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GOLD! Sharing my lifetime experience in export/import. Product sourcing specialist.

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Walter Hay

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How to Find Unique Products

First a little preamble.

Competition is all well and good. Yes it does stimulate the market, but good marketers can stimulate without competition.

When running my own businesses I loved having no competition. How did I achieve that?
  • I built a better mousetrap. I saw that in a particular industrial application that I was very familiar with, the product almost universally used had some very undesirable characteristics. Simply put, it had once been the best thing since sliced bread, but I knew that I could substantially improve on it. I did just thatthen I sold it like crazy, charging nearly double what the old product sold at. I achieved 100% market share in my own country, then built an export market. I did not even discount the product for my agents, because the product was so good!
  • I found a USP that worked wonders. I was now importing and selling B2B. My biggest local competitor had a 90% market share in the market sector that was the most lucrative. The USP was the word FREE. The complacent competitor charged huge set up fees. I offered FREE set up. It was as simple as that. Like a frog in a pan of water slowly coming to the boil and not noticing the increasing heat, he did not realize what was happening until I had consolidated my grip on the market, and I had 90% of that market. He sold his greatly devalued business to a small competitor, but they never became a threat. I franchised the business interstate and repeated the process, then took my franchise system overseas to 3 more countries where I was able to do exactly the same.
Now .... the easiest way I know how to find unique products. When people think of product sourcing the vast majority think of China. That is where everyone buys cheap isn't it? Yes, and most buy the same products as hundreds of competitors because they are all looking for suppliers of those hot sellers that they have researched on eBay, Amazon etc.

The easiest way that I have found is to source from countries other than China. Too difficult? Yes it is a little harder than sourcing from China, but those who do it are moving into the fastlane quicker than most new importers.

Prices are too high? You might pay more for a product than you think you would pay in China, but China does not make such products. They may make jewelry by the ton but they don't make the classy designs that you can buy in other countries. They may make cheap shoes but they don't have the marketability of "Made in Italy."

Those wedded to Alibaba or China in general will find a lot more excuses to not consider other countries, but I know that a lot of my students have done very well by sourcing outside China.
 

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Walter, just wanted to thank you for the book. I got it with the PAC, and found it to be an absolute goldmine.
 
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Q & A 13. This was a double barreled question, so I have set it out in 2 parts.

Q. 13 (a)
Hello,I was wondering if I might ask you a quick question. Just reading around on the web I found this "The amount of money you save going through the factory is generally quite small. You might only save between 5-10% or worse, you might save none because the trading company is able to negotiate such low discounts that they can give you an even lower price than if you went directly through the factory."

And wanted to ask what your thoughts were on it? Thank you again,

A. 13 (a) That article is obviously written by a trader, a sourcing agent, or someone who has not had a lot of real experience. The usual difference in price between a trader's price and a manufacturer's price is around 50%. Just like wholesalers, the trader will usually mark up by 100%.

Contrary to what most people think, discounts for increasing the size of an order are usually quite small. Any big discounts offered by a trader are usually a result of a trader buying a discontinued line or faulty product.

You will do much better by buying direct from the manufacturer.

Q. 13 (b) Also, do you know what the Chinese manufacturers mark up their products at on average? Seems like we as retailers try to have a 100% mark up, this seems to cover most fees and bills to be comfortable.... do you think the manufacturers have the same number in their mind too?

A. 13 (b) One of my long time Chinese business associates tells me that the average mark up by manufacturers is hard to estimate, but is probably only around 30%. He adds that in some cases he has known it to be a lot higher; as much as 350%. The lower margin would usually apply to products that are very common, but if the manufacturer has a unique product he knows he can charge a lot higher prices without fear of competition. He tells me his mark up is only 30%, but I would not expect him to tell me it is higher even if it is, but I have no reason to doubt his estimate on the average being 30%.

Those manufacturers working on a low markup obviously will not be able to offer substantial discounts if they are in a competitive field and consequently start off with a quote that is close to the selling price they really want.
 
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Walter Hay

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Just wanted to thank Walter for helping me out with a roadblock I was having.

I am trying to source a specific product from China and I was always getting stuck with the same problem. I asked Walter about it and he not only knew exactly what the problem was he helped point out a factory that could produce what I was looking for.

