February 23, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 18 Comments

How to Import & Sell BATTERIES on eBay!

batteries-on-ebayAs many of you will already know, in 2013 new regulations were introduced to control international air shipments of batteries and as of January 2015, these regulations were tightened by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and some further rules were brought into place under the Dangerous Goods Regulations.

And these rules aren’t just applicable to stand-alone batteries, but also to the lithium ion batteries commonly used in mobile phones, cameras, computers and other such electronics.

So if you deal with these products or have any plans to deal with these products, you need to be aware of all the rules and regulations in regards to shipping these batteries, both internationally and domestically.

Why Are These Regulations Even Being Introduced?

Firstly I want to very quickly go over why these rules are being brought into place at all and the reason for it is actually very simple – though most people are unaware of the fact, lithium ion batteries are actually very dangerous and are prone to shorting, overheating and catching fire.

Therefore, it is incredibly important that they are sealed and transported in the correct way.

I won’t go into all the explanations and reasoning behind this, as it’s not really necessary for us to understand/know about that, but of course if you are interested in reading more about this, there are countless news stories that you can find online that delve into it further.

But for our purposes, let’s see how these rules and regulations affect the import of batteries.

Importing Batteries Into the UK

Importing batteries from China to the UK is very difficult (and expensive) with all the new regulations in place. Depending on who you’re using for the shipment (courier vs air freight vs sea freight) and the specifics of what you’re importing, you may even have to agree a specific contract if your shipment is classified as containing “dangerous goods”.

As I said, this depends a lot on the specifics of exactly what you’re importing and if the batteries are already contained in equipment (this is considered safer and the rules are slightly more lenient). (more…)

January 26, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 76 Comments

BRAND NEW – Alibaba.com Trade Assurance!

alibaba-new-trade-assuranceToday I want to talk to you about a NEW FEATURE that has been introduced by Alibaba.com that you may not be aware of.

And it’s actually something that I am very excited about!

It’s called Trade Assurance and it’s a terrific new service that basically protects your order from a supplier up to a certain amount (which is based on their selling history).

trade-assuranceHow Does it Work?

The process itself is actually very simple and easy.

You search for a supplier as normal, but now there is a new filter – Trade Assurance, which has been added to Gold Supplier, Onsite Check and Assessed Supplier:

alibaba-trade-assuranceSo if you select this filter, you will only get results from suppliers who have agreed to trade under the Trade Assurance program.

Under the company’s name and contact details link, there will be a small Trade Assurance icon, and if you hover over that you can find out the exact amount that this company is covered up to.

Now this is where I thought there would be a problem, as I imagined Alibaba being very cautious here and only putting minimal amounts for each supplier, but I have actually been pleasantly surprised! The vast majority of suppliers that I’ve checked have at least $3,000-$4,000+ and many have $15,000-$20,000 and above which is more than enough for most first time importers! (more…)

January 14, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 315 Comments

Top 10 Scams on Alibaba.com!

top-10-alibaba-scamsEvery second email I receive from my blog readers is about Alibaba scams! It is that serious, yes. I already debunked the myth that Alibaba itself is a scam in my Alibaba Scams EXPOSED article BUT today I want to talk specifically about the most common scammer tricks and schemes you can run into when searching for a supplier on Alibaba.com.

Remember, these don’t apply solely to Alibaba but to all popular B2B platforms that involve a large number of wholesale suppliers from China. But as Alibaba is the most popular platform, I will use examples from there.

So let’s get started!

Alibaba SCAM Nr.1 – Sending FAKE branded goods!

This is without a doubt the most popular scam taking place on Alibaba! The saddest thing is that most people who get fake goods from a Chinese supplier don’t even realise it until eBay takes down their listing a while later.

How does this scam work?

Basically the supplier will sell you branded goods which are just copies of real products. This usually involves products like:

  • Clothing (designer clothing)
  • Footwear (especially Nike products, Timberland)
  • Electronics (mobile phone replicas, specialised electronics like Shure microphones)
  • Disney character items (bedding sets, mugs, kid’s clothing, toys)
  • Mobile phone cases with Apple, Samsung logos
  • Sports jerseys with team logos (Manchester United, Arsenal, NBA/NHL teams etc.)
  • DVDs, Software, Blu-rays, Fitness training programs (P90X etc.)
  • Cosmetics, fragrances (Max factor, MAC, Dior etc.)
  • And many others!

