When a company makes the decision to import products from China for the first time, it takes an important step in its business strategy. However, that decision is only the first of many steps and procedures to be carried out. It is a process that, without experience, can be more difficult than initially anticipated. However, with over more than 15 years of experience in the sector, we have learned some essential tips for importing from China that we consider valuable for any company starting out in international purchases.
Complete a (quality) market study.
If your company has decided to import from China for the first time, it is highly likely because it has decided to introduce a new product to its catalog. To this effect, and as we previously analyzed in a post a few weeks ago, completing a market study is essential as a prior step to any import.
Remember that no matter how much you know your sector, including your target audience, a market study for a new product will allow you to expose all aspects including the characteristics that the article must have to be profitable or how to best focus your marketing strategy.
Invest the time needed to find a good supplier.
We know this advice may sound obvious, but it is important. You shouldn’t make the mistake of sticking with the first provider you find simply because the budget fits. You should search, analyze and compare; price cannot be the only determining factor in your decision.
On the other hand, it is important when looking for a supplier to be very clear about the difference between contacting the manufacturer (the real supplier) and contacting a distributor. Many companies who choose to contact the distributor do not wish to use the services of a purchasing agent but require intermediate negotiating assistance. This inevitably increases the cost of importing.
Careful attention with communication.
Although the majority of companies that decide to import are convinced that the greatest barrier in a Europe-China commercial transaction is language, communication problems are more important and are usually one of the main problems in importing from Asia.
Firstly, many importers start with the mistaken idea that they will be able to carry out negotiations in English; a language considered to be universal. However, in China, things are different and business relationships are developed in the supplier’s own language (either Mandarin or any of the Sinitic languages or other variants that are spoken in the country).
At the same time, Asian cultural factors and non-verbal communication (very different from the Western one) must also be considered and can cause negotiations to either prosper or fail.
Quality is possible… but not at any price.
We believe, with just a few days before the end of 2020, that China, as a factory of the world, has irrefutably demonstrated for many years, that it is capable of manufacturing almost any type of product with a guarantee of quality. However, there are still companies that don’t believe that you have to pay for quality in China. This leads them to choose the wrong supplier or to import a product that ends up not meeting their expectations.
Logically, importing quality products from China is possible and the price is infinitely lower than if we purchased from any Western country. However, remember that quality goods will always be more expensive to manufacture than low quality or standard products.
Carry out the necessary checks.
In relation to our previous advice, and as we explained in our last post, voluntary quality inspections are key in importing (and even more so if it is the first commercial relationship with a supplier).
Voluntary (or own) controls are set up by the importer and serve to check that the supplier is manufacturing the ordered product as requested. This is an optional step in any import but it can save many problems later on.
Patience: imports are slow.
This is important advice that we usually give our clients. You cannot import in a hurry and it is not a problem that the Chinese are slow to manufacture. However, a successful import is made up of many steps to which you always have to add transport. This is slow and custom controls have to be passed that can even slow down the whole process.
Making international purchases in the Asian Giant is not an easy process, as can be understood from these tips for importing from China. Not all companies are ready for it, especially when it comes to products with certain characteristics that make importing them difficult .
As a result of this difficulty, and following a tricky first import experience, or even one that is not even completed, many importers decide to hire a sourcing partner.
Sourcing Companies also known as consultants or buying agents, review the whole import process, providing solutions for potential problems and ensure that the products reach their destination just as the customer has requested.
At S3Group and after more than 15 years experience, we know that a sourcing partner is essential to import products from China successfully. Our job is to turn international purchases into simple and safe processes for any company, something that is not only achieved with good advice, but with solid experience.