E232: How to Source from India with Meghla Bhardwaj of Global SourcesMarch in Ecom-Crew-Podcast
Meghla Bhardwaj is the Head of Content Marketing at Global Sources and organizer of the Global Sources Summit. The summit is one that I really love, and for this year Dave and I will both be speaking at the event.
Meghla has been on the podcast a couple of times talking about sourcing from China specifically through Global Sources, but this time our topic is different.
Sourcing from India
With the ongoing China trade war and the uncertainty of the future of tariffs for Chinese products, alternative sourcing countries have become more and more popular. One country that’s been getting more attention is India.
Compared with sourcing from China though, there is a void of information about sourcing from India. In this episode Meghla discusses the ins and outs of sourcing from India, more specifically:
- Advantages for Amazon sellers
- Products and categories India excels in
- Quality of the products compared to those made in China
- Payment terms and lead times
- India trade shows
- Navigating India with/without a guide
If you want to know more about sourcing from India or Global Sources, you can reach out to Meghla at www.facebook.com/meghla.bhardwaj.
Buy product samples instantly
Meghla also introduces a new feature that lets buyers get product samples right on the Global Sources website.
Skip the long email back-and-forth and low MOQ negotiation–buy your product samples instantly (price includes shipping) and test them before making a bulk order. Check out this new feature.
Global Sources Summit discount
This year’s summit will be on April 27th to 29th in Hong Kong and Dave and I will be speaking there.
Meghla was kind enough to hook us up with a sweet discount for EcomCrew listeners. Just use the code ECC100 when you purchase your ticket to get $100 off.
We’re organizing our 2nd annual mastermind right before the Global Sources summit so if you’ll be in Hong Kong on April 26th, this will be the perfect opportunity to come hang out.
Whether you’re making a trip to the Canton Fair or Global Sources for the first time ever or you’re a frequent visitor to China this mastermind will be of incredible value to you.
We’ve designed this mastermind to be an intimate meeting of less than 30 people, so check it out before seats run out.
Thanks for listening to this episode!
Until the next one, happy selling.
Full Audio Transcript
Intro: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 232 of the EcomCrew Podcast. We got a lot going on today guys. Today is the last day to sign up for EcomCrew Premium. And I wanted to put this episode today to kind of coincide with that because along with EcomCrew Premium right now, you can also sign up for our mastermind in Hong Kong, which is going to be right around the time of Global Sources Summit. So there’s all kinds of stuff going on. And Meghla is going to be on the show today talking about Global Sources Summit and also talking about sourcing from India.
It was a fascinating episode. Even if you have no interest in sourcing from India, I highly encourage you to listen to this just to understand cultures and how things work a little bit differently in the rest of the world and the things that you can source from India. So, let me break down the few things I want to go over real quick before getting into the podcast. First of all, as I said, Meghla from Global Sources Summit is on the podcast today. The Global Sources Summit is at the end of April. Dave and I are both going to be speaking there. And if you’re interested in going to that, GlobalSources.com/summit and we have a $100 off coupon code just for EcomCrew listeners and that code is ECC100.
Now, the day before Global Sources Summit starts which is going to be on April 26, we’ll have the EcomCrew mastermind in Hong Kong which we also did last year and you can find out about that at EcomCrew.com/mastermind. So, if you’re interested in coming to the mastermind that’s on April 26th and then the Global Sources Summit is April 27th through April 29th. And then again, one last thing, EcomCrew Premium is closing today so if you have interest in doing that, EcomCrew.com/premium and you can also join that mastermind if you join premium right now for just $100, which is just a great deal.
So, I know that’s a lot of things to take in. I’m going to go over them just one more time and then we’ll get into the meat and potatoes of this episode. So Global Sources Summit is happening April 27th through April 29th. It is a great convention that has an amazing line up of speakers there. Dave and I will also be speaking there, so if you want to come and meet us there, we’d love to meet you. ECC100 for $100 off the Global Sources Summit, that’s at GlobalSources.com/summit. Now, we have in conjunction with that the EcomCrew mastermind the day before the Global Sources Summit on April the 26th. It’s a full day mastermind.
Normally that’s $499 but if you’re an EcomCrew Premium member, it’s 100 bucks and if you sign up for EcomCrew Premium before we close out today, you can join that and come to that for just $100, EcomCrew.com/premium. And we really hope to see you guys over in Hong Kong. It’s fun to meet everybody. There’s only a couple of spots left to that by the way. It’s a small intimate mastermind with only 25 people and I believe as of recording this there’s only four seats left. So, go check out that today, EcomCrew.com/premium, or EcomCrew.com/mastermind.
All right, that was a huge fall of information. I apologize for having to go through all that. But EcomCrew Premium is closing as of today so you won’t have to hear me talk about that for quite a while. I appreciate you guys sticking with us during this time as we’re talking about that. We open that up every couple months. So, we try to keep the commercial stuff away from the podcast as much as possible except during EcomCrew Premium week. So thank you for your patience with all that, we really appreciate it. All right guys, on with the show.
