You may have heard that you cannot Import small quantities of products, and that you have to wait many weeks, even months for the goods to arrive. Also, you may have heard of the Customs problems.
Well, this is all wrong! We have been doing this for years! It is so simple that it amazes me. It is all a matter of knowing how to deal with these companies in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and South Korea. It is very refreshing dealing with them. I have never been ripped off by any of them!
Even the companies that only state in their advertising their minimum quantities, like a container load, will ship small quantities. The trick is calling your request a SAMPLE ORDER! Now, you might not know it, but these companies will accept whatever quantities you request prices for in your Sample Order. Their hope is that you come back and submit a large order. Also, you can get Sample Order shipments over and over.
Some companies are set up to ship small quantities without the Sample Order routine. You can tell by their price lists if they show small quantities. Otherwise, you ask them if they will ship a small Sample Order so that you can introduce their products to your customer base. They have no idea how big your company is.
It is important to have the appearance of a successful firm. Use letterheads, not hand written correspondence. If you do not have a computer, you better get one quick. Join the crowd, or you will not be on the same playing field. Email makes all of this work very well. You can actually email these companies real time, when they are in the office in Hong Kong, or anywhere. Late night here, is morning there.
This means instant communications, and instant action. You can request a Quotation via email, and they will email you everything you need to proceed. They usually send you what is called a Proforma Invoice, which is just an Invoice in advance. You will be expected to wire the funds electronically. This is easily done by your bank.
You can go to their website and see all the products and specs. Very often, if you don’t see what you want, they will give you a price on it. You can never tell, always compare prices. Some firms in the Orient represent other firms in the Orient. You want to buy from the Prime Source, the manufacturer.
If I were to request a price quote, it may look like this:
My firm is in the business of distributing Security & Safety Products throughout the United States. I am very interested in obtaining prices from your most esteemed company.
Your product line is beautiful, and I hope to be offering your quality products in my country.
Please give me prices for a Sample Order of 10 each of the following items.
Thank You for your help.
Very Truly Yours,
This is all it takes to get the ball rolling. But, a computer is a must. No company worth a dime does not communicate at least partially with email. Especially when the companies you will be dealing with are overseas. It takes too long for letters to go back and forth. When you learn about a new product, time is of the essence.
These people you will be dealing with are very honorable. They appreciate your showing respect, and they will respond in a kind way. Even if they do not want to ship small quantities, they very often will do so if you suggest that you understand and are willing to pay a little extra for each item. Your costs will still be a fraction of what you are paying now.
Let’s talk about shipping. You can ship very heavy stuff, like Monitors, via Steamship. This is a pain in the ass because you have to use a Freight Forwarder, who will get it through Customs. It usually takes up to 90 days. We found it more cost effective to buy Monitors in this country. We did buy small 5″ B&W Monitors from Taiwan and had them shipped Air Freight because they are small and light enough to make it cost effective.
Normally, you will request shipping via DHL, FedEx, UPS or EMS. EMS is usually the cheapest, and is an extension of the US Postal Service. All of these methods are Air Freight, and will deliver right to your door! No Customs hassles! It is easy to go online and open an account with all of them.
Remember, a Sample Order can be one or 100 or any amount. It is a Sample Order because you are calling it a Sample Order. Don’t be afraid to wire the funds up front. Remember, these countries are not Democracies, plus they rely strongly on foreign trade. If you were to report one of these companies to their government for ripping you off, they could be jailed for life, or worse! Everything they do is scrutinized by their government agencies. We have wired as much as fifteen thousand dollars at a time.
The first time you attempt to Import some stuff. Make it a small sample order just to get your feet wet.