Also, I highly recommend Walters book on importing. There are a lot of books and courses out there but if I had to choose one to start with I would definitely recommend Walters book.
I was scrolling through my thread looking for something when I discovered that I had not acknowledged your kind comment. Thank you. I am glad to help.

Walter, just wanted to thank you for the book. I got it with the PAC, and found it to be an absolute goldmine.
I found that I had not responded to you either JonnyC, so thank you for your comment.

I accepted Jim Cockrum's (PAC) JV offer because I was being overwhelmed with support issues and he has a great support team who I have now trained in relation to importing. They do the bulk of the support, but refer to me any questions that are unusual or obscure. I still give direct support to quite a few, but can now handle the load. Don't forget I am 76 years of age and "retired".
 

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Great thread! Thanks so much for sharing what you know.

I am currently reading everything I can about importing and will probably pick up a copy of your book soon.

I am from the UK, but in a few months I will move to Asia to teach English. Probably South Korea, but maybe China.

Here are my questions:

1) If you were to relocate to the East and start from scratch, what import/export business model would you follow?

2) Should I be looking to register my company in Asia or in the UK?

3) Would it be a good use of my time to learn the basics of the native language?

Any other advice you think is relevant would be appreciated.

Thanks again.
 
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Walter Hay

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Great thread! Thanks so much for sharing what you know.

I am currently reading everything I can about importing and will probably pick up a copy of your book soon.

I am from the UK, but in a few months I will move to Asia to teach English. Probably South Korea, but maybe China.

Here are my questions:

1) If you were to relocate to the East and start from scratch, what import/export business model would you follow?

2) Should I be looking to register my company in Asia or in the UK?

3) Would it be a good use of my time to learn the basics of the native language?

Any other advice you think is relevant would be appreciated.

Thanks again.
You will be in an interesting situation. Strictly from a business perspective, I would choose South Korea, mainly because that will give you personal access to manufacturers of products that are less likely to be found by the average importer in the UK, USA, etc. That can give you a competitive edge. I would also prefer to live in South Korea than in China.

In answer to your specific questions:

1. I would look to set up a retail business in the UK or the USA selling on eBay and/or Amazon. For selling on Amazon you could use the FBA system, and you would have the advantage of being able to be the shipper, so your suppliers would not learn about you selling on Amazon.

You can also use FBA to sell on eBay, but if you are only using FBA as a fulfillment service you might consider using an alternative, lower cost service. It is worth remembering that Amazon have a tendency to compete with their own customers and they could find the same products and cut you out of the market.

I suggest you plan ahead by talking to family members who may be willing and able to act on your behalf in the UK. Not only receiving goods but possibly fulfilling orders?

2. I would register in the UK, but later on there may be benefits in having a company registered in South Korea or Hong Kong. Even if you don't use it, cost and red tape may be worth it as a back up.

3. The biggest benefit I see in learning the local language is that business people will be impressed that you have gone to the trouble. Even a simple greeting in the local language gets you off to a good start.

It can be tempting to consider exporting, but you might like to look at my replies to michael40 above.

Best wishes for your new ventures, in teaching and business.
 
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Walter Hay

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Q & A 14 Although I have previously posted on the subject of sourcing agents and quality control, I am now dealing with the matter again because I have received this question in various forms from a number of people over the past few weeks. Some were worried that without a sourcing agent they were taking too big a risk.

One even referred me to a girl in China who offers to find the best manufacturers for you for $15!!!

Q. Do You Really Need A Sourcing Agent?

A. There has recently been a considerable increase in the number of Chinese businesses offering their services as sourcing agents. I have seen numerous posts on two other business forums, as well as two on this forum in which businesses who sell their sourcing services are openly promoting their services, some via blogs.

On one of those other forums the poster aggressively attacked me for telling my book readers that they do not need the services of a sourcing agent, and a forum member saw that post and PM’d me with this question.

First let me differentiate between a sourcing agent and an inspection service.

Sourcing agents offer to locate for you the best suppliers, whether manufacturers or traders. They claim to have the benefit of local knowledge that is not possible for outsiders. Well, I have spent so much time in China since my first visit in 1978 that I don’t feel like an outsider. I remain on friendly terms with, and still regularly communicate with, two of my long time Chinese business associates. I believe I am well qualified to comment on the merits of using a sourcing agent.

