Ask Me Anything About Product Sourcing And Importing For Profit. ― Veteran Importer Here.

by Importexport 173 replies
With a lifetime of experience in international shipping, exporting, and importing, I know the ropes and can answer your questions with facts.

I have visited China countless times since I started exporting to that country in 1978. Later, in 1987 I began importing from China, and many other countries.


For 22 of those years I owned an importing business that operated in four countries through franchisees that were required by contract to follow my methods. Turnover was in the millions with thousands of orders sourced and shipped every year.

This forum and other business forums contain a lot of helpful information, but unfortunately there are many, many posts that contain misinformation, often posted by warriors who obviously have no real experience in overseas sourcing and importing, or maybe they have been lucky with a few transactions so they want to tell everyone how it is done.

I am here to correct that misinformation and give you the facts instead, because there are many warriors who know little about importing, but they know that there are huge profits being made by successful importers so they want to know the truth.

With 1,000 posts on the forum I have contributed a lot of helpful information, but it is scattered through hundreds of threads. If readers post their questions here, it will all be available in one place.

Do you want the facts from someone who has been there done that - or do you want hopeful guesses from amateurs?

Before I finish this introductory post, I would like to make it clear that I can’t help with choosing a product to sell, or how to market your products. There are plenty of marketing experts on the forum who are much more smarter than I am in those areas.

"If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
#ecommerce sites, wholesaling & drop shipping #― #importer #importing #product #profit #sourcing #veteran #wholesale
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  • Profile picture of the author Importexport
    To get things moving here is a copy of a post I made a few minutes ago in reply to a question on the thread: No way to make profit on Amazon from wholesale products

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shellg
    "The person you quoted made 300%! Is that usual or did he do something special?

    Also he said he only bought $300 worth, but everywhere I look there are really huge minimums stated so where do I find places like where he found such an amazing deal? I'm only new so I need help."


    A margin of 300% is not surprising to those who understand how to properly source from the real manufacturers. I am not talking about buying from the traders and wholesalers who have flooded onto Alibaba and other major B2B sites, pretending to be manufacturers.

    No he did not do anything special, he just searched carefully in the right places, using the right safe sourcing procedures.

    One of the great myths about importing is that you have to buy huge quantities to buy direct from manufacturers. That is not true. I have taught hundreds how buy small quantities at genuine factory prices.

    Many of them have started off with small amounts of cash, just like the man with $300 whose email I quoted.

    "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
    Signature
    Learn safe overseas sourcing and easy importing from retired veteran with experience exporting since 1978 and importing since 1987. http://www.provenchinasourcing.com Buy small quantities at better than wholesale.
    • Profile picture of the author garet122
      Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

      To get things moving here is a copy of a post I made a few minutes ago in reply to a question on the thread: No way to make profit on Amazon from wholesale products

      Quote:
      Originally Posted by Shellg
      The person you quoted made 300%! Is that usual or did he do something special?

      Also he said he only bought $300 worth, but everywhere I look there are really huge minimums stated so where do I find places like where he found such an amazing deal? I'm only new so I need help.


      A margin of 300% is not surprising to those who understand how to properly source from the real manufacturers. I am not talking about buying from the traders and wholesalers who have flooded onto Alibaba and other major B2B sites, pretending to be manufacturers.

      No he did not do anything special, he just searched carefully in the right places, using the right safe sourcing procedures.

      One of the great myths about importing is that you have to buy huge quantities to buy direct from manufacturers. That is not true. I have taught hundreds how buy small quantities at genuine factory prices.

      Many of them have started off with small amounts of cash, just like the man with $300 whose email I quoted.

      "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."

      hello,

      I am planing on importing some goods into the USA (from a supplier in China). The supplier will send them to a US address (a fulfillment center that will ship them to an FBA) while I am in Canada. The supplier will use a shipping company like DHL or UPS to ship the goods to the US address. Now, in order to do that, do I need something like an importer number as to do that? Do I need an IOR? What is an IOR??? Are all of these things even necessary?

      I am not planing on importing on a large scale; my shipments will always be sent using a door to door service.
    • Profile picture of the author garet122
      Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

      To get things moving here is a copy of a post I made a few minutes ago in reply to a question on the thread: No way to make profit on Amazon from wholesale products

      Quote:
      Originally Posted by Shellg
      The person you quoted made 300%! Is that usual or did he do something special?

