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How to Import From China to Sell Profitably in 2021

August 5, 2021 in Blog, Importing, Portal: Importing, Portal: Products
How to Import from China to the USA in 2021
How do you find a product to import from China and sell online?  Does COVID make it harder to import from China? Is Alibaba still the best place to find products to import? And how do you do all of this with minimal cash? I’ll walk you through step-by-step in this guide.

Boat importing Chinese Goods in Container

This mega guide will give you all of the information you need to get started importing from China: Everything from finding the perfect product, negotiating with suppliers, to figuring out the best way to ship your items.

Container from China for Importing goods

Why Import from China?

If you’re thinking about importing from China, it’s probably because you want to start selling either on Amazon.

When it comes to selling on Amazon, there are basically three business models:

  • Retail Arbitrage -Buying goods for cheap from stores and reselling them online
  • Dropshipping – Buying goods from distributors and wholesalers and selling online
  • Importing from China/Private Labeling – Finding products to import from China, sometimes with some light product improvements, and selling them online

The most popular business model when selling on Amazon is by far private labeling. When you buy a product on Amazon and you don’t really recognize the brand name, but it’s cheap and has a bunch of reviews, that product is probably from a private label seller who’s imported some goods from China and listed them on Amazon.  There are some Amazon sellers who still do retail arbitrage and dropshipping but it’s less and less popular now.

There are many reasons why importing from China is so popular. Here are some of the reasons:

  • High-profit margins (and much higher than drop-shipping) means you can make a lot of money
  • It’s easy to import into America (even for non-Americans)
  • Developing real, tangible products and selling them is exciting
  • No need to travel to China to find products
  • But if you do travel to China it’s fun and adventurous

How has COVID impacted importing from China?

As we all remember, COVID started in China. Initially, COVID struck China very hardly and there were some massive delays. However, China has done a very good job of controlling the pandemic and production delays have been very rare.

However, while production delays have been rare, as of this writing in late 2021, visiting China is still very difficult (they have very tight border controls).

How Much Money Can You Make Importing from China?

More Profit Margins from China

Ecommerce has been booming in recent years (and that’s probably why you’re considering importing from China) and there are a lot of people making a lot of money. Ecommerce has always been a quickly growing trend but it has become even more popular since the COVID-19 pandemic. With that being said, as the opportunity grows, so too does the amount of competition (more on that later).

I have personally started and sold numerous 7-Figure (meaning $1million+) ecommerce brands built around importing from China. The first business I sold was Anchoring.com in 2016 which I sold for $867,000 (see the entire post here). My EcomCrew partner Mike Jackness has done the same, selling his brand ColorIt.com for just over a million dollars in 2017 (see his podcast here). Today, we continue to run several brands in various niches from off-roading to baby products doing close to $10million in sales.

 

ecommerce company revenue stats

A brief snapshot of the profit and loss statement of my previous company, Anchoring.com.

How much money can you make? Well, it all depends of course, but a big factor that will affect how much money you can make is how much money you have to invest. Most people are looking to either double or triple their money each year. So, for example, if I invest $1000 into buying products, I expect to make $2000 to $3000 at the end of the year. Some years are better than others of course and no matter how good the year is, how much money you can make will largely depend upon how much money you have to invest. Later in this article, I’ll talk about how to stretch your money further and get access to lending.

Is it Too Late to Import and Sell on Amazon?

There is still a lot of opportunity to sell on Amazon, but the strategies that work now are quite a bit different than my first company Anchoring.com.

Previously, you could basically find a product to sell on Alibaba, put your name and barcode on it, and you’re off to the races. Now, there’s a lot more of a requirement to physically change products and make them a bit different than the competition as there’s a flood of ‘me-too’ products on Amazon.

I have an on-going series that chronicles starting a new brand that hit a million dollars in revenue in about a year. So there’s still opportunity to sell on Amazon, it just takes different strategies than before.

What You Need to Get Started Importing

The most important thing you need to import from China is money to buy inventory. Generally, I recommend having at least $500 to buy inventory and ideally $2000-5000.

What you need

  • $2000-5000 for purchasing products
  • An Amazon.com Sellers Central account

What you don’t need

  • To be physically present in America or have an American EIN, SSN, or Business
  • Have any Chinese language knowledge

Nice to have as you grow

  • A customs broker
  • A Third-Party Logistics company (3PL)
  • A Freight Forwarder
  • An Inspection company in China

You will also need an Amazon Seller Central account if you plan to sell on Amazon. This will cost you $39.99 a month.

Can I Still Import from China if I’m not American?