Inspection services should not be confused with sourcing agent services. I know that most sourcing agents also offer to do inspections, but inspections are a very specialized activity, and I would not rely on someone who does not have a provable track record like the big inspection services I have previously listed in this thread.

In their push for business, many sourcing agents use scare tactics, claiming that by trying to source and import without their help you are leaving yourself open to scams, shoddy products, paying too much, shipping problems, and customs problems.

Recently I have read posts in which one sourcing agent claimed that there is no such thing as a safe sourcing site and on another forum where one says there is no such thing as safe sourcing at all! If either or both of these claims be true, I would not have hundreds of people successfully using my book to guide them in safe sourcing.

Out of the hundreds of people using my book only one has reported being scammed, and that was because he broke three of my most important rules: a) He sourced through Alibaba, b) He placed a large initial order, c) He paid through Western Union. Fortunately he admits that he should have taken my advice.

Prior to retirement, I taught a large number of franchisees to source in the same way as I teach in my book. Not a single one was ever scammed, and as far as buying at best prices is concerned; with an average of only a few orders every day, (sometimes 8 or 10,) they enjoyed a quiet life and a big income. At least one of them surfed every day! They all made 6 figure profits. Only a few of them ever visited China or any of the other countries where we sourced products.

So the answer is that in my experience, having been an importer since 1987 and never having used a sourcing agent, no, you don’t need such a service, provided you understand safe sourcing and use safe sites. Both do exist.
 

ddzc

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Hey Walter,

Not sure if you mentioned it or not...but do you have any recommended websites or contacts to source manufacturers in Europe and possibly the U.S..?

Thanks!
 
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Hey Walter,

Not sure if you mentioned it or not...but do you have any recommended websites or contacts to source manufacturers in Europe and possibly the U.S..?

Thanks!
Sorry to tell you this, and I know it won't go down well with a lot of members of the forum, but I don't publish them online.

I have about 20 sites listed in my book and I encourage people to source in places other than China, but just having a site name is only part of the story. Some of the sites, particularly in Europe, are not user friendly, and I give detailed instructions on how to use them. In addition to that, I am concerned at the serious lack of safe sourcing knowledge that is evident among intending importers.

I look at the other AMA threads on importing and many of the questions show dangerous naivety. As a general observation I would say there appears to be a frightening lack of understanding of what is involved in sourcing and importing, and yet people are willing to risk their money while going off half cocked. So many seem to think that talking to others who have succeeded will give them all the knowledge they need.

My posts in this thread are designed to alleviate this problem to some extent, but the education needed is far beyond the scope of forum posts.
 

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Sorry to tell you this, and I know it won't go down well with a lot of members of the forum, but I don't publish them online.

I have about 20 sites listed in my book and I encourage people to source in places other than China, but just having a site name is only part of the story. Some of the sites, particularly in Europe, are not user friendly, and I give detailed instructions on how to use them. In addition to that, I am concerned at the serious lack of safe sourcing knowledge that is evident among intending importers.

I look at the other AMA threads on importing and many of the questions show dangerous naivety. As a general observation I would say there appears to be a frightening lack of understanding of what is involved in sourcing and importing, and yet people are willing to risk their money while going off half cocked. So many seem to think that talking to others who have succeeded will give them all the knowledge they need.

My posts in this thread are designed to alleviate this problem to some extent, but the education needed is far beyond the scope of forum posts.
Fair enough. I noticed on a ton of suppliers I looked up yesterday on Alibaba and I know top competition using them...they all don't have a valid export license in their assessment report. What are your thoughts on this? Everything else in the report checks ok.
 
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Fair enough. I noticed on a ton of suppliers I looked up yesterday on Alibaba and I know top competition using them...they all don't have a valid export license in their assessment report. What are your thoughts on this? Everything else in the report checks ok.
They will very rarely display an export license. I would not worry about that because if they don't have one themselves they will know how to work the system and use someone else's.

I assume you are filtering your searches to only look at suppliers with the Assessed Supplier tick. Buried in the report you will find reference to their manufacturing capacity. This will tell you if you have found a real manufacturer, but don't assume that all with the red tick are manufacturers.
 

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I am facing an issue. Every supplier I talk to is asking for MOQ as the first thing. I tried to postpone this discussion but eventually they are coming back to that discussion. And they are quoting ridiculous prices for samples! Not sure what I can do here.

