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!
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I trusted Dan Spring and her company J&D International Group (http://www.jdintlgroup.com) back in the end of December 2014/January 2015 to help me purchase furniture in FoShan / Guangzhou (China). She seemed to be very nice and open. I sent her pictures of what I am looking for so that she could get an idea of where to navigate us.
My wife and I had planned 6 days. I spent 100USD a day for Dan´s service + 3% commission for the sourcing. During lunch we got to know each other better and spoke about business and so on. She told me how other purchase agents would rip off clients, get them bad prices, and take a commission from the shops. Dan told us face to face that she wouldn’t take any commission or whatsoever, that she believes in a good relationship, and fair dealing with her clients, and so on… – we really trusted her. Long story short…
Don’t fall into a trap by trusting her, she is only professional in taking out your money… Dan Spring, is only interested in money, and once she gets paid she doesn’t care anymore about her clients.
These are just a few of the bad things that happened:
– Dan started to be very pushy after we didn’t purchase anything after day 2. I told her to stop and that we needed some time to think. She was anything but professional. Every time we needed more time to think or were not sure about something she pushed us even more.
– Sometimes she just walked away and played with her phone. She didn’t really care after day 3 because we didn’t purchase as fast as she expected.
– my wife and I decided to go around the lighting market alone, and we really got very good prices – every time Dan was with us the prices were much higher. A lamp that I got offered for around 40USD cost 100USD when Dan was with me. Same shop, even the same vendor, just a different day.
– We decided to buy doors with a vendor; the vendor sent me a text message (happy to send you the conversation through WeChat) warning me that Dan asked her for commission. This vendor refused to pay and Dan seemed to get very angry about this. I didn’t know what to think at that time. I still trusted Dan who recommended me to buy the doors from someone else – and I would only find out later that the vendor was telling the truth. The picture attached was mistakenly sent to me by Dan´s company J&D International Group. You can see that she received commission from other shops and that she made up a bad story about the vendor to convince me to purchase from someone else (ask your Chinese friend to translate the remarks in red). If you cant read it at all, I am happy to send it to you by email.
– After returning back to my home country, and after making 70% of the down payment she started to tell me that some shops asked for an additional fee to keep the goods. We had a little delay because of Chinese New Year, and she made me pay a few hundred USD on top.
– A few goods were missing in the quality report (after they collected all the goods) but the price that they charged me was still the same. I told them to change the prices but they just didn’t care about it.
– I called up Dan, she was very hysteric and told me that she wants to send the goods away now because they have had them for a very long time. She charged me again here… They could only “control” me with extra fees because I already had paid a good amount of deposit (70%).
– The container finally arrived in the end of June. And we were in shock. As you can see from the pictures, a whole was inside, so a lot of water came in. I contacted J&D International Group and Dan Spring, but they just didn’t get back to me. If Dan Spring had done the work properly this would have never happened. This has been a very bad ending and a huge disappointment.
Always make sure to have a contract with people you work with. I was stupid enough to believe in what Spring Dan praised: trust.
If you want to know more or have any other questions please feel free to email me
Thanks for sharing this unfortunate story with us!
I’m currently talking to a supplier in china thru alibaba. They have given me a shipping cost for sea freight. But I’m wondering by using Woodland Group, do they handle the entire shipping journey, from China to my door in the UK?
At what part is it best to involve them? After the orders been placed?
Yes, WG would pick up goods from supplier, ship via sea, clear through customs and deliver to your door. That would be their Door to Door service.
You should contact them before you place your order, when you have location, exact dimensions and size for the shipment so they can give you price quote.
Also is it normal for suppliers in China to rip off photos from other websites? I’m looking at a product that the supplier is telling me they can make but the photos are ones I’ve seen before on ebay or amazon
Yes, it is very common, especially in clothing niche for example where Chinese just take images from USA/UK brand catalogues and use as their own. You should ask them to provide their own images to be sure they can supply you with exact product you’re looking for.
Do you have the websites of any Chinese wholesalers you would recommend/ 100% trust or do you recommend just going through alibaba to get products?
Yes, use Alibaba to find suppliers. Check out this guide on how to find legit suppliers on Alibaba:
IS this Company (Woodland Global ) shipping to Egypt,United Arab Emirates and Jordan?
I’m not sure about those countries..
Just send a quick email to WG and ask them directly.
Another great article Andrew!
I’m interested to know how sellers make a profit on items they offer free postage with? For example typical pound line items that you can buy for around 60p and sell for a 100-200% profit. On small items I believe it may be possible to send as a letter which is around 50-60p, but how do sellers make a profit on these items that are bigger and may cost around £3 to send?
Thanks for your question.
There are several explanations:
a) Some sellers don’t make any profit at all! They just use these cheap/small items to build up feedback.
b) Some will send as letters and manage to make 10-20p profit.
c) Some will make money on such items because most people will buy multiples, not single items. So if average purchase is 3 items, they can still make profit.
In any of these cases, I don’t call it a real business. It’s ridiculous to process order, pack items to earn 10p-20p per package sent.