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GOLD! [AMA] Importing & wholesaling for resale on eBay.

Bekit

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Finally the goal for 2018. Near the end of 2018 I turn 30 years old. My goal is to have 1 million in personal assets (excluding my business) by that time. When I was a teenager I read a lot of books about finance and money and one goal that I read was to be a millionaire by 30. I wanted that for my life and my family. I wanted that million at a young enough age where I could actually use it rather than give it to a nursing home. Near the end of 2018 my time will be “up”. I’m looking forward to hitting this goal and to see what the next chapter of life brings.
Just out of curiosity, did you make it by the time you were 30? Even if you were close enough to look that goal in the face, that deserves major congratulations. Hope your surgery didn't derail things too much...
 

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Ecom man

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Just out of curiosity, did you make it by the time you were 30? Even if you were close enough to look that goal in the face, that deserves major congratulations. Hope your surgery didn't derail things too much...
Nope I didn’t. Had a pretty rough summer sales wise and turned 30 with “only” 750-800k in hard assets (that’s excluding what I could sell my businesses for but does include cost of the inventory that I have in stock) Sales have been wonky so far this holiday season so far too so not looking like I’ll hit the million mark by the end of the year either. Should be sometime in 2019.
 

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I'm curious, however, to see if anyone else here is or has tried to import/resell in Australia, and what are their thoughts on the situation I find myself in.
Its an ecom business , I was listening to a podcast with a new zealand women yesterday, she imported straight from places like nepal to amazon fulfillment warehouses in the US (where a market exists).

She did this while living in NZ and never setting foot in the US. Find a product with a margin that allows for a fulfillment / prep center and do that.
 

Walter Hay

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Its an ecom business , I was listening to a podcast with a new zealand women yesterday, she imported straight from places like nepal to amazon fulfillment warehouses in the US (where a market exists).

She did this while living in NZ and never setting foot in the US. Find a product with a margin that allows for a fulfillment / prep center and do that.
There are thousands of people who are not US residents but are selling on Amazon USA. It's not all that difficult to do.

By importing from Nepal that NZ woman is almost certainly selling without having any competition. It is yet another reason why I advocate sourcing from countries other than China.

There are other ways to avoid competition on Amazon and still sell products for which there is real demand, but that is another story. I think @albertut77's problem probably stems from his lack of understanding of product sourcing.

I know large numbers of people who are successfully importing and selling on eBay or Amazon in Australia.

Walter
 

albertut77

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@albertut77, I don't want to hijack this great thread that has helped so many people, but I can tell you exactly what is happening.

It's true that there are many Chinese retailers selling on eBay, but they are not necessarily all located in Australia.

I have detected a large number of Chinese businesses operating with Australian registered company structures and Australian websites. The owners live in China or Hong Kong. They have staff that process orders, including posting parcels or sending via couriers. They have stock in Australia, but in most cases that I have found, they are not manufacturers.

Service in relation to faulty goods is in most cases atrocious, but they somehow manage to display 90% + positive feedback!

They buy from the same sources where sellers on Aliexpress and DHGate buy their products. I know what those sources are, but I would not recommend them to anyone that is not fluent in Chinese.

It is possible to compete. It is almost certain that you have not been getting the best prices if you have been buying at DHGate and Aliexpress. If you want to compete you need to buy direct from the actual manufacturers, and you need to carry at least a small inventory.

Listing copy written by a native English speaker will beat their's any time, simply by making proper sense and not being obviously written by someone whose English is poor, and who does not understand either English idiom or Western marketing. You should be able to attract buyers with better copy.

Photography is often of very poor quality. If you use better photography, that will help your listings also. Your Chinese competitors make sales mainly by having the lowest price and using sponsored ads.

For the benefit of other readers, I should point out that the situation is very similar in the UK, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA. I first saw Chinese companies setting up branch operations in Canada and the USA under the guise of being local businesses as far back as 2002, and in the UK in 2004.

Walter
Again, thank you very much for taking the time to share this information with us. I had considered that as a possibility, too.

As you say, service in relation to faulty goods seems to be horrible, but that doesn't seem to stop their feedback from being outstanding.

