China is known for cheap products but not necessarily of very low quality. Gone are the days when all you get from China are low quality products. China is driving much of the global economy and tied in first place with the US in 2012 for global product innovation.
Firms like Huawei, Lenovo, ZTE and Tencent are looming large on the global stage and driving cost of products lower than it used to be.
China’s current advantage in the manufacturing market is due to its vast scale of production, which has resulted in manifold supply chain benefits and also because of its lower labour costs compared to The United States and the European companies.
So importing your goods from china is highly profitable and the cost of starting your import business is now very cheap. We are going to show you how to import from China whether in small or in large scale.
How to Source for Products
You can buy products from china in two ways. By visiting China and buying from the manufacturers of a product or you can buy online from the manufacturers/distributors. If you want to start small, it is advisable to source for your goods on the internet.
You can buy from the suppliers or the manufacturers directly online via their official website or via a third party online business-2-business service companies like Alibaba, dhgate, made-in-china.com, gearbest, chinabuye etc.
Buying online can be challenging as well as fun. There are scams going on online but if you learn how to identify a scammer and his game, you will not fall victim to any scam.
These business-2-business services or companies connect manufacturers or suppliers with buyers all around the world. We are going to use Alibaba as a example of a B2B company to source for our product.
How to Buy Goods from China on Alibaba.com
Alibaba.com is owned by the Alibaba Group which is a family of Internet-based businesses which makes it easy for anyone to buy or sell online anywhere in the world. Alibaba Group is a private Chinese company that is the largest business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer company in the world.
You can buy virtually anything on alibaba.com; from shoes, clothes, tablets, industrial products, electronics, agricultural products etc. To buy from alibaba.com, follow the steps below:
Register as a Free Member
To buy on alibaba.com, you have to register on this website. Sign up with your email address and verify your account and you are now a member. As a buyer, your registration is free.
Search for Products
Searching for product is pretty easy on this site. Just put the name of any item you want into the search box and click on “Search”. You will see thousands of suppliers and manufacturers of that product. But to avoid being scammed, we need to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Find the real manufacturers and suppliers by digging deeper into this long list. Filter by “Gold Supplier” and adding “Onsite Checked”, “Assessed Supplier”, and “Escrow” in that order until you are down to a sizable list.
When you filter this way, you end up with a smaller number of suppliers that have been checked, verified and legal status confirmed. These companies are not only certified and inspected by third party inspection teams , they allow payment via escrow.
Now go through the remaining list and check your supplier company information (address, telephone, emails, web page,workers, history, some important customers they may have, experience, certificates etc.
Normally, a real company, don’t have a free email account ending in hotmail or yahoo. they have a self hosted email address ending with their company name like email@example.com.
On their Websites they should offer their physical addresses and contact details. Compare their official website details with the details they have on Alibaba.com. Make sure they are the same. check their phone number and if possible, give them a call to make sure the number exist.
Another thing you need to check is the ratings or feedback left by customers. if the manufacturer has a good positive feedback, it is a good thing that that business is real and they are what they say they are. Read through the feedback and see what other buyers have written about them.
Contact Manufacturer or Supplier
Once you have found a sizable number of manufacturers of your product, it is time to contact them. contact as many as possible.
Usually just ask about their MOQ (Minumum Order Quantity), payment and shipping policies, sample policy, and a price list or product spec sheet. They usually have all of this ready when you send them a message.
Read their reply and Don’t be afraid to engage in some price warring. Yes in China it is allowed to negotiate the price.
Communication is key but know that most of them can not communicate in English perfectly. What some of them do is use an online translator and reply you in not so perfect English, but that should not be a problem since you know they are Chinese anyways.
Use the chatting system if you want and chat directly with the manufacturer. Get as much information as you want and take notes.
Demand for Samples
Most of them always offer samples and you should demand for one. Most low end products are usually free but you have to pay for freight cost to get your samples. It takes about a week or two to get your samples depending on your location.
Usually to pay for freight, you can pay through any payment method they want. Your samples will be sent through DHL or EMS Express.
When you get your sample, look at the sample and compare it with with specs on their page on Alibaba. Is it what was advertized or not? if it looks good, then it is time to place an order.
Placing an Order and Payment Method
Use the Alibaba escrow services for payment whenever possible. Escrow companies allow a buyer to deposit funds with an independent third party, to be delivered to the seller once he or she has fulfilled his or her end of the supply and shipping agreement.
Alibaba has an escrow service and they always advise buyers to use it to avoid scam. With escrow, the seller or manufacturer does not get paid until you get your product and you have indicated to Alibaba.
Do not and we repeat do not pay through any other payment methods except you have a PayPal which is equally good.
Most light products are better sent through a courier service like DHL or EMS Express. This method of freight is also quicker and you get your product delivered at your doorstep. But it still remains the most expensive freight method.
If you are buying bulky goods in large quantity, you should use a shipping company. Make sure you or the company you are buying the product from files the ISF (Import Security filing) If should be done 24 hours before shipment sets sail.
When you get your product at home or cleared at the port, check to see if it is what you ordered for. If it is, you can go ahead and inform Alibaba that yo have received your goods in good order. If not don’t hesitate to contact both alibaba and the seller to resolve any issues immediately.
If you get past this point, it is really up to you where to take it.
Once you have a reliable seller, continue to buy from him and in time you can increase your orders. A trust worthy seller or manufacturer is hard to come by so keep any good one you find.
- The same method of importation applies to all other B2B companies like dhgate and made-in-china.com. Another option to alibaba is aliExpress.com, Alibaba’s site for smaller orders. You will generally get better prices for the same amount on Alibaba if you are willing to put in the effort to communicate with suppliers, but AliExpress is always an option.
- Make sure you pay through an escrow service to avoid been scammed. PayPal is a good option.
- Check specs of any product you want to buy before ordering to avoid problems.
- Check manufacturer’s contacts on Alibaba and their official Websites. Make sure they offer their physical addresses and contact details. But if their website doesn’t, then you need to be careful.
- Check customer feedback and ratings before you buy. If there is no feedback page, don’t deal with the seller.