Ask The Expert: Importing from China - ENDED
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Shenzen China Australia
Tim298
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Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
13 Jul 2014
Hi Dekero08

dkero08 wrote:

I've ordered parts from China and shipments via DHL were pretty easy but whats the cheapest most efficient way to ship?

My company has trouble with batteries being held up in customs. Any advice there?

Any advantages to using runners from Hong Kong?

Thanks
Shipping discounts depend on volume moved by the shipper - some people dont want to use agents as in many places this adds large costs in all industries, but often in China you can find shipping partners that get such high shipping discounts that even when they add their profit in you end up getting a better price than doing it yourself. Also depends on where you are shipping to - each shipping provider has various benefits and downsides depending on location as well. So in summary, there is not one shipping provider (such as DHL, Fedex, UPS, TNT etc) that is better than others per se - but one may fit with your requirements better, and you can def find excellent discounts on the market for shipping.

Batteries, Powders and Liquids have issues at certain times from China - especially going on planes. We simply monitor when this will be a problem and avoid shipping these items at these times, there is not much more we can do as its considered a danger on the planes so hightened security for any reason means these restrictions pop up. Its about finding a shipping line that can provide the service, Malaysia Post seems ok at the moment and Sweden Post, but you want to find a company with existing relationships with these providers.

I have not gone via HK, but I know some people that do, to avoid the issues noted above, and also some people have some good shipping discounts there and feel the logistics and operation is smooth, also HK for some has a nice feel to it if your products come from there (even if they are still made in China).
Shenzen China Australia
Tim298
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Joined: Jun 26, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
13 Jul 2014
Hello RoyPat05

roypat05 wrote:

I see that you have visited China in person what are the advantages in this approach? I am going to Bangkok myself in October to meet with some jewellery suppliers and I wondered what experience you had of other Asian wholesale markets.
Yes I have visited China many times and lived there for 18months. While I think depending on your business model and what you are looking to do in business, the living part is not necessary I think there are huge benefits to going to any place that you are going to have a long term relationship with.

Advantages from my perspective include:
- it shows commitment off the mark
- it allows you and your potential suppliers to meet efficiently and you to see everything clearly and openly
- You can understand more of the business model on their side, where they sit in the supply chain etc
- You can achieve better terms because you are real and they will want your business.

I also believe that knowing the culture of the people that you will be buying from makes you a better buyer as you can show some awareness to their situation. I ahve been to wholesale markets in Thailand (long time back now) Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines.

Bangkok is great, you should have a lot of fun there - small increase in price can bring down the minimum order quantity (MOQ) - and my tip would be to confirm who will handle the shipping - which method they are using and what role you need to play in that (unless you are buying on the spot and taking with you.). Also be aware of whether you are dealing with the factory or the trading company, if your orders are smaller, it may be preferable to work with the trading company as they are not tied to raw material Minimum Orders and they may have good shipping alliances which factories often only have for large volume.
Shenzen China Australia
Tim298
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Joined: Jun 26, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014
Hi WPSports25

Wpsports55 wrote:

We've done business previously in China on a couple of different items. We were dealing with factory direct so we thought Turned out that they were not doing the manufacturing at all they were brokering it out. How can one verify where items are actually being made without going to plant
This is a big area – there are a lot of trading companies and agents and brokers that sit between factories and buyers, in many cases these companies offer advantages which the factory themselves can not offer and the price in many cases is not too much different.

If you are buying existing market products - trading companies and agents can work very well depending on your volume - if its smaller they offer lower MOQ (minimum order quantity) and can have very good shipping options to meet your needs.

If you are buying designed or tailored products you want to be dealing with the factory as you don't want your requests being double handled.

I like working with a certain number of trading companies as it means my buy price is higher, but service is usually really good and the minimum order quantity (MOQ) is lower.