We have a lot of readers of this blog all over the place, including Canada, Europe, and India (I myself am Canadian). Thankfully, the United States makes importing products and selling them VERY easy for both Americans and non-Americans.

For smaller value shipments of $800 and below, you don’t need any formal paperwork to import into America and you won’t even pay any duties or taxes! For larger value shipments, the paperwork is very easy, even for non-Americans (and you won’t need a U.S. business).

Needless to say, you do not need any Chinese language knowledge as well. Almost all Chinese suppliers who export have English language websites and sales catalogs and at least a couple of staff members with reasonable English.

Find Made in China Products

How to Find Home Run Products to Import and Sell on Amazon

The big question you’re all probably asking now is: how do I find a GOOD product to import from China?

When you’re importing from China you’re basically looking at private labeling products. This means you’re taking an existing product, putting your brand on it, and possibly making some light product improvements.

When I’m looking for products to import I’m looking for three basic things:

  • Little or no “optimized competition” on Amazon (this basically means their product pages on Amazon are poor, with bad images and little use of paid advertising)
  • Products that can be profitable to sell
  • Products that I can easily improve 

I cover how to find products a lot more in the post how to find the perfect product to import from China and sell on Amazon.

Good Products vs. Bad products to import from China

Good and Bad Products to Import from China

China is the factory of the world but there are certain products which are good for small importers and others which are bad. Identifying good and bad products basically comes down to understanding two critical differences between China and Western countries:

  • China is a developing country with different quality standards from the West
  • China has different norms around intellectual property and there are a lot of counterfeit products

Chinese factories make a lot of crappy products but also make a lot of excellent products. One of the ways to avoid crappy quality products is to import simple products. Example products would be mouse traps, garlic presses, and furniture. More complex products are more likely to have quality issues such as electronics and electrical items. Several years ago, hoverboards became a trendy item but unfortunately they were banned from Amazon soon thereafter because many of them had severe quality issues and starting suddenly exploding – this is a good example of a complex product with poor quality.

Hoverboard catching fire

In 2016, Amazon suddenly banned all coverboards after some severe quality issues with most of the ones originating in China.

For nearly 10 years of running this blog, there’s a few product categories that I routinely see new importers run into troubles with: electronics, electrical items, baby items, and digestible items.

Good products to import from China

  • Simple
  • Labor-intensive instead of technology intensive (i.e. sofa vs tablets)
  • No patents or trademarks (“intellectual property” or IP)

Bad products to import from China

  • Electronics, electrical items, baby items, and digestible items
  • Complex
  • Inherently dangerous products
  • Products with a patent or trademark

Finally, China is home to a lot of knock-offs. You will find a wide variety of counterfeit products to import including products that violate trademarks, copyrights, and/or patents. It’s a very bad idea to import counterfeit products – they may be seized at the border, Amazon may suspend your account, and even worse things can happen.

Don’t do it.

Easily Find Import Regulations/Certifications from Amazon Seller Central

Amazon’s Compliance Reference tool allows you to quickly see common import and selling restrictions for various products in the U.S.

One of the the most horrifying things for an importer is their goods arriving into their country and then being notified that they need a certain certification before they can legally import the item. Nearly as bad is finding out that Amazon has certain restrictions on a product as well.

Amazon in 2021 made this process slightly easier with the Compliance Reference tool within Seller Central (Amazon’s platform for selling products). You can access the tool here https://sellercentral.amazon.com/ckp/ (Seller Central login required). It’s not entirely exhaustive and I recommend still checking with a customs broker beforehand, but it’s better than going in completely blind.

Alibaba & Beyond: How to Find Great Suppliers in China

China is an incredibly safe country (the 32nd safest in the world). It has a strong legal system and being scammed is very rare.

China Safety Chart

Your primary concern will be ensuring quality products. Chinese factories won’t steal your money but they may send your inferior quality products.

The most popular places to find suppliers are:

The most common place to find suppliers are on Alibaba and Aliexpress and we have an excellent guide on using Alibaba.

Alibaba is basically a directory of factories and suppliers in China. Aliexpress is very similar, but is basically a directory of trading companies (resellers of the factory’s goods) and has higher prices but lower minimum order quantities (MOQ) than Alibaba.

Almost everyone will use Alibaba at some point in their importing journey. Even Chinese companies use it, although they’ll normally use the Chinese version of the site, 1688.com. There’s nothing wrong with Alibaba and it’s very safe – the biggest issue is that everyone is using Alibaba and so it can be difficult to find products without dozens or hundreds of competitors already on Amazon.

