you ordered was not ready for shipment.
Either way, you may end up receiving a package totally different from what you ordered. This may be a case of extremely bad luck, but chances are if the sample you received is not what you were expecting, this can also happen when you place bigger orders.
It may also happen that the sample you ordered arrives just as you expected, but something different happens. When you inspect the goods live and up close, you realize that this isn’t exactly what you wanted after all. This is yet another reason to ask for a sample before you start placing bulk orders.
We’ve left with you some ideas you can work with if you want to import products from China. But we’re only scratching the surface, as there is so much we haven’t talked about.
For example, we could discuss the attitude you should take when negotiating with your supplier. We could also address some of the best practices when dealing with customs issues, or even what to do when there are delays in your shipment.
These are some of the themes discussed in an e-book published by Walter Hay and Jim Cockrum. The two import specialists share their tips on these issues and more, like how to get the best out of Alibaba, minimize risks and be profitable. Don’t take it from us, take it from them, who’ve been doing it for years.