For example, I was looking at a product that was quoted at 9$ for an MOQ of 5 pieces. I asked for a sample of five pieces and they wanted 595$ without shipping!! This has happened with about 10 suppliers now.

Walter, Jait, Vigilante - can anyone suggest some ways to me to overcome this?
 
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I am facing an issue. Every supplier I talk to is asking for MOQ as the first thing. I tried to postpone this discussion but eventually they are coming back to that discussion. And they are quoting ridiculous prices for samples! Not sure what I can do here.

For example, I was looking at a product that was quoted at 9$ for an MOQ of 5 pieces. I asked for a sample of five pieces and they wanted 595$ without shipping!! This has happened with about 10 suppliers now.

Walter, Jait, Vigilante - can anyone suggest some ways to me to overcome this?
I doubt that you are dealing with real manufacturers. Don't forget, if you found them on Alibaba, it is almost certain that they are traders. Traders and wholesalers tend to be inflexible on MOQs. The reason I am sure you are dealing with a trader not a manufacturer is that traders and even wholesalers rarely carry inventory, whereas manufacturers always have production overruns on hand. They often make the overrun quite large so that they have a good supply of sample.

I do find it strange that they quote an MOQ of 5 pcs.

I think what might have happened is that their advertisement on Alibaba shows the lowest price for a maximum order quantity, not an MOQ. In order to get you to at least make first contact they also refer to an MOQ of 5 pcs.

But when you refer to MOQ, I think you are doing what I have seen many newbies do, and that is to think that MOQ means the minimum that you want to order. In fact MOQ means the minimum order quantity that the supplier is willing to accept an order for. If they ask you how many you want to order, that is not referring to an MOQ.

MOQ is for suppliers not buyers.

So, let's put it another way .......

If they publish an MOQ of 5 pcs, that is the minimum they will accept an order for.
If they ask you how many do you want to order, that can be a tricky question to answer. It is best to tell them that you want to order a trial quantity of 5 pcs (in this case) so that you can check the product.

Rather than ask them for 5 samples, ask them for a trial order of 5pcs. It means the same thing but will be more acceptable to the supplier.
 

MantisX

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Extremely sorry.. I meant an MOQ of 500 pieces.. big typo there.. so they quoted 9$ for an MOQ of 500 pieces. And when i asked them for five sample pieces, they wanted 595!..

I have purchased and read your book Walter. I used the sites you mention along with Alibaba and contact all the people in both the places. I contacted a real manufacturer for a product (I think real, because I read a new article somewhere that referred to them as a factory). And I am running into the same issue there too.. I am kind of stumped right now on this issue. Thanks for trying to help me out.
 
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Extremely sorry.. I meant an MOQ of 500 pieces.. big typo there.. so they quoted 9$ for an MOQ of 500 pieces. And when i asked them for five sample pieces, they wanted 595!..

I have purchased and read your book Walter. I used the sites you mention along with Alibaba and contact all the people in both the places. I contacted a real manufacturer for a product (I think real, because I read a new article somewhere that referred to them as a factory). And I am running into the same issue there too.. I am kind of stumped right now on this issue. Thanks for trying to help me out.

[I updated my post above.. very sorry]
No problem. If you care to give me the name or a few of the names you have contacted, I will be happy to check them out for you. I can do it in a flash. Just send me a private message and I will keep the details confidential.

There is no doubt that they do not want to supply you with 5 and that reinforces my view that they are not manufacturers. But I can quickly check for you.
 

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They will very rarely display an export license. I would not worry about that because if they don't have one themselves they will know how to work the system and use someone else's.

I assume you are filtering your searches to only look at suppliers with the Assessed Supplier tick. Buried in the report you will find reference to their manufacturing capacity. This will tell you if you have found a real manufacturer, but don't assume that all with the red tick are manufacturers.
Thanks Walter. Yes, I only deal with companies who have been assessed and after reading all of their reports. I think one of the important things to ensure are the health and safety certificates as well...for eg, electronic devices, making sure I see copies of their CE, ROHS certificates. I did find the manufacturing info on many of them. One company I'm looking to deal with for a large order is fairly small, 8 production lines, 103 employees running production...they produce 40,000 pcs a mth...I heard good things about them. Also, most if not every company is labelled as a Manufacturer and Trading Company.
 
