StartupBros header image ≡ Menu

How You Can Make Big Money Importing From China – The Rise and Fall of My Empire…

(You found this post at the right time! Check out our upcoming live event based on these importing guides – we’re revealing everything!)

LIVE EVENT – How You Can Build an Importing Empire!

  Get Your Ticket Now!

Most of you probably don’t know this, but one of the very first profitable businesses I ran was an importing company. From the age of 13 til the age of 16, I imported a whole bunch of random stuff and sold it on various websites. It was really difficult when I was getting started, partially due to my lack of experience, and partially due to the fact that there was nobody there to help me.

My friend Devan Earle is thinking about getting into the import arbitrage business and mentioned it to me last night.

A couple hundred dollars worth of imports...

A couple hundred dollars worth of imports…

Our conversation made me remember how impossible it seemed for me when I first got started, and how many questions there were that needed answering…

Where do you find suppliers? How do you know what’s going to sell? When you know that, how do you know what to determine to sell? How do you eliminate the risk of scams and bad shipments? Where do you even begin to research?

Our conversation got so in depth that I decided to turn it into a blog post.

So this is basically going to be an A-Z guide on what I would do, step by step, if I was going to start over again at importing products from Asia and selling them online. I’ll also include some insights on what made me choose these steps. If you plan on trying this out, I would suggest bookmarking this blog post and referencing it in the future. I am planning on it being a complete guide and will be continually adding to it based on questions I get from readers.

I encourage you to go through step by step and not jump around, as I put it in this order for a specific reason. This is the order I would do things in, and the order that I learned them in.

I will also tell you the story of my rise and fall in the importing industry – or at least the interesting parts :-D

Note – I have since written a follow up to this post called “Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find A Profitable Product To Sell”

Knowing What to Avoid and the Basics

Import Meme

Don’t be like this guy…

You have to understand going into this business that it is a risky one. Dealing with Asian businesses is very, very different than dealing with American ones. If you go into this not knowing that there is a lot of risk involved, you will probably end up with $1,000 worth of iPhone 2 knockoffs in your garage, or $1,000 worth of nothing at all…

That being said – if you are careful, understand what you’re doing, and know what to avoid, you can make a KILLING with a relatively small amount of work.

Understand what you are doing

As with any other project you are trying, make sure you have a really clear understanding of what you’re going to be doing before going into it. Like I said above, if you aren’t careful, it is really easy to end up with a hilariously absurd amount of worthless product you will never sell. I still have a box of worthless imported crap I was never able to sell, I should probably throw that out…

What you are trying to do here is this -

  1. Find a good product – I always hate when this is the first step of something I am reading, but unfortunately it is here too. Luckily, picking niches for this is pretty easy and quick, and doesnt involve pouring through monotonous keyword data.
  2. Find a good supplier – There are a handful of great suppliers in every niche. It really takes some digging to find them (along with a little luck), but there are some things you can do to make sure you avoid the scams and increase your odds at finding an awesome supplier.
  3. Sell and build – After you have a good product, and a good supplier, you just have to start selling it. If it were me, I would leverage existing sales channels (eBay, Amazon, etc) to both sell my product, and build up my own recurring customer base. So that is what I am going to focus on.

Things not to do

  • Don’t buy in bulk from a factory until you have their samples in your hands and you LOVE them.
  • Don’t let any supplier convince you they can’t ship single samples, they are trying to scam you.
  • Don’t pay with any other method but PayPal for the first 6 months with your supplier. This eliminates a ton of risk.
  • Don’t buy from a company that won’t accept PayPal. What it really means is that they had a PayPal, and it was shut down due to complaints.
  • Don’t buy counterfeit crap. Not that there isn’t money to be made there, it is just a bad business to build.
  • Don’t buy a lot of inventory in the beginning. I started off buying 1-5 units at a time until I built up the money to reinvest into inventory.
  • Don’t give these suppliers your personal email. The email will be effectively nuked and unusable for years, trust me…
Well, I hope that gets you in the right mindset. Let’s get into the beef of it. BEEF.

Step 1 – Finding a Good Product and Potential Suppliers

This is really going to be the most important part of all of this. This is where you find the opportunities and start developing relationships.

I will tell you how to find good products and good suppliers, but first let me tell you how I initially broke through and succeeded with this method.

When I first got started, I went right to counterfeit purses, shoes, and P90x’s. I made a KILLING selling these through Craigslist, Amazon, and eBay, but quickly decided to get away from them. I didn’t want to build a business on foundations of questionable legality, and you shouldn’t either. I handed these businesses off to my friends – one of which made something like $60,000 in 3 months JUST selling P90x’s on Craigslist and hand delivering them around NYC.

The other friend was making around the same amount with shirts and shoes, but got cocky and soon found all of the trademark owners coming after him (like coming to his house in black tinted cars watching him and his family after him). He ended up paying out a sizable settlement, right around the industry standard of 3x earnings. Needless to say, he had to liquidate all the fancy toys he bought with his earnings.

And that is why you should avoid counterfeit designer crap. I won’t say it won’t make you money, because I know it will. But it is like dealing drugs, you are building a business that is contrary to the law, and it will end up biting you. Bad…

After I got out of that market, I found I could source competitive Katana swords and sell them on eBay for an unreasonable markup. However, I soon figured out that high ticket items required a lot more capital and are inherently riskier to sell after getting a few returns and bad shipments, so I got out of that and into knives, airsoft guns, mace, and other self defense equipment. I found there was profit to be made on these when looking around for places to sell my swords.

Airsoft guns quickly became my bread and butter. Right after I found my supplier I listed on eBay and immediately started selling 15-30 airsoft guns a day, easily undercutting all my competition and still coming away with a clean $10-20 profit per sale. And best of all, I didnt even touch the product after a while. I finally found an AWESOME supplier who handled all the returns for me with no questions asked, gave me a generous payment structure, and handled all shipping. It was a dream supplier.

Your goal is to find a dream supplier for ANY product you are making money on, because then you can focus on growing the sales of your business rather than on customer service and shipping.

It isn’t easy, but if you follow my advice below you will greatly increase your odds of finding a great supplier and product.

Where and how to find suppliers

Your best friend in the importing business is AliBaba. I have used it for every single product I have ever imported. I use it for my own businesses, I use it for clients, and I know a ton of people that use it. It is an awesome resource.

Don’t fall into the traps of Doba, WorldWideBrand, Volusion, or whatever other scam solutions are out there to find suppliers. I made the mistake of trying all of these when I first got started, and just ended up wasting hundreds of dollars for little to no value. Just stay away from these, trust me.

With AliBaba, you will be looking at only Gold members. I don’t care how awesome of a deal you get from a non-gold member, or how many factory certifications they have, you DON’T buy from non-gold members. Just following this rule will help you to avoid 98% of the scams and bad suppliers. Any other certifications or whatever are just icing on the cake.

You really want to find a supplier that will do cheap samples, offers PayPal payments (even at an increased rate, use PayPal), and seems to respond to your communications quickly and effectively.

Open up AliBaba for now, as you will be jumping back to it frequently while researching product to know if you can make a profit.

Where and how to find products

There are a few limits on what kinds of items you want to sell -

  • It needs to be small and light - Trust me on this, you don’t want to deal with the headaches that come with shipping furniture or kitchen appliances around the world. You want something that is going to be cheap to ship around, because shipping is going to eat your profit margins alive.
  • It needs to be a simple item - What I mean by this is you want something that is simple to manufacture and has a relatively high margin of error. Most of these factories are not going to have the highest quality standards in the world, so the greater the margin of error you can put up with while keeping your customers happy the better. Competitive katana swords did not have a great margin for error before customers started noticing, as they were vigorously slicing sh*t with them all day (slicing rolled up Tatami Mats to be specific).
  • Keep it in the $10-200 range - In my experience, it becomes very capital intensive and much riskier if you are selling items any higher than this. Higher ticket items are usually harder to ship, require higher quality control, and really magnify your mistakes when first starting out in importing. I have yet to find success outside of that price range, so I cant suggest you take any chances in it, but of course use your own judgement.
  • Don’t sell what you buy - Devan made a great point when I was speaking with him that you can’t sell items that you buy. Most of us buy electronics, clothes, food, and other essentials. I can tell you right now that you are not going to compete in any of those markets. You really have to niche down in this and find a nice little nook for you to sit in.
  • Don’t go seasonal - You want to find items that have a consistent base of buyers. I am sure there is a bunch of money to be made in selling Christmas stuff and winter clothes from Asia, but it is going to be extremely seasonal, and you are probably going to end up with a ton of worthless inventory.
Other than that, you are really free to explore whatever comes to mind.

