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    1. Silvia 114 is offline

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      #1

      What should I watch out for while sourcing products from China?

      I know so many people, in fact companies that are going to China to buy stuff at really low costs and then minting millions selling them over ebay and other such sites.

      Is it really all that easy? Please tell me about sourcing from China – any tips and suggestions are welcome.
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    2. Pacificworld is offline

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      #2
      China is a great place to source cheap generic items. It is also a big gamble if you are new at sourcing and don’t have reliable contacts. At the end of the day, all businesses need a tremendous amount of hard work – sourcing from China is no different. You may keep the following tips in mind when sourcing from China or any other country for that matter.

      1. Make sure to establish contact with the relevant industry associations or bodies. This is not just a great way to make contacts but also verify the supplier sources that you make. These officials can also help you better understand laws and regulations which can come in handy when importing.

      2. Make sure to study all the necessary restrictions and prohibitions that apply for your category of products as well as the necessary documents / tests and other authorizations needed to bring in the product you want to sell. Doing this later, can often mean having to abort a project or unnecessary delay since these things can take time.

      3. Study the market in your own targeted universe. Other people may already be selling the product in question and at better rates that you can manage. Pricing is often a matter of buying power and bigger resellers do manage a bigger discount especially with the more known suppliers.

      4. Create a complete business plan with all the necessary financials which factors in all possible costs including shipping, customs, listing as well as a buffer for unexpected circumstances and delays. Not factoring in a single variable can radically change the way your balance sheet looks.

      5. Learn to spot counterfeit items from the real deal for the item that you are sourcing and all its various parts / components. Usually, high value designer items are more vulnerable to this malaise but of late even things like memory cards are getting faked. Electronic goods are usually most susceptible to counterfeiting. If caught at customs, counterfeit goods can get you into a lot of trouble.

      Apart from the above, learn to trust your own intuition. If something does not feel right, abort it. In a new country, there is so much that can go wrong – you will have to make sure that you stay alert.
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    3. Bluewonder is offline

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      #3
      You may want to spend some time understanding Chinese business terminology and language as it can sometimes mean the difference between profit and loss. When your Chinese supplier says the cost is so and so, they could be referring to cost of the equipment without some essential component, ex factory cost, cost without the testing certificates or any such thing. Make sure to write down every single cost that you can think of and see whose is responsible for the same. You may even want to take on the services of an interpreter and have a contract in two languages. It could be dishonesty or just a plain misunderstanding, but it can make a large hole in your pocket. It also ruins the relationship between the supplier and you which could force you to restart from scratch.

      Plus, you may also want to factor in, currency fluctuations and other economic changes that could impact your profitability. Customs duty and anti dumping laws are often modified overnight.

    4. Daffodils_2010 is offline

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      #4
      When sourcing from China, I think it may be a good idea to actually consider a fly and buy approach. This means you just fly down and pick up what you need – many suppliers actually subsidize the cost of the trip provided you pick up a certain minimum quantity. I don’t think people can be trusted across international borders just because you have spoken to them a few times. I would personally want to inspect the actual factory site, warehouse or office location. I would make it a point to see the labor and other working conditions that will impact the quality of the goods that I am purchasing. At the very least, I will have a physical address that I can go back to in case something goes wrong at any stage. In the online universe, even knowing that can be like an insurance policy.

      People in the developed world put a premium on the kind of conditions products are manufactured in. Third world countries are infamous for their sweat shops and inhuman working conditions. They are known to employ tiny children and old men and women in exchange for a pittance. You don’t want that kind of information coming out and ruining your PR and career.

    5. Santa005 is offline

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      #5
      When sourcing from China, I think, your biggest challenge will lie in the customs clearance. Given China’s historic record with regard to dumping and counterfeit production, all consignments from China get special attention from customs officials. You would also do well to understand the applicable tariffs and restrictions for your products as once something gets stuck in customs, it is gone. The losses you take on one consignment can pretty much wipe you out sometimes especially when you are starting out.

      Also pay close attention to packing when sourcing from China. Different things require very different kind of handling. You may want to instruct your supplier and shipment agency accordingly. Documents also vary, so make sure you have everything in hand, well in advance.

    6. Pacificworld is offline

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      #6
      I would suggest that you do one sample order to better understand all the variables involved when sourcing from China. Not only will it clarify all the money involved but also the time delays possible. If you pretend it is a customer shipment, you will also get a chance to evaluate the quality of products on offer as well as supplier reliability.

      If funds allow, you could of course explore the option of delegating the job of importing / sourcing from China to professionals. These guys import in bulk and specialize in this sort of activity which helps them lower their costs remarkably. This will take away the stress from the business of sourcing from China leaving you to focus on designing and offering more value added services.

    7. Bluewonder is offline

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      #7
      I have some advice regarding products you should be sourcing from China:

      1. Avoid labels / designer brands: people will give you stories about how they are surplus or samples from THE original manufacturer but just don’t waste your time on this. China is known for its huge counterfeit industry and you don’t want to be a part of that murky business.
      2. Avoid electronics and other technology items unless you are sure about the quality. These things have a way of not working once they are in your possession and paid for.
      3. Be very careful when it comes to toys and other children’s items as they have been found to contain lead and other poisonous materials in the past.
      4. Avoid anything with large cavities which can be used to smuggle other things across the border.

      You may consider asking for other customer references in case the supplier has been in the business for some time. Don’t take any chances. It’s your reputation on the line and ultimately you are accountable for everything that you are sourcing from China.

    8. Daffodils_2010 is offline

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      #8
      You may also want to find out if the products you are sourcing from China are already being supplied to the area you will be targeting. No point getting into head on competition especially if your competitor’s pricing works out cheaper than yours.

      More and more wholesale suppliers are getting into retailing and there is no saying when your own supplier starts competing with you.

    9. Pacificworld is offline

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      #9
      Sourcing from China is getting increasingly competitive; so, to my mind, your challenge will be to find newer and different products compared to those that have already flooded the market. Bigger retailers have more holding power and can out-price you on most counts.

      The only thing is that newer products often mean lesser known suppliers which means, more risk and greater need for research on your part when sourcing from China.

    10. got2work is offline

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      #10
      For myself I would want to avoid anything that goes in your mouth such as toothpaste, mouth wash, food products etc. no matter who's name is on the label. Toys would be another item I wouldn't consider getting at all in China.

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