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Thanks Walter. Yes, I only deal with companies who have been assessed and after reading all of their reports. I think one of the important things to ensure are the health and safety certificates as well...for eg, electronic devices, making sure I see copies of their CE, ROHS certificates. I did find the manufacturing info on many of them. One company I'm looking to deal with for a large order is fairly small, 8 production lines, 103 employees running production...they produce 40,000 pcs a mth...I heard good things about them. Also, most if not every company is labelled as a Manufacturer and Trading Company.
It is worth checking on the authenticity of the certificates they provide. It is commonplace for certificates to be forged. Also, even if they are genuine they will often be out of date.

Most of the authoritative certification companies will have a place on their website where you can insert the certificate number for checking. Because almost every business in China trades under several different names you may find the name on the certificate does not match the name of the company you are dealing with. That is not a concern provided you can confirm that it is the same business, just a different name.
 

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So much helpful info! I really appreciate the time you give to this thread Walter!

I do have one question though. What do you think of that new feature on Alibaba "Trade Assurance"?

  • Order quality and on-time shipment safeguards
  • 100% payment refund up to Trade Assurance Amount
 

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1.Do you look for occasions while purchasing or you do buy stuff you know you will sell right away?
2.Any advice to a person in Poland who would like to start importing/ selling globally?
Cheers!
 
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So much helpful info! I really appreciate the time you give to this thread Walter!

I do have one question though. What do you think of that new feature on Alibaba "Trade Assurance"?

  • Order quality and on-time shipment safeguards
  • 100% payment refund up to Trade Assurance Amount
Just like the situation with Alibaba's escrow system, the rules, including the terms and conditions, are very complex, and contain some contradictions.

You need to read them all several times to be sure you have not missed important points. For example, you are required to pay for a quality inspection prior to shipment. The inspection services that Alibaba allow are 3 of the biggest and oldest such businesses, and I would certainly rely on their judgement.

There are two potential problems with this arrangement. 1. Cost. A shipment quality inspection can cost from $250 for a very minimal inspection up to $1,000, maybe more, for a very thorough inspection that may involve assembly of several random samples taken from the shipment, and disassembling them and repacking. It is refunded if the quality fails inspection. 2. Specifications must be incorporated in your purchase order (Alibaba correctly call it a contract) and only the exact matters addressed in your specifications will be subject to inspection.

A significant contradiction relates to the requirement for inspections. In Terms and Conditions 3 it states "....(you need to raise any product quality claims before the products are shipped out, which means you will need to arrange for the products to be inspected before they are shipped out) " but in 5 it is implied that an inspection must be carried out after the buyer has been unable to get a satisfactory response from the supplier. In FAQs Quality 1, it states "We recommend you strictly control the quality of the goods before shipment, if the order quality can’t meet the quality requirements before shipment, you can submit a claim."

If you only read the rules and don't bother with the Terms and Conditions, or the FAQs you will not find any reference to the requirement to have an inspection done prior to shipment.

It is worth noting that if the buyer and the seller have agreed to declare a lower that true value for Customs, the buyer cannot make a successful claim. Also, no claim can succeed if the buyer arranges freight!!! In other words no FOB or EXW orders will be covered.

I have not dealt with claims for late shipment, but I think what I have outlined above should suffice to show that the Trade Assurance protection appears to be a very tricky area. For example it is claimed that you will receive a 100% refund, but in reality, as is the case with escrow claims, you will be pushed to accept a partial refund.
 

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1.Do you look for occasions while purchasing or you do buy stuff you know you will sell right away?
2.Any advice to a person in Poland who would like to start importing/ selling globally?
Cheers!
Hi Michal,

I do not do any online marketing of physical products. I am retired, but I am happy to offer suggestions as you have asked.
1. I recommend searching for products that are unique rather than look for something that is already a "hot seller". It is important though, to be sure that you can sell such a product and you need to do some market testing by buying a small quantity first.
2. I think you may have a big advantage being in Poland. There will be many products that are made in Poland and are not generally available in other big markets such as UK and USA. You can market them through the Amazon FBA system.

If you want to market products within Poland, you would need to look for manufacturers in other countries in order to find products that are not available there.