What I would do is go onto a few sites and browse around -

  • Alibaba – You should have this open already, but I often look around AliBaba to see what items are being promoted and check around the sites below to see what kind of margins I could get. For instance, right now there is a 4 year Gold company (online now!) selling LED Light Bulbs for $2.65/unit. Even better, they do Escrow, and have onsite inspections from Alibaba. I can quickly go over to Amazon and see these same bulbs selling for $9.50 – 11.99, a VERY healthy margin! And that’s just the first thing I looked at! There is a niche right there.
  • eBay – Check out the completed listings on eBay to see what kind of prices you can consistently sell items for. I often use eBay auction descriptions also to gain some knowledge on a product if I see it is the exact same. Prices are the main thing here though, you get a really reliable indicator of demand. You have to click on the side bar menu to get to completed listings, here is a picture.
  • Amazon – I go to this page and check out all of the different tabs for “Movers & Shakers” and whatnot. I click around the categories and drill down to find things I think may not have a lot of importers in already. Again, typically weird items, like LED bulbs, skateboard parts, and katanas do well, so I try to find weird things that catch my eye and compare them against stuff on Alibaba.
  • Other toolsmySimon Top SearchesShopzilla Top Searches, Kaboodle Hot Picks
Just keep looking through the market data on those sites and comparing it against what you can get from Alibaba. It may take some time, but eventually you will naturally learn what works and you will start finding great product opportunities left and right. If you really have issues finding a product, comment below or email me and I will see if I can help [will at startupbros dot com]
Eventually you’ll find some opportunities that you want to move forward with. The next step is to start talking to suppliers and getting your hands on some samples. Don’t worry, they all speak english (kind of)…

 Indentify & Mail Key Suppliers

Now that we have a product, we can start sorting through suppliers and contacting the ones that look promising.

All I would do is -

  1. Search for LED light bulb in Alibaba with the correct filters – You should have already been doing this before to check your product costs in the previous steps. At this point though, we want to switch to searching for “Suppliers” rather than “Products”, as seen in the picture below. I typically start with filtering by “Gold Supplier” and adding “Onsite Checked”, “Assessed Supplier”, and “Escrow” in that order until I am down to 20-30 suppliers. If there are still a ton, that is fine. Just try to find some way to narrow it down to the very best and take the 20-30 top ones.
  2. Contact the good ones – Now that you have a list of the prime suppliers for your product, you want to contact them and get some additional information. I usually just ask about their MOQ (Minumum Order Quantity), payment and shipping policies, sample policy, and a price list or product spec sheet. They usually have all of this on hand. IMPORTANT – Don’t use your personal email for this stuff, as it will be spammed into oblivion for years! Asia is not quite as serious about their emails as we are :-)
  3. Converse, get a feel for things - Now see who messages you back and how serious it seems they are taking your business. Keep in mind that they are competing for your business at this point, and have no idea if you are looking to put in a $100 order or a $10,000 order. Their customer service at this point is a good indicator of where it will be in the future. Don’t be afraid to haggle and engaging in some price warring, they are much more used to that in China. It isn’t uncommon to see an item start at $200 and be sold for $20 in a Chinese tourist market. I could write a whole post on price negotiation, but the main thing with this is you have to low-ball your first counter offer to anchor the price possibility window at a lower level. You should get by fine with that.
  4. Samples! – Ah, finally….the fun part! Now we get to put in some small orders to get samples shipped directly to us. I usually get samples from 2-5 suppliers I am considering, but never just one. SERIOUSLY go over these samples when you get them. Also take note of shipping times, costs, damage, etc. Put the items through some stress, check every last nook and cranny of them. Think about how customers will be using them and push the item harder. You need something that is going to stand up if you are going to put your name behind it, so find something to be proud about selling.
*Note on Minimum Order Quantities* – I had a lot of people mention to me that the MOQ posted by many manufacturers is extremely high, so I figured I would paste my response here -

The minimum order they list is generally not concrete, and is most of the time their average or desired order size. There is no way to know for sure without messaging the suppliers directly, which is why I go for 15-30 initially.

In my experience, Chinese factories will go through many hoops to work with you on order sizes, unless they are a MASSIVE factory that only ships via sea. If they use normal air shipping at all, they shouldnt mind sending out even a single item via air (which is what they do with samples anyways).

Again, with some items it will be different than other. For instance I looked into selling LED lighting that attaches to the sides of buildings, and the margins looked great, but the MOQ ended up being somewhere around $5,000 of lights due to the purpose of the item (to run down entire high rise buildings). I skipped over that one.

Another option is AliExpress.com, Alibaba’s site for smaller orders. You will generally get better prices for the same amount on Alibaba if you are willing to put in the effort to communicate with suppliers, but AliExpress is always an option.

After all of this, you should have at least one solid supplier for a product you know will sell. Guess what’s next…

Step 2 – Selling Your Product Through Existing Sales Channels

At this point, you are going to have to make a decision about your inventory. If it were me, I would invest the couple hundred bucks and buy 5-10 pieces of my product to get started. You can certainly buy one at a time to start and that will work, it will just be a slower start.

I guess now is a good time to mention that I have not found drop shipping to be a viable option for somebody just starting out with a new supplier. The only times I have ever had successful drop ship relationships with suppliers is after a long and prosperous history, at which point they work with me to get their American distributors to drop ship. More on that later, but I thought I would mention it as you don’t want to do that just starting out, it almost always ends with unhappy customers and banned accounts.

Anyways, you need to get a few pieces of inventory and start selling them.

I only suggest using TWO of these THREE sales channels when first starting out – Amazon, eBay, Craigslist

Notice I did not say spam your friends on Facebook and every forum you can find about it. That is a ton of work and will produce very little result for you. Not once have a I tried to sell things to my Facebook friends, I barely even tell them what I am working on unless asked.

It is relatively easy to set up shop on all of these – I would just look at what the top sellers of your products are doing and then try to improve upon that. Most of the time, the copy text used in eBay and Amazon ads is free domain from the manufacturer, so you can get a lot from other sellers and simple Google searches.

Within a day or two after getting your product up, you should begin making sales. This is when things start to get really exciting. Just ship out your products at the closest post office and wait to see what happens. Make sure you ship as soon as you can and pack everything well obviously, but I am assuming you guys know how to ship things so I won’t go into much detail. Make sure you ship immediately, and make sure you pack it up well. I would also suggest throwing in a thank you note with a website or some way to turn these guys into recurring revenue (see below for more on this).

You should know pretty quickly if you are making money and what the problem areas are.

Within a month it should be painfully apparent if you need to find a new product or if you should scale up your current product.

If you can’t make a profit with your product on those sales channels, then I don’t think it is worth it to put any more effort into that specific product, and I would look for another product to sell.

Given that you are finding success with your product and have no deadly hiccups (lucky those don’t exist…), let’s move on to scaling this baby up.

Step 3 – SCALE!

After I had my airsoft guns up on eBay and Amazon, all I had to do was keep track of inventory and shipping.  Being 15 at this time, I was ecstatic.

I slowly started to add more products to eBay and Amazon, started sending out promotional materials with my shipments, began advertising, and started a brand name behind my business. My 20 order per day average quickly swelled to 30, 40, 50 sales per day.

Keep in mind that NONE of this would be possible if I didn’t find an awesome supplier in the first place. If you’re reading REALLY closely you’ll notice that I was 15 now, and it took a full 2 years of many mistakes and marginal success before I got to this point. Hopefully from reading this article, you can skip most of those mistakes and get right to the success.