Canton Fair Booths

I like to try and find suppliers that aren’t already selling to other Amazon sellers. Because of this, my preferred method for finding a supplier is by visiting trade shows (although that’s quite a bit harder with COVID now). The best suppliers often do not advertise on Alibaba but do attend trade shows. The Canton Fair is the largest trade show in China but there are thousands of trade shows going on in China every year.

Sourcing companies and trading companies are basically companies who will do all the grunt work of finding products for you. They don’t actually make any products themselves. A lot of people shun trading companies and sourcing companies because it’ll often mean prices 5-15% higher than factories, but they have a lot of value including being able to source difficult to find products and ensuring higher quality standards.

Using Import Records to Find Your Competitor’s Suppliers

One of the best ways to source products, is to find the suppliers that your competitors are already using. Most people are not aware, but in America, every company’s import records are public information by law unless they make a formal request to the government to have their records hidden (which most companies don’t do).

Jungle Scout allows you to see the real export history of nearly any Chinese Supplier.

You’ll need to use a software tool to find this information though. The best tool for this is by far Jungle Scout because it also has other product research tools bundled with it. I get a referral commission for referring you there but it’s legitimately the best tool available by leaps and bounds.

Jungle Scout allows you to:

  • Find out what Chinese supplier a competitor is using (great for finding products)
  • See how much a supplier exports
  • Find out what suppliers export specific products

See our article A Secret Weapon for Doing Supplier Research

Trading Companies vs Factories – Which is Best for You?

factory pros and cons

In China, there are two basic types of suppliers: factories and trading companies.

Factories manufacture products. Trading companies do not manufacture products but source lots of different products from different factories.

In general factories have lower prices than Trading Companies but higher minimum order quantities and less product selection.

Often the supplier will say in their company name manufacturer or trading company so they are quite easy to distinguish. If in doubt, ask your supplier what type they are.

Neither trading companies nor factories are inherently bad or good. Trading companies (normally) have lower MOQs and better quality controls. Factories (normally) have lower prices.

Ordering Samples From China and Placing your First Order

Ordering Samples and Making Your First Order

When you’re getting ready to place your first order, there’s two things you need to know about: samples and Minimum Order Quantities.

Samples when Importing From China

Once you find a supplier for your product, most people want to order a sample first from that supplier. A sample gives you an idea of the overall quality of the product from that supplier and is normally the last step before you proceed to a bigger order. Your supplier will likely charge you a sample fee as well as the cost of air shipping that product to you (which can be anywhere from $50+)

Minimum Order Quantities (MOQ) When Importing from China

When you’re placing an order, almost every supplier will have a Minimum Order Quantity or MOQ. An MOQ is just the minimum amount of a product you need to order from that supplier. Normally it’s around $2500 to $5000 worth of product, sometimes lower. This is one thing you can really negotiate with your supplier on, especially on your first order.

Even if you think you’re going to sell a billion dollars worth of product in the first week, I suggest making your first order size as low as possible. You want to gradually build up the order size with your supplier over the course of two or three orders.

When you place your order, submit an actual Purchase Order (aka an invoice) that consists of the following things:

  • Order quantity
  • Price
  • Shipping terms, i.e FOB, CFR, EXW (More on this later)
  • Date the order will be completed
sample purchase order

You can just send a plain email telling your supplier you want to buy 100 widgets but it doesn’t look very professional. I’ve made your life easy and provided a free sample purchase order (Excel) you can download here.

Negociate Quote from Chinese Suppliers

How to Negotiate Rock Bottom Prices and Low MOQs

The first thing you must do before trying to negotiate any pricing is to get multiple quotes, ideally from three or more suppliers. This will tell you what the normal cost of your desired products is.

Order several samples and try selling them on Amazon before committing to a larger order.

In China, there is a golden rule: quality is directly related to price. Exceptionally low priced items normally mean exceptionally low quality. Another reason for a low price can be:

  • The quality is significantly lower than others
  • Different shipping terms (i.e. EXW instead of FOB)
  • Significantly higher minimum order quantity (MOQ)

Once you determine what a normal cost is for your items you can try to negotiate pricing. However, prices in China are becoming more and more fixed and negotiation is becoming more difficult. A 5-10% discount off of quoted prices can often be significant.

Where you can negotiate is minimum order quantities (MOQ). Like I mentioned, often you can negotiate the suppliers quoted MOQ down by 50% or more.

In the future, when you start to place larger and larger orders, you can start to negotiate more on price. In the beginning though, you don’t have a lot of leverage.

Payment Terms and Making Payments

When you are arranging payment terms with your supplier, the most common terms you will come across will be 30/70. That means you pay 30% when the order is placed and 70% upon completion. Never accept an order requiring a 100% deposit unless the order is small (less than $2000).

