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.