I didn’t really know what I was doing and was kind of just throwing money at things and seeing what works. It was an awesome learning experience for me, and I learned a ton about what works and what doesn’t work in marketing and growing online sales.

Here is the stuff that I did to scale up my sales that will probably work for you -

  • Advertising with Amazon and eBay – I always made a solid return with these advertising programs, specifically Amazon.
  • Listing yourself on other sales channels – I eventually made an eCommerce store so that my products could be listen through the primitive versions of Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, and every other shopping venue I could find online. If I could put my items up and sell through them, I did. And each new channel gave me a little bit of growth for free.
  • Brand yourself – The days of branding yourself as “GreatAirsoftCompany.com” are long gone. You have to find a good brand name that resonates with the crowd you are selling to, and it will exponentially reward you over time. You can read this post to see how I decide on brand names.
  • Aim for recurring revenue – I started seeing solid growth from including coupons and promotional materials in each shipment. Eventually, I set up an email and SMS subscription that would send them deals and updates on airsoft items. I also set up a monthly subscription for airsoft pellets, which I couldn’t sell on eBay due to very small margins. The key here is to focus on siphoning off buyers from the pre-existing sales channels into your own lists and databases. That way, you can market to them for free on demand, rather than having no way to contact them after their first order.
And the stuff that didn’t work
  • PPC Advertising – Advertising outside of where I was selling never worked for me very well on this, however I was also very young and didn’t know much about running PPC campaigns. If you are already good with PPC, then try it. If not, I wouldnt even try until you have some money to lose.
  • Social Media – Just isnt going to work for importing. MAYBE you can find a way to do this if you are a really, really good social media marketer, but 99% of people are not going to get any sales from social media with this.
  • Pretty much anything I didn’t mention above – If I didn’t mention it above, I didn’t make enough money with it to remember it. I would stick to just the things I know work, which are littered all over this article.
If you are unsure about a marketing method you are thinking about trying, just comment below or email me and I will tell you what I know about them…
Keep in mind that the only money I was putting into this was reinvested earnings. You can certainly spend out of pocket to grow faster, but my goal in this post is keeping your risks low while still growing, and bootstrapping (funding your growth from internal operating revenue)  is the best way I know to do that.
If you follow this tutorial, you will eventually be where I was – making a solid 50 orders a day. At this point shipping and inventory are going to really start taking a toll on you and your time. You’ll want to work on moving in one of two directions -
  1. Negotiate better terms with your supplier – Once my supplier knows I am a valuable contact who will make him solid, easy money day in and day out, I am his golden boy. Now you can start to negotiate prices and shipping terms. I usually try to get some price cuts, but my main thing is getting the factory to drop ship (generally through a US office or distributor). If the factory can ship to my customers for me and handle returns, my business is next to automated. This is where I got with the airsoft stuff, and I loved it. A true “4 Hour Workweek“.
  2. Start outsourcing the processes – If you cant get your factory to drop ship to customers for you, you are going to want to get rid of that aspect of your business somehow. You will be making enough money by now to hire somebody to do the shipping for you locally. Try to get somebody local (a friend or family member) to start, as it is much easier, safer, and cheaper to manage a friend than an employee. Hire a VA to send the orders to your friend, keep your listings running smoothly, respond to customers immediately, and order inventory.
If you get past this point, it is really up to you where to take it. I preferred to keep it at this level (automated cash flow), but you could certainly grow this as large as you wanted to. There is no real limit on how much money an importing business can make, and you have built a solid foundation to build off of.

The Fall of My Empire

At this point, there was very little that could go wrong. Short of some horrible unforeseen event taking place, I had a steady stream of automated income coming in – one of the first ones I had ever built.

Then there was a horrible unforeseen event…

I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but the Chinese ports suddenly stopped shipping airsoft guns out. For over 3 months, I couldnt get any airsoft guns out of China.

I know it was more than 3 months, because that is when I was forced to throw in the towel.

I searched around for a replacement supplier from anywhere I could, but the prices had just skyrocketed. On top of that, I had a bunch of orders I couldn’t fill and angry customers…

With many new projects sprouting up, and being only 16 at the time, I refunded everybody and moved on…
I did make enough money to invest elsewhere, most of which was lost on other ventures. I learned more than I did in my entire schooling career with this business, and I hope I communicated everything well enough to expedite your learning curve.

The only thing to do now, if you haven’t been this entire time already, is TAKE ACTION! If this strategy intrigues you, get out there and at least try to put this stuff into action. Make it happen!

Please comment below if you have any problems, questions, or suggestions with any part of this – I will be responding to everything immediately for the next couple of days.

Good luck, and talk to you below!

Note – I have since written a follow up to this post called “Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find A Profitable Product To Sell”

by Will Mitchell

Will Mitchell is a serial entrepreneur and Founder of StartupBros. You can learn more about him at the StartupBros About Page. If you have any questions or comments for him, just send an email or leave a comment!

5 Levels of Entrepreneurship

Level Up As An Entrepreneur

Learn the realizations and epiphanies that allow entrepreneurs to take things to the next level…

We interviewed all the successful entrepreneurs we could find, and came up with this!


Download it now! (Free, of course)→

1168 comments… add one

  1. Amazing article! Really enjoyed it, thanks a lot :)

    Reply
    1. Glad you enjoyed it Lamine, thanks for reading!

      Reply
    2. I also found this to be a great article! I have been researching online now for import tips as I try to bring a product idea I have (currently just a picture in my head) into reality. I work full time right now but would love to start a business around my product idea on the side and eventually turn that into my main source of income.

      I’ve included a link in the comment that I found helpful and that shows you hit the nail on the head when you said that after narrowing down suppliers, the important thing to do is to judge how easy or difficult dealing with a supplier going forward will be by examining how good the supplier is about communicating with you in a clear and timely manner.

      I also read through the comments and noticed some talk about LLCs. On this point I had some expertise and wanted to add 2 points:

      - Depending on the state you live in LLC formation costs can vary widely. In some states it is as low as $150 in state filling fees to form a LLC, while in others (like California) the cost can be as high as $800 just in state filling fees

      - I would personally prioritize the formation of an LLC in relation to other start up expenses based on the liability risk of the product. If you are dealing with a product with higher liability risk (like toys for young children or something ingestible, e.g. a vitamin supplement) I would recommend creating an LLC before doing anything else. Even if in a potential lawsuit both you as the distributor and the manufacturer are named, chances are the plaintiff will work harder to go after you because you actually have assets in the country, whereas reaching the assets of a factory in China without any “nexus” in the U.S. would be very difficult.

      Hope my 2 cents adds some value!

      Best,

      Ed Richtin

      Reply
      1. Glad you liked the article Ed, and thanks a lot for the great advice!

        It’s definitely possible to get a product made in China, although it’s usually better to get your prototype done in America and then take it to China. China can duplicate existing products like you wouldn’t believe, but they aren’t very good at creating new products from even the most exact schematics.

        Couldn’t agree more on the LLC advice for others reading – some people get caught up on this for months!

        Thanks again,
        Will

        Reply
        1. Hi,
          I just start doing this with china.
          The problem is,
          How do we know the product is 100% Legit in the US.?
          And when you say they are good at replicated product,it’ means it’s a copy.
          Copy are counterfeit…
          So it’s become illegal..
          How do we deal with that to make it all legal?
          Thanks

          Reply
          1. If you buy copy from China, that’s illegal in US. So it’s up to you.
            As I know, people here in China, no matter Foreigners or Chinese, they are making copy business.

            Reply
        2. Hi Will,

          I would be really interested in speaking with you regarding this is there a good email address to catch you on?

          Cheers

          Reply
      2. Amazing and informative blog. Very helpful and useful.

        Reply
        1. Thank you Zoe – glad you liked it! :)

          Reply
    3. Hello. I have a question regarding customs.

      I will be ordering 5000 bottles of an herbal supplement, Ginseng, fish oil, etc. Will these pass customs and get into the usa? One of the Chinese suppliers said their shipments would not pass customs in the bottle but that loose gelcaps pills would. Then another one of the suppliers said that their shipment in the bottle would pass.

