Sep
02

Pre-Shipment Inspection in China – STAY SAFE!

inspection-report

I recently wrote about factory inspections and how they are an integral part of vetting any new supplier – you can read that post here if you missed it: Trip to China – £3000 vs Factory Inspection – £70.

And in that post I also mentioned pre-shipment inspections, which is what today’s article is all about, as in my opinion a pre-shipment inspection is crucial when placing a large order from China.

The first question that might come to you now is “but why do I need to do another inspection? Surely one is enough…”

Well the factory inspection and pre-shipment inspection cover two very different things.

I usually recommend doing a factory inspection after you’ve received samples from a company and before you pay any money towards a real order, and it’s basically a general audit/verification of the company – to make sure everything is 100% genuine and as they’ve presented.

Whereas a pre-shipment inspection will concentrate purely on the items you’ve ordered – making sure there are no errors and they match your specification.

A pre-shipment inspection should be done once your order is ready to be shipped, but before you pay the remaining balance, and covers things like:

  • Quality of the product
  • Quantity being shipped
  • Packaging
  • Labelling
  • Etc.!

In simple terms, I view the factory inspection as the final scam filter, but the pre-shipment inspection is all about making sure your order is perfect. After all, as I touched upon in my UK Wholesale Scams post, not being a scammer doesn’t make that company a good supplier and there are still many things that can go wrong with your actual order. [Read more…]

Aug
31

Preparing Your eBay Business for Christmas!

christmas-salesI received a question from a blog reader, Paul, on a recent Q&A post which I had initially planned to answer in the upcoming Questions and Answers #37. However as it turned out to be a more substantial answer, I’ve instead decided to give it a dedicated post.

Here is Paul’s original comment, so you can see what questions he had:

Hi Andrew,

I was only just thinking today, I need to start planning for Christmas, and that I feel a few related questions needed asking, and there you go and mention it in this week’s Q&A!

My first question you already answered: When do you start planning for Christmas? (Now it seems! Or earlier…) I am currently doing the same, but I can feel September/October becoming a very busy period.

Second: I know this is a very open “length of string” question, but how much do you think your sales increase during this period? Yes, it depends on the type of product I guess. It’s my first year, so I don’t have previous years to look back on, and I’m fumbling in the dark really. I have two accounts, one selling gift packing and boxes which will obviously have a big increase, and the 2nd selling men’s shaving products, and the gift set side of this should find an increase too.

Ultimately, I’m not in a position where I’ll have Christmas excess stock hanging around as it sells all year round anyway, so my current strategy is pretty much to order as much as I can afford, taking into account cashflow, in readiness. It’s a bit of a dumb strategy but I don’t have much else to go on.

Finally, when do you see orders pick up in retail? October/November/December? I originally thought I had loads of time, but now realise December probably isn’t the best point to be aiming for, as many people will have purchased something before, especially taking into account delivery time scales.

Feel free to put this as a Q&A for next time, although I’d love some brief thoughts if you had some time.

Thanks, 

Paul

Firstly, while some products are of course more seasonal than others, sales do pick up for nearly every niche before Christmas.

When exactly does this increase start?

Well there is no specific date where suddenly there is a huge jump in sales… it is actually a much more gradual and sustained increase which starts from late August/early September.

Summer is generally a very quiet period for a lot of eBay sellers (I’ve touched upon this topic in the past: http://andrewminalto.com/ebay-sales-going-down/) and as summer comes to an end sales will start to build up again before reaching their peak a little before Christmas. [Read more…]

Aug
25

UK Wholesale SCAMS – Smarter than EVER!

uk-wholesale-scamsI talk a lot about importing from China on this blog, and for a good reason – it really is the best way to go if you’re looking to make real profit selling online (I’m talking about 100%+ mark-ups!).

However, importing from China can be a very taunting task for new sellers, even with all my guides and help, and for some people UK wholesalers can be a viable alternative when starting out.

The main benefits to dealing UK suppliers vs ordering from overseas are:

  • Low MOQs

Shipping costs are a big consideration when placing wholesale orders, as they can drastically affect your per item cost, but when ordering from a UK based company you don’t have to deal with air or sea freight and it becomes much more viable to place low value orders.

