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Blank DTG Mug production supply issues

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FLTechGuy

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Feb 23, 2015
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I want to start producing my own Dye Sub Mugs. However the quote I am getting from a local supplier is too high and the shipping is a major issue and I need help in trying to figure out other options. My MOQ is between 1,000 to 2,160 blank mugs.

1. I know the US based suppliers are getting the blanks directly from China or Thailand. How can I import these mugs directly instead of going through a middle man? I have no experience with importing or customs and do not know the regulations, tarrifs (if any) etc. involved with this.

2. Shipping Issues: I do not have a commercial space and trying to get a pallet delivered to a residential address would cost $820 approximately according to the US supplier because it requires lift gate service, to make matters worse my understanding is the shipping company would just drop it at the end of my driveway in the street as I have a sloped driveway. Any ideas on how to solve this?
 

LightHouse

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I want to start producing my own Dye Sub Mugs. However the quote I am getting from a local supplier is too high and the shipping is a major issue and I need help in trying to figure out other options. My MOQ is between 1,000 to 2,160 blank mugs.

1. I know the US based suppliers are getting the blanks directly from China or Thailand. How can I import these mugs directly instead of going through a middle man? I have no experience with importing or customs and do not know the regulations, tarrifs (if any) etc. involved with this.

2. Shipping Issues: I do not have a commercial space and trying to get a pallet delivered to a residential address would cost $820 approximately according to the US supplier because it requires lift gate service, to make matters worse my understanding is the shipping company would just drop it at the end of my driveway in the street as I have a sloped driveway. Any ideas on how to solve this?


#1 There is a ton of information about this online. This is something you should be doing research on and then asking questions when you hit a sticking point. Forum members can't work out your entire business for you. Reach out to those suppliers, they likely can get it to you via their providers anyway.

#2 This is an actual challenge. The easiest may be to rent a storage unit that has a loading dock. That way you can get truck service and they can push it straight into your unit, and you can deal with it there rather than your garage.
 

FLTechGuy

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Feb 23, 2015
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#1 There is a ton of information about this online. This is something you should be doing research on and then asking questions when you hit a sticking point. Forum members can't work out your entire business for you. Reach out to those suppliers, they likely can get it to you via their providers anyway.

#2 This is an actual challenge. The easiest may be to rent a storage unit that has a loading dock. That way you can get truck service and they can push it straight into your unit, and you can deal with it there rather than your garage.


I agree on #1 there is a ton of information the problem is where to find the the correct information and how do I know what is the correct information when I have no experience in this? I have been researching and have honestly wasted hours between forums and government sites.

The only thing I managed to find of use was a red flag list of ceramic production companies that are stopped automatically for import inspections and learned that ceramic mugs can contain unsafe levels of cadium and/or lead so now I am wondering how to do I know if the supplier I am buying from is clean. I do not want to sell tainted drink ware to people.

on #2 I did not think about a storage unit I will have to look into that. Depending on cost this may be a viable short term solution - thank you
 

broswoodwork

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A shipping terminal
I've done it a bunch of times, even with commercial space, just because it's easier to schedule me going there than it is to wait for the truck all day.
 

Walter Hay

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@FLTechGuy you are entering a field that can lead to great problems. I advise against picking up from a shipping terminal unless you are familiar with the process.

Depending on which terminal you go to, you could spend an entire day in a queue of trucks, and still not get to pick up your shipment. You will be treated as an outsider, and unless you are lucky nobody will even give you any helpful instructions.

See my AMA GOLD! Sharing my lifetime experience in export/import. Product sourcing specialist. for general information on the sourcing and importing processes.

In order to receive the shipment, the suggestion by @LightHouse is very good.

You must use the services of a freight forwarder, (that is not a middle man) in order to get door to door delivery. My AMA deals frequently with this issue.

As for your concern about the product being hazardous to health, you have little option but to obtain a sample and have it tested, but the sample might be OK and the full order might not. If your supplier has a test certificate that might or might not be evidence that the product is safe. Certificates are routinely forged.

If you are buying from a trader, (that is a middle man) you will have no certainty whatsoever, because they will source your order from whichever manufacturer gives them the best price at the time. You need to be sure you are dealing with a real manufacturer. Again, search my AMA to learn about that.

Once you have found a real manufacturer you need to do your due diligence so that you can be confident that what they tell you is true.

Finally, you should order a small quantity first time, not a pallet load, and don't place an order until you have the freight issue sorted out, with a written quote.