      Do different suppliers have different deals with customs? Or do supplements have to arrive is loose bulk as compared to already bottled and packaged?

      Reply
      1. Hey D, thanks for the comment. Wish I could help you with this one – but I’m not sure. I’ve never dealt with any consumables due to regulations and liability. I would suggest talking to your suppliers more and trying to figure out what is going on there. Good luck, and sorry I couldn’t help more!

        Reply
        1. Hi,
          How is the U.S. customs importing handled? Does the supplier fill out the forms etc. to enable products (wind chimes, coconut carvings, etc.) to be imported, or do I need a customs broker?

          Thanks!

          ~r

          Reply
    4. Wow, this is what I have been looking for! I love business, especially international business. I have been struggling on how to start one and I couldn’t find any good information that fit me but man, this is it! I will take your advice and act now. I will refer anyone to your site if they need help on. Thanks a bunch!

      Reply
      1. Thanks a lot for the kind words Tim, I’m glad we could help! Awesome to hear you’re taking action on it – feel free to comment or email if you run into any roadblocks. Good luck!

        Reply
      2. Hi, Tim.
        Good to know you. I am from a western province in china and have been working in Guangzhou for 5years, 3020kms away. Just because I love international business. Please add my skype to see if we will have a cooperation opportunity.

        Reply
    5. This is an amazing article!!! I have a couple questions though. I have been looking around on alibaba for a while. A couple weeks before I read this. My product is Damascus knives. How would you go about asking for lower price and drop shipping? Also, what are your suggestions with dropshipping on alibaba? Will most sellers do it for free? Thanks! GK

      Reply
      1. Haha, I actually imported Damascus knives and swords for a while when I was younger – good times :)

        You can’t really dropship from overseas, it needs to be domestic. The best thing I’ve seen is to get hooked up with a distributor or somebody closely affiliated with the factory, and go with them. It’s never free, but you can find factories out there that have great dropshipping programs built out.

        Hope this helps!

        Reply
    6. Will, amazing text.
      Liked to much, it makes me to get more enthusiastic on starting my trading business.

      Cherrs!
      Renato (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

      Reply
    7. When importing in bulk at first, and not doing drop ship, where u have to take care of shipping to customers yourself, do u have to pay import/custom taxes on these goods?

      Reply
      1. Yes, you need to pay the customs tax. But it is differ by Items Categories.

        Reply
  2. Really enjoyed the article. Thanks for your insight!

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Matt!

      Reply
    2. Hi, this is Sarah from China,we are prodessional manufacturer of Disposable Toilet Seat Cover Paper in China, and we have been exporting this product for 8 years.If you want to import from us, please contact me by email sarah@hnmammoth.com

      Reply
  3. Hey awsome article! I have a few questions.

    1. How could you tell if a product is really selling on ebay? Is there a history somewhere or are you just using common sense?

    2. You suggest in the begging looking for suppliers who will sell only 5-10 products. It seems a lot of suppliers have very large minimums. Are we just looking for the gems? Or am I missing some sort of haggling thing?

    Again thank you for sharing your experience! I wish more people were like you.

    - Z

    Reply
    1. Hey Zak –

      1. I should add a picture in the blog post, but in eBay there is an option to only view completed listings. Then you can quickly go through and see which products are selling at what prices, and at what price they stop selling, as well as frequency.

      2. I answered this for somebody else on Reddit, so I am just going to paste that response here if it is alright –
      “The minimum order they list is generally not concrete, and is most of the time their average or desired order size. There is no way to know for sure without messaging the suppliers directly, which is why I go for 15-30 initially.

      In my experience, Chinese factories will go through many hoops to work with you on order sizes, unless they are a MASSIVE factory that only ships via sea. If they use normal air shipping at all, they shouldnt mind sending out even a single item via air (which is what they do with samples anyways).

      Again, with some items it will be different than other. For instance I looked into selling LED lighting that attaches to the sides of buildings, and the margins looked great, but the MOQ ended up being somewhere around $5,000 of lights due to the purpose of the item (to run down entire high rise buildings). I skipped over that one.

      Another option is AliExpress.com, Alibaba’s site for smaller orders. You will generally get better prices for the same amount on Alibaba if you are willing to put in the effort to communicate with suppliers, but AliExpress is always an option.”

      Thanks a lot for reading Zak, and let me know if there are any other questions you have!

      Reply
  4. I really enjoyed the article. What was your experience with getting the merchandise through customs? Were your orders always by air or did you dabble with larger container shipments?

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for reading Alex. I never had much trouble with customs (until they banned airsoft shipments temporarily). The supplier usually dealt with the customs when sending them out, and I only sold domestically after I got it. Any good factory/distributor is going to be going through customs enough to know how to get through smoothly. Even when I was doing the counterfeit goods, I never had an issue with customs (and then there was a real risk of big losses!). I think most Asian suppliers will be able to handle this with no issues for you.

      Back in the day I always ordered by air, and never wanted to deal with FOB sea shipments. Really though, it is not too difficult to import a container, you just hire a trucking company at the port to bring it to your warehouse or whatever. Nowadays I import via air and sea depending on the size of the order, and work with clients that ship full containers in regularly. Unloading and storing the product efficiently is usually the bigger problem at this point.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
      1. So I actually took a step forward last night and found a decent product for a low price, did the comparison on amazon on ebay and found a good margin. When I contacted the company in China, they told me their FOB price was to their port and that I am responsible for paying for the shipping price – understandable. He quoted a fedex rate (~$360) from China to Louisiana (I’m in New Orleans) which added about $6 per piece, which still gains me a margine of about $15 a piece.

        Now my question. When using these express carriers, are their quotes typically adding in the customs tariffs? Or will there be another unexpected charge when they arrive in country?

        Thanks again!!

        -alex

        Reply
        1. Awesome to hear you are taking action Alex, seems like you are moving quick!

          Don’t forget to order some samples before you start buying in bulk. Just make sure they are sending via EMS, TNT, DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc to your house and you shouldnt have any issues. The samples will likely be sent the same way your future orders will be sent, so getting the sample is good to try that out as well.

          I haven’t really run into any additional fees when shipping, the supplier has almost always taken care of shipping flawlessly for me. I am sure there may be some exceptions, so I would ask your supplier before they ship. But really, I think you’ll be safe unless you’re importing something really strange, like food or plants or iron ore or something :)

          Keep me updated on your progress, and feel free to hit me up with anything I can do to help you!

          Will

          Reply
          1. I too decided to get the ball rolling…

            However I just think there’s more to this.

            Last week friend of mine, who is 16, had federal agents at his house because he bought 60 iPhone cases on alibaba and didn’t pay some sort of tax. I’m talking swat team.

            I think you just flew under the radar and based on the items you ordered they probably assumed the items were for your personal use.

            What do you think?

            Reply
            1. Hi Paul,

              Interesting situation, I’ve never heard of anything like that happening. Other than what I mentioned in the article, but that was due to intellectual property infringement.

              I don’t think I flew under the radar or anything, I’ve never heard of anybody getting into any tax issues. Even if you did, it would take quite a bit for the IRS to jump straight to that. Maybe there is more to the story?

              Reply
              1. Thinking about this a little deeper, I could see this happening if you imported something like food, plants, or something similar. With these you can run into regulatory issues, but I guess this has nothing to do with the IRS. Even so, you would get a letter and possibly interviewed (worst case would be a fine) – can’t imagine the IRS or a SWAT team for anything related with importing (other than the reasons I mentioned).

                Reply
  5. Will,

    Great article. Really cleared up a lot of the questions I had. It makes the process really straight forward from here on out. I guess finding that nice product niche just comes down to some hard work and diligence. Well who woulda thunk?

    I guess I still have to remaining points off the top you could address here or in another post. One reservation I have with the above process is I guess it just seems to good to be true – if it’s as simple as finding the right product, won’t other people already have identified the right niche? Maybe I’m just shooting myself in the foot before I get off the ground but I just can’t imagine that there’s so many easy loopholes left to exploit. Or is it just a matter of becoming yet another seller of a popular product? Sure, 29 people already sell fluorescent bulbs to customers in the US over eBay, but since 3000 are bought everyday, some of that business is bound to trickle over to number 30.

