I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog. You’re doing an amazing work and your articles have helped me greatly with starting my own online business. I’m mostly selling fake flowers and fake flower compositions.
Currently I source these products from UK wholesalers that are close to me but by looking at prices on Alibaba, I see that there’s a lot of room for additional profit if I import directly.
So my question is really – where to start and how to get goods delivered to me? Do I have to use sea freight for this kind of product? I guess so as these are quite cheap and bulky items.
I also don’t want to get scammed.
Any advice would be highly appreciated.
Thanks for your email and questions.
It’s great to hear that you’ve already started an online business and are doing well! Congrats as that in itself is a big achievement!
If you can make money by re-selling stock bought from UK suppliers, imagine what kind of profits margins you can achieve once you start importing directly from China. You’ll definitely open yourself up to a whole new level of opportunity BUT there are some things you really need to know about the whole importing process.
First of all, make sure your buying power is enough for ordering directly from China. Just go on Alibaba and check what kind of MOQs suppliers are asking for. Manufacturers will always ask for higher MOQs than trading companies.
With products like fake flowers, I believe buying directly from manufacturers will be difficult as they’ll ask for minimum orders of say 500 or 1000 flowers per STYLE! Which means you would have to buy 500 identical flowers.
If they’re regular sellers, you could probably look at ordering that amount but in most cases you’ll want lower MOQs, so you can order as many different varieties as possible.
So the first step is to find suppliers on Alibaba; you can use this 10 step filter system to leave yourself with only the BEST companies.
Once you find 3-5 (or however many) promising companies, get in touch with them via email, Alibaba’s contact form or via live chat (the last option works best for me).
Introduce yourself first (this will increase your chances of getting a response) and ask questions about:
- Sample availability
- Payment options
- Shipping options
- OEM options (this means putting your brand/logo on the products and/or packaging)
- Order lead time (how long it will take from payment to dispatch)
Prices and MOQs can almost always be negotiated. Obviously the more you buy, the more power you have but you really don’t have to be that great of a negotiator to get 10% off the advertised price.
With MOQs, in most cases, if you can really make them believe that you’re after long term business; suppliers can lower their order requirements by at least 50%, just like that. So if a MOQ is listed as 1000, in most cases they can do as little as 500.
But DON’T start negotiating on first contact, as that creates a bad impression!
If the company looks great and you’re happy with what they’re offering, order some samples which will be sent to you via courier. Samples are usually free… you just have to cover the courier fee.
Then, once you’ve received and inspected the samples and are happy with the quality, you start negotiating price, orders terms and everything else.
For products like fake flowers, quality is your #1 issue! So don’t take any risks but invest $150 to hire a quality inspector. This way you’ll be sure that all products are inspected prior to dispatch.
For shipping, don’t consider anything but a freight forwarding company! They will take care of everything, including customs clearance, and deliver the goods to your door. The company I recommend to all of my customers is Woodland Global – their service and prices are exceptional.
For payment and other relevant tips, please check out this Importing from China guide.
With products like fake flowers, you will want to buy at least a few pallets of goods to make it worthwhile as these products are very cheap and bulky. Ideally of course, you would import a full container load as this will give you the absolute lowest shipping cost per item.
But when working with a new supplier, making such a large order is always too much of a risk so start with smaller orders and increase them gradually.
Hope this helps Lisa!