      Also he said he only bought $300 worth, but everywhere I look there are really huge minimums stated so where do I find places like where he found such an amazing deal? I'm only new so I need help.


      A margin of 300% is not surprising to those who understand how to properly source from the real manufacturers. I am not talking about buying from the traders and wholesalers who have flooded onto Alibaba and other major B2B sites, pretending to be manufacturers.

      No he did not do anything special, he just searched carefully in the right places, using the right safe sourcing procedures.

      One of the great myths about importing is that you have to buy huge quantities to buy direct from manufacturers. That is not true. I have taught hundreds how buy small quantities at genuine factory prices.

      Many of them have started off with small amounts of cash, just like the man with $300 whose email I quoted.

      "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
      Where to find those genuine factories?
    • Profile picture of the author Ramus Le
      [DELETED]
    • Profile picture of the author Ghost1824
      Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

      No he did not do anything special, he just searched carefully in the right places, using the right safe sourcing procedures.

      One of the great myths about importing is that you have to buy huge quantities to buy direct from manufacturers. That is not true. I have taught hundreds how buy small quantities at genuine factory prices.
      From your perspective, what do you think correct sourcing procedures involve? Could you outline how the process should ideally happen in more detail?
  • Profile picture of the author davebestdb
    Hi ImportExport,

    I have got to first say thank you so much for creating this thread. I will definitely be following as well as adding questions.

    The biggest hurdle I see for most people, including myself, is shipping from China to USA. For someone who is a beginner to logistics a lot of this is really hard to learn. I also have dealt with an extremely useless service paid out a lot of money and am still waiting almost two months later.

    That being said. With your expertise are there any customs brokers, or full-service shipping companies that ship from China to Amazon warehouses for a fair price. I have found that speaking to many different shippers depending on your connections and courier relationship the prices can really vary.

    I am hoping in time I will become more comfortable with this aspect of the business. Would you recommend any companies or for that matter maybe even outsourcing the whole shipment itself to someone in China on a site such as Odesk or Elance.

    Sorry if my question may be a bit confusing,
    • Profile picture of the author vincentqin
      Originally Posted by davebestdb View Post

      Hi ImportExport,

      I have got to first say thank you so much for creating this thread. I will definitely be following as well as adding questions.

      The biggest hurdle I see for most people, including myself, is shipping from China to USA. For someone who is a beginner to logistics a lot of this is really hard to learn. I also have dealt with an extremely useless service paid out a lot of money and am still waiting almost two months later.

      That being said. With your expertise are there any customs brokers, or full-service shipping companies that ship from China to Amazon warehouses for a fair price. I have found that speaking to many different shippers depending on your connections and courier relationship the prices can really vary.

      I am hoping in time I will become more comfortable with this aspect of the business. Would you recommend any companies or for that matter maybe even outsourcing the whole shipment itself to someone in China on a site such as Odesk or Elance.

      Sorry if my question may be a bit confusing,
      Hi, davebestdb

      If you are importing from China, there are several things you can do to expedite the process:

      1. well prepared invoice and packing list;
      2. using a good forwarder whose service includes handling the importing procedures on behalf of you.

      I can give you more detailed opinions if you PM me more details about your products and the usual shipping method that you are using, etc.

      Vincent
    • Profile picture of the author Lipipaliwal
      Banned
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  • Profile picture of the author davebestdb
    Just to mention. I did pay the forwarder for door-to-door DDU. So I knew I had to pay the duties. However, when my product got to customs my forwarder then sent me a bunch of sheets to fill out (GIA and POA). I then had to go to a notary and pay an extra $100 to get them to notarize these agreements. I thought that when I hired the company that they took care of everything (which I mentioned to them before choosing their service). I figured it was exactly what you are saying just pay the duties and everything arrives at Amazon.

    Oh well you live and you learn yet my shipment still has not arrived and I am receiving no communication whatsoever. Very frustrating.
    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by davebestdb View Post

      Just to mention. I did pay the forwarder for door-to-door DDU. So I knew I had to pay the duties. However, when my product got to customs my forwarder then sent me a bunch of sheets to fill out (GIA and POA). I then had to go to a notary and pay an extra $100 to get them to notarize these agreements. I thought that when I hired the company that they took care of everything (which I mentioned to them before choosing their service). I figured it was exactly what you are saying just pay the duties and everything arrives at Amazon.

      Oh well you live and you learn yet my shipment still has not arrived and I am receiving no communication whatsoever. Very frustrating.
      They certainly appear to be forwarders that you would not work through again.

