Do you have what it takes to start your import? 10 steps reality check

Starting your business from the scratch is not as easy as you might think. Trust me, I have been there.

Even if a friend of yours has a successful importing company and he is making millions, at some point he was probably close to bankruptcy and did not know what to do next.

Everyone starts off the same way; there is no get-rich-quick scheme that works. Well, none that I know. Your expecations are often not what reality will have in store for you.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Especially when you’ve been working on your project for months with no results.

For me, the less money I had the more creative I got.

I was thinking of ways to make money I had not thought of before but at a certain point it was suddenly so clear to me. Things started to roll and I wish I had a guide to tell me what to do.

With the IMPORT BIBLE and the following checklist you have a guide on what you need to consider and questions you should ask yourself.

1) Do you have it in you?

  • Are you motivated enough?
  • Are you ready to work longer hours than ever before?
  • Do you have real passion about your project/business?
  • Do you have the financial means to pull this off?

If you answered any of the above questions with NO then it probably isn’t the right time to start your own business.

2) Reality Check

Don’t fool yourself; having your own company is the hardest work there is:

  • No guaranteed salary at the end of the month.
  • No one is there to push you or give you directions.
  • Are you organized enough?

I hope you realize that from now on you will work harder than ever to achieve financial success.

3) Experience & Resources

  • Are you experienced enough in your industry?
  • Do you have the technical and basic skills to succeed?

Sample communication with your suppliers. An in-depth guide

I ll cover three topics in this post about sample management:

  • Sample costs
  • Communication
  • Supervision

Sample costs

Once you have settled on a supplier for your new product it is time to purchase a sample.

Most suppliers will charge you for sending a sample. There is usually no way around this unless you have worked with the supplier for a longer time.

Even for me, being here and dealing with suppliers on a daily basis I can’t guarantee that I don’t have to pay for a sample.

Here are some Insider tips to “try” to get a sample for free.

  • Introduce yourself as an assistant of a large company. Suppliers tend to smell money when a large company is interested and are more likely to give away samples for free.
  • State that if the sample is OK you will place a large order
  • State that you have especially chosen this supplier to be your exclusive supplier for this product and he has the chance now to do business with you.
  • Ask him to put the sample cost on top of the official order that may follow if the sample is what you are looking for.
  • State that it is company policy that you/your company don’t pay for samples and if he wishes to do business he should agree to your sample terms.
  • Split the costs. Offer to pay for either the samples or the freight costs.

If none of these work I recommend you to agree with the supplier to deduct the sample costs from the official (larger) order. At least this way you save the sample costs if you decide to order from this particular supplier.

Be wary of sample costs in general

On one occasion I was sourcing for a textile accessory. The item itself can be made for approx 2 USD.

I screened around 10 suppliers and eventually narrowed my selection down to 5 suppliers. They were all in a similar price range.

When it came down to ordering samples one of the suppliers (who was also the most expensive) asked me for a sample fee of 100 USD to be transferred to his bank account. That didn’t make sense.

I immediately knew it must be a trading company with no factory background.

They probably outsource the work to a factory because they have no own facilities. Eliminate suppliers that have high sample costs right in the beginning.

Lessons learned. Re-cap of the Global Sources & Electronics show in Hong Kong

As most of you know I exhibited at the Global Sources Electronics show from 11-14th of April with my brand “Mandarin-Gear” and I went to source at the HKTDC Electronics show on 15th of April.

Here is a re-cap and lessons learned from the shows.

Global Sources show (exhibiting part)

 

 

  • When you exhibit, make sure you get a corner booth or a booth in the middle of the hall where people pass by.
  • Create some buzz on your booth and show enough of your products or just the packaging, play some music if the venue allows it and have some banners that quickly show what your booth is all about.
  • Make sure you have friendly and approachable people ready to explain what your product is all about at your booth.
  • Ask your friends to come visit you. It gives the booth a crowded feeling and people will want to know what’s going on.
  • Have enough marketing material ready (catalogues, business cards etc.)
  • Know your products and make sure any assistants or other people at your booth know everything as well. Be prepared for questions that are unusual. Study your products that you are displaying and make sure that you fully understand them.
  • Take notes and follow up immediately after the fair. Buyers tend to forget who they have visited.
  • Take photos with people that visit you at your booth and send it to them afterwards. Create a relationships. A fair is not just about sales it is more than anything else a networking event.

 

Hong Kong electronics show (sourcing part)

Prepare an introduction for yourself before you go sourcing at a trade fair.

This comes across as more professional and people will be more willing to invest time and resources into you if they feel they deal with someone professional who knows how to do business properly.

