Importing from China?

20 Importing experts contribute their 60 importing tips to skyrocket your business

Importing from China is not an easy work for importing newbie, and last months, I asked 20 experts:

“What’s their top 3 tips for importing from China”

Now you will get their 60 tips when importing from China, every tip will really help you out.

Steve <span class=Chou">

Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses. His blog mywifequitherjob.com will teach you how to start your own online business

Tip 1

when importing from China is to never assume anything.

Unless you’ve specified every last detail about the product you’re buying, everything else is open to interpretation.

As a result, it’s important to put together a quality control checklist that clearly states every aspect of your product.

Then, once you have this quality checklist, you should hire an inspector to hold the factory accountable for any defects.

Tip 2

To minimize the language barrier, communicate via email or chat using an app like Wechat

Tip 3

Try to visit your vendor face to face if you can.

When we met our suppliers, our service and product quality miraculously improved.

Fredrik <span class=Gronkvist">
Fredrik Gronkvist

Fredrik is a Swedish Entrepreneur and co-founder of ScandinAsian Enterprise, in Shanghai. He is the main content contributor of chinaimportal blog, Fredrik shares his experience in quality assurance, compliance and product development.

Tip 1

Create a Product Specification as your first step. All manufacturers make products according to buyer specifications.

If you fail to clearly specify the right material, plating, components, dimensions or other ‘quality defining’ information, you will likely end up with severe quality issues.

Failing to specify the product is the number 1 cause of disastrous quality issues for importers.

Tip 2

Make sure that you keep track of all regulations in your target country. This includes creating label files (i.e., CE marks), getting your product lab tested (i.e., REACH or ASTM F963) and issue the right documentation.

Your Chinese supplier is not qualified to explain what kind of regulations you must comply with, because it’s not their area of expertise.

You need to do your research. Importing non-compliant products can result in a forced recall or even a lawsuit.

Tip 3

This relates to my first tip. Getting the product specification right is only your first step.

You must also verify that your supplier actually follow the specifications, by ordering quality control on the products before the final payment and shipment.

Forget about returning products to China, it doesn’t work in reality.

Make your supplier know that you will get the goods checked on, in the factory.

If they fail the inspection, no balance payment. Trust me, being pragmatic is the only thing that works.

Jing is the founder of Jingsourcing.com, the most famous sourcing company on internet for helping small business import products from China. He shared a lot of practical experience related to China importing in his blog and Jingsourcing Youtube Channel. His company was built in 2015, and now has around 50 full time staffs. They have supported more than 1,500 Amazon sellers for sourcing products in China.

As my company mainly help small and middle scale business source products from China, we have witnessed a lot our clients’ business growing up, and also seen a lot of mistakes they had made during the whole growing process.

So I’d like to share these 3 tips for people who want to, or just start importing merchandise from China.

Tip 1

Importing from China is not as simple as buying products on Amazon, it’s normal to encounter all kinds problems, mistakes, or failure.

But every time there’s a problem, try to figure out any possible solution to fix it. Even the problem is not possible to fix, but just be positive.

Because it still a good experience that you will probably never make same mistakes again, which maybe will cost you huge.

I know a lot people learning how to sell on Amazon, but they give up the business, because of mistakes they made on their first product that imported from China.

Tip 2

Find good suppliers or a good sourcing agent.

If you only deal couple of different products, finding a supplier with good communication and high responsibility is very important, Supplier with good communication will always know what you want.

And good responsibility means every time there’s a problem happened, they will try to fix it or offer compensation solutions for maintaining long term business with you, instead of running away.

Finding a good supplier is not easy, and you will feel if they are good at least after few times business.

If you are importing lots different product from China, then having a reliable sourcing agent will be very helpful.

Just let them help you source all products and follow up all your production.

But find a good sourcing agent is as important as find a good product supplier.

Tip 3

Check both product and packaging samples before sending money to supplier to start production.

Check product and packaging samples from the massive product, then pay the balance to supplier for shipping out.

A lot of importers can’t wait to ship out products once the production is finished, and they just check the photos that suppliers sent.

It’s always worthy to wait to check samples sent by express, instead of leaving problems when product arrive your country.

Sam<span class= Boyd">

Sam is the Founder of Guided Imports, he has been living in China since 2013. He started his manufacturing and importing career during his freshman year of university, where he recruited sellers from various schools along the east coast of the U.S. to act as his sales representatives.