I hope these suggestions are helpful, but some of our experienced physical product sellers may be able to contribute more for you.

Walter
 

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Hi Michal,

I do not do any online marketing of physical products. I am retired, but I am happy to offer suggestions as you have asked.
1. I recommend searching for products that are unique rather than look for something that is already a "hot seller". It is important though, to be sure that you can sell such a product and you need to do some market testing by buying a small quantity first.
2. I think you may have a big advantage being in Poland. There will be many products that are made in Poland and are not generally available in other big markets such as UK and USA. You can market them through the Amazon FBA system.

If you want to market products within Poland, you would need to look for manufacturers in other countries in order to find products that are not available there.

I hope these suggestions are helpful, but some of our experienced physical product sellers may be able to contribute more for you.

Walter
Thank you Walter!! This is really useful information.
 
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Walter Hay

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Q & A 15 My answer contains a serious warning with implications for all who sell on Amazon. Lately this question comes up more and more as sellers join up to Fulfillment By Amazon

Q. Can I ship direct from my supplier in China straight to Amazon FBA?

A. The very short answer is yes, but …… Is it a good idea? Chinese suppliers have swamped eBay in both the US and the UK, and to a lesser extent Australia. Many of them ship orders from China but more of them ship from HK. The really keen ones are shipping inventory to a front man in the US, UK, or Australia, and offering rapid local delivery. There is no reason why they can’t do the same using FBA. In fact it is easier for them because in effect, Amazon becomes their front man.

If you get your supplier to ship direct to FBA you are introducing them to a marketing medium that they have possibly never heard of, and so far, very few appear to be using.

I have seen a small number of Chinese manufacturers and traders set up branch operations in Western countries. There are major costs involved for them in doing that, and consequently that inhibits them to a large extent, but with FBA, the costs are negligible, and it opens up the retail market for them.

The major advantage held by locals who have often been able to charge higher prices by virtue of being local and giving faster delivery will disappear.

Is there an answer? The best I can suggest is that if you use Amazon Prime all you do is ship to a prepping service who can do the checking and other preparation for you before shipping to FBA, or if you don’t use Prime you can use an independent fulfilment service.

TOPIC HEADINGS PREVIOUSLY POSTED IN THIS THREAD:
■ Introduction. Dealing with myths and misinformation.
■ Some things you should know or do before you start product sourcing.
■ Part 1. Traveling to source supplies. Do you need to visit China? Trade Fairs.
■ The difference between Alibaba and Aliexpress.
■ Alibaba and the 2236 Thieves.
■ Sourcing from countries other than China. Is it worth it?
■ Part 2. Traveling to source supplies. Visiting factories in China.
■ Parallel Imports USA.
■ Do your suppliers use child labor or slave labor?
Inspection Services.
■ Sourcing Agents and Quality Control.
■ Misinformation Is A Wealth Hazard.

■ B2B Scams
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How to find Unique Products
 

Don David

Contributor
Jan 19, 2015
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Hi thank you for doing this. Lot's of great first-hand info to unpack here.

Would you mind commenting on an idea I've been toying with?

I am able to start a SDVOSB (service disabled veteran owned small business) The federal government has pledged to award a certain percentage of all government supply contracts to SDVOSB businesses.

Do you think a website or me advertising this fact would draw potential clients, interested in supplying, anything really, (but maybe like medical devices, beakers, surgical instruments, bandages, tech-stuff, software, vehicles parts), anything the government needs?

Would this be a good selling pitch to take with overseas suppliers/manufacturers? Like hey go with my supplying/ trader business and you have a great (better) chance of landing big supply contracts with the US government!

Am I looking at this whole thing from the wrong angle?

Thank You!
 
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Walter Hay

Walter Hay

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Sep 13, 2014
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Hi thank you for doing this. Lot's of great first-hand info to unpack here.

Would you mind commenting on an idea I've been toying with?

I am able to start a SDVOSB (service disabled veteran owned small business) The federal government has pledged to award a certain percentage of all government supply contracts to SDVOSB businesses.

Do you think a website or me advertising this fact would draw potential clients, interested in supplying, anything really, (but maybe like medical devices, beakers, surgical instruments, bandages, tech-stuff, software, vehicles parts), anything the government needs?

Would this be a good selling pitch to take with overseas suppliers/manufacturers? Like hey go with my supplying/ trader business and you have a great (better) chance of landing big supply contracts with the US government!

