When it comes to low prices and high profits, China imports are hard-to-beat. Many retailers and e-tailers understand the benefits of sourcing products directly from China suppliers, but have no idea how to begin.
Online directories offer a simple, straight-forward channel for locating overseas suppliers, but not all online directories are created equal. Advises Peter Zapf, vice president of community development for GlobalSources, "When looking at online directories, try to understand how much work they put into qualifying their suppliers to ensure that they're legitimate companies and can supply the products they claim. Some online marketplaces allow suppliers to post their own content without any verification."Finding Suppliers
If you buy primarily in small quantities, you'll most likely have to begin importing through a trading company or distributor. To get a manufacturer's attention, you'll have to demonstrate a track record of selling high volumes, and show potential as a long-term business partner.
The most common payment terms are 30-70, meaning 30% is due upfront and the remaining 70% is due when the goods ship. Experienced importers can sometimes negotiate a 30-40-30 arrangement, although it's less common. Under 30-40-30 terms, the buyer puts 30% down, and pays 40% at shipping and the final 30% upon receipt and inspection.
You have three choices for checking product quality: trust the supplier, do it yourself, or hire a third party. On a small order, you may choose to trust the supplier. Or if you have in-country resources, they can inspect the products on your behalf. If you're placing a larger order, you may consider hiring a third-party inspection company. The cost can range from $200-up, depending on the size and complexity of the shipment and inspection process.
For small-volume, high-value products, air shipping may make sense – particularly if you need them quickly. Air shipping may also prove to be the most cost-effective option for moving relatively small orders (less than two cubic meters).
When you're getting started importing, it's best to take small steps. Study your options; choose a supplier; place a small order. Go through the process and get a feel for how it works. No article, seminar or training video can substitute for the lessons you'll learn when actually working through the importing process.
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