I could make my listings look better than theirs, but I feel like there is only so much you can offer visually when their prices completely destroy what I could offer if I was aiming for a 40% profit margin after all costs.

You are absolutely right - my main problem is the lack of knowledge in sourcing my products. I'm very aware that these people on DHGate and Aliexpress are just middlemen purchasing from the actual manufacturers, but as you point out, it seems practically impossible to establish a relationship with Chinese manufacturers without speaking fluent Chinese (and actually knowing where to find these). Nonetheless, you write:

It is possible to compete. It is almost certain that you have not been getting the best prices if you have been buying at DHGate and Aliexpress. If you want to compete you need to buy direct from the actual manufacturers, and you need to carry at least a small inventory.
This seems to indicate that, despite the fact that I can't speak Chinese, there are ways to reach these manufacturers, or at least better prices than those found on these websites. Forgive my ignorance; you must have discussed this a gazillion times before, but do you have any advice that would point me to these sources?

Regardless of your answer - thank you for your help. This only reassures me about the fact that this is very much doable - I just need to learn better.
 

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@albertut77 Sorry if I didn't make it clear. I was only referring to buying from the sites that are used by the resellers on DHGate and Aliexpress. They are Chinese language sites and although there are thousands of Chinese opportunists offering to buy on those sites for you, that is far too risky and you don't get the best prices by using their dubious services anyway.

My book makes it possible for you to learn to identify real manufacturers, and to negotiate the best prices. You don't need any knowledge of the Chinese language to do that because they employ English speaking staff.

You do need to have some understanding of Chinese business culture and I also explain that so that my book users don't make serious mistakes.

Although my AMA gives a lot of tips and answers many questions, I can't publish on the forum everything in my book which is more than 100 pages.

My book is currently being discounted and you can find it by clicking on the red link in my signature below. You will see there in my marketplace thread that I suggest looking at the testimonials on my site. Many of those are from Fastlane members, including one who wrote that I had saved him $3000. Not a bad ROI.

Walter
 

Andy Daniels

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Stoked about your progress! Sounds like you're making some great strides.

How do you see the ecomm industry changing in 2019? Any big shifts with the growth of Amazon?

Thanks!
 
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Ecom man

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Stoked about your progress! Sounds like you're making some great strides.

How do you see the ecomm industry changing in 2019? Any big shifts with the growth of Amazon?

Thanks!
IMO amazon will continue to grow but I don’t think they are making a wise decision in allowing Chinese Sellers to sell on there with long handling times. It has become more like eBay in regards to either having to pay more attention to the listing to make sure you don’t get screwed on the shipping times or only buy with prime sellers.

If you are selling on amazon but not using FBA you are missing a huge opportunity.

In regards to selling outside amazon I think there is an abundance of opportunity for niche sites. I think that is where the market is headed as trying to browse a specific niche on eBay or Amazon is becoming more unwieldy and often frustrating.

For instance I was looking to purchase a specific dvd for Christmas. I typed in the exact title on amazon and had 15-20 unrelated items before I got to the item I wanted. That was with typing in an exact title.

Niche sites that make it easy for the older demographic to shop/purchase will certainly find a good spot and have good profit potential.
 

fortu1992

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Hello thank you for this great thread, how do you know if an item from alibaba has toxic/dangerous component banned in your country?

Inviato dal mio COL-L29 utilizzando Tapatalk
 

Blackman

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Hello thank you for this great thread, how do you know if an item from alibaba has toxic/dangerous component banned in your country?

Inviato dal mio COL-L29 utilizzando Tapatalk
I'm not Ecom man, but I should be able to help.

The list of banned products will vary from country to country, so what you need to do is go to the government website of your country, find the importing section, and after some digging you should be able to find a list of things, which are not allowed into the country or possibly may require special permits, etc.

Then you will need to speak to your Alibaba supplier and find out exactly what's contained in the product and then check that component with the list of prohibited items in your country on the gov website.

Generally speaking, if you think that whatever you want to import could possibly be banned or may cause complications with the customs, then it would probably be a good idea not to get involved with that in the first place.

There are plenty of other products to choose from without the unnecessary headache.
 

Blackman

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Ecom_man, would be great to get an update of where you stand today, 3 months into 2019?

