On several occasions when meeting with clients, I get the following comments:
“But it’s much cheaper on the Internet!”
“I found it on Alibaba. Here’s the link, can you order it for me?”
“Yes, but I can buy it online for 50¢ US.”
My answer? I give a broad smile, followed by a long breath and then I let the shoe drop: “It will most probably be a negative experience that will cost you much more than you anticipated.” I speak from experience because I’ve tried it… several times. Yes, it seems so easy. On certain sites, you will find testimonials, “Verified” icons, the number of active years on the site, factory pictures, etc. Everything is there to build your trust. So, why choose to entrust your product orders to experts if it’s that easy to do it on your own? Read the following 10 reasons and let me know if you still want to try.
1.THE ACTUAL COST
Prices appearing on Chinese websites are generally components of marketing strategies designed to attract customers. In most cases, the actual cost of a product will be much higher, unless you order 100 000 units or more.
2. WATCH OUT FOR MINIMUM QUANTITIES
Spend time reading small print. Minimum quantities are often greater than what you need. This will increase your bill while leaving you with surplus stock that will most likely end up in the trash some day.
3. QUALITY – THE ESSENCE OF YOUR PRODUCT
If you think that the sample product you received reflects your future order, think again. You are not covered. Actual production is often very different. Quality standards in Asia are quite different from ours. Oh, and good luck with compensation afterwards!
4. DEPOSITS… THAT DISAPPEAR WITH THE SUPPLIER
You will probably need to send a deposit before production begins. One of our clients told us he had attempted to buy directly from a Chinese site. He had sent a deposit and hadn’t heard anything back. The supplier ignored him. He asked me if I could check out the address during an upcoming trip to China and meet with the supplier. All I found was a small desk full of papers, but no factory and no supplier. Our client had been given a false address.
Not only must you send a deposit before production begins, you must also pay the remaining balance in full before your order is shipped. Since it may take several weeks, if not months, before you receive your product, you will need large sums of money spent months in advance and demonstrate superior liquidity management skills.
5. LABELLING PITFALLS
One of our business contacts asked for help after he failed to check labelling rules on products sold in Canada after he imported products on his own. His container was kept in port by Border Services Agency because his products were not labelled according to Canadian norms. He ended up paying storage charges and having to personally attach the correct labelling on more than 5,000 handbags before his container could be released.
6. RESPECTING COLOURS AND LOGO DESIGN
Even if the Pantone colour chart is used internationally, colour discrepancies are frequent. Additionally, if you chose to personalize your product, logo proportions are often wrong despite the perfect sample you approved. During mass production, variations are such that they may end up being unacceptable.
7. PRODUCT TESTING
Before being marketed in Canada, several products need to abide by specific governmental standards, especially electronic products or those intended for children. These tests are conducted by independent companies and require time and money. Since every country has its own standards, these tests are necessary and required by insurance companies.
8. EXCHANGE RATES AND CUSTOMS DUTIES
If you import, you handle foreign currencies. Because of exchange rate fluctuations, it is critical to calculate the actual price that you will pay in Canadian dollars. Customs duties will be added to this amount. Canada taxes several imported products. Are you aware of the customs duties percentage that will be applied to your product? Did you know that this percentage is applied on the value of the amount converted into Canadian dollars? This will considerably increase the cost of your product.
9. DO NOT OVERLOOK INSURANCE COVERAGE
Is your business or company covered by liability insurance in the event that a person using a product that you imported experiences damages or gets injured? As the importer of a product, YOU are the person (or legal entity) who will be prosecuted, even if you sold your product to a third party. The importer has full responsibility for the imported goods, as no recourse is powerful enough to allow us to prosecute Chinese suppliers (or other). Another type of coverage that is often neglected is the one covering losses or damages caused to your products during transportation.
10. TRANSPORTATION HAZARDS
Whether you are using express carriers, such as UPS and Fedex, or sea freight, they can be the source of problems. An express courier may easily be delayed (storms, accidents, errors), lose your shipment or deliver it at the wrong address. As for sea freights, unloading times are increasing, and there is always the possibility of delays caused by employee strikes. Finally, did you calculate transportation fees in your final costs?
ARE YOU STILL CONSIDERING IMPORTING ON YOUR OWN?
If you love taking risks, you may give it a try while being aware that the probability of losing money is quite high. You could succeed with a very simple object, but you could also never receive it, get late delivery, or receive something totally different.
The best solution is to leave experts do the work. We are not immune against all problems, but we developed tools and control procedures that limit and reduce risks when importing from a large number of countries. We have also established, over the years, a network of trustworthy suppliers who make our work effortless. Finally, each member of the Sobezone team is trained to fulfill all of your order requirements so that your experience is positive and in line with your budget and expectations.
Let us take care of your products while you take care of your business. It’s a win every time!
CEO of Sobezone
Passionate about your projects