      The Incoterm: Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) is often used in order to confuse new importers. It is not necessarily door to door unless that is specifically stated to be so. It depends on what is the named place of destination. Very often, that named place will be the port of discharge, not your business or home address. DDU is used in place of the term Cost And Freight (CFR) which is identical except for the fact that CFR makes no mention of duty unpaid, although that is always what it means.

      Once goods are discharged at the port (whether airport or sea port) you can expect to be hit with a wide range of charges. This is why I emphasize in my book the need to get a comprehensive quote for freight that must include all costs. In other words it must state door to door, including Customs clearance work, AND it must be in writing.

      A General Indemnity Agreement (GIA) and a Power of Attorney (POA) are usually required but for single shipments a forwarder will often only require a POA. The shipment value must have been less than $2,500 or they would have also required a Customs Bond.

      Even if the shipment is below $2,500 many forwarders will require a Continuous Customs Bond to cover them in case the importer defaults after the forwarder has paid the duty.

      I hope the forwarder has included delivery to Amazon, otherwise you might be hit with yet another bill. Your DDU should have read: DDU Amazon FBA plus their address.

      "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
      Signature
      Learn safe overseas sourcing and easy importing from retired veteran with experience exporting since 1978 and importing since 1987. http://www.provenchinasourcing.com Buy small quantities at better than wholesale.
  • Profile picture of the author monarchy
    Importexport I've been reading most of your posts over the past month on and off. You've shared a lot of knowledge on this forum. I wanted to know if you offer any information on exporting products out of the U.S. to Asian countries?
    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by monarchy View Post

      Importexport I've been reading most of your posts over the past month on and off. You've shared a lot of knowledge on this forum. I wanted to know if you offer any information on exporting products out of the U.S. to Asian countries?
      I assume you are asking about selling to consumers in Asian countries?

      If you are thinking of exporting to places such as Singapore, Thailand, Philippines etc, the answer is yes. My book shows you how to locate manufacturers in the US. It also shows how to find US companies keen to export.

      Exporting and selling to consumers in China is a different matter, and I don't deal with that, but I can provide some simple advice. You can register as a seller on 1688.com or on Taobao.com, but to do so you would need to be fluent in Manadarin, or have the services of someone who can handle the translations for you and also handle the listing process because all the listing instructions will be in Chinese.

      There is a big and growing market in China for US made products.

      "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
      Signature
      Learn safe overseas sourcing and easy importing from retired veteran with experience exporting since 1978 and importing since 1987. http://www.provenchinasourcing.com Buy small quantities at better than wholesale.
  • Profile picture of the author ghostrider2010
    Hi,
    Does your ebook will show me how I can get the manufacturer's what I need?
    For example, if I need glasses and rc helicopter, can I get a real manufacturer, after following step in this ebook? whatever I need?

    For me, looking for a real manufacturer is the most difficult thing.
    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by ghostrider2010 View Post

      Hi,
      Does your ebook will show me how I can get the manufacturer's what I need?
      For example, if I need glasses and rc helicopter, can I get a real manufacturer, after following step in this ebook? whatever I need?

      For me, looking for a real manufacturer is the most difficult thing.
      Hi ghostrider, yes it certainly can show you what you need. The book doesn't do the search for you but it shows in plain language how to do it and how to do it safely, then it goes on to show how to get suppliers to accept order quantities that you are comfortable with, not the big MOQs that are usually quoted.

      Included is a very simple trick of the trade that shows how to get the best price, and once you have settled on price an quantity with the supplier you can import the goods without having to learn all the rules and regulations.

      Hundreds have already learnt all of this and I have not had a single complaint.


      "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
      Signature
      Learn safe overseas sourcing and easy importing from retired veteran with experience exporting since 1978 and importing since 1987. http://www.provenchinasourcing.com Buy small quantities at better than wholesale.
  • Profile picture of the author rumifdx
    @ ImportExport

    Once again thanks for your support ImportExport, we really appreciate it.

    Question:
    I've just received my locally-sourced product (#100 of them for market-test), and now I'm in the process of creation and optimization of my listing; once all of this is done, can I just use a popular shipping courier (dhl, ups, etc..) to deliver my goods from Thailand to the FBA warehouses? will they handle all of the import-taxes for me, given that my goods are WAY under $2500 value and don't belong to any restricted categories?
    Thanks again!
    best regards
    Signature
    Where there's a will, there is a way
    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by rumifdx View Post

      @ ImportExport

      Once again thanks for your support ImportExport, we really appreciate it.

