It’s Friday and time for another Questions & Answers blog post. It will be a slightly shorter one as it’s now the middle of summer and I’m really trying to take a break from business activities to spend some quality time with my family.
Still, over the last week I have received some interesting questions I would like to cover:
- How to get goods imported from China through UK customs?
- How to manage orders when going on holiday?
- Is it possible to start an eBay business from Pakistan?
So without further ado, let’s get started!
First of all, your blog has amazing information! Thanks so much 🙂
I have ordered 1,000 wooden photo frames from China and I am getting them shipped into Southampton, UK. This is my first time ordering from China and I ordered a few test products first and loved the quality and price so I went ahead and ordered the full 1,000.
I paid in dollars via PayPal and the ETA is around 25th July 2014.
Is there a service anywhere that can collect my order when it comes into the port at Southampton? Then pay the relevant fees and tax and then invoice me a bill? As I am really stuck with the whole process of collecting my order from the port and paying the fees!
The company I have ordered from has already arranged the shipping to Southampton and I just need help with the last bit now – getting my goods through customs and to my actual address in the UK!
Please ask if you need more information about my order.
Thanks for your question.
From the sound of it, you have purchased goods on FOB basis which means that the goods are loaded onto the ship in China but you take care of customs clearance and delivery of the goods to your address in the UK. This is perfectly fine and is the most commonly used method when importing goods from China via sea freight.
Now, when your goods arrive in the UK, they will basically be held in customs until you “clear” them. By customs clearance I mean a procedure when a broker puts together all the documentation needed; you pay taxes; customs officials then review this information and release the goods to you. You’ll most likely be asked to provide a few documents, such as:
- Bill of Lading (ask your supplier about this);
- PayPal payment confirmation
From that point you can either collect your goods in person at port OR use a shipping company who will deliver them to any address you specify, for a cost of course.
While you can collect your goods in person, you CAN’T do the customs clearance on your own as only licensed brokers/companies can do this task. So what I recommend you do is get in touch with 2-3 such brokers in Southampton and get some quotes for this task. You can use the directory Yell.com to find such companies.
My personal recommendation is a company called Woodland Global and you can get in touch with them here.
Not only will they clear your goods through customs but they can also deliver the shipment to your address, for a very reasonable fee.
Love your site!
I’m going on holiday in a month and have a couple of listings high up in search results (1 in the first 3 pages though it fluctuates).
I sell about 25 items per day and post each weekday but if I go on holiday or overseas (for my main engineering business) then I either put my eBay shop on hidden listings holiday or sales enabled holiday. Either way it’s always “listing position suicide” and I end up selling at a loss for weeks afterwards to repair the damage (which is really holding me back).
Fulfilment houses seem a bit too extreme as the listings are for low cost items but I’m not sure what else to do (burdening a family member with Linnworks etc. seems a bit unfair).
Do you know of any fulfilment houses that cater for temporary cover situations like this or do you have any other suggestions? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
All the best
Thanks for your question.
Yep, I definitely appreciate your situation as it’s summer time and most of us are therefore taking our holiday now. And you’re right – if you put your eBay Shop on holiday mode for several weeks, your listing search positions will suffer (though I haven’t noticed such dramatic effect on shorter, 2-5 day leaves).
So what to do?
There are still a few options left:
1. As much as you don’t want to do it, hiring a friend/family member for this period and teaching them how to process orders is one of best options out there. Well, if you’re using Linnworks, it won’t be easy, true… But maybe you can just use Selling Manager Pro for that time to simplify the workflow? I don’t know your set-up of course so chances are that’s not an option?
Alternatively, as Linnworks is cloud based software, maybe you can process orders remotely, from your location? These days there are network solutions, virtual PCs etc., which you can set-up to WORK in your office, while you’re on holiday. And then, the person you hire will simply have to pack the orders, attach shipping labels and drop off packages at the post office.
2. Fulfilment houses. I don’t know of any such temporary services, and it’s very unlikely they exist at all. As you say you deal with low value items, using a fulfilment house probably won’t be cost effective in the long term BUT if you use it for a few weeks, just to keep your search positions intact – that may be an option? You might not make any profit during the time you’re away but at least you’ll keep your rankings and won’t have to sell at a loss afterwards to regain your positions.
Obviously, you would have to do some maths here as I of course don’t know your margins etc. so this may not be a viable option – it all depends on your calculations.
The easiest way to set this up would be to use Fulfilment by Amazon as there are no contracts to sign and you register straight away, having your products ready for dispatch in a few days’ time.
I have been following your blog for some time. I am currently an undergraduate student and work part-time as a Virtual Assistant on Elance. I am interested in investing my savings in a business that doesn’t require a lot of start-up capital.
I was interested in setting up an eCommerce store or starting an online auction business on eBay but the problem is I am located in Pakistan, so I’ll have to pay huge courier charges to get the products to me and then repack them to sell to America. Because of this I don’t think this is really a feasible plan for me.
Could you let me know which business model best suits me considering my geographical location? I do have experience listing products on eCommerce stores as I’ve done this for clients so that may come in useful? I have a few hundred dollars ($100-$200) to start a business. Should I join your second income generator as I am a student and only have a few hours available to work each week?
Thank you for your time,
God bless you and your family.
Thanks for your questions.
It’s great to hear you’re already making some money online by working as a freelancer on Elance. To be honest, I think that in your current position, that’s the best option for you – do online freelancing, as with physical goods you’ll run into several problems:
- Your buying power is too low. $100-$200 in your situation is just really not enough to buy goods in wholesale or to import from China.
- Your location. As you already mentioned, shipping goods from Pakistan to Europe or USA will be very, very expensive – it simply won’t work due to extremely high shipping costs.
The only way I can see you making money with physical goods, either on eBay or your own online shop, is if you can source goods LOCALLY!
Yes, I’m sure there are factories in Pakistan or wholesalers you could source products from in small quantities and for good prices if you do some research.
I haven’t personally bought anything from Pakistan but I know that it’s a place where many clothing manufacturers are located – also it’s a very popular place for all kinds of leather products – so you could maybe sell leather gloves, motorcycle jackets or similar products?
If you can find good suppliers for such products locally then you could make it work.
If not; stick with freelancing and continue making money online by doing work for others. If your English is good enough, you can always start a side project – a blog or a website which you can then monetise with ads and affiliate links and make a passive income that way.
Hope this helps Masnoon!