8 things you wish you had known before importing from China.
Are you planning to start importing products from China and you have absolutely no idea of what you should or shouldn’t do? This is the right place for you. Below we shall reveal to you 8 things that everyone wishes they had known about before they started importing from China. But first, if you are a first-time importer and you have a product idea for selling to your country, please read the next part before proceeding.
Quick steps involved in importing from China.
- Find your niche product
- Find the most suitable and reliable supplier to work with
- Choose an importing process that ensures profitability and safety.
It is also worth mentioning that importing from China has a high-profit potential and if you take note of these 8 things that you should know before importing to China, you are bound to enjoy the benefits of your business.
Why you should import from China.
If you are a first-time importer and are looking for a starting point, or if you are an experienced importer and you just want to expand your business, then China is the way to go. The question that is nagging you right now is; why China? Here are some of the top reasons why China is the best option for your importing business. China is the world’s largest export country in the world since 2009. This is because the government is encouraging more people to venture into the export business. In 2013 alone, China exports amounted to an estimate of $1.904 trillion. That said, this means that the cost of production and manufacture is significantly low in China as a result of affordable rent and labor. Therefore, you can easily import your goods from China at ridiculously lower prices and in turn, sell them at high-profit rates.
Find your favorite product niche.
It could be easier for us to assume that by now you already have a product in mind. However, if the case is different, then please pay close attention to this section. First, you need to find a product that is within your favorite niche. Ask yourself this question, “What do I love?” This is a vital part of business regardless of whether it is in the import industry or not.
Dealing with what you love will ensure that you stay in business for long. Enjoying what you do will motivate you to interact with more people and as a result bag yourself some potential customers. That aside, here are some more tips on what to look for in a product:
- Portable enough to be picked at lower shipping costs overseas. A small size is also preferable.
- Stand out from other products in the same niche that is already in the market. (What is unique about your product? Why should customers buy your product(s) and not the others?)
- Have a selling price within the $10-200 range and still manage to give back a substantial amount of profit. This price range has been proven to work especially for small to medium import businesses.
It is much more convenient to find your own supplier nowadays.
Most people think of venturing into the import world but are held back by their lack of knowledge on how to find suppliers. Contrary to popular belief, it is easy to find your own supplier from China. Here are some handy tips to get you started:
- Google your product of interest + supplier, factory or manufacturer + China. The main B2B (business-to-business) sites in China are Alibaba.com, Made-in-China, and Global Sources.
P.S. express is the best platform to work with if you are dealing with small orders.
- Take a trip to the trade show in China or even your local exhibitions in your country.
- Start a website to market your product and suppliers will reach out to you.
There are numerous ways of finding a supplier, and all you have to do is choose the one that works best for you. However, it is imperative to understand that your supplier is very crucial because you will be working with them for a very long time. Therefore, pick someone you can confidently rely on and someone you can trust with your investment.
Know who you are working with.
When looking for suppliers especially over the internet, you will come to the realization that almost everyone claims to be a working with a factory. However, you need to understand that this is how they are trained to represent themselves so as to attract more clients to their business. The reality is that there are 3 types of suppliers as outlined below:
- Factor/manufacturer- they produce and sell their products directly
- Trading company- they buy products from the factory and resell them. (Although some trading companies also manufacture some of the products) Trading companies always offer additional services.
- Sourcing agents– they help customers out in sourcing their products from China at a fee.
Since everyone claims to be a factory when approached by potential clients, here is a checklist on how to know if you are dealing with a factory or not.
- Check out their website and see if they provide a broad range of products. If yes, then you are probably dealing with a trading company since this is not economical enough for a factory.
- Check out their minimum order quantity (MOQ). If they allow very low MOQs, then they are most likely to be trading companies because this will be wasteful for factories.
- In brief, check out their profile on Alibaba, their business license to see whether they are MANUFACTURING in China, factory audit report, year of establishment, and ISO certification among others.
Maybe sourcing companies are not that bad after all.
This point might be contradicting with the previous point, but looking at it from a different point of view trading companies also have their advantages. When importing from China, the primary objective is to utilize the low prices. This said you might easily conclude that working directly with a factory is the best option for your business. Here are some challenges you are more likely to face when working directly with a supplier:
- Language barrier: Most factories in China lack salespeople who can speak English. So how will you do business with people you cannot communicate with.
- High MOQs: as stated earlier, factories have very high MOQs and therefore if you are starting out, it is advisable to deal with trading companies.
- Independent inspection of goods: this leaves enough room for carelessness and errors.
- They are unwilling to make free sales samples for you: in fact, they offer to sell the samples to you!
- Very long lead-times: the start of your order processing wholly depends on the factory’s schedule.
All these issues and more are better handled by the trading companies and thus making them a better option.
Never go for the CHEAPEST offer.
Pay attention because I need you to get this right. A cheaper option is not that bad, but keep off the CHEAPEST offers and other offers that seem too good to be true. The reality is that there are scammers! They approach you with ridiculously low prices and other offers which you can’t resist. Others can even send you a high-quality sample to win your trust, but once you send them the money and make an order they vanish into thin air, and you can never contact them again. On the other hand, others might not be scammers, but they might be hiding a secret. They lure you into trusting them and even send you a high-quality sample, but once you make an order, they deliver very low-quality products that are cannot even be sold. This will make your product incompetent in the market, and you end up making massive losses. In the import business, a cheaper option is always welcome, but sometimes you get exactly what you pay for. Always do a background check of your supplier and pick a reasonable price. You can even compare their price with that of the same product on Alibaba.
Choose a shipment method that is convenient for your business.
There are various options when it comes to shipment. However, several factors have to be considered before picking the plan that best suits your business. These include time, cost and size of your product. The weight of the product and its nature (perishable or not, fragile) should also be put into consideration. Below are some tricks to help you out:
- Regular post: the best option for shipment of samples and product under 2Kg. Takes 2-5 weeks. USD 15/KG
- Express Courier: delivered to your door. Most commonly used. Applicable to goods under 20Kg. Takes 2-5 business days. USD 50/Kg
- Air freight: larger than 300Kg. USD 5-10/Kg. 2-10 days. But there is a weight limit. Takes 2-10 days to arrive. However, you have to go through some documentation before picking up at the airport. You can outsource these from trucking companies.
- Sea freight: the best option for shipping massive goods. Take the longest time 3-9 weeks but have the possibility of door delivery. It also requires documentations for clearance.
Each shipment method comes with its pros and cons. It is up to you to decide the one that works best for you. It is also important to know which one to prioritize between the cost and time.
Always work with a written contract.
The power of a written contract in business should never be underestimated. Whether you are a first-time importer or running any business, a written agreement always comes in handy. It ensures professionalism and order in your business. When it comes to the importing business, a written contract MUST include the terms of payment and delivery, and the currency of payment. It should also clearly outline the terms and conditions of the business.
Do you now feel confident enough to start importing from China? Do you disagree with or have anything to add to the points discussed above? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.