If your order is relatively small, under $2000 or so, your supplier will normally accept payment via Alibaba’s payment solution called Aliababa Trade Assurance. This payment method gives you pretty good assurance your supplier will actually ship your products – it won’t protect you much on quality issues though.

Once you get to larger orders ($2000+) payment is almost always made by wire transfer or sometimes referred to as TT (telegraphic transfer). Payment by credit card or PayPal is generally not accepted for orders larger than $5000 or so.

Payment is almost always in US dollars.

Quality inspection of Product in China

How to Ensure You Receive High-Quality Products

Your biggest concerns when importing from China will be to ensure that you’re getting quality products.

Related Listening: E174: Avoid Getting Scammed When Importing Products From China

Quality standards are the biggest difference between Chinese manufacturing and Western manufacturing. Western countries (such as Amazon buyers) have much higher quality standards than in China.

The first shipment of products you receive will probably be some of the best quality products that that factory produces. Over time the quality can fade if you’re not careful. Your supplier will start to substitute materials for inferior materials. This is why you want to specify in your Purchase Order the core components of your product as much as possible. For example, if you’re selling t-shirts you want to specify exactly what type of fabric should be used. If you’re selling a cutlery set, specify exactly what type of stainless steel should be used. Here are some other examples of materials you want to specify:

  • Fabric type and weight
  • Button type
  • Critical Dimensions

As long as you tell your supplier exactly what type of materials they should use in your product, they normally won’t substitute them. If you don’t tell them, they’ll assume it’s not important to you and substitute materials at their own will.

Related reading: How to Avoid Crappy Quality Products when Importing from China

Inspect your Shipments: We have an in-depth guide on how to conduct a third-party inspection. A third-party inspection costs about $300 and a company like AsiaInspection will send a person out to your factory, for an entire day, to inspect your products. There’s no reason not to do it.

Show your supplier that quality is important to you. Inform your supplier of every defect you receive on an order and ensure they fix it on the next order.

Shipping & Logistics

Shipping and Logistics

In my own personal experience and after helping other first-time importers, having your goods shipped to you and receiving them is one of the most stressful and most challenging aspects of importing.

Three Ways to Ship Your Products: Air Courier, Air Freight, and Sea Freight

There are three ways to ship your items from China: air courier, air freight, and sea freight.

Air Courier is Door to Door Service

Air courier is simple for most people to understand. UPS, FedEx, and DHL are air courier services. This is what they call a door-to-door service. Your supplier ships your products and they arrive wherever you want them to arrive, i.e. your home or Amazon warehouse. The courier also has customs brokerage services, to help you pay your duty, so you don’t need to worry about getting a customs broker.

Air Freight vs Sea Freight

Air Freight and Sea Freight differ vastly from air courier (FYI there is no such thing as sea courier). These services are arranged through a freight forwarder and typically are quoted from China to some airport or sea port, i.e. to the sea port of Long Beach (near Los Angeles) or Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

You will either have to arrange to have your goods picked up or ask your freight forwarder to arrange to have them shipped to your final destination (which will involve a significant surcharge). They will not provide customs brokerage (at least not for free).

Air Courier

  • 150 lbs or less
  • $10/kg+
  • 2-5 Days

Normally quoted door to door. No custom broker needed (although courier will charge you if shipment is over $800).

Air Freight

  • 200-500 lbs
  • $5-7/kg
  • 2-10 Days + 1-5 Days for Custom clearance

Make sure shipment terms are FOB. Quoted port to port (not door to door). Expect $200-300 in documentation fees + $150-200 customs brokerage fees.

Sea Freight

  • 500+ lbs
  • < $1/kg
  • 14-35 Days + 1-5 Days for Custom clearance

Make sure shipment terms are FOB. Quoted port to port (not door to door). Expect $200-300 in documentation fees + $150-200 customs brokerage fees.

Sea freight is always quoted by volume whereas air shipments are quoted by weight, but a good rule of thumb is that sea freight works out to less than $1 per kg.

Air freight and sea freight are quite a bit more complicated than air courier the first time around. They are also much cheaper. Air freight is about half the cost of air courier and sea freight is about 10% the cost of air courier.

Two of the most popular shipping companies (called freight forwarders) for air freight and sea freight are Freightos.com and FlexPort.com. You can always just ask your supplier to arrange the shipping of your goods and to simply bill you for them.

Related EcomCrew Reading

Shipment Terms

In international trade, there is something referred to as Incoterms. Popular incoterms include FOB and EXW.