      Question:
      I've just received my locally-sourced product (#100 of them for market-test), and now I'm in the process of creation and optimization of my listing; once all of this is done, can I just use a popular shipping courier (dhl, ups, etc..) to deliver my goods from Thailand to the FBA warehouses? will they handle all of the import-taxes for me, given that my goods are WAY under $2500 value and don't belong to any restricted categories?
      Thanks again!
      best regards
      @rumifdx, I am not the best person to ask for help in this regard, Try looking for posts by DWaters and ask him.If you cant find him let me know because I can point you in the right driection to find low cost expert guidance on anything to do with Amazon FBA.

      As a general rule I would advise against shipping direct to Amazon. I know some Warriors have done so with very small shipments, but there are risks involved.

      Let me know if you need more help.
      Signature
      Learn safe overseas sourcing and easy importing from retired veteran with experience exporting since 1978 and importing since 1987. http://www.provenchinasourcing.com Buy small quantities at better than wholesale.
  • Profile picture of the author moneyg
    The website link you provided to your book is suspended
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    If You Are Interested On Becoming A Partner For Our RTB PLATFORM, Email Us at moneygrtb@gmail.com
  • Profile picture of the author Soccerguru
    Hi Walter

    Thank you for taking the time to answer all our questions. Had a quick question for you.

    I am in the soccer business and I have found several manufacturers in countries such as Vietnam, China and India which deal directly with companies such as adidas, puma and so on.
    But past knowing their name, I can not seem to find a way to get in touch with them directly. I can not seem to find a phone number, email or any contact information of any kind on the web.
    Is there a resource or a tip that you could provide so I can get in touch with the manufacturers directly and find any factories phone number/email easy for a future reference ? And also, what would you say is your preferred source of contacting manufacturers for the first time and keeping a lasting relationship going after that first initial hurdle ? Phone call, email, visit in person ?

    Thank you in advance !
    Nick
    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by Soccerguru View Post

      Hi Walter

      Thank you for taking the time to answer all our questions. Had a quick question for you.

      I am in the soccer business and I have found several manufacturers in countries such as Vietnam, China and India which deal directly with companies such as adidas, puma and so on.
      But past knowing their name, I can not seem to find a way to get in touch with them directly. I can not seem to find a phone number, email or any contact information of any kind on the web.
      Is there a resource or a tip that you could provide so I can get in touch with the manufacturers directly and find any factories phone number/email easy for a future reference ? And also, what would you say is your preferred source of contacting manufacturers for the first time and keeping a lasting relationship going after that first initial hurdle ? Phone call, email, visit in person ?

      Thank you in advance !
      Nick
      Hi Nick,
      It is extremely unlikely that the manufacturer whose names you have found will be authorized to sell those branded products to you. I almost certainly could locate them, but I won't disclose their contact details because importing big brand products is illegal, and they will be confiscated.

      There are also serious penalties including imprisonment, fines, and if the brand owners find out, you could likely be sued into bankruptcy. The least that would happen, if it is a small value import is that Customs would flag your name and address with the result that every subsequent shipment to you, from wherever would be delayed for thorough inspection.

      I will leave you with a glimmer of hope. In some cases, if you can buy retail in other countries you might be able to import those goods and resell them. For more information on that, see my thread: Legally Importing Big Brands

      Walter

      "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
      Signature
      Learn safe overseas sourcing and easy importing from retired veteran with experience exporting since 1978 and importing since 1987. http://www.provenchinasourcing.com Buy small quantities at better than wholesale.
  • Profile picture of the author pmsmith2032
    I have a couple of questions for a business model I am contemplating implementing. My original idea was to start a review site with links to amazon affiliate products. The niche for my site is technical (similar to digital cameras). I have created the website and am currently working on writing reviews. However, I am thinking that if I could find a great supplier in China I could import products in the niche and possibly create my own brand. However, I have a few questions/concerns with this:

    1. Since the niche I'm dealing in is technological, there is a higher need for quality. I've read in the past that there is a high risk factor with importing such items from China. What are your thoughts on the matter?

    2. I've explored the idea of importing in the past and actually contacted numerous suppliers (who were most likely wholesalers now that I look back in hindsight) through Alibaba. I finally gave up because I couldn't find a product that wasn't already flooded on eBay/Amazon with decent profit margins. But from reading through your posts briefly, it looks like you don't advise going through Alibaba at all, correct? If this is the case, isn't there a lot more risk involved in not having the protection that Alibaba offers?