This can basically be ANY product with a well known Western brand name/logo/registered trademark on it.

How to avoid this scam?

SIMPLE – DO NOT BUY ANY BRANDED GOODS from Alibaba suppliers! ANY Chinese supplier for that matter!

What is a branded product? It’s a product with a well known name on it, like:

  • Apple
  • Nike
  • Sony
  • Pioneer
  • Gucci
  • Etc.

This also includes ANY kind of band, movie character or kids’ character like:

  • Batman
  • Spiderman
  • Frozen
  • Hulk
  • One Direction
  • U2
  • Etc.

All these are also classed as branded goods as to manufacture such goods, you have to buy a LICENCE from the Intellectual Property (IP) holder and pay royalty fees. Chinese manufacturers selling such products on Alibaba HAVEN’T paid licensing fees and simply use any popular images they can find and put them on these products. These are not genuine, licensed items and you can get into serious trouble selling them online. (more…)

September 1, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 392 Comments

EORI Number – Your Questions ANSWERED!

eori-numberEvery day I receive countless questions about shipping and customs, and I’ve noticed a lot of these questions refer specifically to the EORI scheme… so I’ve decided to create an article on that specifically – to clarify all the confusion once and for all.

Let’s get to it!

The Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) scheme was introduced on 1st July 2009 (replacing the Trader Unique Reference Number system previously used in the UK) and it’s basically a method for tracking imports and exports within the EU.

An EORI number is assigned to an individual legal identity (i.e. sole trader, partnership, company or individual) by your local member state (so if you’re in the UK – by HMRC) and that EORI number is then used to identify you and your shipments across all EU countries.

And really it’s as simple as that – it is just a number given to importers and exporters throughout Europe that can be easily and consistently identified by customs.

Another top tip to helping keep the costs of your imports down is to research alternative money transfer providers that provide better exchange rates.

Companies that specialise in international money transfers could save you a substantial amount of money if you’re looking to make frequent transfers to your Chinese suppliers.

FCA and FinCEN regulated, TransferWise are ​up to eight times cheaper than banks​ when it comes to making international payments. They always convert money at the mid-market exchange rate – ie. the rate you see on Google is the rate you’ll receive. The only fee you’ll pay is a small, upfront fee on the value of the transfer. You can also ​make global USD payments to your Chinese supplier​ and with their fixed fee of $2 + small % cost of currency conversion, their rates are very competitive.

Setting up the payment is simple as well. You sign up for a free account, set up your transfer by entering your supplier’s bank account information and state what currency you’d like to pay them in and then fund your transfer. Options include bank transfer and debit/ credit card. Your supplier won’t need to do anything. For them, it’s just like receiving cash into their bank account.

With over 3 million customers and co-founded by the first employee of Skype, you can be assured that your money is sent securely. However, just like with a normal wire transfer, your money is not protected if your supplier turns out to be fraudulent so it’s best used when you’re paying a supplier you trust.

You can find out more about TransferWise in my post ​here.​

Do I Need An EORI Number?

Although the official explanations are slightly more complicated, to keep things simple and easy to understand – if you are involved with imports OR exports to or from the EU, then you do need an EORI number, as without it you won’t be able to complete the Entry Summary Declaration or Exit Summary Declaration.

How Do I Get An EORI Number?

To get an EORI number, you simply fill in the application form and send it to HMRC.

Which form you need to complete depends on whether or not you’re VAT registered –

  • And if you are not VAT registered, then you need form C220A, which can be downloaded here.

And just to make it clear as there seems to be a lot of confusion about thisyou don’t have to be a company to get an EORI number and can get one in the exact same way as an individual or sole trader. (more…)

August 25, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 18 Comments

What is Alibaba Wholesale Checkout?

alibaba-wholesale-checkoutPretty much everyone who imports from China (or anyone who is interested in importing) already knows about Alibaba.com – the world’s largest B2B online marketplace.

And then there is also the ‘retail’ version of Alibaba – AliExpress.com

AliExpress is meant for small, private orders (though I often also use it to buy samples to test a product before contacting the supplier for a wholesale deal) so you get very low MOQs and escrow protected payments, but of course the trade-off is higher prices.