Sam is very professional on product development and sourcing. So if you have any related question, contact him directly.

Tip 1

Manage your expectations from China.

You get what you pay for, so if you set out to try to take advantage of factories by getting rock-bottom pricing, you’ll ultimately be disappointed.

If you can identify your budget early on and stick to it, you can analyze whether your budget makes sense for your project and make educated decisions if your goals are too far outside of the price range you’ve locked yourself into.

Tip 2

Know your products before talking to factories.

While it may seem natural to use a factory as your only source of research, it is vital to maintaining the idea that the only thing a factory knows how to do is follow your directions.

Research the components you want to add to your specification sheet and learn everything about them before you start talking to a factory. You’ll see productivity with your communications increase when you stop asking if something is possible and begin educating the factory on how they should make your product.

Tip 3

If your budget does not allow it, don’t reinvent the wheel.

I see a lot of amateur importers with massive dreams and tiny pockets.

This ultimately leaves them very disappointed when they learn, after spending a lot of money, they need to invest in design and engineer consulting, as well as, tooling and molding.

If you have a limited budget, find the products that already exist and figure out how to make them work.

ODM will have a much less financial impact, as opposed to OEM.

Rachel is a Chinese-Canadian writer with a passion for technology, women’s issues in tech, and startups in developing nations.

Tip 1

Choose your supplier wisely.

Trust is more important than price.

Many inexperienced importers will choose the supplier who offers the cheapest price quote only to run into costly quality or logistics issues down the road. Think longterm.

Your business will depend on a smooth working relationship with your supplier so vet candidates carefully.

Consider going to China for trade fairs or factory visits to meet with suppliers face-to-face.

Tip 2

Use contracts and make them as specific as possible.

A contract is more than just a document you can use in a legal dispute with your supplier.

A lot of miscommunication can happen in between email chains and language barriers.

A detailed contract will help ensure that everyone is in agreement on your product specifications and terms.

Tip 3

Get lots of samples and test your samples thoroughly.

Don’t be afraid to spend money on samples.

Test your samples and use them in real world settings if possible to see if there are any quality control issue.

Keep your samples and compare them to future batches to monitor whether there is any quality drop off.

Mike <span class=Michelini">
Mike Michelini

Been living in China / Asia permanently since 2007. Originally came to Asia to source from Chinese factories. Doing e-commerce, eBay, Amazon since 2004. Married to a Chinese wife, Wendy, in late 2013, and a son Miles, born in May 2014, and a daughter Maggie born in Jan 2016.

Tip 1

Be patient – things will go wrong and you need to keep a level head.

Tip 2

Test, test, test – send small amount and do a focus group first – offline events are great in China.

Tip 3

Think long term – most foreign companies get blinded by the light and then give up too quick – stay in the game.

Jared <span class=Vineyard">
Jared Vineyard

Jared is the marketing Coordinator of Universal Cargo,he did a great job on the content marketing, Youtube marketing and other related marketing work for the Universal Cargo( an international freight forwarder).

Tip 1

Make sure your Chinese manufacturers/suppliers are reputable.

Research who you’re buying products from.

In fact, ordering sample products first is a good way to make sure you’re getting something of quality from them before you order a big shipment of something you won’t be able to sell, won’t feel good about selling, or that will hurt your reputation.

Tip 2

Form relationships with Chinese manufacturers/suppliers.

Most ideally would be making a trip to China to meet business partners/potential business partners in person.

However, forming a relationship beyond just ordering goods from Chinese business partners (even through emails and phone calls) will help you get better deals, be prioritized over other customers, and even have access and opportunity for more products and cooperation than you might otherwise receive.

Tip 3

Choose an experienced freight forwarder that makes customer service a priority.

Your freight forwarder makes the entire shipping process go smoothly—if they know what they’re doing.

If they don’t have the proper experience, not only will they be unprepared for the many issues that can pop up during the international shipping process, but they can also create costly problems for you.

And if their communication and customer service is lacking, you could end up in the dark through the entire shipping process.

Gabrielle Poelsma

Gabrielle works for Ship Lilly , a international shipping company. If you have any question about shipping internationally, you can learn from ship Lilly’s blog.

Tip 1

Shipping Terms

Always ask for FOB terms. FOB stands for “Free on Board”.