    Also, why do you think we shouldn’t buy and sell that which interests us? Isn’t the first rule of business sell what you know? Why couldn’t a guy make money off of clothes or small electronics? Surely there’s an exception to this suggestion.

    Otherwise keep up the good work. I’d love to see you continue this theme in your posts with even more specific information. You could even try to get back into the game and make some cash and document the whole thing. Make an even more step by step guide (this post is pretty damn good start though.)

    Thanks,
    Devan

    Reply
    1. Hey Devan,

      Glad you liked the article, I was worried it might have grown too lengthy.

      I think you are correct on most of your thoughts about product/niche selection. I had the same reservations when I was getting started with this and honestly I think they really took a toll on how quickly I found success with it. There are products out there, they are just hiding in places nobody thinks of. You basically want to jump back a forth from the “hot product” tools I posted (ebay completed listings, amazon, etc) to Alibaba and see if you can find something with a good $10+ markup. Find a few of these and look around the ebay and amazon listings to see how many sellers there are, how consistent the sellers are, if all the items are being bought up immediately, if most of them are just sitting there with no interest, etc.

      If you do this for an hour or two, you should start finding at least a couple products with $10-20 markup potential. When I went and did it how I described it, I found 2 or 3 decent products in the first 20 minutes, so I know there are some still out there.

      The reason you can undercut in some markets is because you have no overhead. In airsoft for example, all my competition were running brick-and-mortar stores with inventory and employees and rent and utilities. I was sitting at home in my underwear in front of my computer instead of going to school, and getting the same prices they were (and eventually better). I am sure there are more reasons than this, but I think this is the main one (I’ll probably add this point to the article)

      It is also good to find a market like you described, with ultra-high volume and few sellers. Amazon is great for this, and I will probably post soon how I still sell some things like this on Amazon on the side. Easy income really.

      I believe that you have to be passionate about your business 110%, totally agree with you there. If you wanted to create a fashion line, you’d better have a hell of a lot of passion, you’ll need that and some more.

      However in this specific case, when we are basically engaging in arbitrage, I think it is best to focus almost completely on the margins. The only reason I did this was to make money on the side, and that required me focusing purely on margins.

      If you want to start a brand behind your imports though, you definitely want to pick something you love and can do for years to come, and you definitely don’t want to just focus on the margins. My friend Kevin at SKAR Audio technically started out running an import business, but eventually became passionate about it and expanded it out into the SKAR brand, now selling over $100k of product per month. He turned his imports into a real brand and real business, and it required an incredible amount of work and passion. Much more so than me sitting around on my computer :)

      Also, I am sure there are some electronics and especially clothing pieces out there that you can make money on, I just haven’t in the past so I can’t really vouch for them comfortably. I can tell you though, be extra extra careful with electronics, as people get burned in that niche much more than any other.

      Great idea on getting back into the game too, maybe I will record a live case study! I love talking with you man, every time we talk we build up some amazingly valuable content and ideas!

      Thanks a lot for everything Devan, talk to you later

      Reply
  6. This article really hit home for me, literally. I work at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach which are the busiest ports in the USA. I see these ships come and go every day, and I have stood by and worked with containers 1000′s of times. When people ask me, “Do you know what’s in them?” my reply is, “nope.” It’s not my job to know; it’s my job to move them around the yard.

    I followed the advice in your article, and I came across a product with a good $10-15 markup. It seems to sell well on Ebay (1-2 a day) and Amazon only has 1 seller. I’m going to continue to follow your advice and go through with it trying to sell it myself, but first I am going to get my hands on some samples.

    Reply
    1. So awesome to hear you are taking action Raymond, nothing makes me happier. I think you should definitely get some samples on that product, and congratulations on finding a prime product opportunity so quickly. Makes me think I gave decent advice :)

      I would love to help you on your way to success and feature your story on the blog, email me if you are interested!

      Either way though, feel free to hit me up in the future with any questions, problems, or concerns.

      Congrats again on your initial success!

      Reply
      1. Dear Sir,
        I m very very interested doing anything in anywhere
        please give me the chance

        Reply
        1. Hey Dev,

          Thanks for reading. Not sure what you mean by this, could you elaborate a bit?

          Reply
  7. Wow, excellent article! I’m so inspired right now. I’m a student and business owner already, but I’ve been looking for new business opportunities. I love online retail (my current business is an online vintage store), and I want to suppliment my income with other sources.
    I’m really excited to look into this, and your post was incredibly detailed, so that will definitely help in getting started. Many thanks!

    Cheers,

    Dani

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for the kind words Dani, I am glad you got some value out of it. If you are already running an online store, you will probably find great success with importing. The more you know about getting products up and selling, along with marketing them on the back end for recurring revenue, the more potential the importing opportunity has. Good luck, and please let me know if there is anything I can help with!

      Reply
      1. I do have one question to start with. When comparing items on Amazon’s best sellers list and Alibaba, is it important to find the same brands? For example, if I found a nail dotting pen by Shany Cosmetics on Amazon, is it important to try to find the same manufacturer on Alibaba? I don’t even know if that is possible (I’m pretty new to Alibaba, so I’m trying to familiarize myself with it). Can I just find a comparable nail dotting pen and try to sell it?

        Thanks!

        Reply
        1. Hey Dani,

          It really depends on the product, but it would be prime if you could find the same nail dotting pens that are selling on amazon, because then you can list your items directly on the sellers page for a product that is already selling itself. However, you could easily take a different brand of nail dotting pens and sell them on eBay or any other channel, because you know people are buying a similar item on Amazon. Then it just comes down to positioning your pens well.

          In the light bulb example, I found the exact bulbs that were selling for a very healthy markup. That is ideal, but even if it were a different brand, light bulbs are pretty generic and people likely buy all sorts of different kinds all over the place. It would be safe to say I could even make a new listing with new bulbs and spend a small amount on advertising the listings and come away with a very healthy profit.

          I hope that answers those questions for you, let me know if you have any other questions.

          By the way, read your blog and loved it! Left a comment also :)

          Good luck to you,
          Will

          Reply
          1. Hey, I really like your article and wish I could have read it before!
            Now my 2 amazon account are suspended because they said it was counterfeit.
            But clearly all the seller there are selling from aliexpress as well and it’s the exact copy information that was on ali website and amazon.
            Have you ever deal with an appeal on amazon?
            I would really like to know the difference between a copy and a counterfeit. Both seems to be the same for me Lol.
            Thanks!

            Reply
  8. Will,

    A lot of informative stuff in this article! As far as taxes/tariffs go, did you run into any implications or astronomical expense, or was the burden of taxation borne by the supplier mostly? Also, at what point did you feel comfortable suggesting the product be drop shipped? Ideally, I would like to find a product in the 20-40 USD range that I could realize a pre-tax margin of 75% and also something that is more defensive and less vulnerable to macroeconomiic conditions both domestically and abroad. Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Thanks so much for reading Chris.

      With the smaller orders (under a pallet’s worth), my suppliers generally shipped by air and most of the importing/shipping expenses were built into my product cost and taken care of by the supplier/shipping company.

      I wish I remembered how it exactly came about (I could probably go way back in my emails and find out), but from memory I think I started sending my supplier just straight SKU, quantity, and address for them to tally up and send to me. I was just copy and pasting them from my internal excel spreadsheet I was keeping because I was getting lazy with it. After about a month of that, my supplier mentioned to me that he has a US distributor that they use to ship single orders to customers in the US, and that he could get me set up within that process if I wanted. I of course accepted and my job became a hell of a lot easier.

      I also wish I had more advice on how to know when to ask for drop shipping, and maybe I will go back into it and do a live case study or something to find out. But, just speaking from what I know certainly works, I had to develop a great relationship with them before we had the mutual trust built up for that to be a possibility.

