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Validate your product idea

You’ve found your product, GREAT! But careful, don’t get over excited about a product that you just found or had an idea for. You need to evaluate first if your product fits the market and its consumers.

We call this “product-to-market-fit,” meaning you have something that the market really needs.

To evaluate your product you should go through the following steps:

COSTS: 

  • Cost of manufacturing
  • Cost of transport.
  • This can be crucial to your margin if the transport cost is very high.
  • Cost of duties and taxes
  • Possible profit before tax

COMPETITION:

  • Make sure no one or not many people carry your product.
  • Analyse the market, do your research. Look at social media hash tags: http://topsy.com/ (enter your product’s name or category, e.g., LED bulb)
  • Test the idea with a few forums (but don’t give away too much information) – Research trends on blog sites (such as Shopify.com)

More great tips available on Shopify:

http://www.shopify.com/blog/12932121-what-to-sell-online-8-strategies-for- finding-your-first-product

For Example, look at the picture of this post. Its a Projector that can stream movies, music, documents via WiFi / USB and more. I don’t remember exactly but when I saw it at the Exhibition I was really excited. I was eagerly waiting for the price from the supplier. Once I got it I was really disappointed as the price was so high I could never sell it to any of my Customers. Not even if I would have done a lot of Marketing etc.

So what went wrong? First the supplier probably hasn’t done enough research on the market if his product can actually sell and if there is a niche. Second, I was super excited and sent pictures to my Customers already and they were all giving great feedback asking for the price. So when I finally got the price and (embarrassed as I was) sent them the price I made a fool out of myself. Not one Customer was interested in such a high price item.

Remember, do your research and make sure you have a “product-to-market-fit”.

 

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developed a new product!

How to find the right product

As mentioned earlier this can be a very lengthy process or a very short one if you already have something in mind. We will give you a few ideas and guidelines if you don’t have a new product idea yet.

Unfortunately, China’s factories rely a lot on your product input. When it comes to innovative products from regular factories there is not much to be found. What is found a lot is copies or slightly modified products from the big names. Most of the time you can also request a little modification such as putting your company logo on the item, private label packaging, or changing the colors of the product.

We will cover custom products in the section OEM Products.

Other than that you will need to rely on factories for their input.
What you can give them without investing a lot of money for new products (that no one has yet) is a good pitch. Say you see some new cool gadget on websites like Engadget”, Wired, CNet, PCMag (to name a few in the technology sector). You could send this idea to your trusted supplier and ask them if they would be willing to invest in developing this product. Or perhaps he has something very similar already in his assortment.

Fortunately, what Chinese factories are very good at is producing standard items that you can find in your local Wal-Mart / Sears / Lowes / Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and many more. These items can be a bathroom accessory, TVs, garden furniture, and much more.

One of the best ways for me to find a new product is by scouting the Internet and looking at trendy websites.

For example, this link provides all the necessary company websites that you need: http://www.kadaza.com/.

Just click on any category and browse through the many major websites provided.

For example, click on “Computer & Tech” and you will find the top 24 websites where you can start your research on the product that you would like to import. It is time consuming but it’s also a great way to find ideas and scout your potential competitors.

What also helps me a lot are newsletters. I subscribe to at least 100 newsletters of companies that I think provide cool gadgets and items. This way you get weekly newsletters of trending products. Simply go onto a company’s website and subscribe, easy as that. It could be your local supermarket, a big brand name company, or some blog that always features the coolest and trendiest items. Perhaps you could create a new email address that you register with on these sites so that your main (work) email address doesn’t get overwhelmed with newsletters.

Another way to find new products is obviously when you are out in a shopping mall. To start your own import business means that you also work when you are out with friends/family at a shopping mall. Keep your eyes open and when you see something cool make a reminder for yourself on your smart phone to look up this product.

Travelling is also a great way to find ideas. When you are out of your country or state you will likely see items that your country/state does not have. There could be many reasons why they may not be available where you live, but it’s always worth it to check an idea out. I remember when my friend told me about 10 years ago about Bubble Tea & Fancy Green Tea drinks sold in Hong Kong and Asia. She was from Germany and she had never seen these drinks back home. She didn’t go on any further with that idea but a few years later back in Germany these drinks started to pop up and were a smashing hit! So even when you think at first that idea might be nothing, it could be worth millions! Share the idea with a few friends and brainstorm about it.

One of my favorite and an efficient way to find new products is at exhibitions. There are hundreds of exhibitions each year in many countries. You get to meet the supplier, see the products, and talk over details such as prices, models, and much more. On top of all of that I guarantee you that you will get inspired. To find exhibitions near you just Google the exhibition center near you and get your entry ticket. Most times you will need to provide name cards and contact details for that. You can order business cards for $5 these days. Going to an exhibition prepared and with a professional image gives the supplier a great impression of you. We will cover exhibitions and how to behave there in another chapter in Part 2 of this book.