To ensure you are working with the factory, to be 100% sure you can:
- go and visit (noting that you want to avoid this)
- seek an agent or QA/QC company to check on this
- ask them directly (Im sure you did this but some people i have spoken to in the past simply assume)
- verify with Alibaba or other connection site if you have identified them through this site, if not, then search and see what you can find on there.
Shenzen China Australia
Tim298
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Joined: Jun 26, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014
Hi Crucial Music

Crucial Music wrote:

How can you ensure that TOYS (and similar products) meet the EU requirements especially as I would want to sell these via Amazon who strictly enforce? Have absolutely no experience of importing in quantity so am very nervous!
Meeting standards is difficult and costly.
To be honest I find you can not rely solely on the suppliers assertion that the standards are met.
First step is to know what the standards are - in AU and NZ we look at the ACMA site.
Then to know what tests need to be done against which standards.
Then you can see if your supplier has really met them and seek proof such as reports and certificates.
Then to have a testing agency in China do this and provide these reports and certificates for the items so you can show your buyers.

There is a cost to the test and reports - this is why the suppliers avoid it, but some will have them, their cost will be higher (reflecting the cost of getting the certs done). I would 100% recommend getting this done, if you are moving significant volume then your supplier should be able to support you the key thing will be you informing them what is needed to ensure 100% that the right tests and reports are achieved.
Shenzen China Australia
Tim298
Kudos: 446
Joined: Jun 26, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014
Hi Rabit

rabit wrote:

1. When just buying simple not re-engineered product (or off the shelf as advertised by the sellers on Allibaba) why are there ridiculous minimum order quantities?
This answer is in 2 parts
1.higher the MOQ the more likely its the factory - and they dont have a strong sales or CS team so tey hope unless you buy a lot, you will deal with the trading companies.
2.they need to show a low price to attract buyers, so the low price is given according to a really high MOQ which drives the ranking of the supplier up on the site... then if you want less (which 99% of buyers do) the price goes up to the real price.

rabit wrote:

2. I recently I had a quote for some printing and the landed cost came in at just under what I could get the same product in Australia for. Why so much?
Do they figure out what its worth in the destination country then decide the pricing?
(Printing is something that I am very familiar with and what I had asked for was only a couple of hours work? for a real print shop.
They are really dreaming with their pricing sometimes.)
This is surprising – if it’s a large volume of printing the pricing should work out a lot better, but then it takes more time to assess the quality and other things – so it’s a balance – the weight for the shipping would be key – and perhaps this supplier didn’t have a good line to AUS for this aspect. The key parts are time, volume and shipping, if its a lesser amount, then often it wont be worth their time to do it if they are a huge print company, if you were there on the street and could go to a print shop, its really cheap, so it depends on the connection.
For sure the suppliers will know the pricing of the products they sell around the world, but at the same time they are generally aware of the need to beat that price by some margin to make the business viable.

rabit wrote:

I seem to find that a lot of the prices quoted by the Chinese are too similar to the cost of the equivalent product in Australia.
This must be price including shipping..? I would be interested to hear more about this aspect, where you get the quotes from and what volume you are looking for and how this occurs as I have never had a problem beating pricing in AU at retail even if I ship from Chnia to the customer - unless you are comparing price to Amazon, as many China trading companies sell on here as well so its basically, the China price + a small margin to these sites in some cases.
Midlothian, VA United States
Jax Music Supply
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Joined: May 25, 2009
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014
Hi. Thanks for doing this Q&A. Is it better to use an import agent? One of the things we face in my industry (musical instruments) is big environmental concerns regarding the type of wood and other organic parts used. There are strict import requirements that can put you in jail if you do not file the proper paperwork or provide proof of source of the wood and such.
Shenzen China Australia
Tim298
Kudos: 446
Joined: Jun 26, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014
Hi Jax Music Supply, thanks for the question

Jax Music Supply wrote:

Hi. Thanks for doing this Q&A. Is it better to use an import agent? One of the things we face in my industry (musical instruments) is big environmental concerns regarding the type of wood and other organic parts used. There are strict import requirements that can put you in jail if you do not file the proper paperwork or provide proof of source of the wood and such.
Im not sure if you are after a customs broker or import agent or both (hopefully both functions in the one body) but if there are big concerns with this - as jail time would suggest then yes, I would ensure that someone was looking over the paperwork and making sure everything was in place, also gives you someone else to blame if something goes wrong, the main thing in my experience is that you show that you are doing all you can to meet the requirements, not avoid them - and an agent/broker type (depending on your market) would fulfil this requirement.