This means that the seller pays any costs for loading and transportation and clears the goods to be exported.

It also means that the seller is responsible for loading everything onto the vessel.

Once the load is onboard, Costs and risk are divided between the seller and the buyer.

Tip 2

Factory Inspections

Having an inspection of the factory can help you verify if your potential partners are reliable.

Normally the inspection will be completed by a professional third party, they will tell you if the factory is capable to make your product.

You will save a travel to China and the inspectors are more professional than you.

You will get full 10 to 15 pages inspection report of the factory condition( with photos on every detail).

Tip 3

Product Inspections

You can hire a third party to inspect your products after finished.

They will give you 10 to 20 pages detailed report on your products.

Etan <span class=Efrati">
Etan Efrati

Etan is the Demand Generation Associate of Freightos ( an international logistics company). He is very professional on shipping from China, if you have any questions about shipping from China, kindly reach him.

Tip 1

Importers should consider incoterms prior to the contract of sale being negotiated, or risk unnecessary complications to the shipment.

The most common incoterms are FOB (shipping origin at port) and EXW (shipping origin at factory).

Tip 2

Double check potential shipping restrictions on goods with your forwarder.

Laws may be enforced by Customs (CBP) & Other Agencies (ISF), Air & Ocean Freight Carriers, Department of Commerce, or others.

Note that ocean shipping will have fewer restrictions than when shipping by air.

Tip 3

Shipping faster is not always more expensive.

For shipments less than 500 lbs, it’s usually more cost efficient to ship by air.

Chris <span class=Veale">
Chris Veale

As the founder of Shippo Ltd( international shipping company in UK), Chris is very professional when it comes to importing or shipping from China.

Tip 1

Know Your Shipping Terms

For a first timer, shipping terms may be un-heard of. These are how you and your supplier split the responsibility for the shipment.

Try to buy your goods on FOB terms (or even Ex Works).

These are the best ways of controlling your costs as the final price is clear from the outset.

Tip 2

Check UK Duties & Taxes

UK Duties & Taxes can be complicated but when buying goods from outside the EU, you have to pay duties and taxes to UK Customs in order to have your goods released into the country so it’s very important to know what you’ll have to pay.

They often total more than the shipping cost!

Tip 3

Do your Calculations

It is vital that you have done your calculations before progressing with your order.

The considerations of an import do not stop at goods and shipping, be sure you know your margins, landed costs and how long it’ll take before you get your hands on the products.

You should consider:

  • Product Cost – Has your supplier quoted to sell you the goods on the desired shipping term?
  • Duty & Taxes – Do you know how much UK Duty and VAT you will pay on your items?
  • Shipping Costs – Have you got a quote on the correct shipping term and is it to your door?
  • Transit Time – Bear in mind that sea freight can take 6-8 weeks for delivery after the goods are ready?
Sean <span class=Ogle">

Sean is the Head Rebel at Location Rebel, and his purpose is to help you build a small business that gives you the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere in the world. If you want More Strategies for Making Money Online,check Sean’s blog and you will really learn a lot.

Tip 1

Be Prepared to Go to China

While there are certainly services you can use that can do things for you, there’s no replacement for visiting a factory, meeting with your suppliers in person, and spending time doing QC on the ground.

Tip 2

Don’t take everything at face value.

No doesn’t always mean no, and yes doesn’t always mean yes.

Tip 3

Put thought into differentiation 

Often dozens of companies will go to the same factory, put their own brand on a product, and then sell the same thing everyone else is.

Figure out what you can do that’s different.

Often factories can do a lot, so really get to know them and look for ways you can do something a bit different.

Peter <span class=Koch">

Peter has rich experience on importing from China and sell on online platform like Amazon. If you want to explore legit ways to make money outside of your day job in order to achieve financial independence, Peter maybe your good teacher.

Tip 1

Fake it till you make it. If you are an amateur, act like you belong and act confident.

Have exact and precise requirement about quality (color, material etc.) and tell predicted annual quantity.

Tip 2

Do not negotiate price per one order, always discuss about annual quantities.

Tip 3

If you order from China, you want to get your packaging made in China too.

Every Alibaba supplier has local contacts for factories that make packaging.

David <span class=Elwood">

David is the founder of howtoimportkit.com, he is an expert on importing from China.How To Import Kit contains everything you need to begin importing a existing or new product from anywhere in the world. A combination of highly actionable information, strategies, tips, and secrets that import agencies do not want you to know combined with supplemental resources and tools will get you well on your way to successfully importing products. So if you do not know how to import from China, reach to David.

