In The News

Sun 17 Jan 2016

Are You Feeling Small About Your Import Order?


Business Consulting & Coaching

If you are a small business owner, you have probably experienced feeling like an outsider when you visit a trade show in China.  Your thoughts are likely to be unfavorable.  Yes, those big box businesses sure know what they’re doing.  Look at those factory owners milling around the negotiating table with that importer, like they were watching a high stakes poker game.

I am here to tell you, this is what small business owners believe, and it should remain as such, a mere belief.  Approaching the factories you want in China should be removed from your wish list, and become part of your to do list.  As there is an orchard of import assistance firms to choose from, you must find those that are ready for harvest.

Make sure that your import assistance company or agent is working solely for your benefit.  Some of them (and there are quite a few) would give you very low costs for their services, but would tack on hidden commissions.  There are a number of consequences that can happen with this practice.

One is you’re not sure about the true cost of the product you are importing.  The more products you buy, the higher the amount of commission the agent gets.  If you compare this to having a fixed amount that you compensate your import assistants for their services, you are not able to save from transactions that have greater volume.

Second, it will be difficult to tell if your import assistance firm will be looking out for your interest.  There is that inevitable conflict between your goal, and that of your agent.

These are just a couple of the many possible shortfalls of choosing the wrong assistance. 

A good sourcing company should do the following:

  • Tender your product to as many potential suppliers as possible, without wasting such tenders on unqualified or unsuitable ones.
  • Make sure that the potential suppliers are legitimate businesses who are well-equipped to satisfy your requirements.
  • Take charge of the tedious work of generating samples from the supplier.
  • Know existing market prices for your product and negotiate the right price on your behalf.
  • Perform the important process of quality control, to make sure you do not end up holding a bag of defective items.
  • Arrange for all the logistics involved in getting the products from the factory floor to your storefront.
  • Finally, nothing beats a sourcing company that owns a large database of suppliers.

So you don’t have to shrink and pale.  Remember your business transaction can still be at center table in the high stakes game of importing.  It’s just a matter of you, finding the right teammates.


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