Am I looking at this whole thing from the wrong angle?

Thank You!
I see two aspects to your question and will deal with them separately.

1. Local suppliers might be drawn to deal with you in order to get the benefit of the government favored contracts. Although I am not a fan of dropshipping, such a model might work in this case. Letting local suppliers know about your existence would be the hard part. It is not easy to bring appropriate traffic to your website, and a member more expert in that field might have some suggestions.

Other advertising might be more effective, even direct mail to US manufacturers. I Have had huge success with direct mail in B2B selling so I could offer some private help (no charge) if you go down that track. I would suggest specializing in a limited range of product types. You can find US manufacturers on thomasnet.com.

2. Overseas suppliers are unlikely to have the same understanding, and I would just research suppliers for those product areas that interest you and be ready to get their quotes when contracts come up. You would need to do trial runs to be confident that your suppliers can meet the requirements. I recommend that you avoid the traders that have swamped Alibaba and some other big B2B sites pretending to be manufacturers. Think about the freight cost and look for products that are light and small.

Best wishes,
Walter
 
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Walter Hay

Walter Hay

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Success Story.

One success story that I find very interesting is from a person who bought my book and did not have great ambitions. He wanted to get more profit out of the products that he was selling at fleamarkets, so he decided to import them direct from the manufacturer.

Other stall holders chatted with him and were amazed at the fact that he could buy direct, so they asked him if he could supply them at wholesale prices. He imported some products to suit those stall holders and before long he was making more money as a wholesaler than he had ever done with his market stall, so he gave up selling at the flea markets.

One of his USPs is that he can supply products that are not stocked by other wholesalers, and he has a policy of only supplying any particular product to no more than two stall holders in one town. That allows the stall holders to sell more profitably. In cities he varies that rule because there are often numerous markets there. It is rare to find importing wholesalers who will act as ethically as that.

Another USP is that he imports to order. He can do that profitably because he now knows how to get suppliers to agree to small orders. A big benefit to him from this is that he learns of products that he might not have otherwise thought of, and he can sell them to other stallholders who are not selling in places anywhere near where the originator of the request operates.

He travels extensively; visiting flea markets all over the country and now has a thriving wholesale business. Business has grown to the point that he has appointed commission reps for some areas, because he can’t possibly visit every place where there are potential customers.

The interesting thing about his success story is that his success was opportunistic and not a result of a carefully thought out plan, but he saw the opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.

Walter
 
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Y.B.

Bronze Contributor
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Feb 7, 2014
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Hey Walter,

Any suggestions on how to go about finding local US suppliers? I'm interested in importing/manufacturing active apparel but the MOQ quantities from overseas make it very expensive because of the all the sizes and colors for each article of clothing.
 
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Walter Hay

Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
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Sep 13, 2014
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Hey Walter,

Any suggestions on how to go about finding local US suppliers? I'm interested in importing/manufacturing active apparel but the MOQ quantities from overseas make it very expensive because of the all the sizes and colors for each article of clothing.
www.thomasnet.com could be a good starting point. You may do better by dealing with small businesses so you could try http://www.usaonly.us/ Sorry you will have to cut and paste because the "Insert link" did not work. There are a few manufacturers there that could probably do what you want.
 

fastattack03

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Dec 15, 2013
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Hi Walter, thank you so much for the great thread. Took me a while to browse from the beginning but I will review them and take notes!

As for my questions:

1. What can you say about the companies listed in Alibaba's inspection service page?
http://inspection.alibaba.com/1.html

I haven't found the reliable companies you mentioned previously. However, they provide a number of transactions and reviews from clients which is a good indication of their reliability. They are also priced cheaper which is a good thing for beginners such as myself.

The top company there is RichForth and their price is $103 per man day. Their website is http://www.inspectgoods.com but I did a quick search and found richforth.com. It seems to be owned by the same company and they are offering their own products there, which tells me they are into trading as well.

2. What are your thoughts on this? Should I avoid an inspection company that's also a trading business?

3. I asked for their certificate but the only available is a Chinese version. Also, I can't find any certificates or accreditation from their site. Is that a red flag? Even though they are the top 1 listed in Alibaba with tons of transactions and good reviews?

Thank you!
Matt
 
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