What to import from China: 5 practical tips

It’s always a matter of goals

Many of our customers, especially those who have recently ventured into imports from China, ask us for advice not only on how to import, but on what to import. The answer to this question is not simple and must take into account countless variables, because a product that works in a certain market niche, may not work in another. In addition, a product that we perceive as aesthetically attractive or useful from the point of view of functionality, may not meet the tastes of our potential customers. No less important is the legislation on imports from third countries such as China, or the legislation of our country concerning the product we want to import. One could find oneself in the paradoxical situation in which it is possible to import a certain product but it is not possible to commercialize it.

But let us proceed step by step to answer this question. Our starting point, whenever we have the desire to import a product from China, must be: in which field should we search for the product?

It is of paramount importance to identify the macro category within which the product to be imported can be found. Among the macro categories we find products for the home, electronics, automotive, clothing, furniture, machinery, and so on.

Tip # 1: choose based on your interests or your experience

You can identify the macro category in which your product is located based on what you interests you the most. You will be the one to sell this product and one of the fundamental rules of sales is "believing" in the product that you sell. Another factor that can help to guide you in choosing is your experience. If in the past you have come into contact with a certain product and you know its peculiarities and technical specifications, well, you have before you the category of product you were looking for. Knowing the category of the product that you want to import from China will make your life easier in the phase of the search of suppliers (whether you do it yourself or delegate the research to an agent). Your experience will allow you to get straight to the point, discarding all those suppliers that offer products with similar characteristics but not the same as the one you are looking for, narrowing down the search field.

You can save time and energy by delegating to us the research of your Chinese supplier. Find out more about our supplier search service.

Tip # 2: analyze your target market

Once the product macro-category has been identified, the search field needs to be further narrowed down. To do this, you can consult e-commerce sites and search engines active in your country (it is not yet time to consult Chinese B2B platforms). The e-commerce platforms (eg Amazon), which often make us choose through the same macro-categories, give us useful information on:

- Variety of products in the same macro-category

- Geographical position of our future competitors

- Selling price of products

This information is very useful to determine the type of product to import from China and to establish the convenience to import a specific product.

What happens if the product you would like to import cannot be found on e-commerce platforms?

You are facing a crossroads: either the product cannot be imported into your country (because it is against the local laws or subject to restrictions), or you have come across a gap, a gap that can be filled by you. In this last case, you already know what to import from China.

Tip # 3: Check the documentation needed to import your product from China

Once you have identified what might be your ideal product to import, be sure to check what documents are needed to import this product from third countries. You may need to obtain from the Chinese supplier an ISO certificate, a test report or a declaration. It depends a lot on the type of product. Where to check? In general, the obligation to present certificates, tests or statements can be checked on the customs website. The contents of the site, however, can be difficult to interpret for those facing the world of imports for the first time.

Tip # 4: analyze transportation costs, VAT and customs duties

Here we have to skip a step, that of the research of the Chinese supplier that we have described in our guide "How to find suppliers in China: 3 powerful tools". Let’s assume that you have found the right supplier and that the price of your product seems satisfactory, what is the next step?

Cost analysis. It is essential at this stage to keep track of all the cost related to importation. The first item, which substantially affects the final price of the product, is transport. Each logistics company has its prices that can vary a lot depending on the service provided and the general situation of freight: all-inclusive from the port of departure to your warehouse, only the route from port of departure to the destination, service of customs clearance, insurance etc. Be sure to choose a logistics company that has experience in importing from China, especially if the service you requested also includes the custom clearance of the goods. Sometimes a cheaper price does not justify the risk of having your goods blocked at the custom. But it does not end here. In fact, during customs clearance, you will have to pay both VAT and customs duties for the product you have imported. In short, customs duties vary from country to country, and from product to product. For example, on a product from Turkey will be applied a given custom duty fee, but on the same product from China the customs duty may be different.

Tip # 5: take a step back

Yes, take a step back and sum up all the cost items that we have listed above. Return to the e-commerce platforms or search engines for prices and look for the product you have decided to import. Compare the price of your product already cleared through customs with the selling price of the same product on the e-commerce site or on the price search engines. Can you still be competitive? After all, is it worth it?

If the answer is positive we can’t help but wish you good luck for your new business. If negative, we advise you to read once again this article and start all over again.

Looking for an even simpler solution? Contact us, you will not have to think about anything else. We will guide you in choosing the product and give you a complete picture of the costs, documentation and convenience to import.

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