Walter
 

broswoodwork

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Depending on which terminal you go to, you could spend an entire day in a queue of trucks, and still not get to pick up your shipment.
To clarify, I meant just like a standard truck terminal in the closest city once the mugs were already state side. R&L carriers, Estes, etc. Not a seaport.
 

Walter Hay

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To clarify, I meant just like a standard truck terminal in the closest city once the mugs were already state side. R&L carriers, Estes, etc. Not a seaport.
Good! Getting the shipment from the seaport will need the assistance of a freight forwarder.

Walter
 

LightHouse

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To clarify, I meant just like a standard truck terminal in the closest city once the mugs were already state side. R&L carriers, Estes, etc. Not a seaport.

@Walter Hay is still correct though. Even at an air freight terminal, you can wait hours and hours and still not get to pick up your shipment. And even if you do, they will say go ahead and you have no pallet jack or anything to get it. I experienced this when i did air freight the first time, I waited hours, it was a total pain. The next time I did it, i hired a local trucking company for less than $50 to get it for me. Much better use of my time.
 

broswoodwork

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@Walter Hay is still correct though. Even at an air freight terminal, you can wait hours and hours and still not get to pick up your shipment. And even if you do, they will say go ahead and you have no pallet jack or anything to get it. I experienced this when i did air freight the first time, I waited hours, it was a total pain. The next time I did it, i hired a local trucking company for less than $50 to get it for me. Much better use of my time.
I defer to you and Walter's experience, because you've both got vastly more experience than me.

I've never had the issue a dozen or so times, at a handful of different terminals, but maybe I look the part or just got lucky. I just walk in, like the boss of Boston, and tell them I'm here for my stuff.

Is this a service I could charge people for? :D
 

Walter Hay

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@Walter Hay is still correct though. Even at an air freight terminal, you can wait hours and hours and still not get to pick up your shipment. And even if you do, they will say go ahead and you have no pallet jack or anything to get it. I experienced this when i did air freight the first time, I waited hours, it was a total pain. The next time I did it, i hired a local trucking company for less than $50 to get it for me. Much better use of my time.
A good lesson learned. This is why I say that depending on shipment volume/weight, air freight can sometimes cost more in total than door to door air courier service.

The time lost can be substantial as you have experienced. If the value exceeds $2,500 you will be required to lodge a formal clearance, and if you make a single tiny mistake you will have to start over again. Far better to pay a Customs broker to do that for you.

Walter
 

LightHouse

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A good lesson learned. This is why I say that depending on shipment volume/weight, air freight can sometimes cost more in total than door to door air courier service.

The time lost can be substantial as you have experienced. If the value exceeds $2,500 you will be required to lodge a formal clearance, and if you make a single tiny mistake you will have to start over again. Far better to pay a Customs broker to do that for you.

Walter

So one of my tenants at the time was a customs broker. They had everything cleared with my name for the pickup. It just didn't work out well. My time is worth way to much for that hassle.

The great thing was, the broker had a few regulars for trucking services. I talked to the trucking company owner and had them not only pick up the shipment, but also put on UPS labels and drive them 15 miles to the UPS distro center. All for under $50 a trip. This meant I wouldn't even have to deal with the pallet of products at all. It was amazing.
 

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I want to start producing my own Dye Sub Mugs. However the quote I am getting from a local supplier is too high and the shipping is a major issue and I need help in trying to figure out other options. My MOQ is between 1,000 to 2,160 blank mugs.

Don't you think you are trying to run before you can walk? How many mugs have you actually already sold? I'd be inclined to look for a domestic supplier before going down the route of importing. If you look hard enough you will probably find one that will provide them for not much more than you can import them yourself because they will have economies of scale compared to your ability to negotiate with a Chinese supplier.

Just my opinion but once your business model is proven and you know you can sell them in quantity then is the time to start looking further afield for cost savings.
 

Money_master

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Aug 3, 2018
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Depending on how long you plan to keep them around, the storage unit will eat all your profits.
If you have a spare garage or some place to keep them, I am sure you can rent a small forklift for $100 and do what you want.
 

FLTechGuy

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Feb 23, 2015
27
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44
@FLTechGuy you are entering a field that can lead to great problems. I advise against picking up from a shipping terminal unless you are familiar with the process.

Depending on which terminal you go to, you could spend an entire day in a queue of trucks, and still not get to pick up your shipment. You will be treated as an outsider, and unless you are lucky nobody will even give you any helpful instructions.

See my AMA GOLD! Sharing my lifetime experience in export/import. Product sourcing specialist. for general information on the sourcing and importing processes.

In order to receive the shipment, the suggestion by @LightHouse is very good.