Any time there is a real risk and concern such as this I would agree with you and use that extra expertise to ensure you are covered, but also to ensure that the standards are upheld and environmental concerns cared for - frustrating extra cost, but these type of people can save you money and stress in the long term.
United Kingdom United Kingdom
activehuman
Kudos: 26
Joined: Feb 10, 2014
Filtering search results on Alibaba
14 Jul 2014
Hi Tim

When I do an an initial search for a product on Alibaba I always get hundreds if not thousands of suppliers coming up in the search results.

What is the best way to filter these results to find a supplier / product that meets my needs in terms of a trustworthy seller who can offer a quality product at a good price.

Thanks

Lee
Shenzen China Australia
Tim298
Kudos: 446
Joined: Jun 26, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014
Hi ActiveHuman / Lee

activehuman wrote:

When I do an an initial search for a product on Alibaba I always get hundreds if not thousands of suppliers coming up in the search results.

What is the best way to filter these results to find a supplier / product that meets my needs in terms of a trustworthy seller who can offer a quality product at a good price.
The filters provided are at the top of the page, but if you are searching for something like (Makeup Brush Sets) which I did as a test just now, you get thousands, the filters cut it down a bit but not heaps - these filters are Gold Supplier, If they are on Alibaba Chat, Escrow, Gold Supplier and Audited Supplier, checking these boxes will cut out the suppliers that do not meet these requirements.

Outside of these there is another tool that Alibaba promotes called Alisource Pro which you may find useful - sourcing.alibaba.com/buyermark..._home.htm?tracelog=alihomelink
This essentially reverses things, you post what you want, and accredited suppliers come to you with offers - these go via Alibaba to screen them to ensure that they meet your needs.

Other techniques I used were to only deal with suppliers that contacted me back in a timely fashion, with specific answers to my requirements, my requests would always be very structured, encouraging a point by point response. MOQ and Price is always a guide as well - and also, if you know the areas where things are made, I tend to try to focus in these areas for the product I am seeking, more likely its closer to the source if it comes from the same area/province/city.

Finally, it does take time, its a little daunting that there are so many that can meet your needs - I used to do the work, then make the selection and then stick with them convincing myself the work I did found the best, if I questioned myself too much it would take up more time - thats not an endorsement to do things without due diligence, but at some point you have to pick and run with it.
United Kingdom United Kingdom
activehuman
Kudos: 26
Joined: Feb 10, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014
Thanks Tim, that's really useful and sound advice and should enable me to sort the wheat from chaf!

Thanks again

Lee
Herts, England United Kingdom
Andy
Kudos: 11,631
Joined: Jan 1, 2001
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014
Hey all, now the discussion is well under way (and there's still four days to go!) I'd like to thank everyone for the great questions so far, and give a big thank you to Tim for his really detailed and helpful answers.

The discussion is open until noon on Friday (GMT) so there's plenty of time to ask more questions. Whether you've posted already or not, please submit any more questions you have as soon as you can.

Just hit the blue Add Post button anywhere on the page to post your question.

If you're not already a member, it only takes a few seconds to join us, and you can post as soon as you verify your email address.

I'm looking forward to hearing what else you want to know about importing from China, and seeing more of Tim's great answers!

[Last edited: 14 Jul 2014]
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Bangor, Co-Down United Kingdom
roypat05
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Joined: Mar 22, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014

Tim wrote:

Bangkok is great, you should have a lot of fun there - small increase in price can bring down the minimum order quantity (MOQ) - and my tip would be to confirm who will handle the shipping - which method they are using and what role you need to play in that (unless you are buying on the spot and taking with you.). Also be aware of whether you are dealing with the factory or the trading company, if your orders are smaller, it may be preferable to work with the trading company as they are not tied to raw material Minimum Orders and they may have good shipping alliances which factories often only have for large volume.
Many Thanks for all the useful information. Just one other point how do I find a trading partner in Bangkok?

