What questions should you ask yourself before importing from China?

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Just as there are many amazing discoveries that come out of countries like the US, Japan and Germany, China has never failed to amaze me with some of its outstanding innovations.  Just to cite a few examples: How about a Chinese construction firm building a 57 story building in just 19 days?*

 Did you know that the world’s biggest drone maker happens to be a Chinese company?  How about a device that can turn an iPod Touch into an iPhone?

Although China has come a long way from producing labor intensive low cost merchandise exports, to some of the most advanced mobile phones, computers and even electric cars, my experience has shown me that Australia continues to buy some traditional exports from China.  These are products like babies’ clothing, furniture, aluminum windows, pet products, beddings and other custom products.

Don’t overlook China when it comes to sourcing traditional export merchandise.  The up-and-comers may have a slight advantage in labor costs, but China has the sophisticated supply chain network and modern automation to keep it abreast with the competition.  China’s not out of the game yet by any stretch.

Now let me go back to what this blog post was intended to be: a short instructional on what questions you need to ask when starting your importing business.  Here’s a partial list:

What product should I import from China?

How much should I order from China?

How do I know if it’s feasible for me to import from China?

What specs do I give potential Chinese suppliers?

What does it cost to import from China?

How long does it take to import from China?

Do I need to give my Chinese supplier a sample or prototype?

How do I negotiate with my Chinese supplier?

Should I get a sample from the supplier?

How do I choose a broker for importing?

Should I inspect before shipment or not?

Of course, I have to add that you have to know what your limits are.  Many such horror anthologies I get from importers have come from, “Let’s just wing it!”  If the thought of diving into the unknown frightens you, then you might have to consider getting help. 

Help can come as wolves in sheep’s clothing though.  What you have to know is that many of these agents could charge commissions on every product you import without your knowledge.  You may be pricing yourself out of your market, or sacrificing precious increments on your margins, for the sake of the small savings you get from their enticingly bargain-level pricing offers.  You also have to make sure that they have sufficient knowledge of how quality control needs to be conducted for the specific product you are importing.   

All that being said, it’s really not that hard to get into the importing business.  Just get the sense of where you are and seek help when it’s needed.  Touché!

*The Guardian

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