You are more likely to build a good relationship if you leave a good first impression. Here is an example how you could introduce yourself:

Hi, I am Manuel and I am the Managing Director of Mandarin-Gear Limited in Hong Kong. I run a Sourcing & Buying office for many large retailers worldwide such as COMPANY X, COMPANY Y. My customers are looking for product “X” and I am interested in discussing more details or to receive a quotation based on my customers requirements.

After the introduction ask questions and once you are satisfied ask him to provide a quotation based on your requirements. Hand him your business card and MAKE SURE that he wrote down everything you discussed.

  • Prepare an introduction of yourself and / or your company
  • Bring name cards, your own catalogue (in case you have one), comfortable shoes and a trolley to carry all the collected catalogues.
  • Pre-register online often saves you money and time
  • Look at freely available maps to find out where the products you are looking for are located before you start walking around. Plan your way through the fair systematically. This is especially important for bigger trade shows.
  • Take photos of products that you are interested in.

Prepare and ask the suppliers questions such as:

A day trip to the factory

I like to do day trips to China these days as I have a lot to follow up from the exhibitions and its quite convenient to go to my factories (around Shenzhen) from Hong Kong.

So I met this factory at the Global Sources exhibition here in Hong Kong and I decided to look at their factory as I have never seen the production of drones.

Hong Kong is super convenient in terms of transport. I usually take the MTR (subway) to China. Yes, you can go all the way from Hong Kong island to Shenzhen by subway.

 

It takes about 45 minutes from my office to the border by train. Fortunately I have a APEC card, so I don’t need a visa for China. Actually with this card you don’t need a visa for 13 countries in South East Asia. I can just simply fill in arrival cards in most countries and don’t even need to pay for a visa.

 

If you don’t have a visa for China you can go trough the LoWu border station and get a visa on arrival. But you are only allowed for 3 days within Shenzhen. I went trough the 2nd border which is called Lok Ma Chau station as its more convenient for me to go from there. Be aware, there are NO visa’s on arrival at this border crossing.

 

Most of my factories are within an hour drive after I have crossed the border but I decided to take the subway today. After crossing the border I just head down to the subway. Everything is in English these days so I am not worried on getting lost.

 

I agreed to meet with the supplier after a few stations as the traffic to their factory is really bad. Sometimes they pick you up in a Mercedes and sometimes in a delivery van that has no proper seats. As in today’s case.

 

Sourcing at the HK Electronics Exhibition

I went to the Hong Kong Electronics Fair in Wan Chai early morning today.

Here is a general link of the fair:

http://www.hktdc.com/fair/hkelectronicsfairse-en/HKTDC-Hong-Kong-Electronics-Fair-Spring-Edition.html

It is hosted by HKTDC (Hong Kong Trade Development Council) and it’s located at the Wan Chai exhibition centre which is the biggest exhibition centre in Hong Kong.

I mentioned about the fairs from HKTDC in the Import Bible. They are the biggest in Hong Kong and they host most of the fairs here. They cover all kinds of products from Jewellery to Electronics to Textile, Gifts & Premiums and much more.

The easiest, fastest & cheapest way to get to the exhibition grounds is by MTR (Subway). You can take a taxi as well which is pretty cheap compared to western countries but it might be difficult to get a taxi in the mornings.

Head over to Wan Chai MTR and exit at A5 (HK Convention & Exhibition centre).

 

 

Just follow the crowd on the skywalk towards the exhibtion centre. There’s a lot of promoters running around handing out leaflets & maps already. Grab one.

 

 

 

Global Sources Expo Part 2

The Global Sources Expo at the Airport in Hong Kong is a wrap.

I didn’t have a lot of time for sourcing but I did see some new ideas & suppliers. I will elaborate more on that in the next post.

All in all from a exhibitors view I am satisfied with the results. The feedback on my brand & packaging was good and I am now following up on quotations to buyers.

The majority of buyers came from China (60%). There were also a lot of buyers from India, the Middle East & South America & few from Europe. What surprised me the most was that there were not many buyers from the United States, given that the USD exchange rate is very attractive for imports right now.

Most buyers were out looking for the newest gadgets & trends in consumer electronics. What I was missing most was products in the VR (Virtual Reality) sector. There was literally nothing at all booths despite the recent developments in the media.

Will update more on sourcing in the next post.

all the best,

Manuel

Live from the Global Sources EXPO Part-1

Hey guys,

A little update here after Day-2 of the Global Sources EXPO in Hong Kong.

As you all know I am exhibiting my own brand/private label at the Electronics exhibition.

I was really busy the first 2 days with buyers from all over the world, so I didn’t have much time for sourcing myself.

I plan on doing that on the last day and I will go sourcing to the other Electronics fair on 15th of April all day.

Here are a few pics from the last 2 days.

 

 

Buyers love private labels from Asia. 

 

Obviously upset with some supplier.