Mike: Hey Meghla, welcome back to the EcomCrew Podcast.
Meghla: Hey Mike, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be back.
Mike: Yeah, you’re one of our few repeat guests. You were on the podcast way back in episode 126. We went over a bunch of sourcing tips. And if anybody is interested in that, I definitely recommend going back and listening to episode 126. It was a great episode, lots of fun pack stuff. But today we’re going to go over some new stuff. But I always like to start over from the beginning even though people that might have been around since 100 episodes ago, it’s hard to believe it’s been over 100 episodes since you were on, but let’s just tell people how we met. It was the Global Sources Summit, right?
Meghla: Yeah, it was the Global Sources Summit. And I think the first time you spoke at the summit was in April 2017 if I’m not mistaken.
Mike: It’s all a blur to me. It sounds about right, you probably know better than I do.
Meghla: And then you’ve been back since then a couple of times.
Mike: I have a couple of times yeah.
Meghla: And you’re speaking again.
Mike: I am, I’m looking forward to it.
Meghla: Me too.
Mike: I love Hong Kong, so it’s never really that much of a twist my arm thing to come do it. It is far obviously, so I wouldn’t be able to come over like just to do that but we try to combine other things. So, this time we’re going to go visit our Philippines office in conjunction with it so we’ll go to Hong Kong and spend a few days there doing Global Sources Summit and then we’re going to fly over to the Philippines for a couple of weeks and spend some time with them.
Mike: Yeah, and since the last time we talked, you guys have a really new or really awesome new feature that I think is really cool. It’s not a part of Global Sources Summit but the Global Sources platform itself, the buy samples section which is something you guys sent me a link and asked me to take a look at and record a video. And I didn’t even know it was there, but you’re always in the struggle when you’re looking for new products and having to go back and forth with suppliers negotiating samples. And you guys have built that right in the platform so people can basically one click order now for ordering samples off the Global Sources platform.
Meghla: Yeah, that’s correct. So, this is a new service that we recently launched. It’s still in beta; we’re still working on enhancements. But basically what it allows buyers to do is buy samples as you said, at the click of a button directly from suppliers. And it really makes samples more accessible without the need for long discussions and negotiations with the seller. And all samples are listed on one page. And they’re organized by industry, for example, consumer electronics, mobile electronics, fashion, accessories, etc. And currently there are about 100,000 products available, and we’re continuously adding more. And the best part is that prices include shipping to anywhere in the world.
So, I think that’s something that importers and buyers will find really convenient because you don’t have to negotiate shipping costs with the supplier because usually what happens is that even if the actual cost of the product is very low, suppliers will charge very high and say that, oh, this is for shipping or something. But we’ve encouraged suppliers to include the shipping into the price. And then, I’ve also noticed that a lot of the samples are at costs that are kind of lower than usual because we’re encouraging suppliers to offer lower prices and treat this as a marketing cost. Because what we found is that higher sample costs, it actually turns off buyers more instead of just filtering out sample hunters or people who are just kind of more retail buyers.
So, yeah, that’s what we’re trying to do. And suppliers decide which products to feature there and we’re encouraging them to feature their newest and hottest products. And yeah, I mean, there are a couple of ways to reach this section. So, you can either go to GlobalSources.com/buysamples or you can also do a search for your product, and then select the filter, accept sample order. And then you’ll see all the suppliers that currently have samples available. And payment is currently by PayPal. So, it’s very convenient.
The other thing that we’re launching apart from the sample page, we’re also launching something called Global Sources payments in a few months where buyers will be able to place and pay for volume orders on the website. So that’s something that’s in the works. We should be able to launch it in maybe May or so.
Mike: Very cool. So is it kind of like escrow payments, is that kind of the idea?
Meghla: Yes, payments will be protected by escrow.
Mike: Yeah. That’s awesome because I mean, I can tell you just from running EcomCrew Premium and the interactions we have there with our students, I would say two of the top five questions are going to be handled by what you just talked about, because we get asked a lot about samples, just everything around samples, like how do I order samples and how much do I need to pay for shipping, and this is expensive and blah, blah, blah, anything to do with samples.
And then of course, people that are just getting into sourcing from Asia specifically, it seems like people have a big fear of that. But anywhere in the world really, but you’re sending money off to a foreign land, and it’s kind of a black hole and what’s going to happen? So, having that reassurance knowing that especially when you’re first getting started, it’s a new relationship that someone is there to protect you, I think is awesome, and will definitely encourage and give people confidence to order when they might not otherwise be willing to do it.
Meghla: Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s why for the samples we have PayPal, which is again; it protects your payments better.
