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Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #56

March 11, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments
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questions-answers-56Happy Friday!

It has been a busy week for me personally! I finally received my long awaited shipment from the US with my new equipment, something I delved into a bit in last week’s article on poor customer service. I will get everything set up and then do a proper dedicated post on this next week.

machineAlso, last week we FINALLY launched the new SpicyAuctionTemplates.com website! It’s such a good feeling, after long months of hard work, to see how it’s all turned out and the feedback I’ve received so far from my customers is nothing but good, so thanks for your support!

I have plans to re-vamp some further websites this year, to create more mobile friendly versions, so this is hopefully only the beginning! 🙂

Back to our weekly Q&A post and today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • How much should I pay to ship a 100kg package from China?
  • What is the BEST alternative to Turbo Lister?
  • Why is my Chinese supplier charging double for a sample?
  • By how much can you negotiate MOQs?
  • Can you request modifications to existing product?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I am in the process of trying to start a new business which requires ordering some supplies from China. I have never imported anything to the UK but I read your blog post regarding importing and found it very useful.

I am still in the negotiating process with my supplier but the initial shipping costs seem pretty high to me. The quote I was given was for 11 cartons with a combined gross weight of 105kg and a total volume of 0.8CBM. I have been given 2 options for delivery, by sea which would cost 480 USD to my closest port or using a delivery service like TNT, which would cost me 1210 USD.

Do you feel these prices are reasonable?

Also I asked if they would accept PayPal or Credit Card and I was told they don’t normally accept these payment methods as they have to pay extra tax of between 13-17%. I was offered the option to pay 30% then the remaining 70% before shipping. What are your feelings on this?

Kind Regards,

Hi Steven,

So it’s roughly 1 cubic meter with a weight of 100kg.

The courier fee sounds about right, maybe a bit on the expensive side.

But the sea freight quote is too much, if it’s just delivery to your nearest port. If it was a door to door quote it would be okay, but if it’s just to your port, there will be tons of extra fees involved. So I would recommend you contact a freight forwarder and get a door to door quote from them. On top of this you’ll obviously also pay VAT & import duty WHEN goods arrive in the UK. The freight forwarder I recommend using is Woodland Global:


They should be able to offer you the same or an even lower price BUT that will include all the port fees and delivery right to your door.

As for the payment methods – Chinese suppliers in general don’t take credit card payments unless it’s via Alibaba under Trade Assurance. PayPal is more common but again, not all companies take it. Wire transfer is still the most popular payment method when dealing with Chinese suppliers and 30/70 payment terms is the industry standard.

Make sure you trust your supplier as with wire transfer there’s no going back – once you send the money, it’s gone. You could also try to persuade the supplier to process your order via Alibaba’s Trade Assurance system to get protection that way. That is if they’re registered on Alibaba of course.

Hope this helps!

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your article about your Top 10 eBay tools. Unfortunately, Turbo Lister is really not working out for my business – it seems to have some bugs with various updates eBay have made recently. I’ve seen there are some other programs out there, would you recommend a second choice (preferably free or low-cost)?


Hi Alan,

The obvious free option would be to use eBay directly to create and manage your listings. It’s not very handy, especially when you want to work with templates and images inside them but still, it’s free and certainly useable.

If you can spend some money, I would probably recommend Auctiva.com as it’s a very simple listing creation tool. You can take a free trial and see whether it works for you or not.

Lastly, maybe you can still fix the Turbo Lister issues? I know that for some people it is buggy but for me, and many others, it works just great (as great as any desktop software can be nowadays, even my Adobe Illustrator CC crashes sometimes). Try re-installing it, updating it etc. – maybe you can make it work.

If you deal with thousands of listings, none of these would be good options really and you will want to invest in something more sophisticated, such as Linnworks:


Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your reply to my previous email. I’m sorry to bother you with another question but one of the other suppliers I’m looking at buying from is asking for me to cover the sample courier fee (2.5kg for $35 which I thought was OK) but also the item price for the sample at double the unit price.

Charging double the price (18 dollars to 36) seemed a little bit off to me, but I’m new to importing from China so wanted to get a more qualified opinion. I just wondered what your take on this was? Sorry if this seems a fairly obvious question- just want to make sure I’m getting a reasonable deal on the sample.


Hi Dan,

A $35 courier fee for a 2.5 kg package is actually a very good price. I’m guessing it’s a small package as otherwise it would be more than that.

As for charging double the price for the sample – that is completely common practice amongst Chinese suppliers, so nothing to worry about there. They do this for obvious reasons – to avoid retail customers buying single units from them at manufacturing prices. You can’t really blame them for that.