EXW vs FOB

With FOB shipping terms, your supplier will pay for all the costs (including overland transportation in China) to get your shipment to the port and export fees. With EXW, you will pay for all of this. There is no difference in complexity but EXW will always cost you more than FOB (normally $300-500+ more).

The easiest thing to do is to always ask your supplier to quote you FOB terms.

Related EcomCrew Reading

Customs, Tariffs, and the Magic $800 De Minimis Value

In America, orders under $800 do not have any duties applied to them. This is called the de minimis value. Orders above this amount will be charged applicable duties.

Under $800

  • No duties
  • No formal entry required
  • No customs bond
  • No customs broker needed

$800-$2500

  • Has duties
  • No formal entry required
  • No customs bond
  • No customs broker needed

$2500 +

  • Has duties
  • Requires formal entry
  • Has customs bond
  • Customs broker generally needed

For orders under $2500, you will not need what they call a formal entry to import the goods into the United States. This means your shipping company will clear customs for you but they may charge you a fee for this.

For orders above $2500, you will need to file a formal entry and get a customs broker. We recommend PCBUSA.com. Fees vary but normally are $100-300 depending on the order size.

Once your goods are shipped and have arrived in your country, they need to clear customs into your country. If you shipped via air courier (UPS, DHL, etc.) then the shipping company will do this for you and give you a bill for it. All other shipments need a customs broker.

Getting Your Goods from China to Amazon FBA

Shipping goods from China to Amazon is relatively straight forward. However, a few things you need to be aware of:

  • Ensure your products are labeled correctly, including UPCs/FNSKUs and Carton Labels
  • Ensure all duties are paid before being delivered to Amazon
  • Be aware of multiple warehouses

You must make sure your items are labeled correctly before being delivered to Amazon. To get your labels, you will first need to create your shipment in Seller Central (and you will also be assigned a warehouse location at this point).  Ask your supplier to label your items for you.

Also, you must ensure all duties are paid before arriving at Amazon. If your order is below $800 this should not be an issue. If your order is above $800 then ensure your shipment is shipped DDP (Duty Delivered Paid).

Related Reading: Shipping Your Goods from China to Amazon FBA.

Conclusion

China still remains the factory of the world despite increased costs and sometimes increased tensions with the West. And despite its reputation for poor quality products, the quality of most products from China is still fantastic. Competition amongst private label sellers, especially on Amazon, has increased significantly over the last several years, but there’s still a huge opportunity to develop a brand and real business around importing from China.

Do you have any questions about sourcing products, importing, or shipping your products? Feel free to comment below.

  • About The Author: Dave Bryant

    Dave Bryant has been importing from China for over 10 years and has started numerous product brands. He sold his multi-million dollar ecommerce business in 2016 and create another 7-figure business within 18 months. He's also a former Amazon warehouse employee of one week.

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56 Comments

  • CasMem
    January 8, 2018 Reply

    Hey guys, i have a situation that I am not qualified to make an experienced judgment on.

    I'm positioning a new product as an upscale brand, priced at the high end (similar to high-end competitors' price) but without their brand cachet.

    Recently I was thinking about providing more value to my customers and found a bundle item i could include that is pretty much a no-brainer. It's cheap for me to provide and my customers will get value out of it, so it's a win-win.

    The problem is that I have slight doubts about bundling more value into my "luxury" brand. I fear my customers will be getting mixed messages. Instead of thinking about the luxury item they are getting, they will start thinking about "value" if they see the bundle, and "value" is not the message luxury brands want to send (at least that's what my limited instinct tells me).

    If anyone can provide helpful insights I'd appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

    • Dave Bryant
      January 8, 2018 Reply

      It depends what the item you're bundling. Coach bundles a carrying case and cleaning cloth with their sunglasses and it strengthens the brand. It's hard to judge without knowing the exact item but IMO if it's an immediate accessory/add-on for the item it strengthens it. I think it's pretty hard to weaken a brand by bundling including an add-on or accessory.

  • Mark
    January 9, 2018 Reply

    Hi Mike & Dave, what's your take on finding a supplier/ordering wholesale from 1688? Recommend any agents to bypass the payment/shipping restrictions? Thanks a bunch and keep up the great work!

    • Dave Bryant
      January 9, 2018 Reply

      Hi Mark,

      I've never used it personally but I know Chinese companies basically use it exclusively when sourcing any products (largely B2B). You could always ask a current Supplier to buy or you - most are surprisingly happy to help in situations like this if you're a good client.

  • Jamie
    January 19, 2018 Reply

    Hi Dave, great summary of the process! Really take the point about quality fade. Something to be very vigilant on.