How was Christmas 2018 re sales, any particular plans for 2019?

Thanks
 
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Ecom man

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Ecom_man, would be great to get an update of where you stand today, 3 months into 2019?

How was Christmas 2018 re sales, any particular plans for 2019?

Thanks
Sales for 2018 were about the same as 2017 which was of course a bummer. This year I’m probably just going to try and put that side of the business on autopilot.
I’m beginning to pivot a bit into trying to become more of a wholesaler of some similar products. The margins are considerably better just simply because I’m not having to spend 30% to get a sale. I have many of the same people coming back and buying over and over again.

I started the process last November and the results were pretty promising as it was bringing in 2k a month in sales at about 75% margins. I took off January and most of February (for the new wholesale line) as I hired someone to build out some things that would drastically speed up the required process.

It was finished the end of February and It allows me to do 4x more in the same amount of time as before the it was finished (sorry I’m being intentionally vague).

My next step is to build out the warehouse processes to speed up that as well as I’m looking to expand into similar products with similar margins. I have a meeting set up with a supplier in the Phoenix area that will allow me to increase my margins on my current product line (getting the items the same price but virtually no shipping costs since its local). My costs would go from $750 per lot down to the $200 range. They also have additional products that would allow me to add 2-3 more product lines to my store at the same 75% margins.

If this works out I will most likely spin both of them off into one wholesale site that only carry wholesale items.

I’ve been wanting to get into wholesale for a while as the business model appeals to me. I like selling 50-100 items at a time rather than selling 1 or 2 at a time. The other bonus is I’ve done considerable research into suppliers and I know of multiple other niches where I could wholesale items and have some great margins as well.
 

Walter Hay

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Sales for 2018 were about the same as 2017 which was of course a bummer. This year I’m probably just going to try and put that side of the business on autopilot.
I’m beginning to pivot a bit into trying to become more of a wholesaler of some similar products. The margins are considerably better just simply because I’m not having to spend 30% to get a sale. I have many of the same people coming back and buying over and over again.

I started the process last November and the results were pretty promising as it was bringing in 2k a month in sales at about 75% margins. I took off January and most of February (for the new wholesale line) as I hired someone to build out some things that would drastically speed up the required process.

It was finished the end of February and It allows me to do 4x more in the same amount of time as before the it was finished (sorry I’m being intentionally vague).

My next step is to build out the warehouse processes to speed up that as well as I’m looking to expand into similar products with similar margins. I have a meeting set up with a supplier in the Phoenix area that will allow me to increase my margins on my current product line (getting the items the same price but virtually no shipping costs since its local). My costs would go from $750 per lot down to the $200 range. They also have additional products that would allow me to add 2-3 more product lines to my store at the same 75% margins.

If this works out I will most likely spin both of them off into one wholesale site that only carry wholesale items.

I’ve been wanting to get into wholesale for a while as the business model appeals to me. I like selling 50-100 items at a time rather than selling 1 or 2 at a time. The other bonus is I’ve done considerable research into suppliers and I know of multiple other niches where I could wholesale items and have some great margins as well.
I have always preferred the B2B model over the B2C one.

With each sale in the thousands rather than the tens, it is so much easier to handle, and the ROI on time invested is beyond the wildest dreams of B2C sellers.

Walter
 
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Ecom man

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What are the biggest things that determine eBay rankings?
Honestly... I don’t think anyone (including eBay employees) have any idea how their crap best match works. There is a reason why I don’t sell hardly anything on eBay anymore.
 

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Yes, B2B rather than B2C! Even commercial retail is better than regular 1-2 units retail. lol
 
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So being that I’m mainly on Shopify now I’ve got a killer app for you guys. It’s called sms bump and essentially you text your cart abandoners in addition to emailing them etc.

I’ve known about that for a while and was doing it using a different app but why I switched to this app is because of one main reason... Upsells! After someone buys an item you can text them an upsell offer! So let’s say a person buys a T-shirt on your store. 5 minutes after they checkout they receive a text that says “hey thanks for your purchase. Would you like to add a hat to your order and you will save 20% off the cost of the hat?”

Now granted the set up for all the upsells is going to be a job (I have 400 different items on just one of my sites and almost every upsell will be unique) however once it’s done it’s all automated from here on out.

