A funny fact about first time importers, especially those aged under 30 or so, is that they often think exclusively of China in terms of places they can have products manufactured (and for older generations, they wouldn’t think an average Joe could ever import products from a country line China on their own!). For new importers, the first time they ever step inside of a factory may be in China. I can attest to this because my first time visiting a factory was in China.
If you’re new to manufacturing, China is a horrible place to begin your introduction to manufacturing if for nothing else than the enormous language barriers (absolutely horrid toilets are a close second). Thankfully, in almost any decent sized town across the world there is some type of manufacturing going on. If you’re from a slightly larger city, there’s a reasonable chance the product that you are looking to import from China is also produced in your own city.
Understanding the manufacturing process of your product pays huge dividends in your business. That’s why no matter what product you are thinking of importing, I recommend trying to visit a local factory that produces a product similar to yours. Of course, the more niche your product, the harder that can be to find, but you can likely find a comparable product. Finding such a product is likely easier than you think. Factories tend to employ a large number of people so you may have a friend, or a friend of a friend, who works at such a place and would be happy to have you come by and give you a tour. You can even do one better, and actually request a quote which will invariably give a huge amount of ammo to go to your Chinese suppliers with (and who knows, maybe the domestic factory’s prices are absurdly high).
China may be the factory of the world, but it’s not the only factory.
Minimum Order Quantities
When you receive your first quote from suppliers, three letters are going to be nearly as important as the prices you receive: MOQ. MOQ, or minimum order quantity, is the minimum order suppliers will accept. For example, supplier XYZ may specify a MOQ of 100 for horse saddles, meaning you must import at least 100 saddles. Some suppliers may also have a Minimum Order Value, meaning you must order a certain dollar amount of product ($5000 is a common minimum). Try to buy some good quantity of barefoot sandals from http://www.dhgate.com/wholesale/barefoot-sandals/c112.html.
There are a lot of fixed costs both to you when you import the products into your country as well as your supplier. So an MOQ ensures not only that your supplier makes money but it also has the effect of helping you to stay profitable.