Tip 1

Be culturally aware

Take note of important Chinese holidays and surrounding periods.

Don’t be surprised if communication is vastly reduced during this time period.

Also try and communicate through the methods and apps that your suppliers prefer and are most responsive on.

Tip 2

Come in with a mindset of protection

This means verifying supplier identities and having your intellectual property protection agreements in place before going down the product design process.

Tip 3

Be ready to negotiate 

Make sure you understand norms around sample fees and minimum order quantities in your chosen industry before starting the negotiation process, but always be ready and proactive about negotiating with Chinese suppliers.

Renaud <span class=Anjoran">
Renaud Anjoran

Renaud owns the blog QualityInspection.org and Sofeast. He has been working in quality assurance & quality control in China for 8 years. Renaud is very professional on quality inspection in China and if you are looking for a third party inspection,you can reach him directly.

Tip 1

Be aware of all legal risks and act accordingly

If you have never done business in China, you might hold many wrong assumptions in China.

Here are a few common misconceptions:

  • Our standard NDA can be used here.
  • It is our design, so all intellectual property rights will be ours by default.
  • There is little risk the manufacturer sells our product to other companies.
Tip 2

Spend the time to understand production and to know the sub-suppliers

Many buyers depend 100% on a supplier that might only do final assembly.

They don’t know what companies supply the critical components or handle subcontracted processes.

It means the direct supplier can raise the price and dictate his terms.

If you can’t have a certain level of visibility, you need to reconsider your approach and find a better way of structuring your supply chain.

Tip 3

If projected volumes are high, don’t skip any important step

There are always inherent risks with a product being made for the first time in a given factory.

In many cases, the first batch displays such quality issues, it has to be entirely scrapped.

In other cases, a portion of the production is acceptable, but the supplier is unhappy about the amount of scrapped material and requires a price increase.

And, in most cases, shipment is several weeks late.

If you plan to make the same product in large series, do the design & process development work required to reduce those risks.

It usually includes design reviews, risk analyses, process engineering, dedicated fixtures/jigs, and trial runs – until the manufacturer has demonstrated production can take place as expected.

Thomas <span class=Adams">

Thomas is the owner of blog techprosperity.com, If you want a place to get information on entrepreneurship, marketing, freelancing,the blog Techprosperity.com can be a good choice.

Tip 1

Ensure your supplier has credibility – never go with a supplier that’s brand new as you’re less likely to be scammed that way.

Tip 2

Always order a sample before bulk ordering a product. If you don’t you could potentially end up with a product you didn’t sufficiently test.

Tip 3

Never pay with a bank wire – either use credit cards or PayPal. Doing this makes it virtually impossible to get scammed as you are protected with either of these.

Dan <span class=Harris">

Dan Harris is internationally regarded as a leading authority on legal matters related to doing business in China and in other emerging economies in Asia.

Tip 1

Do due diligence on your China partner before you send it any money at all.

Tip 2

Have a China-centric contract in place. Without one, it is nearly impossible to have any recourse for bad or late product.

Tip 3

Register your brand names and logos in China as trademarks before you start getting your products from China.

It is bad enough when a Chinese company copies your product and starts selling it around the world but it is a lot worse when it can legally do that using “your” brand name and logo.

Tariehk <span class=Geter ">
Tariehk Geter

Tariehk is an expert of online business, especially on the field of Affiliate.

Tip 1

Always look at the background of the seller. Be sure that they have been around for years and they have a good track record.

Tip 2

Be very clear about delivery times. You don’t want to deal with an angry client because of unmet expectations.

Order a product for yourself to see how many days it will take and give your estimated delivery time to your customer based on that.

Tip 3

Certain items tend to be held by Chinese customs. This includes electronics, liquids and other potentially dangerous items.

If you want faster delivery time, it may be best to stay away from sourcing this type of items from China.


Importing from China is a “big” work, you may face a lot of problems even with our 20 industry expert.

Now it’s your turn, tell me what problem you have when importing from China, do you have a problem with your FBA forwarder? Do you know where to import your goods in China? or if you have a good tip to contribute, welcome to send me emails at sunny@bansarchina.com.

Enjoy your importing from China and skyrocket your business!

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