Are you thinking about setting up an import business but just don't know where to start? This comprehensive beginner’s guide will take you through everything you need to know about importing from China.
Since 2012, China has been the top trading country in the world and with consistent year-on-year growth, it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. So why is China such an attractive prospect for importers? Those who have brought in goods from China often cite cost, speed and efficiency of production. What’s more, the Chinese market boasts a staggering diversity of unique goods that you may struggle to find elsewhere.
When building an import business, your first step will be to find a good product. This can be difficult, but it’s worth conducting thorough research so you can be confident in your choice before taking the plunge. Once you’ve found a product that you’re happy with, the next step will be to source it from a great supplier. Finding a good supplier in China can be time-consuming, but it is well worth the effort.
Don’t buy in bulk from a factory until you have sampled their product. Start off with a small sample order. Don’t let a supplier convince you that they can’t ship small sample orders, they are generally only trying to squeeze you. Once you are satisfied with the quality of the product, you can start to scale up your order quantity.
There are a few criteria you should bear in mind when selecting a product to import from China:
- Small, light and cheap to ship in bulk
- Something simple that will allow for a greater margin of error
- Inexpensive items ranging between €10-50
- Niche products that have lower competition
- Non-seasonal items that can be sold all-year round
There are a number of websites you can refer to while researching products:
- Alibaba - One of the largest and most valuable ecommerce companies in the world, Alibaba accounts for over 80% of all online sales in China. As such, it is a great place to source unique products. Look at what items are being promoted and check around other sites to get an idea of margins.
- eBay - A great tool for gauging demand, use eBay to get an idea of the level of prices you can consistently sell items for.
- Amazon - Check out the bestseller pages in all the categories to identify popular items for which you may not already have a lot of importers.
When it comes to shipping – the method you choose will very much depend on your unique needs. There are a wide range of logistics and transportation options to choose from:
- Courier is an ideal option for those who are new to buying lightweight items in bulk.
- Regular China mail is another good option for newbies. However, delivery can take up to a month and a half.
- Air freight is the perfect option for those who are big into importing and don’t want to wait around. This ensures that a large quantity can get to you in only a number of days. However, it may not be suitable if you’re shipping in very large quantities.
- Sea freight is the most popular shipping method; however, it also has one of the longest shipping times.
- Drop shipping is the ideal solution if you have a long and successful history with a supplier. This would offer you a virtually unlimited inventory and reduced stress.