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  Useful Tips for Sourcing and Importing

Make sure your suppliers stick to their initial pricing. Companies in the East are renowned for falsely quoting or quoting low prices just to secure your business. These prices can soon change when you have already paid the set up fee or moulding cost. They simply renege on their initial quote claiming that the job is more difficult than expected so they have to charge more and by this time your hands are tied as you have outlayed all the expense for the moulds.

Beware of misleading information /specifications printed on products. There are many scams related to products being incorrectly labelled. One example of this in our experience are the ever popular USB flash drives. Some factories will sell a 512 mgb unit disguised with a 4gb capacity and they will use illegal software to change the information inside the chipset so you would have very little way of knowing this until you actually try and store more than 512 mg on the unit.

Use B2B online sourcing gateways with discretion. Webites such as Alibaba, Global sources or made in china etc. can serve as a handy reference tool for ideas and pricing. However, there is no guarantee that things will run smoothly with regard to payment, quality control and delivery time. I was horrified during my very first trip to China intending to visit lists of companies I had found over the internet, only to discover 13 out of the 21 factories did not exist.  I would strongly advise that if you are determined to source a product yourself then try to carry out a reference check or even better a company audit on that particular supplier.

Find access to a reliable 3rd party agent in the area. Find an agent who has procurement experience in your industry and who can communicate in the appropriate languages. You need eyes and ears over there. Forget about hoping for the best. If you are investing any amount of money you need to make sure your products are receiving the best attention and it is impossible to do that from thousands of miles away.

Manufacturer or Trading Company? The majority of companies you will find online will claim that they are manufacturers but they are actually trading companies, do not be fooled by a fancy website. The downside to this is that you are dealing with a middle man in your supply chain and therefore prices will be over inflated.

Avoid Companies That Offer Everything From Picture frames To lawn mowers. If a seller’s website/ B2B profile page has a wide range of products on offer then there is a good chance that you’re dealing with a trading company and won’t get the best deals.

Send A Test Email. The decision to drop hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on a shipment is not one that should be taken lightly and a lot of preliminary work should be done even before you get to the negotiation stage. Email them, phone them or even visit them if you’ve got the time and money and you will end up with a better deal in the long run.

Avoid ANYBODY Who Is Slow To Answer Pre-Sale Contacts. If they don’t answer your questions when you haven’t bought anything imagine how bad it’s going to be when you’ve bought something and are actually trying to solve a problem.

Avoid Companies That Have Many Variations Of Their Name. When you are sourcing on the internet the companies you are looking for are likely to be at several locations with some including: B2B Sites Like Alibab , Their own website and Link directories. Check out all of a firm’s ‘Internet Real Estate’ as well as the Proforma Invoice (if you’re getting a price quote), logo and marketing material. If the company’s name doesn’t appear the same way twice  walk away, and if after contacting them somebody gets back to you with an email address like mrwang82882882888888, asking you to contact him on his personal mobile or msn.

Don’t Deal With Companies That Claim To Sell Brand-Name Product. Only people who go through select channels and pay brand name prices get brand name products. It is very unlikely some small factory in Dongguan will have the Apple iPhone or Nintendo Wii that has been licensed and approved by the likes of Steve Jobs, and if they are blatantly ignoring copyright even their non-counterfeit  products might be a scam.

Do not make final payment on a shipment unless it has been thoroughly inspected by a 3rd party

Make sure Your products are securely packaged before shipment leaves the factory

Make sure you employ the services of a reputable shipping forwarding company
that can do all the correct paperwork for your product  to be imported smoothly

Be sure that your tariff codes are 100% correct