    I'm off to Hong Kong for a couple of trade fairs in April. I think you guys recommend to make sure you have some products in mind before getting there yes? Otherwise it can be overwhelming. Do you ever just find some products - or even suppliers - at these things that just hit the mark on the day? They're the smaller of the shows... Houseware Fair and maybe Global Sources, though I'm told the latter is a bit lacklustre.
    Cheers.

    • Dave Bryant
      January 31, 2018 Reply

      It's very difficult to find products on the fly but I always go to find Suppliers on the fly (although sometimes I have a 'hit list' of Suppliers I want to see). Everything looks good in the moment and you really need to do some product research before hand.

  • Vlad
    January 15, 2019 Reply

    Hi Dave,

    Awesome post, very informative!

    In regards to getting inspections done, do you get an inspection done for every single Purchase Order?

    Thank you,
    Vlad!

    • Dave Bryant
      January 15, 2019 Reply

      Hi Vlad,
      I normally try to get 30-50% of shipments inspected. Anything over $30,000 I almost always get inspected though.

  • Trade Lynx
    January 17, 2019 Reply

    Dave, awesome post

    • Dave Bryant
      January 19, 2019 Reply

      Thanks again!

  • Justin
    January 24, 2019 Reply

    I think your program and podcasts are awesome, looking forward to working with you guys

    • Dave Bryant
      January 30, 2019 Reply

      Thanks Justin!

  • Michael
    January 24, 2019 Reply

    Dave have you ever used a sourcing agent to help you find suppliers that can do more customized work?

    • Dave Bryant
      January 30, 2019 Reply

      Hi Michael, Yes Mike and I have both used them to a certain degree although they typically only deal with larger orders.

  • Zuleehat
    February 8, 2019 Reply

    Beautiful write up Dave.

    • Dave Bryant
      February 8, 2019 Reply

      Thank you!

  • Ahmet Cem Çetinkaya
    March 3, 2019 Reply

    Hello, I found your website very useful and appreciate the whole information given. Currently I am living in China and it's been 3 years now. I have been trying to get a hold on this international trading business but may need some guidance. I speak English, Chinese and Turkish fluently and have some background in the business. I was thinking about buying some quality products here, since I am in china and speak the language getting them wont be a problem for me, and ship them to AMAZON warehouse but not quite sure if I am able to do that since I am not a US Citizen and have never been to US. What would you suggest me to do in my case? I am open to all kind of suggestions. Thanks (I will try work and travel next summer and may find a way to start Amazon)

    • Dave Bryant
      March 7, 2019 Reply

      Amazing language abilities!! 3 of those most important language families in the world. Check out this article here: https://www.ecomcrew.com/how-non-americans-can-sell-in-america-including-amazon-com-fba/. You don't need to be a U.S. citizen (and I'm not in fact).

  • Melissa Block
    March 5, 2019 Reply

    Hi! I’m confused about the $2500.
    Question1: If I purchase a large spa tub for under $2500 can I just have it shipped to Houston port and then bypass customs and simply pick it up myself when it arrives?
    Question 2: Also, if I’m purchasing a large spa tub for a total of 2400 and shipping will be 375 to the Houston port. Since I’m paying $2400 for the tub will the shipping push it above the $2500 or is only the item price considered?

    Any help you can give me would be great thank you!

    • Dave Bryant
      March 7, 2019 Reply

      1) Under $800 you'll bypass customs. Under $2500 you'll still need customs clearance/pay applicable duties but you forego some other formalities.
      2) It can depend but normally it doesn't count towards it.

      • Adrian
        June 21, 2019 Reply

        Hi
        There are any accumulative account? , i mean, I buy a product and import it via DHL at a cost of 400 uds, in the next month make other 400 usd purchase and so on, there are a cuantity were a need to pay taxes? thanks

        • Dave Bryant
          June 25, 2019 Reply

          No, it's a per day limit.

  • Dan Riley
    March 24, 2019 Reply

    Hi Guys,
    I have ordered samples from China that will be here next week. As long as the quality is good, we plan on using the samples as giveaways during our ClickFunnel month long contest. The contest will take a month, in which time we know if we should make a full order. Is there a way I can make the turn around time of contest to selling on Amazon? Or is it normal business to have to wait for the contest and the 40ish days to receive product to sell?

    • Dave Bryant
      March 26, 2019 Reply

      Unfortunately it's normal and hard to shorten that time :(

  • Dan Riley
    March 30, 2019 Reply

    I appreciate the comment, Dave. Love the podcast. Thanks for being a great resource.

    • Dave Bryant
      April 5, 2019 Reply

      Thanks Dan!