  • Quicker

As well as shipping being cheaper, it is also much quicker. This makes stock control and planning your inventory significantly easier and it also means you can hold a bigger variety of stock as you don’t need huge volumes of each item.

  • Branded Goods are Available

Unlike with mainland China where it is impossible to buy genuine branded goods, you can source such items from official distributors and wholesalers in the UK.

Actually getting them to sell to you or being able to make any money from such items is another question entirely though!

  • Easier and Safer

Generally speaking, scams are not as common for UK based businesses as with Chinese companies.

The reason for this is of course extremely obvious – nearly everyone knows that a large proportion of the world’s most popular products are made in China and they think that means you can buy directly from the factories there. As a result Chinese websites with too good to be true pricing on Apple iPhones and Sony PlayStation 4s are very common.

But contrary to what you might have heard, though it is much less likely, you can still get scammed when ordering from UK based businesses!

And that’s really what today’s article is all about – a guide on how to properly verify UK based suppliers.

First things first, although I’ve mentioned above how you can source branded items from the UK (unlike China where these are 100% no-go items) – they are still the most popular products for scammers and their unbelievable wholesale prices and buy one get one free offers! [Read more…]

Aug
21

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #36

questions-answers-36Welcome to our 36th Questions & Answers – a weekly blog post where I personally answer questions sent in by my blog readers!

Summer is nearly behind us now as we head into September and everyone gets back to full work. Quarter 4 is the most important of the year for most companies so it’s time to really ramp up your business so you can hit Christmas with a bang. Jeez Andrew, thinking about Christmas already!? I know, I know – I plan things too far in advance! :-)

Today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • Do you need a registered company to import from China?
  • Why does my eBay account have selling limits?
  • Why do my competitors’ listings get ranked higher on eBay’s search?
  • At what stage are VAT & import duty payable on imported goods?
  • What to do with under-valued imports from China?
  • Is it worth starting a new online clothing shop?
  • How to compete with people who copy what I do?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I read your recent article and found it very informative and I was hoping you could help me with a quick question – I’ve been in touch with a supplier and they’ve asked for my company name.

Do I need to have a registered company to import from China?

Many Thanks!
James

Hi James,

No, you don’t have to have a registered company to import products from China, not at all.

The reason why they asked for your company name could just be that they want to know you’re seriously interested in doing business as Chinese suppliers have to deal with many time wasters on a daily basis who ask for prices, samples, and other info but never make an actual order. [Read more…]

Aug
14

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #35

questions-answers-35Happy Friday everyone!

It’s time for the latest post in our Questions & Answers series. I can certainly see that the summer holidays are well and truly over for many of you as there are more and more questions being sent in!

Today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • How to not get overcharged by couriers?
  • What is the best way to sell on regional eBay sites?
  • How to get back Top rated seller status?
  • Do you have to pay taxes on refused parcels?
  • Where is the best place to sell 150,000 used books?
  • Is it possible to buy goods from UK based manufacturers directly?
  • At what stage does being VAT registered help your business?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your great article:

http://andrewminalto.com/how-to-import-products-from-china/

I’m importing some products from China to the US, and I’m being quoted vastly different UPS prices for shipping – can you shed any light on this?

The supplier has quoted me $430 for 250 units via UPS and this sounds about right to me. But if I go onto the UPS website and get a quote, the price comes in at $1500.

Some other suppliers are also quoting me in the region of $1700 for UPS, shipping the same package, and some as low as $300.

In your article you are suggesting that shipping via courier is about $5/kg for a 50kg package, which is around $250.

Any idea what’s going on here? Ideally I’d like to handle the UPS side of things myself so I know I’m not being overcharged, but I’m obviously not going to pay $1500.

Many thanks,
John

Hi John,

$1700 for a 50kg package, wow, that’s really EXTREME!!!

That’s a totally unreasonable quote. In my article I mention that a courier costs about £5 per kg (not $), so it works out about $7-$8. So a quote of around $400 sounds very reasonable to me. [Read more…]

Aug
13

VAT Registration – THE END of Your Business?

vat-registrationThere’s really no two ways about it – registering for VAT almost always means less profit for you at the end of the day.

