This article is for new importers. As a sourcing agent in China, we would like to share our years of experience of helping overseas buyers to import from China.

1. Feasibility Study
Before you start to import, you need to research the feasibility of your sourcing project. You need to set up a goal, decide the budget, make the plan, consult the import expert, research the market, learn the import process, and calculate cost. In the end, you should come up with an enforceable plan, which should include the following: the products, the market, the process, the people, the cost, the margin, and the marketing.

2. Products Ideas
What products you will buy from China? If you don’t have any clue, you could check ecommerce websites like alibaba, ebay, amazon, see what products are highlighted on homepage. Every product from missile to toilet paper has its own market, so do something you are familiar with, do something you have resources to sell.

3. Know where to buy Chinese goods
Ecommerce makes international trade easier. Search your products on alibaba, globalsources or, you will find thousands of suppliers. If you are a small fish, your quantity cannot meet the MOQ set by factories, you could go to Chinese wholesale market such as Yiwu wholesale market, to buy small quantity and consolidate them into a container.
Or, if you think it’s too much troubles to source a good supplier among thousands of candidate, you can go to a trustworthy sourcing agent like Elksourcing, and focus more on the things you are strong in – selling good products.

4. Screen and verify supplier
By comparison, a final list of suppliers meet your price target, how to select Chinese suppliers? Don’t pick the one with lowest price; otherwise you should worry about the quality. Don’t pick too big supplier, you won’t get VIP treatment there; pick a supplier with reasonable price, good service and medium size as start. Do the due diligence properly; send inspector or a trustworthy sourcing agent like Elksourcing to check the factory’s credit and capability, capacity and quality system.

5. Price negotiation
In today’s market, price is very transparent, so it is more of price comparison, than price negotiation.

6. Contract negotiation
SIGN CONTRACT IS A MUST and DON’T USE PI AS CONTRACT. Try to cover all details in the contract.

7. Collect Samples
A few Chinese suppliers offer free samples, many do not (but usually will refund sample cost when PO is placed later-on); but it is reasonable to pay for the sample and shipping cost. China DHL, UPS, TNT agent gives better rate as 20~50% lower than freight-collect, so, ask your supplier to recommend a shipping agent.

8. Communication
Chinese sales normally don’t speak good English, for important matters, better to communicate by emailing. Try to explain the terminology. Use simple and basic English.Or, if you believe communication is critical, you can go to a trustworthy sourcing agent like Elksourcing.

9. Payment terms
T/T is the most common terms, if after verification you believe the supplier is trustable, T/T is acceptable.
Usually 30% deposit and 70% payment before shipment is common for first few orders, once you have built up trust, suppliers may accept less deposit.

10. Quality Control
Don’t save money on quality control, send a reliable QC inspector or a trustworthy sourcing agent like Elksourcing to inspect the quality before shipment.

11. Shipment
There is flood of shipping forwarders out there that provide one stop shipping solution. You need to learn how to screen shipping agency. Or, use CIF terms so your supplier will take care of the logistics.

12. Dispute Settlement
Hope you have a proper contract signed before you have to go through the dispute settlement stage. Lawsuit is the last solution, try to solve the dispute outside the court, get in a lawyer, send a lawyer’s letter, with lawyer chasing behind, many cases are solved outside the court. Arbitration is always easier than lawsuit, so it is advised to use arbitration as the dispute settlement method.


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