Mike: Yeah, yeah, no, I agree. Because, like, I mean, anytime PayPal is really good about that. If you didn’t get a sample, you would just open up a case and you get your money back. So
Cool, that’s awesome. It’s encouraging and finding here that I didn’t even know about that. So, that’s awesome to hear that that stuff is coming down the pike, and I definitely encourage people to go check out Global Sources and the website over there. They have lots of great products. I’ve seen a lot of them in person, because they also have a trade show that you can go to at the same time as Global Sources Summit, and we’re going to talk about Global Sources Summit in a little bit.
But the main topic we want to talk about today because we like to do value adds for our audience and talk about new things when we can, and you had brought up the idea of talking about sourcing from India, which is obviously something that’s near and dear to your heart. And man, I’m so excited to talk about this because everything seems to always be about China. And I’m even personally intrigued about sourcing from India. There’s some stuff I’m looking to potentially get made there. We do have one product that does get made in India right now, but I wasn’t the one that found that supplier. It was kind of just luck that we found them.
But just having things at different parts of the world I think is good. I think India has less of a negative connotation than China at least in the United States. I’m not sure how it is in the rest of the world, but made in China is like kind of looked down upon in the US. And so having stuff from India is definitely really interesting to me. So I’m looking forward to chatting about this.
Meghla: Cool yeah, absolutely. So, one of the advantages of sourcing from India is that suppliers in India, they offer very high value, unique handcrafted products. That’s what they specialize in. Whereas, in China, they specialize in very automated high volume garlic presses, silicone baking mats kind of products. Those products are not found in India. It’s mostly the handcrafted gift products made by artisans in villages and cities. And also, manufacturers put in a lot of effort into design development and that’s something that I really appreciate. And in fact, if you go to one of these fairs in India, the exhibitors there don’t let people take photos of their booths. They’re just so protective of their designs. They have people sitting outside the booth and stopping by taking photos.
Mike: Yeah, I’ve seen that a few times at the Canton Fair as well. But it’s definitely not as ubiquitous as it sounds like it might be of a thing as it is in India.
Meghla: Yeah. And then, the handcrafted products can generally command higher prices, and therefore they have higher profit margins because the higher perceived value. And like nowadays, there’s just so much competition on Amazon and everyone is just going after the latest garlic press or fidget spinners or something. And then really, what happens is when one of these tools identifies a product that’s hot, suddenly everybody just jumps on it and it becomes really popular and then of course, all of the black hat sellers jump on it and then there’s a lot of listing hijacking and stuff like that.
So, as a seller, if you don’t want to deal with all of that, one strategy will be to source unique and differentiated product not only from India, but other countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and source all of these products that have higher profit margins. And they’re not really high revenue kind of products, but the good thing is that they will not be on the radar of your black hat seller. So, at least you can kind of lying low.
Mike: Yeah, I think that’s so important these days because I mean the amount of black hat stuff going on in Chinese sellers and the fidget spinner type stuff and garlic press stuff type stuff that you said is everyone is going there. So, it’s like I think in business you got to be going to where the puck is going not where it is, and I think all these gurus out there and I guess we’re guilty of this ourselves taught people how to sell stuff on Amazon but the game is changing. And I think that from what you’re saying, these are more unique things that you can’t just go on to Alibaba type site and buy the same exact thing. So you’re going to have some differentiation because it’s unique and it’s handmade so everyone might even be slightly different.
And so I’m thinking in my mind, these are things like pottery or maybe some types of clothing or hats or things like that, maybe like carpets or things like this, am I kind of on the right track or are there other types of products as well?
Meghla: Yeah, absolutely, you’re on the right track. So, there are a couple of materials that India focuses on. One is of course textiles, cotton especially. So, India is a big producer of cotton based products which is apparel, fashion, accessories, furnishings. And then there are other materials such as metal, wood, bamboo, ceramic, a lot of eco-friendly materials such as jute. So the key categories would be first of all is home decor and home products. So, things like tableware, kitchenware, lawn and garden lamps, furniture, carpets, rugs, and then there’s of course fashion accessories. You have jewelry, bags, scarves, and then leather.
Not many people know this but India is one of the biggest producers of leather products. And the quality of leather in India is much better than the quality of leather in China. And so, you may have things like shoes, bags, belts, wallets and then gifted stationery. So there’s a lot of Christmas and festive décor, candles, decorative gifts, stationery and paper products as well. And then yeah, as I said, eco-friendly products are pretty big. So cane, bamboo and you can also consider food items such as tea and spices if you’re adventurous. And then the other thing is that the country has a very large variety of indigenous handicrafts that cannot be found in other countries. So, that’s another advantage I see of sourcing products from India.
Mike: Got you. Interesting, and so I guess the first thing that comes to mind, I’m curious about what with all those different types of things you mentioned, what’s the quality like? If you had to give China a score in terms of quality on a scale of one to 10, and then India, like just obviously this is generalities, every factory is different, I get it. But I think that China has a wrap of lower quality. And certainly the factories we’ve worked with, even though we found the better factories that do focus on quality, it seems like it’s always a struggle. So I’m just curious, is this something that’s different in India, or is it going to be like the same type of struggle over there?