But there is now a third option, something in the middle – suited to small/medium-sized businesses who might not have the buying power for true bulk deals on Alibaba.com but still want to order products at wholesale pricing. And this option is called Alibaba Wholesale Checkout.

But how does Alibaba Wholesale Checkout differ to the normal, main site? After all, if Alibaba.com caters to bulk orders and AliExpress.com to small orders, then what’s the point of Alibaba Wholesale?

Well basically, as I’ve explained – it’s the middle-ground between the two.

You won’t get MOQs of 1 as on AliExpress but you also won’t get MOQs of 100s as on Alibaba. Of course the pricing on each site will follow the MOQ, in inverse – so:

  • AliExpress – Low MOQ / High Prices
  • Alibaba Wholesale – Medium MOQ / Medium Prices
  • Alibaba – High MOQ / Low Prices

And as well as that, there are some other important differences:

Alibaba Wholesale Checkout is more comparable to a traditional online site like eBay or Amazon where there are product listings, with all the information given (like price, MOQ, shipping details etc.) and you can make a purchase then and there WITHOUT having to contact the supplier.

And the purchase is done ‘on-site’ – so you simply pay for your order under Alibaba’s Escrow system and it’s protected until you confirm you’ve received your order and everything is fine.

So while on Alibaba the normal chain of events would be something like this: (more…)

August 4, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 580 Comments

Import Duty & VAT Threshold on Imported Goods

import-vat-tresholdToday’s article is about something quite simple, but still hugely important – import duty and VAT on goods bought from outside the EU.

I receive countless emails every week from people asking me about import taxes; how much they are, when do they apply, how to calculate them etc.

And although once you start importing it becomes second nature and incredibly simple, it is something that can be off-putting initially and as a result; some people continue ordering from local wholesalers at much higher prices than they could get importing directly from places like China or the US.

So today I’m going to go over import taxes and give you a guide to use when importing goods to the UK from outside the EU.

First things first; what taxes do you have to pay on imported goods?

In general, you need to pay VAT (Value Added Tax) and import duty.

VAT is a set amount (currently 20%) whereas import duty varies depending on the type of product, with many being duty-free.

Import duty is calculated as a percentage of the customs value of the goods you are importing, which means:

  • The price paid for the goods.
  • The shipping cost.
  • The insurance cost.

As mentioned above, the duty rate depends on the product type and many are actually duty free. I won’t list them all here but some popular duty free products include:

  • Books
  • Computer Software
  • Desktop PCs
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Mobile Phones
  • Video Game Consoles

So as you can see, a number of products actually have a ‘nil’ rate of duty, even when imported from outside the EU. (more…)

May 29, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 14 Comments

World’s Best Wholesale Directories – REVEALED!

best-wholesale-directoriesAs members of my Easy Auction Business video course will know, I think wholesale directories are one of the best ways to find new suppliers, particularly if you are not yet ready to place large import orders from China and are looking for UK, EU or US based wholesale companies.

So in this guide I’ll go over the easiest ways to find directories and of course; reveal the best wholesale directories, which you can start using straight away.

UK Directories

Starting off with UK wholesale directories:


the-wholesaler-ukHaving been online for more than 14 years now, The Wholesaler UK is the largest UK based wholesale directory. It is completely free to use and contains suppliers in a number of categories, ranging from aromatherapy products to kitchenware to umbrellas… pretty much every niche is covered here!

All suppliers are listed by category and sub-category and their website is very easy to navigate and use so you won’t need to spend hours upon hours going through jumbled lists of suppliers with no order.

And for all of you looking to sell licensed products (Disney etc.) on eBay, which you cannot do legally by importing from China (as I’ve explained many times in various Q&As as well as in this blog post here), check out the dedicated Licensed Products category where you can find legitimate wholesalers selling such items.

All companies featured on TheWholesaler.co.uk are UK based (or at least have a representative and hold their stock in the UK), supply the independent retail trade, and provide verifiable contact details.


esourceseSources is the UK’s fastest growing wholesale trade directory and they now have a huge amount of listed suppliers. As well as UK wholesalers, they also list dropshippers and international suppliers.

eSources’ website is also a bit more in-depth than others, with more search options as well as more specific sub-categories which is definitely needed due to the number of suppliers.