Obviously, looking at competitors can help you find a product. But doing so means you need to be more price competitive and that gives you a disadvantage, unless you are selling at a different price level and providing additional services that your customers value.

Amazon, Ebay, and the likes can help you get started on basic product ideas. I don’t recommend starting by importing products that the majority of companies already have. But these websites give you great input on trends and items that sell very well.

 

Alibaba, Aliexpress, Global Sources, and Taobao are great ways to find products. You could search through millions of products from thousands of suppliers. But I don’t recommend this option, as you can quickly get lost in the products. These sites are a great way to find a supplier, however. We will cover these four sources later.

Now, having said all that, you might think, “but how do I figure out what product is right for me?” Again, all options above give you some ideas where to find products, but it is up to you to try and test them. You can start by importing small quantities via Aliexpress (drop-shipping) and testing them through your EbayEbay/Amazon or other sales channels.

Make sure that the product you want to import is not regulated or a restricted item in your country. Do your research! See the section The 6 Step Import Process.

 

We will also be a forum & community later on http://importdojo.com for product discussions where you can interact with other Buyers all over the world.

 

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GLOW BLUE

The 6-step Import process

This is a rather large section so I will outline in 6 steps and go into detail in later chapters.

 

The 6-step import process

 

This is the general outline of the process. We will look into each process in great detail in later sections. It is also the same process, no matter if you go to China or sit on in the comforts of your home.

 

These are the 6 steps that you always need to follow trough no matter what product you want to import.

 

 1) Decide for your manufacturing country. In our case this will be China or South East Asia (depending on your product).

Countries have different export/import regulations. While products may be cheap to buy from Asia, there are many other factors, which might add costs. Requirements for importing specific commodities depend on a wide variety of criteria. Some information, such as whether an item is subject to quota restrictions, eligible for reduced rates of duty, or restricted from entry because they originate in an embargoed country, can be determined only if you know the item’s Harmonized Tariff customs number. This can be found for the US for example under: http://hts.usitc.gov/

If you live in Europe or any other country simply Google: “customs tariff number your country”

Click on the link and head over to the official’s country’s government website.

On these databases you can simply look for a product’s tariff or regulations.

You can also try: http://www.dutycalculator.com/

They give you 5 free “look-up’s” the rest is premium & paid services. But to start you can check it out. It’s a great way of finding out all the costs of taxes & customs fee’s you have to consider.

You will also find a lot of tips on items that have “Anti-dumping” tax on them to minimize the import and protect the local industry under above links.

 

2) Find a product

This can be easy but also difficult. You may want to have a niche product or an item where you can make large profits. We will go into this section in more detail later.

 

3) Find a supplier

This is the most exciting but also most difficult part; we go into that in great detail later. If you are new to importing there is usually a lot of support from your local government that are ready to answer your questions. But with this E-Book we want to help you to understand the process by yourself.

 

4) Calculate all duties and taxes

This goes in hand with the first part of the process. Import duty can be calculated in different ways and can make or break your item. I have a rule of thumb myself. I take the Buying price from my supplier and add 20-30% on top. This gives me a rough idea on what my landing price will be. This rule applies to first world countries like the US, Europe, Canada, Hong Kong & Singapore for example. Many 2nd or 3rd world countries are not so open to importing and put a high percentage of duties and tax on top of import products to protect the local industry. Many 1st world countries even have 0% duties & tax to encourage the import. This applies especially on “green products” that are very sustainable and help the reducing energy or waste. A good example is an LED bulb with 0% tax and duties. Of course you can check in detail trough Customs Tariff Numbers (see above) or resources like www.dutycalculator.com

We will go trough an example in “Chapter 19) Calculate your costs”

 

 

 

5) Find a freight forwarder and customs broker

Don’t do this process (logistics) yourself. It can be a nightmare, trust me. Ask your supplier who usually has his own forwarders to give you contacts. If you already have contacts in the industry, great, if not, we will also provide you with a list of freight forwarders & customs brokers. Part of not doing this yourself is also because the freight forwarder usually knows all the procedures and documents necessary. This rule applies to bulk shipments in containers only. If you only have a few samples or pieces to be sent then use airmail or couriers such as DHL/TNT/FEDEX and so on. We will also give you some contacts together with this course. Often times your supplier also has a preferred courier for samples with great rates. Ask him to provide them to you.

 

6) Monitor your shipment and have an Inspection!