What you can do though is ask them to credit the sample cost to your first real/big order when you place it. I mean the part you are over-paying for the sample – in this case $18.

Most suppliers will happily do that.

Hi Andy,

I’m interested in buying cosmetic/make up cases (plastic hard case) from a manufacturer on Alibaba (already made designs directly from the manufacturer’s page). I have already decided on a few products that I like and have contacted 10 manufacturers for further information and samples. I have a few questions at this stage and would greatly appreciate your insight on this:

I’m keen to order a low number and to test the market with my new products rather than commit to a large initial order. I know there are limitations here, but I’d ideally like to start with a maximum of 2000 units (the initial MOQ stated for each product is usually 10000), and for the total to comprise of at least 2 different designs from the same manufacturer (say, 1000 each – and in different colours/materials). My question before I get into these discussions is –

Considering this would not be a custom design and the factory already has the full capability to produce these products, would this usually make the MOQ more negotiable? I.e. would it still be worth the factory’s time to produce as little as a few hundred units on this basis? An understanding of this will give me better grounding when it comes to negotiation.

Secondly, after receiving and assessing the samples I have requested, I may require some modifications to the existing product before I go through with production. These would be minor modifications such as a stronger hinge, a stronger clasp mechanism (I would avoid going down the route of requiring any additions that would require a custom mould, in order to keep the cost down).

My question is; would it be relatively straight forward for a manufacturer to add or improve certain features of an existing product – such as changing the clasp mechanism, adding a loop for a key chain or making the casing thinner or thicker.

What if I liked an exact product but needed it to be slightly bigger than the original. Would they need to create an entirely new mould for this in the same way that they would for a completely new design or shape. For every product that has a new shape or design, does a brand new mould need to be made? Or would this be achieved through rapid prototyping (even using the RP method to produce a large number of units)?

Please excuse the long mail! Any insights that you can provide on this would be very much appreciated.

Best regards,

Hi Chay,

I’ll try to answer your questions one by one.

The MOQ – for products like these, manufacturers set the MOQ according to their manufacturing processes/standard. As they manufacture on demand, there’s a fixed cost/time cost for them to set-up machinery, assembly lines and everything else. That’s why there are such MOQs in the first place.

It’s very unlikely that they will go down from 10,000 units to just 1,000 units BUT you’ll never know without asking! Generally speaking there’s no cost in communicating so I would simply suggest asking them outright what the absolute lowest MOQ they can offer is. Tell them that you’re a new customer and would like to test the product/market before committing to a larger order.

Sometimes suppliers can do lower MOQs but will ask for a slightly higher price to cover their set-up costs. Sometimes, if it’s a very large manufacturer, they won’t bargain at all – it really does depend on each individual situation.

There are also situations where a manufacturer has an affiliated trading company that deals with smaller quantity orders. So you could also enquire about that.

Sometimes a manufacturer has some stock already done, in warehouse & ready for dispatch. In cases like these, you can get basically any quantity you want.

As for modifications to samples – again, this will depend on the supplier and the size of the order you’re placing. If it means just switching a part to a better one, they will probably do this, depending on what quantity you’re after.

But new shapes/designs will definitely require a new mould, which can cost from $2k up to $5k and more, so for a small order it won’t be cost effective.

Hi Andrew,

Three words.

Informative, Digestible, Pleasing.

I am in the process of making my first sample order from China to the UK. Like most first time importers the burden of the various agencies involved carved away at my confidence. I found myself questioning whether to continue or to call it quits. HRMC, DHL and the various other official leading entities and authorities do a really bad job at explaining the process.

Thankfully I stumbled across your website and began to read. Before I knew it, to my amazement all of my questions were being answered. Article after article, I found myself absorbing all the information and at one point even considering myself a consultant to others.

I don’t normally type up feedback for many people or websites but I felt compelled to do so. You have saved me a lot of research and are perhaps the reason my business adventure may fly off in the right direction.

Kind regards,


Thanks Ahmad, it’s always an absolutely great feeling to receive emails like this, and it really does make all of the hard work worthwhile, so thank you! 🙂

That’s it for today and for this week. If you want your question to be featured in the next instalment in our Q&A series, then feel free to get in touch with me via the contact form on this page.

I’m now off to enjoy the weekend! 🙂

See you all on Monday!


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  1. Hi Andrew,

    I know this a silly question but I will ask anyway.
    Do you need to set up a company in order to import goods or you can import without having to create one?

    Thank you


    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, you don’t need to set-up a company to start importing.

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