I’ve mentioned this a few times in various Q&A posts and even wrote a guide on how registering for VAT when you don’t need to is the biggest tax mistake an eBay seller can make!

As covered in that guide, there is really one main exception to this rule, and that’s if you sell zero rated goods. Zero rated goods have a VAT rate of 0% so in this case you’d actually be better off registering for VAT from day one as it wouldn’t affect your sale price but you would still be able to reclaim VAT on all business expenses (more on that later).

The products that qualify for 0% VAT or the reduced rate (usually 5%) are very rare, so it’s highly unlikely that this will apply to you.

You can take a look at this page for a full list of reduced or zero rated goods and services:

https://www.gov.uk/rates-of-vat-on-different-goods-and-services

Some of the more common products that qualify for 0% VAT include:

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Leaflets / Flyers
  • Children’s Clothing
  • Children’s Shoes
  • Motorcycle Helmets

So if you happen to sell one the above products, then you should definitely look in to registering for VAT, if not – then hold off for as long as you can!

Let me say this again, so that it’s 100% clear:

You will (almost always) be worse off if registered for VAT!!!

Strangely there is actually a lot of confusion about this point, especially online, and I think this stems mainly from a misunderstanding of the figures and in particular – reclaiming VAT on business expenses. I don’t want to spend too long on this aspect of VAT registration, as I have covered it previously, but let’s do a very quick example calculation:

Minalto’s Muscle Machines

Let’s say I have a business selling workout equipment and gym gear.

Turnover is £75,000 a year and gross margins are 60%, which means a mark-up of 150% (100-200%+ is what I aim for when importing from China).

So if I’m NOT VAT registered, the calculations are simple – I pay 20% VAT on the total value of the goods I import, which is £25,000 a year.

20% of £25,000 = £5,000 VAT paid per year.

Now let’s see how it works out if I am registered for VAT:

So the first difference is that the VAT I pay on the import value of my goods is reclaimable, so I’ve saved £5,000 already!

Plus I can also reclaim VAT on all of my business expenses, and this includes:

  • eBay Fees
  • PayPal Fees
  • Postage (some postage is VAT exempt though, such as 1st and 2nd class stamps)
  • Packaging
  • Etc.

Using our £75,000 annual turnover, let’s be generous and assume £15,000 in VAT reclaimable business expenses. [Read more…]

Aug
10

What eBay Sellers can LEARN from Kia Motors?

kia-motorsAs an entrepreneur, I always try to keep up to date with general business happenings, even of companies and industries nothing to do with me.

One thing in particular that I enjoy is following successful companies in order to see what I can learn from them, be it their general business practices, a terrific marketing campaign, great product design etc.!

There are so many innovative companies out there, that if I can learn just one or two things to use for my own business, then it’s worth my time.

And today I want to talk about one company in particular – Kia Motors.

Twenty years ago Kia was considered nothing more than a below average South Korean car manufacturer with just a few, fairly mediocre models available.

But fast forward to 2015 and KIA has achieved phenomenal success in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

So how did they achieve this?

After all we need to analyse the how and why to be able to learn anything that we can use ourselves.

Well, Kia’s success has undoubtedly been a combination of a number of factors – after all you can’t build a company worth over £9 billion with sales of over £28 billion with a few good ideas – but purely from a customer’s perspective, these are the main factors which I believe has made Kia into the company it is today:

1. Peace of Mind – 7 Year Warranty.

This for me is the no.1 selling point for Kia!

Everybody loves a long warranty and when you can offer 7 years rather than the norm of 2-3 that your competitors offer, then you really differentiate yourself and it’s a huge selling point.

The takeaway here for eBay sellers is obvious – emphasise the reliability and quality of your products.

Not a single day passes without me receiving at least one email from someone who says they can’t compete with the lowest priced sellers on eBay and my answer is always the same – “you don’t have to!!”

Nobody wants to buy cheap if the item isn’t going to work so rather than compete on price alone and cut corners to bring your costs down, instead concentrate on providing a reliable and quality product that you can stand behind proudly. [Read more…]

Aug
07

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #34

questions-answers-34Hello Everyone and Welcome Back!

As many of you will have noticed, our Q&A series has been absent over the last few weeks, but it’s back this week and today is our 34th Questions and Answers blog post! You can check out previous posts in this series using the Archives page here.