The regular trade buyers account is free and this allows you to contact wholesale suppliers and even list buying requests. There is also a Premium Buyer Membership option which gives you access to additional ‘exclusive’ wholesale sources and websites. This premium membership costs £20 for 1 month but can be as little as £5 a month if taking the annual plan.

eSources also has some worthwhile additional resources, such as a list of UK Auction Houses (nearly 800 at the time of writing!) plus a calendar of UK trade fairs and exhibitions, and lastly, they also have a large number of Trade Articles covering various topics which you should check out. (more…)

January 24, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 10 Comments

Wholesale Samsung Galaxy Note from China?

Dear Andrew,

I love the page and all the advice. I’m going to invest in your eCommerce Magnates course.

I’ve decided to buy from Ali Express as a tester and just to get a feel for the whole importing business plan. Just a bit of advice needed if you don’t mind.

I’m looking at buying a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N900. Selling for approx $260. The feedback is fantastic on the product and they offer warranty and he is a good communicator etc.

I’m just worried that the product is a fantastic copy of the real deal or whether it would be the same product as I would be buying from the UK. If you understand what I am saying.

I will be buying to sell and obviously wouldn’t want to sell something that isn’t 100% genuine. Basically it all seems too good to be true.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to your reply


Hi Chris!

Thanks for your email and question.

You bring up a very important query about wholesale BRANDED (Samsung, Nokia, Apple etc.) mobile phones currently selling on Ali Express and other China-based websites.

Are they the real thing? No, I’m afraid they are not…

Just like with any other branded products, you CAN’T get them in wholesale from Mainland China. These mobile phones in China actually cost MORE than in the UK or USA. The fact that they’re manufactured in China doesn’t mean you can buy them directly from factories there or from a seller on sites like Ali Express. (more…)

October 14, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 83 Comments

Wholesale Disney Character Items from China!

This looks so good, right? Pixar’s Cars 2 truck & car set for just $10 with free shipping from China included.

Or how about The Smurfs? My daughter LOVES Smurfs and will eat up anything that has a Smurf on it! Yes, even this nice looking children’s bedding set with The Smurfs characters on it:

There’s nothing wrong with this, right (other than the eating part I mean)? Everything looks good and you can probably make a nice profit on this item…not so fast! While items with Disney characters, characters from other TV shows or movies, musicians, celebrities etc. are hugely popular on eBay – you need to be VERY careful where you source these products from.

Hint – China is NOT the place to go for such items!

Sites like Ali Express, DH Gate and similar are full of wholesale items that carry some sort of COPYRIGHTED design. It can be:

  • A logo
  • Cartoon character
  • A band / singer image
  • Movie logos / characters (Transformers etc.)
  • And so on

Product like these need to be licensed and can ONLY be purchased from reputable wholesalers in the UK, USA or other countries but NOT from China! Chinese manufacturers simply take these images logos and place them on items WITHOUT paying anything to the licence holder – which is of course illegal. (more…)

April 15, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 6 Comments

Good Old Trade Shows!

In the age of the internet, B2B websites, forums and Google it’s all too easy to forget that often, some of the old classic business methods are still very effective. I’d say one of these is Trade Shows. It’s a completely overlooked product sourcing concept, especially for online retailers who are too lazy to get out of their office or house to meet actual suppliers face to face.

Many people think that trade shows are not accessible to them, that you need a special invitation and what not. But in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are trade shows that are open only to professionals, most will happily welcome ANY interested people!

Ticket prices are also not as high as some people think and in many cases are even free. Also, some trade shows are open only for professionals on DAY ONE but the general public are welcome on the following days. You can always find this information specifically for a trade show that you’re interested in on the official website.

I think trade shows are still one of the best & easiest ways to find suppliers and while not many new eBay sellers can afford a trip to China’s Canton fair, there are still loads of local options available. Such local trade shows are the perfect place to find wholesalers & new, emerging brands that are looking for exclusive distributors in a region. And this can be very powerful…

If you get in talks with a company that is looking for a distributor in the UK for a new product and you present yourself well and get the contract, it’s a fast track to success! Having exclusive distribution over an in-demand brand opens your door to wholesale opportunities too – then you can start supplying other retailers in the region.

So as you can see, trade shows are not only about meeting wholesalers – you can also build contacts with brand owners directly.

In the UK there are hundreds of trade shows being held each year, and many of them are business oriented. You can find a comprehensive list and calendar here: (more…)