Meghla: So, I think there are a couple of things. First of all, I feel that quality is very subjective. So, it’s really important as a buyer for you to define your quality requirements because what is high quality to me as a buyer from maybe India might not be the same for you as a buyer from the US. So, it’s very subjective and if you give guidelines, very specific guidelines to your supplier, then things should run smoothly, and you should have good quality coming out of the factory. But regardless, I mean, similar to when you’re sourcing from China, it’s really important to do the inspections and some sort of quality control. So, when you’re initially starting out, I think you can, at the minimum do a final pre inspection. But as your order size increases, you might want to consider doing inspections during production as well.
Another thing to consider is that because most of these products are handcrafted, there can be variations from piece to piece so that’s something to keep in mind. And buyers who are buying this, they expect this and you have to be very clear about this in your listing that this is a handcrafted product and therefore there may be variations. Yeah, I mean, overall, I think the quality is not a big issue but you got to make sure that you are defining your specifications very clearly and you’re also doing your inspections.
Mike: Got you. It makes a lot of sense. And you kind of touched on a little bit about the next question I was going to ask, but it’s a little bit different, which is more just the throughput of these factories in India. I mean, I’ve been to factories in China that they’re producing for Walmart, and these large conglomerates all over the world, and they can certainly keep up with the throughput. In fact, I worry about us being too small for them more than anything else. But for me, the things that we’ve been doing, being able to scale it and being able to keep inventory in stock is really important. Are the factories in India as established especially considering things that are handmade? Can you readily get the products that you need to be able to sell; is that going to be a problem there?
Meghla: So, there are of course, different types of factories. I mean, there are smaller factories and there are the more established ones, larger ones. So typically, just as in China, the larger factories would have better processes and better production facilities in place and the products would be readily available from them. Whereas with the smaller factories, you might have to work with them, they might have smaller production capacities as well. But the good thing is that, and I think this is the biggest advantage that Amazon sellers have when sourcing from India is that every supplier will accept low MOQs. And especially because these are handmade products, it is easy to produce smaller quantities.
So, I mean, typically, the minimum order quantity would be 200 to 500 pieces, but they could even go as low as 50 pieces. Of course, they might try to charge slightly higher prices for smaller orders. But yeah, I mean, this is definitely a huge advantage for Amazon sellers, especially if you’re just starting out with a small budget. And even if you’re an experienced seller, if you want to test out a new product line, I think this is a big advantage.
Mike: Got you, and then what about like the logistics of all of it? Let’s say you do start up bringing stuff in from India, I mean I’m just so familiar with China; I have been over there several times and kind of understand the routes. Every single factory is like in a port city already, very few of them are far inland. So, they’re putting stuff on a container ship and it’s like a direct shot to LA. I mean, it’s quick as a direct charge as you can get. And I think of India just being more isolated from the United States in terms of like waterways, and also there’s inland cities within India that aren’t necessarily in port towns. So, how does that work compared to China?
Meghla: Yeah, so logistics is one challenge people will face when they’re sourcing from India. And there are a couple of reasons for this. So first of all, many products are handcrafted, so production times can generally be longer. And the other thing that happens is rainy season or monsoon really slows things down. So for example, one of the main ports is in Mumbai and Mumbai gets a lot of heavy rains during the monsoon season which runs from about June to August, mostly June and July and a bit into August as well. But I mean, there are a few days where the city is literally flooded and it comes to a standstill.
Mike: Wow okay.
Meghla: Yeah, so I mean, that’s one thing to keep in mind, the monsoon really affects things. And the other thing is that it is a big country. So if you’re not sourcing from a production center that’s close to a port, then that will affect your lead times as well. For example, if you’re sourcing somewhere in an interior city in East India, for example, you should add in maybe 10 days or so. So, the other thing is that infrastructure is not as developed as it is in China. So you have to be prepared for unforeseen delays.
A lot of times the products are transported from the factory to the port by train, and trains are delayed or they break down or something. So, I think as an importer, what you need to do is just monitor your delivery times very closely. Just work with the supplier and keep in touch with them, and be prepared for unforeseen delays and then build that buffer into your delivery times.
Mike: Right, that makes sense, it makes perfect sense. And for us, it’s been from China, we get things somewhere between two to three months. And in India it’s been more like four to six for the one thing that we get, it definitely takes longer. It is all handmade, the thing that we have, super high quality, I’ve been really happy with it, but between so much stuff you just talked about with just the fact that’s handmade and the company we do order from is more interior. So, it sounds like that our experience is not unique, and that’s something you just need to plan for and be prepared for and also plan for monsoon season much the way that you plan for Chinese New Year when it comes to China, it’s just a different time of the year.
Meghla: That’s correct yeah, even though Chinese New Year I would say is a longer period whereas monsoon I mean it’s probably a week or two weeks where things really slow down during the monsoon.