[Last edited by moderator: Shortened quote — 14 Jul 2014]
Charlotte, NC United States
wilfredtr
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Joined: Apr 22, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
14 Jul 2014
Thank you Tim for the detailed answers.

Could you comment on the content of this article in the NY Times a week ago?

boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07...nlid=21338899&tntemail0=y&_r=0
Shenzen China Australia
Tim298
Kudos: 446
Joined: Jun 26, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
15 Jul 2014
Hi roypat05

roypat05 wrote:

Just one other point how do I find a trading partner in Bangkok?
Get lost in the bars and expat hangouts and ask a lot of questions...

I found trading partners in Vietnam via Alibaba (now I sound like all I do is answer with "ask Alibaba...) - www.alibaba.com/trade/advancesearch?advancedSearchText=
In the advanced search you can change the country you are searching.

Other than that you can find suppliers at markets such as www.chatuchak.org/ on the weekend and find items and meet potential trading partners there, but there could be a lack of international business experience there.

I did a quick search and found some good info on austrade, and some thailand business service connection sites - I would take it slowly, and cautiously and start with very small orders to reduce your risk.
Shenzen China Australia
Tim298
Kudos: 446
Joined: Jun 26, 2014
Re: Ask The Expert: Importing from China
15 Jul 2014
Hi Wilfred

wilfredtr wrote:

Could you comment on the content of this article in the NY Times a week ago?
boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07...nlid=21338899&tntemail0=y&_r=0
I sure can - at the outset I would say, there is a pressure everywhere for supporting local manufacturing and locally made products, and just because I know about this stuff from China does not mean i do not support this, I see great value in taking certain steps in the manufacturing chain locally.

Maybe I am reading it wrong but the article seems to position Alibaba a little sideways - Alibaba features Suppliers in China looking to sell to buyers from other locations - Alibaba is also reversing this model and looking at offshore suppliers marketing themselves to Chinese consumers through the various online channels at their disposal - seems to be more than simply marketing, real support for the suppliers outside of China to access the consumer market there. Lets look at the key points:

1. Quality and returns
American retailers give you returns and Chinese retailers do not (online) I assume this is for single product purchasing. In this case its true, for the most part, I mean sites and CS in China are different, and the price you pay is much lower, so if the product is faulty, you should be able to get a return / replacement - but most of the cost is in the shipping so it certainly is something they will try to avoid. I do agree if you buy a really cheap brand item, surely you know its not real... you should take care that there are a lot of fakes on Chinese Online sites... but surely the price lets you now this....

2. Delivery
Delivery in China is really cheap, and logistics from China are also really cheap internationally. Its very efficient, even in China using SF (a china internal delivery company) you can delivery anything anywhere within a day. Some can ship fro China to my house in Melbourne for less than I can send from Sydney to Melbourne. Local shipping is a huge cost for most western markets, as well as storage etc - which is why drop shipping from China presents such an attractive option cost wise - but the time the customer waits is longer... so its always a balance.

3.Communication
This point is really well made by the author.
Its something that a lot of sellers from outside of china wanting to sell inside china overlook, you need a huge, 24/7 Customer Service operation (in Mandarin...) Legit, every time I am in China I am always entertained and surprised by how long phone conversations go on for and then turn out to be for an order of a product...its really unique.

In general the lack of product responsibility and Customer Service that we expect outside of China I think is changing and more of this pressure eventually flows back to the manufacturer to give some warranty on the items and stand by them - it also creates a little niche area where the ones that do this the best in the next short while will have an advantage over others as Customer Service while not done well throughout China (in my opinion) is something that is well respected and appreciated when provided/received by consumers there.

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