Knowing the most common errors while importing will help us to avoid them in the future. Our extensive experience as sourcing consultants has shown us that, regardless of the variety of products companies wish to source, the main mistakes made tend to be usually always the same ones.
Quite often, the errors committed while importing start already when preparing and implementing the research and selection of potential suppliers. The fact that we encounter mishaps already in the very early stages of the process usually means that these errors become amplified over time and tend to have an impact on later stages of the process.
Poor design and/or definition of the product
Whether the product has been created by ourselves or by a third party, the design and definition of the product is very critical and the results afterwards will depend on this step. It is important to define in a lot of detail what we are looking for and how the product should be (materials, customisation, etc.), leaving no decision pending.
Wrong supplier selection
As we have already mentioned many times in our blog, the supplier selection phase is one of the most relevant parts in the overall process, when we decide to import products from China or other Asian countries.
While selecting a factory, it is crucial to know whether they will be able to do the job as requested, following the required quality standards (having experience in the field is clearly a plus), while using the correct materials.
Incorrect calculations of the import costs
It is worthwhile remembering that the import costs are not simply the sum of the product cost and the transport expenses. There is a long list of additional factors to be taken into account (travel, quality control, taxes, currency exchange, unforeseen costs, etc.) and therefore, making wrong calculations in the import process is one of the most common mistakes companies commit (particularly when they are implementing their first import project), having in the end a major impact on the business’ profit margin.
Mistakes in the product itself
This type of errors tends to be the consequence of the combination of two (or even three) factors. On the hand, this may be due to a poor set of specifications for the product, to which often poor communication with Asian suppliers should be added. Additionally, on a regular basis the poor selection of a supplier may lead to errors linked to the product itself.
In order to avoid product mistakes (which tend to end up being the ones with the largest impact, particularly when detected too late), it is crucial that voluntary quality control inspections are always foreseen. On top of that, it is important that no shipment of the goods takes place without having evaluated the products previously.
A beginner’s mistake: to think that there will be no unforeseen issues
Regardless how optimistic we are, in business it is always worthwhile to have a plan B, avoiding that we leave production in the hands of pure luck, thinking that we will not suffer from unforeseen circumstances.
Even when the experts do their job, mistakes may happen in import process. The key – based on years of experience – is to know how to solve them in an agile and efficient manner.
Among the most common unforeseen topics with which companies often do not count are product defects and, the most typical one, delivery delays, causing empty warehouses and giving companies a major problem when they are not able to supply goods to their respective customers.
Avoid mistakes: hire the services of an import professional!
It should be said that, unfortunately, mistakes happening in import processes lead many businesses to think that international purchasing is not a good option, clearly an incorrect assessment in most cases. In this sense, as sourcing professionals, we insist on leaving the purchasing processes in the hands of the professionals.
Importing products from Asia may lead to several problems when experience is lacking, but this should not be a reason to abandon the project. With experience or when in the hands of the appropriate professional, importing products is generally one of the best ways to achieve better sales margins and to make the company more competitive in the market.