Mike: Right, got it okay. So, I’m just like a complete neophyte so just bear with me here, I’m just curious. I mean obviously like there’s the Canton Fair and Global Sources and Mega Show and then there’s like all these like niche toy and game fairs and I mean the amount of fairs I can run off a list of hundreds of them in China. I mean it’s just basically every single day as long as it’s not during Chinese New Year, there’s something going on in some major city in China in terms of sourcing fair. Are there any types of fairs over in India that are comparable even remotely, or is it more just you got to find a Rolodex to start calling? I mean how does it will work over there?
Meghla: So, in terms of fairs, there’s one major fair that’s held in India that’s relevant for Amazon sellers. It’s called the Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair and it’s held in Delhi twice a year, February and October. And this fair features all kinds of handicraft products such as textile based products and metal ware, wood and craft. And so, this is the main fair. There about 3,000 exhibitors at this fair, so it’s nowhere near the scale of the fairs in China like the Canton Fair, nothing of that sort.
And there are other smaller fairs that are very specialized. So for example, there’ll be a textile fair, a jewelry fair, but I don’t think it’s worth going to India to only attend one of those smaller fairs. If you’re going to India to visit your factories, then you might want to attend one of those smaller fairs as well. But yeah, this is the main fair, IHGF. That’s what it’s called or Delhi Fair. And I think if people want to source products from India, this is the fair to go to.
Mike: Got you. And how many days do you think that you need to plan for to be there as it sounds like it’s a lot less overwhelming than the Canton Fair, so maybe, what, like three or four days would suffice or is it something outside that range?
Meghla: Yeah, so the fair itself is for five days. So, I would say maximum of three days would be sufficient for the fair itself. And then I would also say that if you’re there in India, you might as well experience the country as well. I mean, the country has a rich culture and there’s a lot to explore. There are plenty of historical places or temples, mountains; we have the Taj Mahal in Agra, which is about three hours by road from Delhi. It’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World, so you can definitely visit that. And if you are planning a trip to India, attend the trade show, maybe visit a few factories and then take a few days to kind of go around and experience the culture.
Mike: Got you. Yeah. I mean, I want to go, like I want to go regardless if I start sourcing stuff from India or not. It’s one of the countries I certainly — I mean it’s the second largest country in the world in terms of population, so I mean it seems crazy not to go visit. Plus I mean the history there’s is so rich like you were talking about especially compared to the Western world, so definitely something I’d love to go do. And I can see myself making an excuse to go to the trade show in October just to go visit India.
So, in terms of like getting around, I mean, I know a lot of Indians speak English, maybe it might even be I’m just saying it, maybe it’s even an official second language. I know I mean, pretty much every Indian I’ve ever wanted to speaks English. I mean their accent is a little bit tough sometimes to get through, but is it easy to get around there? I mean, I look at China and everything is in — it’s tough. I mean, my wife is Chinese, thank god, like I don’t know, like it’s the one place I’ve been in the world that I think I was slightly intimidated.
I’ve been at 49 countries and the only one that I don’t feel really comfortable traveling around by myself is China because I just don’t speak the language. I can’t read anything because the symbols, a lot of people in China just don’t speak English. There are certainly a lot of people that do speak English, but I’m just curious, I mean, in terms of getting around India, do you think that you need a guide to help you like a lot of people have in China or is it just if you speak English and you’re from the Western world, it might be easier for you to navigate India?
Meghla: Yeah, definitely. So, English is the second official language in India and most people you deal with, your supplier or even people in the street nowadays, they’ll speak some English. Of course some will be more fluent than others, but yeah, I think this is very advantageous because when you’re going around, you can easily communicate. Okay, let’s talk about if you need a guide or not. That was your question, right?
Mike: So getting around and the guide, I’d be curious about both things but yeah, both things.
Meghla: Okay. So getting around, I think it should be okay to get around if you’re alone. I don’t think you’ll be as stuck as you are in China, because a lot of the signs are in English. And even if maybe taxi drivers or rickshaw drivers may not speak English, but you’ll always find somebody nearby who speaks English and just stop somebody on the road, hey, do you speak English? And most likely they will. So, I don’t think getting around will be a problem.
If you’re going there to visit a trade show or your suppliers, do you need a guide? Maybe not, I mean, it’s easy. You just book a ticket, book a hotel and then just go visit the fair and do your thing. But I think what people would find useful is in order to learn more about how things work in India, how the sourcing works, it might help to work with either a buying agent or go as a group over there so that you can learn from each other’s experiences, because there’s a lot of information available out there about sourcing from China, but there’s not a lot of information available about how things work in India.