If you are having a larger shipment or products that are valuable you NEED to hire a Third-Party for Inspection. This third-party can inspect your shipment during or after production and send you a report. Based on this report you can give the supplier the release of the shipment or have him REWORK your goods. If there are problems found during your inspection the supplier will ALWAYS agree to re-work your shipment because he is still waiting for the rest of his money, which you will only release to him once you are happy with your shipment (do not pay 100% of your order up-front, NEVER). Many Importers skip this step to save costs or trust their suppliers completely. TRUST ME, in my 10 years working with factories for my Buyers I could tell you tons of stories were the products were not 100% according to my Order requirements. It could be a wrong Instruction Manual, many scratches on the product, a faulty wire or heavily damaged carton boxes. Don’t let me discourage you, many times its just minor mistakes that can be accepted but again since I worked for the biggest retailers in the world, products needed to be top-notch. Once you let your supplier know that you will do an inspection on your products he is more likely to pay more attention on your order too. And the best part? This can be done for ~300USD from companies like: Asia-Inspection, TUV, Bureau Veritas and many more.

 

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Why should you import?

I would generally say there are 2 main reasons why you should import yourself.

 

1) There is a saying. “Margin is made in purchasing, not selling”.

Every successful Buyer in the world who works for a larger company will tell you that it’s all about the purchasing. Profits are made when buying and not selling.

 

Huh? Yes sure, there is a profit to be made in selling but what if you are not the only one selling this product? Then you have to work for your margin at the root and not when selling the product. The competition doesn’t sleep, so they do research on you and your sales price. If they match or even lower their price you have a to-do. And that’s either accepting a loss in margin or looking for a new supplier. And you don’t want to go to your importer for that. You go to the source directly. And that’s the factory in China. This is the 1st part of the book.

 

2) Apart from Reason No.1 there is also the “Innovator effect” to be taken in account. This will be covered mostly in Part 2 of the book. Say your competitor buys the same or similar product you have and probably from the same source (your importer). You don’t want that. You want to have a great product with a great margin but you want it to be sold in your shop/store only. So you have to be the first one who finds it and make a deal with the manufacturer to have it exclusively. And the only way this is done is being in China, meeting companies and going to factories to see their products and perhaps develop your own product or private label.

 

Here are some more main reasons for you to consider when importing from China:

  • Low manufacturing costs
  • Suppliers are much more open to working with smaller businesses and providing smaller quantities
  • Large number of suppliers to choose from
  • For many products, China might be the only place that produces the item
  • One-stop services like Alibaba have made it very easy to navigate and purchase from suppliers

Along with the advantages of sourcing from overseas suppliers also comes several disadvantages that you should be equally aware of. Some of the disadvantages include:


Disadvantages

  • Perceived lower quality from customers
  • Sometimes lower manufacturing and labor standards (although this is changing rapidly)
  • Almost no intellectual property protection
  • Language and communication barrier can be difficult to overcome
  • Difficult/costly to verify manufacturer and visit on-site
  • Longer shipping time
  • Cultural differences in business practices
  • Product importation and customs clearance

 

HOWEVER, with our course we will take away these fears and disadvantages and prepare you for a trouble-free import.

 

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china

About China

Well there are a lot of statistics I could give you but I wouldn’t know where to begin.

I want to break down China and its manufacturing in a few sentences.

Believe it or not, China is still the biggest production site by far. While there are several countries in the vicinity such as Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh and others, they simply do not have the infrastructure like China.

 

Imagine you need sanitary items, furniture, household appliances, insurance and a smart phone. You walk into a Wal-Mart. You can practically find anything you needed in there and that’s within 10,000 square feet. That pretty much sums up China’s infrastructure.

 

Factory A provides Plastic & tooling, Factory B provides packaging, and Factory C provides raw material and components. Factory D assembles everything. And they are all within a stone throw away from each other. Most of these factories bosses are relatives of each other. They set up a perfect system within their “community”.

 

I give you an example and I am not kidding you, 95% of the world’s supply of electrical multi-sockets comes from a small town in Cixi near Ningbo/Shanghai. When I say small I actually mean small for China. Over 1.4 Million people to be exact.

 

When you step into “Ningbo Kaifeng” (largest factory in the world for multi-sockets) you will be overwhelmed. And when you step outside of the building you will see 5 of his competitors across the street. And they are all brothers or related. And down the street they find everything they need. Factories that make packaging, tooling, plastic, steel and so on.

 

The Chinese are so effective in terms of production & infrastructure, some 1st world countries could really learn a lot.

 

The big retailers have figured that out a long time ago, nearly every large corporation, retailer, discounter or online shop has a Buying Office somewhere in China/Hong Kong. I know this because I am in the industry for over 15 years. When you walk into a factory and look at the production line you will see cartons of goods with the famous names on it. Be it a fan from Homedepot, an audio speaker for Target or a ceramic pot for Bed Bath & Beyond. They ALL buy in China.