    3. I see in the previous posts that there is a lot of reference to using a freight forwarder........isn't it possible to use UPS, FedEx and DSL for initial small sample orders?

    4. I've also read to use Paypal for orders (at least initially). Is this a recommended form of payment?

    5. Is it bad in your opinion to focus on just one product line when importing? Or is better to be diverse?

    Thanks!
  • Profile picture of the author wclfu
    Hi I am a new member to the forum and bought your ebook today.

    My situation is slightly different from most of the posters on here is that I live in the States yet I am an Expat from the UK. For an number of years I have had an interest in developing a export/import business.
    Earlier this year and as funds allowed me to do so I sent a couple of crates of my items back home to the UK. These were American brand named items.The items were listed on Ebay UK and when Items sold I had my father post them. Some items were extremely hot sellers and sold out very quickly others not so well and are slowly selling. Nevertheless a profit was made and overall I'm pleased with the results although the profits don't match some of the ones that you have listed in your book.
    I used the services of a UK forwarder with no customs clearance issues although it seemed an added complication on behalf of the agent used at this end that i was both the exporter and importer.
    Most of the items were just bought from retail outlets and were discounted or heavily discounted. This seemed the only realistic way of being able to purchase the products in the quantities I wanted to purchase in.
    In your opinion is there value in this kind of operation?
    While I would like greater profit out of my side business I like the idea of selling American brands to the UK and am a bit cautious about the quality of foreign manufacturers products.
    Ebay has been a good tool for getting initial sales but I would like to cut those cost if i can.
    Thanks for writing the book.
    Charles
    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by wclfu View Post

      Hi I am a new member to the forum and bought your ebook today.

      My situation is slightly different from most of the posters on here is that I live in the States yet I am an Expat from the UK. For an number of years I have had an interest in developing a export/import business.
      Earlier this year and as funds allowed me to do so I sent a couple of crates of my items back home to the UK. These were American brand named items.The items were listed on Ebay UK and when Items sold I had my father post them. Some items were extremely hot sellers and sold out very quickly others not so well and are slowly selling. Nevertheless a profit was made and overall I'm pleased with the results although the profits don't match some of the ones that you have listed in your book.
      I used the services of a UK forwarder with no customs clearance issues although it seemed an added complication on behalf of the agent used at this end that i was both the exporter and importer.
      Most of the items were just bought from retail outlets and were discounted or heavily discounted. This seemed the only realistic way of being able to purchase the products in the quantities I wanted to purchase in.
      In your opinion is there value in this kind of operation?
      While I would like greater profit out of my side business I like the idea of selling American brands to the UK and am a bit cautious about the quality of foreign manufacturers products.
      Ebay has been a good tool for getting initial sales but I would like to cut those cost if i can.
      Thanks for writing the book.
      Charles
      I have another of my book users in a similar situation, but she has the advantage of being an expat in another EU country. She buys retail there, ships to the UK and sells at a lower price than the UK manufacturer! The brand owner threatened legal action although they did not have a leg to stand on. After I informed her of the relevant EU legislation, she resisted their demands. They huffed and they puffed, but did not proceed with litigation.

      In your situation, there can be risk of legal problems due to the EU being a virtual oasis of protectionism. In practice it seems that trademark owners in the EU have almost iron-clad protection from the sale of goods imported from countries outside of the EU.

      Here is a quote from a very lengthy legal article dealing with the grey goods market: "It would take a brave trader to import such goods unless he could show unequivocally that there was some level of unequivocal and unambiguous consent to importation into the EEA from the brand owner higher up the distribution chain." I must stress that I am not giving legal advice, but it appears to me that you are running a risk of having the goods confiscated by HMRC or being sued by the brand owners.

      If on the other hand you reversed the direction of your trade, and imported UK goods into the US there are possibilities of making good profits. I suggest you read my thread: Facts About Big Brand Imports You must be sure to read the last post in that thread.

      It is worth noting that 2 recent decisions by a French court adverse to eBay opened up the likelihood of eBay cracking down harder on the sale of big brands in EU countries.

      "If you think education is expensive - consider the cost of ignorance."
      Signature
      Learn safe overseas sourcing and easy importing from retired veteran with experience exporting since 1978 and importing since 1987. http://www.provenchinasourcing.com Buy small quantities at better than wholesale.

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