      As for the products that you are looking for, you are describing a dream products. Not that it is impossible to find, but it is going to take a bit of trial and error and work before you find a perfect product. To meet the specifications you mentioned, I would guess staple items (forks, underwear, lighters, lint rollers, weird stuff like that), maybe some toys (like those big inflatable transparent balls people can get in and run around in on water), and maybe some hobby items (RC airplane parts, RC drift car wheels, etc). Again, it is always going to be some weird product you’d never think of that turns out to be your bread and butter, you really just have to get out there and start looking around. I won’t lie, it takes some time (though much less with this article).

      Hope that helps, and dont hesitate to hit me up with additional questions!

      Thanks!

      Reply
  9. interesting article, wrong use of the ‘lazy college senior’ meme

    Reply
    1. Sorry Rick :-(

      Reply
  10. I really enjoyed this! But, the end of your blog is a business ending crash! Was it simply because of the product? Or, did the market go away, did the suppliers go away? And, if it was the suppliers, what’s to prevent any other product having the same fate?

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for reading it! I tried to cover it a bit in the article, but what happened to me was kind of a rare fluke. The Chinese and American Customs were having some dispute about weapons and weapon look-a-likes, so airsoft guns got piled into it along with my knives and other things I was selling less of. China started holding all of those at their ports and not letting them go for whatever reason it was (there wasnt much news or anything about this, just people talking within the industry). It ended up being 3-6 months before any of these items were smoothly going through both customs again, and by that time I had lost a lot of the value in what I had built. I could have gone back into it or changed products, but being 16 I decided to do other things :-)

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  11. Great read thanks a ton,
    I’ve been thinking for a while that I should find a way to start importing something (I just felt like that could be good money in it). But, really had no idea where to start. This article was exactly what I needed. Thanks so much. I’m definitely going to be giving this a try. Plan on hearing from me. If I am able to contribute back at all let me know. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hey Chase, thanks a lot for reading. It is awesome to hear you will be taking action on this – feel free to email me any time with anything I can help with. After you are a success, I’d love to feature you on the blog!

      Looking forward to hearing from you soon,
      Will

      Reply
  12. Great post, I really enjoyed reading it. I am intrigued that you made a business mainly by building connections over the internet. These are great times we live in.

    You spoke about how you look for niche products to sell in the amazon best sellers list. I am wondering if you could expand on that. What criteria do you look for in a potential product? Do you import generic items of brand name popular things?

    Reply
    1. Thanks for reading Bryan. The internet is an absolutely brilliant tool, great times indeed :)

      I think you can take the product selection any way you’d like. I wish I could be more specific with it, but it is really just an exploration process for me when I do it. I know a friend who makes a ton of money selling generic razor blade replacements, so I know that is a possibility. I’ve also heard people mention they’d found opportunity in skateboard hardware, car floor mats…it is a really diverse group.

      I think I will be sending a video of me doing some niche product selection out via email in the next couple of days – look out for that, and feel free to ask any other questions.

      Reply
  13. Near the end of the article you guys said about automating the sales by having the supplier ship the product directly to the client.

    My question is, since they will be sending the products from Asia, wouldn’t it take like a month to arrive to the customers? People can get mad inpatient and start throwing rocks at you.

    Reply
    1. Hey John,

      My supplier had set me up with a US distributor of theirs (I think I mentioned in the article) to drop ship for me. I was working with the supplier for a while before we worked out that arrangement. I tried dropshipping from China very early on, but all packages will arrive with a ton of Chinese on them and take about 6-9 days, so that wasnt an option. You’re exactly right, they did start throwing rocks lol

      I have seen some people have success in finding US suppliers from the get go to to dropship for them, but many more have success through small bulk orders at first and building from there. The dropship thing was a great thing I kind of fell into, but it is not easy to find a company that will trust you enough to take your returns and whatnot.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
      1. Since you bring up the Chinese writing – when you find a product do you specify what you want on the product box/package in terms of language/design/brand/logo/etc? Or do you simply pass on what they have already created?

        Reply
        1. If you want to customize any aspects of the product, you are going to have to pay extra. Most factories will work with you to build anything you want really, even a completely new product if they can do it, and they will help you with many aspects of it. But, it will cost more, the MOQ will be higher, it will be more complicated, and increasingly so with each customization.

          If you are going down that route, you are likely building a brand.

          Reply
  14. What do you guys think of auctioning imports?

    Reply
    1. Could you clarify? I’m not sure I understand…

      Reply
  15. Incredibly well written and informative article. Everyone thinking of starting an import business should read this!

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for reading!

      Reply
  16. If you did eBay, did you run into any issues with low feedback in the beginning?

    For example, if one starts with a fresh email account, does it take long before someone actually buys one of your items?

    I ask this because I never buy anything on ebay unless I see lots and lots of good feedback (200+)

    Reply
    1. It was surprisingly easy to get started with very few feedback, that was one of my concerns though. If you are really worried, you can either a) sell some small things b) buy some stuff or c) buy an account with feedback. I’d recommend them in that order if you find it a problem.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  17. Hey Will,

    I have a question for you.

    What if I don’t want to sell in Amazon, eBay etc and instead, I want to sell directly to a company let’s say… some kind of office supplies they buy every month or something like that.

    How can I find out how much are they currently spending on an item and how much of it are they spending each month, so I can make a proposal?

    Best regards,
    John Saracena

    Reply
    1. Hey John

      Thanks a lot for taking the time out to read and comment on this.

      You can certainly build a good business that way, and many have. To be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of experience in pursuing contracts like this, but I can tell you from marketing that when I first started out I would stalk my competition to find out what they were getting away with charging. If I were going to go into what you are describing, I would probably do a similar thing.

      The best way to get pricing knowledge is to call up your top 10 competitors and act like your perfect customer and take notes on how they are selling you. The more deeply you can analyze every single word, the better. Everything down to the lingo, the rebuttals, pricing, customer expectations and service…you can leverage the knowledge of people who have made many mistakes to get to where they are (in terms of what decisions they have made on business processes).

      Hope this helps, if not let me know and I can go deeper!
      Will

      Reply
  18. Hey Will,

    Brilliant article. You really got me thinking about things and I really appreciate it! The big problem like everyone else is niche hunting. Are there any websites / white papers that you can recommend reading. Don’t mind paying. Cheers

    James

    Reply
    1. Hey James,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words, I am really glad to hear you liked it!

      I will be putting together a video tonight to further explain the niche selection process. It will be free, I will probably be sending it via email to our email subscribers! Keep on the look out.

      I know the feeling, that everybody else is niche hunting. I always felt that before I began finding a few good niches. They are tough to find, but as long as there are more buyers than entrepreneurs I think we can still find great niches. Two or three people have emailed me since writing this with niches I could only dream of coming up with – I am seriously excited and proud for them. One girl found a product she can mark up 1000% right off the bat and has plans to build a brand with custom products and everything – all in one night! Seriously exciting stuff, I know you can do it!

      Hit me up if you need any help or anything,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,

        Did you already send out this video? I just signed up for your mailing list today and didn’t want to miss it.

        Thanks!

        Reply
        1. Hey Bugsey,

          Luckily, I have been making everybody wait way too long for that video, so you didn’t miss it yet. Hoping to get it out tonight!

          Will

          Reply
  19. Hi Will,

    So in regards to you purchasing the goods from China wholesalers, I’m a little confused. Did you purchase shipments and store them at distributors? Or did you get them to act as drop shippers, where someone would purchase an item and they would ship it? Wouldn’t that make the time delays for the customer getting it too long? If they have to ship from China – one at a time…plus how much would that cost the buyer?? I’ve got a feeling I’ve got the wrong end of the stick!

    James

    Reply
    1. Hey James,

      I think I have you under two emails on these comments – but I’ll answer all of them!

      By the way, love the Pedal Juice company – great idea.

      I started out importing in light bulk, slowly increasing as I made more money. I was just storing and shipping out of my house at the time.

      After a certain point it began to be a real burden on me, all the shipping and storage, so I began to search around for some alternative.

      I asked my contact at our Chinese supplier if he knew of any options, and he told me that with how long I have been with him and how much product I was moving for them, he would try to work something out. He came back with the drop ship arrangement where their largest distributor in the US would package and ship our items for us, as well as take care of returns. On top of all of that, it was much cheaper this way as we could piggy back on their UPS discounts and bulk shipping.