 

Discussing MOQ’s & prices with a US buyer.

 

Enjoying some yummy Dim-Sum during lunch time.

I promise to give an update on trending products here at the exhibition soon, so stay tuned!

Best,

Manuel

 

Global Sources Electronics exhibition move-in day

As I mentioned to you guys the other day, I am exhibiting at the Global Sources exhibition in Hong Kong at the Asia World Expo from 11th-14th of April.

They claim to be the largest Electronics Sourcing show of its kind. It is my first time exhibiting there so I am really excited for tomorrow.

 

 

With 90% exclusive exhibitors, the show is Asia’s leading sourcing event for consumer electronics. Electronic components, and security products, and the platform of choice for a growing number of buyers, including big-name importers like Sam     sung, Hewlett-Packard and Panasonic.

My main goal for the show will be to find new customers/wholesalers for my brand Mandarin-Gear. I am showcasing all of my products in my private label (see previous post) and I am certain that I will get some interest from buyers. There should be well over 5,000 buyers from different countries worldwide, so I am sure it will be worth it.

I went there early morning and my assistant helped me move in things:

 

I ordered a few packaging boxes & banners prior to the fair and was able to set up my booth pretty quickly:

 

How I started my own private label

When I created Mandarin-Gear I had a vision of creating a brand that will be recognized as affordable and high quality. But I was also in need of more customers and make them trust in “Chinese quality products”. I needed a product and a brand that customers could trust in terms of quality, service & follow up.

The idea was to be inexpensive but still offer high quality products.

When I decided on consumer electronics I looked at the manufacturers and what they offered. There were a few that had quality-products but lacked the marketing and sales part to become bigger or attract more customers. They were sitting back and waiting for customers to come. They also created products that didn’t fit the market. Apart from the standard items that sold well, they had a few innovative products but the finishing and quality was often poor or not attractive for big buyers.

So I started to talk to 1 of my suppliers about my idea and what I wanted to do. I didn’t want him to OEM or design something for me. I took his existing product and wanted to make it better and sell it myself. So the next step was to think on how to achieve that.

I didn’t have enough money to invest in designs, new tooling and heavy marketing. BUT, I could take the suppliers product and make it more attractive for buyers.

Here is what I did as my first project, a Bluetooth speaker branded with my own private label:

– I requested to change the color of the product to a more appealing one

– I requested the outer material to be rubber finish

– I asked them for the added cost using a better driver & speaker to have better sound

– I asked my friend to create a layout/packaging for me based on my ideas. I knew nice packaging is effective.

– I prepared presentations & a PDF with nice photos and detailed descriptions

– I revised the instruction manual with proper content and grammar

 

When I thought about the packaging I wanted something that really stands out and people would love. So one day I went out grocery shopping and grabbed a product from a shelve in the store and saw the “nutrition facts” on the back of the packaging. This was something that could work! I gave the idea to my lay outing company and asked them to put the “nutrition facts” of my electronic product on the packaging. I put the essential technical information on it and came up with a few fun facts too. I also wanted it to be matte finish, so it looks like real high-end packaging.  Here is how it looks like on my products:

All this cost me little but I had a much more presentable product already. I took this step and did it for about 10 products which made my first catalogue. The catalogue you will find under this link is the current and updated one of 2015.

It really astonishes me that Chinese suppliers have so little knowledge of western trends and how customers perceive their products. The first sample I saw of that Bluetooth speaker looked so cheap because it was shiny plastic finishing.  When it came to my finishing I was really happy with the idea to have rubber finish. It gave the product a completely new look and impression of high quality.

Remember, this was all on paper. I didn’t actually ask the supplier for a new color sample, change the finishing, improve the sound quality or print my packaging. But, I did have to cover all these steps in theory to see if I can find customers based on my modifications. I did however ask for the costs for every process. Be it the color box print, the upgrade of the components for the product or the MOQ (minimum order quantity) needed for my specific color. When I got the first feedback from customers I made samples.

This process applies to pretty much every product. Be it a household appliance, fitness product, clothing, tool or whatever. The products are ready, but there are so many options to make a much nicer product out of an existing item. Think outside the box.

Look at a product from a supplier and think about what it would take for you as a consumer to buy it. But remember to keep it realistic and not to change the entire product in the process, probably involving too high extra costs.

This was the easy part. Now I needed to make sales.

Note: I did have help on the layout part because they usually charge for this kind of service. But you can ask your factory to make a layout for you. They should do it for free. Just give them your ideas and guide him until you are happy with the result.

ImportDojo

Contact Info

18/F., Blk. B, Tung Luen Ind. Bldg. 1 Yip Shing St., Kwai Chung, Hong Kong

mail@importdojo.com

Copyright 2017 © All Rights Reserved