 

Most products are settled in specific areas.

Here are a few examples:

 

Guangdong province (South of China): Electronics of any kind, especially Consumer & Household, toys

Zhejiang province (Shanghai area): DIY products, tools, metal & fabrics, lighting

Hebei province (Beijing area): Textiles, coal, steel, iron, engineering, chemicals, power, ceramics & food.

 

These would be the main areas for production. However nowadays production is also shifting inland for lower labor & production costs.

 

And that’s why China will be the Number 1 for production and export for many years to come.

 

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book cover

How it all started and what this blog is about

When I started my own company in late 2013 my goal was to provide affordable consumer electronics to customers that don’t have a buying office in Asia and customers that do not import by themselves.

 

Before I started my own company I was working with large retailers and they all had their import processes in place. But my target customers with my own company were not these retailers. My target customers were people with small businesses or online shops and wholesalers that would like to get things directly from the source at a great price.

 

In the first few months I felt that many of my new customers were uneducated or unaware about importing procedures and many didn’t know the advantages and disadvantages. So instead of explaining everything in detail in every email I decided to make a guide that they could use every day. What started out as a few pages quickly turned into a book. To be exact it’s the book that you are reading today. I call it my Import Bible.
book cover

I have helped many customers and buyers all over the world with this e-book and many tell me that this information has helped them a great deal to take their business to the next level.

 

For example, I had a customer from Spain. He was selling small quantities of product that he bought from importers in Spain with little profit on Ebay. He was looking for a way to grow his business but had no idea about the import process. When I started to work with him in March 2014 he had a total profit of 800EUR a month through his Ebay sales. As of today, because of my help, he is one of the top-sellers on Ebay with a profit of over 50,000EUROS.

 

With this book I want to help you to have the same success as he did with just a couple of months of hard work. Yes, hard work. Don’t let the title of this book fool you. To take your ideas or business a step forward takes a lot of hard work. This book is also a great tool for you as a general guide and introduction to importing.

 

 

We will show you how to turn a small investment into 33,000USD PROFIT!

 

Within this blog you will also find:

 

·      80+ hours of Material

·      Secrets to Importing from China

·      Entirely free lessons & advice

 

There are a few chapters that may not apply to you. I recommend reading them anyway and then deciding for yourself whether to apply these processes or not.

 

I hope you enjoy reading this book and I hope it will help you the same way it has helped many others.

 

Enjoy,

Manuel

 

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on my way to check out some factories

About the author

My name is Manuel and I was born in Austria in a little town called Melk. Asia has always fascinated me, ever since I can remember. I remember watching Bruce Lee and other Chinese movies as a kid and I was hooked right away.

My professional career started in 1998 when I worked for Austria’s biggest DIY retailer (www.baumax.at ). I moved to Hong Kong in 2005 when I was offered a position as an intern at one of the biggest sourcing offices in Hong Kong, with a staff over 200 people.

For more than 10 years I worked with the biggest retailers in the world, developing, sourcing, and finding new products for them. These retailers included: Metro, Rewe, OBI, Carrefour, Tesco, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Auchan, Lowes, Sears, Home Depot and many others.

 

As you can imagine, the big retailers expect their products to do more than just conform to standards and regulations when they purchase them in Asia. They need to be of the highest standard and quality. These retailers cannot afford to have a product recalled due to quality problems or defective components. These products need to be top-notch.

 

In those 10 years I got to know all about the standards and product requirements, and additionally I gained a lot of experience and insight working with factories in China.

 

Not just that. I learned a lot about China, its culture, and its manufacturing facilities: where and how to find the best suppliers, how to negotiate and communicate with them, how to arrange business travel for my customers, and a lot more.

In the busiest seasons (April and October), I accompanied up to 30 buyers a month to exhibitions, factories and showrooms to help negotiate, develop products and follow up on the buyer’s requests after they were gone. I got to know all the tips and tricks you need to return home from your trip successfully.

This course is aimed to make you a professional importer in a few days, using what took me over 10 years to learn

This course will guide you step-by-step on the process of importing goods from China

This book aims to take away all your worries and doubts and help you to take your business to the next level!

 

I will cover all aspects of importing from China. Starting with Alibaba, you’ll get to know about importing procedures, dealing with factories, finding your products, how to inspect and ship your goods, and finding out what legal import requirements your products need. The second part of the book covers taking your business to an even higher level when going to China, including: travel arrangements, visas, customs clearance, how to negotiate with suppliers in factories, tips and tricks to get you the best prices, and simple etiquette in China.

 

Where am I now? Besides this course I run a consumer electronics company that provides the latest gadgets and products to customers all around the world. You can check me out at: www.mandarin-gear.com or http://importdojo.com

 

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