      Like I said in the article, I don’t think that dropshipping is as great as everybody says it is because it is tough to find. You have to develop strong relationships with the suppliers before they go out of their way to help you like that, they need to know you are going to move product and you’re going to move a lot of it, the shipping is just holding you back.

      Hope that helps!
      Will

      Reply
      1. Thanks Will,

        We have 2.0 version coming hopefully soon :).

        I’m liking the readers comments and your replies just as much as the article :).

        Reply
        1. Glad to see things are still progressing with your company James, hope all is well!

          Reply
  20. Great article, i remember my self back in 2004 when i ordered some of the chinese players ( some kinda Ipods) with flash memory of 256MB. I am from eastern europe and by that time this was kinda SF, super new. I sold the 2 players fast. Due to lack of cash i never purchased again. But this is a real business , i will do import more great stuff or will start a dropship business online. Thanks for the info and sharing though.

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for taking the time out to read and comment. The MP3 player market was a huge opportunity in 2004, I remember seeing some people making unreasonable amounts of money. I tried to get in there also, but electronics are a tough market for a 14 year old haha.

      Too bad you couldn’t keep going with that, I am sure you would have made some good money. At least now you know that there is money there for the future :)

      Hope to hear from you more in the future,
      Will

      Reply
  21. Hey,

    New to your blog and this is a very encouraging article for anyone young “hustler”. Especially in high school or college. I just had a question about Phone number. When you contacted the suppliers via voice. How did you do it?

    Reply
    1. Hey Daniel, thanks a lot for checking us out.

      Glad to hear you found some value in the article. I usually didn’t need a phone number to contact suppliers. In fact, I barely ever even talked to my suppliers. They love skype and email over there.

      But if you need voice, like I said they love skype.

      Hope that helps, and hope to see more from you in the future!

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  22. Let’s say you found a very innovative product. The profit potential is there: $10 – $20 per sale. It’s small. It’s cheap. It has a low minimum order.

    However, it’s not currently widely available on either Amazon or Ebay, except in extremely small instances (only one, brand name product available on Amazon). So in other words, there is no proven demand.

    What do you do?

    Reply
    1. That’s either a blowout hit or a dud, it depends on the product. I gotta wonder though – how did you come to the profit potential if it isnt widely available?

      Love your site by the way!

      Reply
      1. Good question. I guesstimated with a significant margin of error.

        However, I just finished up a chat with the supplier and turns out I jumped the gun on the interpretation of their description. So it seems that this one is a dud.

        Thanks for the compliment. I just use it as a web card. I like the startupbros.com design to! Btw, found you via Reddit!

        Reply
        1. No worries, keep looking! A lot of redditors have been emailing me telling me about some niches they found that are better than anything I ever found! They are still out there.

          I would really like to get a personal site like yours, a web card – gotta add that to my list :)

          Reply
  23. Will,

    The issue of branding has me stumped, I was hoping you could expand on this. As I search for products being sold on Ebay/Amazon it’s becoming increasingly clear that many of the products that sell are branded products. Is there a trick to finding products that sell without being branded? Maybe certain niches where brand name means less (or nothing at all)? Your LED light example seems to be less reliant on branding, at least on ebay where I’m finding thousands of non branded light bulbs.

    Can you tell me would a typical Ebay/Amazon listing for one of your airsoft guns looked like, as an example? What would the description say about the gun? The maker? The supplier?

    The alternative to selling a non branded product is, of course, branding your product but my impression is, to do this right, requires a fair amount of extra work. You’d certainly have to create a credible website at the very least and I imagine there would much more to it than simply creating a brand name for yourself. Can you give more detail on this process?

    I appreciate any help/insight you might have. Thanks for the article.

    Best,
    Chris

    Reply
    1. Hey Chris,

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to read and comment!

      The reason airsoft guns worked were because nobody cares about the brand. People go on to buy a cool airsoft gun, not look for a brand name airsoft gun. Brand name airsoft guns are a completely separate niche, and I couldnt have dreamed of competing there. You have to find an area where the brand doesnt matter.

      My listings would look like this – http://www.ebay.com/itm/ZM51-Spring-Powered-Bolt-Action-Airsoft-Sniper-Rifle-415-FPS-/200812917116?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ec161f17c

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  24. Hi Will,

    Great article.

    1)

    I’d like to ask how can one figure out how many units of item X are currently being sold each weak or each month (ball park figure)?

    I mean… is there any way you can know, BEFORE entering a market, that there are currently being sold 15-30 airsoft guns (or whatever) each weak ?

    I’m interested in knowing or predicting the current volume of sales before choosing a product to sell. Is there a way to do it?

    2 )

    What about offline… is there any way you can know how many of product X does a certain store or retail chain sell every month?

    Thanks!

    - Tom

    Reply
    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks a lot for commenting.

      1) I just count how many are sold in a given week on eBay, that will usually let you know the exact amount. Short of that you can watch Amazon pages to see if listings pop up and drop off, but eBay is going to be best for volume predictions as you can see that data. Amazon usually has a “#1,202 in X Category” indicator too, so you can at least compare items with Amazon too.

      2) It’s gunna be much tougher to get the offline data for that, at least not without paying for it.

      Hope this helps, feel free to ask more!
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,

        You say you can count how many are being sold in a week, but what how many a week is a good amount to know if that product is worth taking the risk on? Looking for an actual number here.

        Thanks!

        -Grace

        Reply
  25. Wow! Long post! You wrote some fascinating information. I prefer to deal with information products. Actually, I am trying to sell art, but I produce it myself. Perhaps in the future, if I build up, then I’ll start trying to sell physical products like you that I import from overseas. Entrepreneurship is quite a wonderful thing! Thanks for posting this.

    Reply
    1. Hey Michael,

      Thanks for reading. I also love infoproducts, working on creating a few currently :)

      Great luck with your art, unfortunately I don’t have much experience outside of marketing a few musicians.

      Love your writings!
      Will

      Reply
  26. Fantastic breakdown of the importing business. There’s a ton of money to be made there, but there’s also some important things you need to watch out for. Thanks for explaining your experience in such a simple way (and pointing out some things others of us may have missed)!

    Reply
    1. Hey Matt,

      Thanks a lot for reading and taking the time to comment, glad you enjoyed the content.

      By the way – I loved your article on Twinkies. Just one of the things I am kicking myself over for not getting into this month, including that Powerball Facebook Picture hoax and just buying a Powerball ticket and posting it to client FB pages saying “winnings to be shares with all that share!” or something. Three marketing fumbles in less than a month – and I call myself a marketer?!

      Congrats on hitting the top of /r/entrepreneur with it too, I saw you up there at the same time as us!

      Hope to hear more from you in the future,
      Will

      Reply
  27. Great read, really appreciate you sharing your experiences and lessons learned.

    Does reselling in this manner require time to gain sales volume or is that mainly a factor of the quality of product/supplier you find? Is there a point where you would outgrow Ebay or Amazon or is this not a valid concern?

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for reading and taking the time out to comment Sam.

      It takes time, but the first limiting factor is the supplier, and it can be tough the first time. It is really up to you if you want to outgrow those channels, you can build a business completely outside of those using other channels, and also leverage those channels to bring in recurring revenue. It is just if you decide to grow these ways, or just want a good side business.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  28. Hey Will,

    Great article, thanks for taking the time to lay everything out step by step – you rock! Can you comment on what traditional sample policies entail? One supplier I contacted said the sample is free, I just have to pay $30 shipping. Another said that because they have to make the sample, it would cost $70 ($40 for the sample, $30 for shipping). This seem way out of line, since the unit price they quoted for 100 pcs is $5.50/pc. They did say that the sample price (less shipping) would be credited towards my first order, but still seems like way too much.

    Is this normal operating procedure or should I steer clear? (FYI – they are a 1st year Gold Supplier and have had an Onsite Check).

    Thanks!

    Glenn

    Reply
    1. Hey Glenn,

      Thanks a lot for reading the article and taking the time out to comment.