2nd best part about this app? They have a free version where you only pay for the text costs (I’m sure they have a premium built in but...). It costs 1.5 cents per text message (but most of your messages will be considered 2 messages so pretty much 3 cents per) and MMS messages are .07 each.

So for the upsell texts I’m sending to people that just bought from me it costs me .07 cents to send them a picture of a related product and a text that offers a discount for that pictured item... These upsells are going to do wonders this Christmas!
 

Aix-Geneve

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Thanks @Ecom man for sharing your great story. I’m truly inspired. I have spent the last three days reading all pages. I have a few questions – for anyone that can answer, please feel free
  • Has anyone had any success using fulfilment centres (other than Amazon) for their overseas products that they sell. (Obviously, I’d have to test and market first locally on ebay, shopify etc). I don’t like Amazons 30% ish profit margin on FBA. It’s very high and would only be worthwhile for small, high value items (in my opinion)
  • Does anyone use WooCommerce instead of Shopify. Because Shopify is like 30 dollars a month or so, I believe WooCommerce is free. I may have to get someone to integrate the back end, that’s no problem. I can have as many websites as I like for free, I’m led to believe.
  • What’s your opinion of Instragram. Seems to be for really “cool” people. But can I make sales out of it? Without having 4M followers? It seems like an enormous waste of time. I have a personal instagram a/c and don’t understand why people “follow” me, esp a whole bunch of identical profile people (all young black guys). There’s nothing on my profile, except a picture of a cupcake, I don’t even post anything. I just save pictures of cake decorating ideas with it. Strikes me as all “ego”. Am I wrong? I just want to know how to make money from it.
  • You mentioned printerest before. Are you still getting leads from this?
  • I’m thinking of something in cosmetics/toiletries. There’s a lot of ‘natural/bio’ stuff in this vein in France. It wouldn’t be too hard for me to get some unbranded product, rebrand it, put it on ebay and sell it (more likely as a “kit”) to get the retail price up. I figure that the manufacturer already would have passed regulations in France, therefore it’s good enough for UK, Germany etc. However, I can’t rely on the French for anything, they’re generally too busy being on holidays or taking long lunch breaks or something else. I kid you not. So until I get the product in my hand, nothing is going to happen. It's not like UK or Australia.
  • The French aren’t really into ebay. They’re not really into buying “stuff” in general. So I’m thinking of targeting EU/UK markets. Would I create separate ebay accounts for each eg UK/Germany/Spain etc)
  • If the cosmetics/toiletries thing does not work, I’m thinking of importing but from Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia or someplace like that. Where MOQs are not such a big issue. Where should I be looking to find supplier directories. Aliexpress Malaysia/Vietnam/India etc or does anyone know of other websites/supplier trade fairs (and importantly, where they don’t expect me to buy 1000 MOQs). Also thinking of Morocco/Algeria but there’s the huge trust issue. So unless a trade fair/directory with escrow exists for these countries, I will not be able to do business there.
Before this, I lived in Australia. Boy, is it difficult there. Full of Chinese businesses.
 

amp0193

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So being that I’m mainly on Shopify now I’ve got a killer app for you guys. It’s called sms bump and essentially you text your cart abandoners in addition to emailing them etc.
Are you texting every purchase? Or those who opt in? If opt in, how are they opting in?

Is it only outbound texts (coupon codes and stuff), or can you actually text customers?
 
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Are you texting every purchase? Or those who opt in? If opt in, how are they opting in?

Is it only outbound texts (coupon codes and stuff), or can you actually text customers?
Opt in via checkout page (has the proper setup inside the app to be compliant) I have it as outbound texts currently but you can send messages to groups (similar to email grouping). You can also upgrade to a paid plan and have any text response sent to you and you can use it like a live chat option.
 

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You can also upgrade to a paid plan and have any text response sent to you and you can use it like a live chat option.
I'll have to take another look at it then. I thought smsbump was only outbound.


We text every opted-in abandoned cart, but use it as kind of a "live chat" option to prompt customer questions. We sell high-ticket items, where customers have a lot of questions.

Because we actually want to be able to respond to these quickly (and make that first text sound like a real person)... I run all the carts through a time filter automation on activecampaign first so that we're only sending auto-texts during business hours.