For those of you who are new to my blog – every week (almost!) I do a Q&A blog post where I go over, in detail, questions that have been sent to me by my readers.

You can easily take part in this by sending in your question via the contact form on this page.

What kind of questions can you ask? Really anything related to:

  • eBay selling
  • Ecommerce
  • Branding
  • Importing
  • Online business in general
  • Shipping
  • Marketing
  • Etc. etc.

So don’t be shy and send in your questions! Even if it doesn’t make it into our weekly Q&A post, I’ll still send you a personal response via email.

Okay, so for today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • Can you open an online shop as a Sole Trader?
  • How to properly send goods via courier from Pakistan?
  • Do you need a separate eBay shop for each product group?
  • How to make sure you’re dealing with an ethical supplier in China?
  • What’s the best way to manage stock levels for a new eBay Business?
  • Do I have to offer a FREE shipping option on eBay?
  • How to increase search exposure for old listings?

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

Firstly just a quick thank you for sharing your knowledge, I found your blog extremely helpful when registering as sole trader and when using Alibaba!

I wanted to ask you about the requirements when setting up my online shop. I have already registered as an online trader, as I am selling on eBay, but do I need to register as a company when opening an online shop? The rules aren’t really clear to me here.

Thanks,
Inga

Hi Inga,

No, you don’t have to register a company to be able to open an online shop. [Read more…]

Aug
03

Terapeak + Alibaba: The All-in-One Sourcing Tool?

terapeak-alibaba-integrationTerapeak and Alibaba – two topics that I talk about often on this blog. And for good reason – combined, they are the ultimate tool for researching, sourcing and ordering profitable products to sell on eBay.

And that’s why I was very excited to see that Terapeak has introduced a new feature for all subscribers – a new tool that integrates with Alibaba called “Source My Inventory”.

alibaba-integrationBut what exactly does this new feature do?

Well that’s what we’ll be looking at now!

Once you click on Source My Inventory from the Terapeak Dashboard page, you’re taken to the familiar Product Search section, but now there is the option to search on Alibaba.com (as well as eBay and Terapeak’s Hotlist):

product-searchLet’s do a quick search for “yoga mat” and see what comes up:

search-resultsAs you can see, we get our results with a product picture, the Alibaba listing title, and a min & max sourcing price.

One other very important point I noticed – if you look closely, just above the search results, it says “currently displaying listings found on wholesale alibaba.com” and this means that rather than searching the traditional, main Alibaba site, Terapeak is instead searching for products via Alibaba Wholesale Checkout. [Read more…]

Jul
17

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #33

questions-answers-33

Judging by the relative lack of emails I’ve received, it seems that most of you are busy sunbathing and preparing for your holidays, or are simply too lazy to do any work! That’s fine! I actually enjoy these quiet few weeks during the summer, when I don’t have to deal with as many emails every day! :-)

So today we have a short and sweet Q&A post, covering just 4 questions:

  • Why do I only have to pay import tax on some shipments?
  • How to sell branded goods on eBay for a profit?
  • Can patented products still be sourced from China?
  • How to deal with sales fluctuations on eBay?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I hope you can clarify something for me.

I recently placed 2 separate clothing orders with surfstitchaustralia, to be shipped to the UK. The cost of each order was around $400 AUD.

When the first order arrived (approx. 17 items of clothing) it was delivered by DHL and no payment for duties or VAT was requested.

However with the second order I received about 3 text messages asking me to pay £76 GBP before the items could be delivered.

I thought this strange as it was the same value as the 1st order and only a few more items overall.

I then received a text to say that they will be delivering my order tomorrow.

I am presuming that they will be wanting me to pay when they deliver but I don’t want to pay anything until I am clear about why they are charging me for this order and nothing had to be paid for the 1st order.

Hope you can help.

Kind regards
Andrea

Hi Andrea,

Chances are that the first shipment simply slipped through customs without the required charges. This happens fairly often.

But it doesn’t change the fact that an order worth $400, imported from Australia into the UK, should be cleared through customs and have its import taxes paid for. So you should be happy that you only need to pay this for one shipment, rather than both. [Read more…]

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