You must use the services of a freight forwarder, (that is not a middle man) in order to get door to door delivery. My AMA deals frequently with this issue.

As for your concern about the product being hazardous to health, you have little option but to obtain a sample and have it tested, but the sample might be OK and the full order might not. If your supplier has a test certificate that might or might not be evidence that the product is safe. Certificates are routinely forged.

If you are buying from a trader, (that is a middle man) you will have no certainty whatsoever, because they will source your order from whichever manufacturer gives them the best price at the time. You need to be sure you are dealing with a real manufacturer. Again, search my AMA to learn about that.

Once you have found a real manufacturer you need to do your due diligence so that you can be confident that what they tell you is true.

Finally, you should order a small quantity first time, not a pallet load, and don't place an order until you have the freight issue sorted out, with a written quote.

Walter


Sorry for the delay in getting back to this I was extremely busy with the holiday and all.

I was originally looking at a stateside supplier there suggestion was to have it sent to a local shipping hub and then pickup from there but by the time I rent a truck, pay someone to go drive that truck and load it and then unload it at my house It would still be around $600.

I did end up backing down my ambitions and found another supplier (B) which will ship up to 9 cases for free at a higher per piece price but it ends up being less than the other supplier (A) when shipping is included. Supplier (A) said it would cost over $800 to have the 66 cases liftgated to my house and any less qty. would not change the shipping cost much. If I bought 9 cases from them it would end up being at a total cost of $2.00 or more per piece.

Supplier A did offer to have them sent to a stateside shipping terminal. I had assumed they would have a pallet jack available but I guess that may not be the case. I also have no experience with these things and am very grateful for your reply and others letting me know the potential downfalls of doing this.

thank you for the info on the import/export I will be reading your AMA over the course of this weekend, thank you for that. I was not aware of the terminal issue at all, good to know and I suspected it was one of those things where if you don't know, you don't know but everyone expects you to know.

For now I have gone with supplier (B) and ordered 9 cases until things really ramp up and I have a warehouse space with a loading dock or at the very least a space with a loading ramp and a motorized pallet jack.

According to one large printing company I spoke to all the mugs come out of China or Thailand. My guess is no one has checked them for contaminants.
 

FLTechGuy

New Contributor
Feb 23, 2015
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To clarify, I meant just like a standard truck terminal in the closest city once the mugs were already state side. R&L carriers, Estes, etc. Not a seaport.
Yes this is what Company A was quoting, they said it could be dropped off at a shipping hub/terminal near my local airport and then I could go pick it up. However this presented logistical issues and the cost did not end up being much different once the cost of renting a Penske, Uhaul etc. was figured in along with help to load the pallet on the truck.
 

FLTechGuy

New Contributor
Feb 23, 2015
27
19
17
44
@Walter Hay is still correct though. Even at an air freight terminal, you can wait hours and hours and still not get to pick up your shipment. And even if you do, they will say go ahead and you have no pallet jack or anything to get it. I experienced this when i did air freight the first time, I waited hours, it was a total pain. The next time I did it, i hired a local trucking company for less than $50 to get it for me. Much better use of my time.
This was my biggest concern was that at the shipping terminal I was still on my own and I have no pallet jack. I will have to potentially look into this option in the future with a local trucking company. What would I look for to find a local one ?
 

FLTechGuy

New Contributor
Feb 23, 2015
27
19
17
44
Don't you think you are trying to run before you can walk? How many mugs have you actually already sold? I'd be inclined to look for a domestic supplier before going down the route of importing. If you look hard enough you will probably find one that will provide them for not much more than you can import them yourself because they will have economies of scale compared to your ability to negotiate with a Chinese supplier.

Just my opinion but once your business model is proven and you know you can sell them in quantity then is the time to start looking further afield for cost savings.

You are correct and I did re-evaluate the situation. I was a little too ambitious and hyper focused on the cost of the mugs. I wanted to get them as cheap as possible, then I realized I was creating other issues based on the experience and info presented here and got back to reality. I have since ordered 9 cases from a stateside supplier to get started, and will just continue ordering this way until I can justify a commercial space with a loading dock or ramp. Then I will start ordering pallets stateside and then go the import route when I get to the point of ordering multiple pallets.
 

FLTechGuy

New Contributor
Feb 23, 2015
27
19
17
44
Depending on how long you plan to keep them around, the storage unit will eat all your profits.
If you have a spare garage or some place to keep them, I am sure you can rent a small forklift for $100 and do what you want.
Yes you are correct as I looked into a shared commercial space and the cost per month of the space would have me running in the red so this needs to stay a home operation until I get to a volume that justifies the expense of a commercial space.
 

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