Mike: Yeah, I mean, it seems like the next major trend in sourcing I think is going to be like India, and you mentioned Vietnam, Cambodia, I think I see those types of countries definitely becoming more and more on the map, especially since there’s a kind of a trade war between the US and China right now, who knows like how long that’s going to take to shakeout? It just seems like the next logical places is India. And labor rates continue to go up in China, but I don’t believe they’ve been going up commensurately in India. So, I think that it’s also going to give them a leg up in terms of being the next wave for manufacturing.
Meghla: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, labor rates are lower in India than they are in China but as far as because most of these products are handcrafted; the prices may be slightly higher than similar products from China that are manufactured in higher volumes.
Mike: Got you. Yeah, it makes sense. And I guess the next — I have a couple more questions. Sorry for just see, I feel like a question machine today but this is really curious to me. Obviously within in China, there’s Alibaba and there’s Global Sources and other platforms just to start finding samples and things online. Is there some type of similar platform in India or is it just still just too early over there?
Meghla: So, definitely Global Sources has suppliers from India.
Mike: Oh, really? I didn’t really see, okay.
Meghla: In fact, we have an office, a couple of offices in India with a sales team and also we work with suppliers there. And in fact, at our fashion show, which is the show that is co-located with the summit, there are plenty of suppliers from India and they’re mostly doing fashion accessories such as scarves and also apparel and jewelry. So, GlobalSources.com, that’s definitely one website. And then there’s IndiaMART, which is the Indian kind of version of Global Sources. So you can find suppliers there. But the problem with IndiaMART is that not all suppliers there are export focused, so there will be suppliers that cater to the domestic market as well. So, sometimes it’s difficult to identify one, manufacturers and two exporters.
Mike: Got you.
Meghla: In India, most suppliers don’t have catalogs or updated websites. Because they’re just so protective of their designs, they’ll mostly just put up a very basic kind of website and the way that they send their newest designs to buyers is via email. So, if you go to a trade show, you meet suppliers there, they’ll take your name card and everything and then a couple of days after the show, they’ll send you a huge catalog with hundreds of products. And they’ll say, oh, these are our latest products and you can choose whichever products you want from these.
So, one of the things that you have to keep in mind is that there are a lot of agents in India as well. And so, sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate agents from real manufacturers. So, especially for hand handcrafted products, what happens is that these products are actually manufactured by artisans. And so of course, these artisans don’t have export licenses, so they don’t run factories. So, there are agents or maybe even some factories that manufacturer some products in-house and other products are outsourced to these artisans. So, that’s something that you have to keep in mind. And it always helps to understand and know your supply chain so that you can anticipate problems or issues that might arise.
So for example, it’s very interesting, for some products they’re actually women, housewives who make these products, and they work maybe two hours a day or something. So what happens is that there’s a factory and then there’s a middleman to the factory. The middleman takes unfinished products from the factory, gives those products to these home based workers, and then they add value, whatever, hand painting, embellishments, and then the agents take those products back from those women and then gives them back to the factory.
So, quality needs to be controlled, because of course, these are not trained workers, but they’re artisans. So, it’s important for buyers to know what their supply chain is. But if you’re aware that, oh, my product is being given to home based workers, then at least you’ll pay more attention to quality control and inspections.
Mike: Got you. Yeah, that makes sense man. It’s somewhat similar I guess to China in some ways because there’s definitely, you go to the Canton Fair, there’s a lot of contingent of people that are sourcing agents that are posing as factories or whatever, and you got to kind of start asking some questions and digging. And then there’s also a lot of factories that do also add other people’s stuff to their catalog and put it on the shelf there and kind of pass it off as their own. So, that seems pretty similar to the situation I’ve seen in China. But it sounds like it’s even more granular than that where there’s like individual like you said housewives and stuff like so it’s someone that can actually sell and export this stuff out of the country. So it’s even more boutique.
Meghla: Yes. And I feel that Indian suppliers are more open about it because I think that that’s what’s important. I mean, you just need to know whether or not it’s happening so that you can anticipate problems, right. I think that’s the main thing. Whereas in China, they won’t even tell you that it’s being subcontracted and they’ll just do it and you’ll find out later when there are quality problems. But I feel with Indian suppliers, they’re more open about it and they’ll say, yeah, we don’t manufacture this product in-house. We get it from somewhere else, but we make sure that the quality is consistent in such and such ways.
Mike: Got you. That makes perfect sense. All right, I got two more questions. But before moving on to the Global Sources stuff, because I want to be respectful of your time, and also save some time to talk about Global Sources here. So, just other things that keep on popping in my head here. I’m just curious in terms of like payment terms and lead times, we already talked about lead times, I guess more just payment terms at this point, China’s kind of the de facto is 30% down to place deposit and get the order in production then the other 70% do at the time that it ships, and you can get better and better terms over time with Chinese factories, but that’s kind of the starting point for almost every Chinese factory. Is it similar in India or they handle things a little bit differently there?
