My Experience Importing $10,000 Worth of Products from China (Alibaba) – Tips & Mistakes!

So a few weeks ago, I imported about $10,000 worth of Goods into Australia from China to sell directly to customers via my eCommerce website.

And I just wanted to share the experience with you guys, hopefully it can save you some time, money and maybe avoid some of the mistakes I made.

Watch the video above, if you don’t like reading 🙂

So for a very long time, I wanted to design, create and import something from China to sell and make some money.

But I was also a bit skeptical about manufacturing things from China because there is a lot of bad publicity surrounding products made in China. I mean when I was a kid, my mum would tell me stories about certain foods in which they would use hair to make it. Or things from the news about worker conditions, child labour or poor quality products etc.

So in 2017, I went to the Canton Fair to check it out myself. (Essentially a place where manufacturers come to showcase their product to people like me and you). When I first arrived in the city of Guangzhou – It was night and the visibility and the air quality wasn’t as good as Australia but not as bad as the news made it to be.

After reaching the main city area – it was very clean, modern and much better than I expected. And when visiting the Canton fair and talking to the supplier and holding the products – gave me renewed confidence to start importing stuff myself.

Of course, there will be companies which are bad – but these days there are probably more good companies.

So fast forward to 2019, I was ready to import something. Something that I felt that doesn’t have much competition yet in Australia and that other solutions weren’t as good. But this same product is very popular in the United States.

So I hopped onto Alibaba to find the products. And I sorted by suppliers, because what you are going to notice is that suppliers will have multiple listings of products. I also filtered by Assessed and companies with Trade Assurance.

You also want to make sure that you are dealing directly with the manufacturer and not a trading company or middleman. There is an awesome video on how to find the right suppliers in the by GoodLife Warrior that will help you easily determine who is the manufacturer or trading company.

So we spent a few days on researching the companies – Google Mapping their address. Look through their listing, company photos, website and basically analysed a lot of the info they provided.

Then we contacted a few which have narrowed down for the MOQ, Price and whether or not they could make customizations we requested.

Then we narrowed it down even further based on their responses and we ended up asking for a few samples from 3-4 different companies.

So they sent out their samples via air for around 20 USD – normally it will arrive within a week and most of the time the sample is free.

And from that there were 2 companies which were good. But we choose the one with the most modern packaging, good english and fast and detailed responses, and 1000 MOQ to pursue further.

So we started to design our own packaging, box, user guide and things like that – everything was pretty good and we were excited about our product.

We were almost ready to send the payment. But luckily, I checked the product one more time and compared it to the most popular brand in Australia.

And realised the quality wasn’t the best because I didn’t test it long enough and also didn’t test it under different conditions. Something that I missed probably cause I was too excited about creating the packaging. So I discussed the concerns with the Manufacturer and they seemed to not acknowledge the flaws, at first. So we sent them a video to explain it better and then they told me that they don’t have the capabilities to make it like that yet and the material is hard to find in china.

So at that time, I was like “Oh shit!”. We were so close and already invested hundreds of dollars and spend a few weeks with this one – I was thinking to myself “what do we do now”.

So we went back to the other supplier which stated 2000 MOQ and they actually sent a message saying that they can do 1000 MOQ and we didn’t actually see it until now. So we didn’t have to negotiate.

We just continued our discussion – and explained the situation and then they told me I was working with a new company which is trying to copy them. Which was funny. So we tested their product and it was more stable and higher quality then the previous manufacturer – seemed to match the quality with the brand in Australia.

Luckily we had designed everything already, so we just sent them our designs and they produced the sample for us and shipped it over. After a few iterations, we were ready to place an order.

So I sent over a purchase order – which included what we were ordering, desired shipping date and conditions (for example, if it were late or didn’t meet quality standards who would be responsible etc)

And then we signed the agreement and I sent over 40% deposit via international bank transfer.

And the remaining 60% will be paid after inspection approval.

So it took around 30 days for them to complete. So during that time, I was looking for inspection companies – eventually settling with QIMA. Because they seemed to have the best website and interface. There are some cheaper ones around 100+ for 1 man day. This one was around $300 for 1 man day, but their report seemed more professional and comprehensive.

After you sign up with QIMA, you can book an inspection – they have people all around China and they operate 365 days.

So you can submit your specific criteria that you want them to check. Or you can also send a sample to them to compare.

After the inspection – It will take around 24 hours for them to upload the report and you can read it and decide on whether or not approval the order. (Check out the sample reports)

For us, it actually failed – but it wasn’t the product failure, the box didn’t fit as tightly as I wanted. But I felt that it wasn’t too bad since we had a shrink wrap for it anyways, so I approved it.

Paid the final 60% via bank transfer and they sent the goods via fedex.

So it took around 5 days to reach Australia. And then fedex texted me for the taxes and duties. Paid it, then it was released from customs and delivered to my place.

Final Recommendations

1. Check your insurance premiums before hand – because for certain product it may be quiet high and you need to take that into account when calculating your selling price and profit margins. Especially for things people put on their skin, into their mouth etc.

2. Check your country regulations (labelling, shipping, customs) – This is important because not all products can be shipped, certain percentages of ingredients may be limited for products. You may need labelling requirements. for ex.”Warning: Not intended for Use for Child Under 12″

3. Get a Factory Audit or Self Assessed Factory Audit – This is important because when you’re getting product liability insurance, you will be asked for certain information regarding quality control etc. But It’s also important to know the capabilities of the factory – so that they are able to produce superior quality products.

4. Budget at least 3-6 months – The time from searching for suppliers to actually having the product in your hand ready to sell will take a lot of time. Emails, samples, testing, researching, problems, discussing terms/payments, negotiating, production, shipping and inspection will take a while. So manage your expectations and have enough cash to last you at least 3+ months. And also sales may not come instantly, it will take some time to build up your brand.

5. Download WeChat – Alot faster to communicate with them. Much faster than email and they’ll even reply you during non-business hours!

6. Check out the GoodLife Warrior Channel: (really amazing information)

7. Read/Listen to the BookPoorly Made in China” – This can help you understand the cultural differences and help you better manage and negotiate with suppliers from China

8. And Finally – Don’t be afraid to fail! You’re going to make mistakes even if you watch 100 videos, just keep on moving forward. Don’t get stuck on the dream, take action today!

Hope this informations helps 🙂