We could definitely be utilizing text more for sales/promos though. Text is the new email. I think people are becoming more open to the idea of getting marketing info via text.


I've also been thinking about how to mix and match emails and texts (and maybe even follow up phone calls or auto-voicemails) into my more traditional email automations.
 

Blackman

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Hi Ecom man, I've been importing from Alibaba and selling products on eBay for almost a year now, so now I'm thinking of creating my own store to avoid eBay price competition as well as have more control.

However, since the products that I sell don't have a huge demand, selling probably 1/day on average, I've got a feeling that the sales will be almost non-existent with my own store.

I've done research into my competitor sites and keyword research on Adwords, and things are not looking too good. Most of my competitors who sell on eBay also have their own websites, where they sell the same products, but NONE of them advertise on Adwords.

In fact, I couldn't find a single website who advertised on Adwords using the keywords that you would normally search for to find those products on eBay.

Possibly one of the reasons is the fact that they have a very low search volume. When looking up various related keywords for the same product, the highest search volume shows up in the range of 100-1000/month, which is clearly not a lot. From my previous Adwords experience, I know that you hardly get any clicks from such keywords, maybe 2-3 clicks max/day?

Of course, the world doesn't end with Adwords, and over time I could build up traffic using other traffic sources, but bearing in mind the limited demand for such products, I'm not sure this will be effective.

I would be inclined to believe that 90% of sales of my competitors come from eBay and their websites are there just for brand presence, but of course, it's not something that I could find out for 100%.

However, with the lack of Adwords advertisers, low search volume of keywords and general low demand of such products, I struggle to see a point of creating a store, when it seems like all the sales action is on eBay?

Although, one of the main reasons why I'm thinking of creating a store, is because essentially we are all selling the same products and I cannot compete with them on price, as I don't import huge volumes by sea (currently I'm using air couriers only).

There's nothing that can be improved with the product due to the product type, so I'm staying afloat just by taking better quality images, making stronger titles and writing more personalised/detailed product descriptions, which kind of works to a degree, but doesn't provide a huge advantage when I'm charging 20-30% more than my competitors.

Would appreciate your thoughts on this, as I do like the niche, which is also in the field of my knowledge/expertise, but my eBay sales are very slow and based on the above, I can't see how my own store would make things any better.

Thanks for your help.
 

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If the cosmetics/toiletries thing does not work, I’m thinking of importing but from Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia or someplace like that. Where MOQs are not such a big issue. Where should I be looking to find supplier directories. Aliexpress Malaysia/Vietnam/India etc or does anyone know of other websites/supplier trade fairs (and importantly, where they don’t expect me to buy 1000 MOQs). Also thinking of Morocco/Algeria but there’s the huge trust issue. So unless a trade fair/directory with escrow exists for these countries, I will not be able to do business there.
First, I think you meant Alibaba. Aliexpress is a B2B offshoot of Alibaba. Their usual MOQ is 1, but at Chinese retail, which still leaves a margin in the West, but Aliexpress is totally unsuitable for a real business.

You will rarely find an escrow service on B2B sites. Alibaba discontinued their very defective escrow service in 2015, replacing it with the even worse Trade Assurance scheme. I suggest you read at least my earliest review of Trade Assurance here: Trade Assurance Review or search for the other 17 posts I have made on that subject in my AMA: GOLD! Sharing my lifetime experience in export/import. Product sourcing specialist.

Alibaba frequently change their rules, sometimes two or even three times in a year. I have reviewed their latest set of rules in the 2019 revision of my safe sourcing and easy importing book, but I will be surprised if those rules are not changed before the end of this year.

eBay is now doing what Amazon have done, and that is, give incentives to Chinese sellers to list. They can now bid a percentage of their sales value in order to get a Promoted Listing. This, combined with low prices because the Chinese vendors either make the products or source them at prices you couldn't imagine, makes resellers listings far less attractive.

You will now find plenty of Chinese businesses on eBayUK. As in Australia, many are disguised as local businesses.

There are better places than Asia to buy almost anything. See the contents list of my importing book here: 2019 ProvenGlobalSourcing

Walter
 

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