Meghla: So, it’s slightly different in India, they prefer 50/50. However, once the relationship with your supplier develops and you place more repeat orders with them, you can get better terms. And once they start trusting you, then sometimes you don’t even need to pay any advance at all. And of course, if you’re sourcing higher value products, typically you don’t need to negotiate the price too much with the supplier because you will generally have a healthy margin built into the product. And that’s what I like about sourcing handcrafted products, you don’t need to bargain for every dollar and every cent.
Mike: Right, it’s not like every single percentage point is like critical here in business.
Meghla: Exactly, exactly. So I would say, it’s similar to China, build a relationship with the supplier. It’s common for suppliers to take their clients out for meals or arrange trips to visit sourcing or tourist location for [inaudible 00:36:52] Taj Mahal. I think it’s similar to China in those ways. And also, family and professional lives are not rigidly separated I would say. So, you may get questions about your family, and it’s okay for you to ask similar questions in return. And yeah, the Indian way of life is a bit slower and a bit more relaxed.
Mike: Got you. Cool, very cool. And then the last question I had, I just wanted to like more ask an open ended thing because I again, I’m a neophyte. I don’t know a lot about India other than when I was doing all my poker back in the day one of the biggest poker rooms was based in India, so I had a lot of friends in the industry that were Indians and based there and that’s about the only knowledge I really have of India, and then there’s a ton of people over there and I can’t wait to go just because I love Indian food. So, like I’m just like literally that egg right so open ended question of tips like what kind of any other tips you have about sourcing from India that I didn’t get a chance to ask the question on?
Meghla: So first of all, I think most important build relationships and I just mentioned that’s one thing. Secondly, just go visit the country. I mean, if you’re new to sourcing from India, I think it really helps to visit a factory, or just see how your product is made, because it’s so different from China, and even the factory setups and all, they are just so different. So, if you’ve seen a factory in China, the factories in India are nothing like it, so I think it really helps, it will help you if you just go visit the factory. And then another tip would be to, if you’re starting out, try to use a sourcing agent because sometimes I feel, I mean, it’s possible to source without an agent for sure.
And maybe if you’re just starting out and your order volumes are not that high, you can probably just go directly to the factory and once you build the relationship with them, your order should be on time and you shouldn’t have many issues. But as you scale, I think it helps to work with a buying agent in India who can really be “your friend” on the ground and they can help monitor things and follow up with the factory as needed. Yeah. So those are my tips.
Mike: Got you, very cool. All right, let’s switch gears and talk about Global Sources Summit again, really looking forward to come back and speak in there. Again, I love Hong Kong but I also just love hanging out with you. You’re one of the sweethearts of the industry and there’s a lot of other really smart and awesome people there. There’s a lot of really great content. It’s three days of seminars, of people talking about how to grow your Amazon business, or just things online, how to source tips and tricks. There’s a few people that I’ve met over there that have become good friends and people on my social circles because they’re just awesome people. So I’m really looking forward to it.
But I’m curious because we don’t get the talk that often like what’s new, because it seems like every year you guys do something a little bit different. The last time I came to speak, the new thing was there was themes, there was like each day was a like a sourcing day and there was like a marketing day. So that was kind of the new thing a year ago when I was there. What’s new for 2019?
Meghla: Yeah. So first of all, a quick intro to the summit for people who don’t know what it is about. So, it’s a three day conference that’s held in Hong Kong and it’s co-located with Global Sources trade shows. So, literally on the second floor of the venue is the other conference rooms where the summit is held. And then on the ground floor or first floor of the exhibition venue, you’ll have thousands of suppliers that you can source from. So, the two exhibitions that are co-located at the summit are lifestyle show, which covers gifts and home products, and then the fashion show.
So, this is the main benefit of attending the summit that you can learn all about sourcing and selling, and at the same time, you can meet with suppliers on the show floor. So, what’s new at the summit this time again, we are focusing a lot on the content and the speakers. We have really high quality speakers coming mostly from the US; we have 24 speakers, a lot of good content, plenty of time for networking. And we still have themes for each day. So the first day, our theme is product selection and sourcing. And one of the topics actually, that we’re covering is sourcing from India and how to find unique and profitable products.
Mike: Oh cool.
Meghla: And then Dave Bryant is actually also speaking on this day, and he’s covering 10 hacks to sourcing products cheaper, quicker and easier. That’s his topic. And then on day two, our theme is driving traffic and sales. So, that’s where you’re speaking, and you’re talking about how to use lead magnets to acquire customers. So that’s a very interesting topic. And then we have John Lawson, who’s going to be talking about social marketing, and we have somebody talking about Google Shopping ads. And then we’re also talking about how to protect your business, so insurance and then the legal foundation that you need to put in place to build a stable business.
Then day three is about product reviews and also a bit of a forecast. So we have somebody talking about how to influence buyers and generate reviews, and then Will Mitchell from Startup Bros, he’s going to be talking about what’s coming for Amazon sellers in 2020 and beyond. So, those are the top topics for the three days. And then after the summit finishes, we have an advanced training that’s going to be conducted by Kevin King. So, this is a four hour workshop that is going to be held right after the summit and in the afternoon of the third day. And I think this is going to be a great workshop for advanced sellers and Kevin has prepared close to 1,000 slides for this presentation.