  • Tina F.
    April 19, 2019 Reply

    My company is based in US, while we work with a separate company in China (I’ll refer to as our partner). We purchase our supplies from our China partners and then we sell to our customers here in US. Our partners in China perform our factory audits as well as negotiations.

    We shipped FOB and used our customers freight forwarder, so they are considered the “importers of record”. We were informed that we had to submit the original commercial invoice from our partners in China (pricing we paid) to clear US Customs. The tariff taxes/duties would be calculated from that pricing and charged to our customer (importer of record).
    *** Problem is - this allows our customer to know our costs which is not what we want.
    *** Why can’t we submit our customers commercial invoice to US Customs - which reflects the price they paid to us?

    Any guidance/advice you are able to share would be greatly valued.

    • Dave Bryant
      April 30, 2019 Reply

      Hi Tina, I'm not sure the exact law, but I believe the price has to be that of the exporter. Also, your partner will not want a higher price shown as they'll pay export fees on those higher prices. Better to clear goods yourself into America if possible.

  • LI YONG
    April 25, 2019 Reply

    Thanks for great sharing. Almost covers all the pro and cons by importing from China, and the comment on the Chinese factory is fair. I am Chinese-Canadian and currently lived in China, be specify JinJiang, Fujian (where the large amount of shoes and clothing companies run). I know the local industry well, and now running a shoes company and a trading company.So if anyone interests in this field or needs helping feel free to contact me. I can physically present in factory and manage everything on producing side.

    • Greg Vescovi
      November 3, 2019 Reply

      Looking for a manufacturer to make my patent pending knee pad and shipped to US.

      • Dave Bryant
        November 13, 2019 Reply

        Best of luck!

  • Jon
    May 29, 2019 Reply

    Regarding your advice “Order several samples and try selling them on Amazon before committing to a larger order.”

    What criteria have you used as “proof of concept”? Number of units sold etc. Also, if it’s successful do you sell your mass produced product on the same or different amazon listing? My concern would be lack of sales velocity in the period from test product to mass produced product.

    Any help appreciated. Thanks!

    • Dave Bryant
      June 10, 2019 Reply

      Normally I want to see somewhere in a pro-rated $5000/month rate. Varies by product though. Yes, normally I sell on the same listing that listing gets reviews. If no reviews then I'll relaunch on a new ASIN.

  • ArgnitVranovci
    July 27, 2019 Reply

    Very helpful

  • Tal
    September 1, 2019 Reply

    Thank you for that informative post.
    Ian new to the importing world and about to launch my food start up. I have a supplier which I found on Alibaba ( got samples and quality control) his price if FOB. My question is more about the next step.... my product is glass jars food grade in costs of about $6k.
    How can I calculate the whole!!! Expenses other than paying him? What exactly am I looking for ? Should I consider using one service for all the next steps?( (getting it to the factory.) or should I use few providers. Hope I was able to explain myself. Thank you in advance.

    • Dave Bryant
      September 3, 2019 Reply

      Hi Tal - Check out this: https://www.ecomcrew.com/amazon-selling-fees/

  • Sean Hennessy
    September 26, 2019 Reply

    Hi. Great advice. We are looking to import a product for 1 client in large quantities. In my initial inquiries prices seem really good, but now other charges are showing up. They are saying we will need a container, is that something we need to buy, or is there a usage fee? Also, there is now talk of tariffs, how can I find out if our product will be subject to Chinese export tariffs? So far I don't find the material listed on the US tariff lists that I've seen. Is there a good resource for getting this info?
    Thank you.

    • Dave Bryant
      October 3, 2019 Reply

      Your freight forwarder will arrange the container for you. Check out https://www.ecomcrew.com/trumps-china-tariffs/

  • Teddy
    March 15, 2020 Reply

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for a great write up!

    My GF and I are about to ship our first shipment from China to US, The shipment value is $2700. We were wondering if we can ask our Chinese supplier to divide our shipment to 4 different batches in order to avoid dealing with customs and the rest of the bureaucracy.

    What do you think of this? doing so will get us in trouble, or is it a legitimate tactic?

    Would love to hear your take on this.

    Much appreciated,
    Teddy

    P.S - What 3PL companies your recommend in the U.S (other than Amazon FBA) ?

    • Dave Bryant
      March 29, 2020 Reply

      A lot of people do it this way on a very large scale. Officially you're not supposed to do this. I'd suspect very little chance you'd ever catch anyone's ire for a few grand in products though.

  • Tim
    April 24, 2020 Reply

    So could you have a supplier ship <$800 worth of COGS in bulk to a US Fulfillment Center every day/every other day? Would that be recommended to avoid the tariffs and allow you to fulfill domestically?