Mike: Oh wow. I thought I was overachiever. That’s pretty good. So, that’ll be on the 29th then, right?
Meghla: Yes, that’s on the 29th from 2pm to 6pm.
Mike: Got it. So, the Global Sources Summit then is the 27th, 28th and 29th, which it’s time to be in between phase two and three of the Canton Fair. So, the Canton Fair shuts down for a couple days in between phases. And it’s really easy to get from Guangzhou over to Hong Kong. It’s always been easy, but they opened up a high speed train now, which makes it even easier and faster, so definitely a great time to come over there and learn from fellow entrepreneurs and people speaking on stage that have been doing this stuff. I think it’s just an awesome opportunity.
I love the size of the event. It’s something I guess between around 150 people I’m guessing in that range, which is the size where it’s easy to network and you don’t feel overwhelmed in the halls like you just don’t want to talk to people. It’s kind of like that environment that kind of encourages networking and there’s several breaks in between where you guys offer like [inaudible 00:44:00] and coffee and tea and stuff where people kind of mingle out in the hallways and meet.
And we also coordinated our event; we’re doing a mastermind ourselves the day before Global Sources Summit because we’re already going to be there. We did this last year. That’s going to be on the 25th, so if you’re interested in that, that’s on EcomCrew.com/mastermind if you want to join Dave and I for a day. We’re capping it to 20 people like we did last year, so it’s like an intimate just a small room thing that we get to meet people. And we like smaller events ourselves just to be able to meet our members and people that are interested in our stuff and then you can continue on that path of going to Global Sources Summit for a couple more days after that and learning even more.
And Meghla was nice enough to offer us a discount code. So, if you are interested in going to Global Sources Summit, there is a discount code of ECC100 EcomCrew, ECC100 which will take 100 bucks off the ticket. And that is good till the end of this month or when do they need to sign up by, what’s the cutoff for the sign up?
Meghla: So, there’s no cut off as such but we’re currently running the early bird ticket. So, until March 15th, the ticket price is 599, and then sorry, 699 and then it will go up to 799 from March 16th. If you want to save $100, sign up before March 15th.
Mike: Yeah, it’s definitely, I think it’s worthwhile. I think it’s a great conference. It’s something that I look forward to. I wish I can go twice a year. It just it’s obviously not close to me. You guys do it in the spring and the fall, but I’ve been kind of traditionally it seems like every April going over there and doing that. It’s also around my birthday, so I end up spending my birthday in Hong Kong which is not a bad place in the world to be. I love that city and then hanging out with all the people that go to Global Sources Summit. So, if people want to get a hold of, if they have any questions about Global Sources Summit, what’s the best way to get ahold of you?
Meghla: So, you can look for me on Facebook, just search for Meghla on Facebook, and I think we’ll also include a link to my Facebook profile in the show notes.
Mike: Yeah, it will be in the show notes absolutely, yeah. And so, that’s M-E-G-H-L-A for Meghla, and the URL for Global Sources Summit is GlobalSources.com/summit. And again, the discount code is ECC100 to take 100 bucks off the ticket price, and also don’t forget about EcomCrew mastermind. I think it’ll be cool to come do that day before and we can help you guys get to the Global Sources Summit and all that good stuff as well, and that’s at EcomCrew.com/mastermind. Man, we’ve gone way over. I apologize Meghla. It’s just your wealth of knowledge, the stuff about India, I’d love to buy a beer when I’m over there and talk more about this because I’m just fascinated.
I find I’m not as interested in China anymore because I feel like I’ve done all that now, and I’m just curious cat. So, I would want to just switch gears and go figure out how to do stuff in India just to do something new and have that new challenge because it was definitely a challenge finding suppliers in China and getting all that stuff up and running. But just experiencing a different culture and all those different things as well and like I said, I love Indian food just as much as I probably love Chinese food. So, instead of having dumplings, I can have some sag [ph] or something like that when I go over there.
Meghla: Yeah absolutely.
Mike: Awesome, well I look forward to seeing you in person in just a few more weeks, and until then take care and we’ll talk soon.
Meghla: Thank you so much Mike. See you soon.
Mike: All right, that’s going to do it for this episode of the EcomCrew Podcast. Recapping everything just real quick, if you want to go to Global Sources Summit, GlobalSources.com/summit, discount code ECC100 for 100 bucks off that. We have the EcomCrew mastermind the day before that, EcomCrew.com/mastermind. And if you’re interested in joining EcomCrew Premium, this is it folks, at midnight tonight that is going to close, EcomCrew.com/premium. Man that was a mouthful. I appreciate you guys and all your support and everything you do for EcomCrew. And until the next one, happy selling and we’ll talk to you soon.
Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.