    • Dave Bryant
      May 22, 2020 Reply

      Officially CBP you're not allowed to deliberately break a shipment up into smaller shipments to avoid duties.

  • pearl
    July 9, 2020 Reply

    Hi,
    Just wondering if you can help regarding shipping from china to UK?
    Thanks

    • Dave Bryant
      July 16, 2020 Reply

      Sorry, we dont' do freight.

  • john
    July 26, 2020 Reply

    Hi Dave,
    really good artcicle. A lot of value to it.
    Do you have a sample of total custom tariff fee? If i want to import a FCL container of 40HC goods , i wanna know what cost would goes into my import products such as landing cost, custom fees and import tariff. Can you give me a example.

    • Dave Bryant
      July 27, 2020 Reply

      Tariffs are really dependent on the product. Most are 25%+ now with Trumps tariffs though. Freight cost ranges but from China to West Coast of America it's normally around $3000-5000 landed without duties.

  • Ben Morelos
    January 26, 2021 Reply

    Hello Dave, thank you very much for your articles, they have been quite beneficial for me, they have helped me to see many more details of which I had no idea.
    In the past I have brought machines from China worth over $ 8,000.00 without any problem because I did it through Alibaba and basically everything was very easy because they take you by the hand and your money is protected by the same platform.
    Now I want to buy from other companies that have no relationship with Alibaba and I have no idea how to protect my money so that I will not be a victim of a fraud; I already went through the process of finding the right company that manufactures the exact product I need, my question would then be: what should I do so that they don't scam me? Are there companies that advise you at the beginning of the purchase and that protects your money as Alibaba does it through its "Trade Assurance" program?
    Thanks in advance for your valuable help

    Ben

    • Dave Bryant
      February 2, 2021 Reply

      Arrange an inspection through QIMA.com (factory verification audits are cheap).

  • Ben Morelos
    February 9, 2021 Reply

    Thanks Bryant, some more questions if you allow me, what's an escrow account and when has to be used, the other question is: do you think it is necessary to go to China to check that the suppliers are reliable?
    Thanks again

    • Dave Bryant
      February 21, 2021 Reply

      Escrow is just a third party that holds the money until certain deliverables are met by all parties. No, not necessary to go to China.

  • Fred
    April 23, 2021 Reply

    As someone attempting to source products from China for the first time I found this to be generally informative. However, your suggestion that we want to stay away from electrical products is a little naive. Virtually every type of lighting products are manufactured in China, especially seasonal decor like we sell. Good luck trying to find a manufacturer in the U.S. that produces Christmas lights.

    I'm not suggesting you aren't fundamentally correct. If I had a choice I'd buy all of our products from U.S. manufacturer's, but there are none. So what are the alternatives? I've tried Vietnam but the prices I was quoted were too high.

    The point I'm making is that you can't make a blanket suggestion to avoid purchasing electrical products when the choice to do so has effectively been eliminated.

    • Dave Bryant
      May 5, 2021 Reply

      There's nothing wrong with importing electrical products (or electronics) but I wouldn't recommend it as a first product for the vast majority of people. Ironically, there's a HUGE domestic manufacturing base for lighting, re: Slvania lights, but I get your point ;)

  • JEREMIAH LOPEZ
    April 27, 2021 Reply

    Hi Dave, thank you I am new to the process and I am bringing in some hydraulic cylinders a total of four total is 3,100 but after freight and charges 3,700. I am hearing different types of forms I need to feel out., please advise I have a employee cleared to to get and transport out of port of LA, did I need any extra forms filled out besides telex release Bol?

    • Dave Bryant
      May 5, 2021 Reply

      You need your customs entry done too.

  • Francis
    June 23, 2021 Reply

    Hi Dave, firstly thanks for your in-depth information. I personally took some clues about how to ship to the US as non-American.
    However, on the "safety and scam", I would urge you and others to be much careful because the trust of chinese online manufacturers is dwindling day by day. This is because the pandemic sparked an increase of "fake chinese companies" online posing to be real. And you can't trust the Chinese legal system...beware!
    This comes from me as a foreigner who has lived in China for 6years with frequent travels to the US and yes, I own a trading company, registered in Hainan, the province where I live.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • Dave Bryant
      July 6, 2021 Reply

      Agreed that you need to do your due diligence to make sure the company is the legit in the first place. There's scammers everywhere. Assuming the company is legit and has some history behind it (i.e. make sure they have a history of exports, even get a factory inspection done) the chances they take your money and run is highly unlikely!

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