      That is usually how it goes, as it is pretty expensive to fly a box over the pacific. You can check shipping prices yourself on the UPS/EMS websites, but if multiple companies are quoting the same price I would guess that is the correct cost. It does sound like you have two pretty good suppliers to deal with though, it is usually tough to find a factory that gives free samples or credits them towards your next order!

      Unfortunately though, single item shipping is a bit expensive from what we are used to seeing here. It gets marginally much cheaper as you ship bigger (like your supplier said)

      Hope this helps, and congrats on taking action!
      Will

      Reply
      1. Thanks Will. I’m not so much concerned about the shipping cost – $30 sounds more than reasonable to ship a small box halfway around the world. My bigger concern is with the 2nd supplier, who is basically charging $40 for manufacturing a sample that probably costs them $5 at the most.

        Forgot to mention, they also said “We never use paypal, our payment way is westernunion and banktransfer”. Is this a show stopper given that they are a Gold Supplier?

        Reply
        1. Yea, the factory that doesn’t accept Escrow or PayPal I would avoid. I also don’t like the fact that they are charging $40 for a knife, I didn’t realize that on your first comment. Since they credit it towards future orders, I normally would think they are just trying to give samples only to serious suppliers. But since they aren’t using a payment method that protects the buyer in any way, I would probably avoid…

          Hope this helps,
          Will

          Reply
  29. That was incredible. You could make a book with that information or at least a short ebook. Definitely one of the most informative posts I have ever read.

    Reply
    1. Hey Nikolai, thanks a lot for reading and taking the time out to comment! Funny you mention that – we were just talking about extending it out into a book tonight! Maybe we will :)

      P.S. – Love ThirdMinds!

      Reply
      1. That’s awesome! Very happy to hear you’re thinking of pushing forward with that idea. A post gushing with so much needed information deserves its own platform. Thanks for the TM love as well!

        Reply
        1. P.S. Nikolai – Book it is! Sometime this year :)

          Will

          Reply
  30. Awesome post bro! I have been importing from China for a while and my importing empire is starting to take off now :)

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that, keep it going! :)

      Reply
  31. Hello,

    Great article! Couple of questions…

    If we aren’t supposed to focus on things that we know and buy, how are we supposed to be able to find a niche that will work aside from just randomly guessing and picking products trying to find something that will work? We are really struggling to find a product that we can make work.

    Also, is there any way to estimate shipping costs on products (as in when the factory ships to us)? Without knowing shipping costs it seems like it would be hard to figure out whether a product will work or not.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks a lot for reading the article and taking the time out to comment.

      I’ll be posting a follow up post tomorrow on niche selection for everybody. If you have issues after that post, email me with more questions and I will help you out!

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  32. I’ve been doing a few hours of searching over the past couple days and having trouble finding products, too. I’ve been having trouble finding things that the market isn’t already saturated with. I would think a key is to find a unique value proposition of some sort… bunching products together in a certain way, or branding a line of similar products… but I have been finding many things on Alibaba that are either identical or very similar to a bunch of products on Ebay. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong categories of products?

    Reply
    1. I am in the middle of writing an awesome Step-by-Step on finding a good product – it should be up by Saturday.

      Most of the products I make money on are exactly the same on Alibaba and eBay. I use the pictures and information from my supplier a lot of the time.

      Unique packaging or positioning helps, but then you are creating a different type of business than just a simple side importing business.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  33. Hey Will,

    Great article. It definitely gave me some motivation.

    I just have a few questions, I’m new to this, so if any questions seem commonsensical, pardon me.

    How did you handle your returns, prior to drop shipping? Would you keep extra stock on hand, in between shipments from oversees, just in case? Also were there points where the cost to return it to China was more than the product, itself, and you just ate your loss? Or would you wait for a couple returns and then ship all at once?

    Additionally, did you have to do anything as far as applying for a fictitious business name? This may fall under the branding aspect, but I’m not 100% sure.

    Thanks!
    George

    Reply
    1. Hi George,

      Thanks a lot for reading and taking the time out to comment. I am glad the article gave you some motivation :)

      Prior to dropshipping I just handled returns myself. People could ship back to me and I would either refund them or send them a new item depending on the situation. So yes, I pretty much just took the losses and factored them into my costs. I usually had a refund rate of around 2-3%

      You may want to file for an LLC once you start making some sustainable cash flow for tax purposes.

      Hope this helps!
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi, very interested in your articles and replies. And thanks for sharing. I have couple of questions in this post. Maybe a little bit no brainer….
        What is LLC? and
        Do we need to apply for an import license in order to buy small bulk from China?

        Reply
        1. Glad you liked all of it Ying :) An LLC is a Limited Liability Corporation, it’s just a legal entity you can ‘create’ in the United States. You may have to apply for an important license, it depends on where you live and what the legal system is like. It is different everywhere and highly variable. We don’t have to do anything special to ‘qualify’ to buy things from overseas here in Florida, but I couldn’t speak for anywhere else.

          Reply
  34. Hi Will,

    This is a great article, although I do have a question which I hope you can help with:

    I live in the Southeast Asia region, Singapore. So my concern is the shipping cost. To ship a package overseas would most probably kill my profit margin. (There’s not much option here, since Singapore is a small country) That, coupled with the additional shipping from my supplier, might not be enough to justify the effort that comes with it.

    I’d appreciate your input on this.
    Thanks!
    Stanley

    Reply
    1. Hi Stanley,

      Thanks a lot for reading!

      Yea, it may be tough to ship to the US from Singapore. There may be some opportunities selling to buyers in your area, maybe look into that.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  35. Hey Will,

    You mentioned sending shipments including coupons and such for your product. My question to you is how you were giving these coupons given you were selling through another website.

    Dan

    Reply
    1. Hi Dan,

      Thanks a lot for taking the time out to read and comment. By the time I started sending out in-box promo, I already had my own ecommerce store set up that I could set up coupons through. Like I said, the purpose of the in box promo is to get ebay and amazon buyers information so you can market to them for free in the future – that is how you really start growing!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  36. Hey Will,

    Also, I was curious how you set up these deals and the SMS subscriptions.

    Dan

    Reply
    1. The SMS subscriptions were set up through a texting service, but now you can use Twilio and Wordpress plugins to do much more powerful things. Email me at will [at] startupbros.com if you need the SMS marketing plugin I use nowadays for my consulting clients.

      Thanks again,
      Will

      Reply
  37. What sort of liability are we at as sellers of items? Like, for example, if I sold little ball magnets and a toddler swallowed them and got sick or something, could they sue? If so, what exactly would happen?

    Also, I’m a little weary of buying anything from China due to my fears that it may have been made with lead or some other toxic/potentially harmful chemical. Are these fears reasonable? If someone does get lead poisoning, or the product breaks and causes harm, am I liable or is the company in China liable?

    Reply
    1. Let me lead by saying that I am definitely not a lawyer – but here is my guess from my experience.

      In a case like this, the seller would likely be named in the lawsuit, but the primary liability will still lie with the manufacturer. Even so, if you are behind an LLC your personal assets are safe.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Thank you! On another note, can a minor apply for an LLC? If so, how do I go about doing that? Just go talk to my bank?

        Reply
        1. There wasn’t an age limit when I was under 18, it depends on your State but I doubt it will be an issue. You either need to do it through LegalZoom or google “File an LLC in (whatever State)” and you should find a way to do it online cheaper through your State, but it will take a little more research/legwork to get through the process on the clunky State websites…

          Hope this helps,
          Will

          Reply
  38. Wow, great article and very informative. Thank you for writing it.

    I’ve started comparing items on the Amazon best seller list and trying to find suppliers at Ali Baba.

    I’ve found one item that I could sell for a considerable markup, but I’m afraid I might be dealing with counterfeits. How can I tell for sure that the item I’m buying isn’t counterfeit and that the American company will not come after me?

    Reply
    1. Hey Richard,

      Thanks a lot for reading and commenting!

      It is tough for me to know whether or not your specific item is prone to counterfeiters or might put you at legal risk without actually knowing what the product is. If it is a recognizable trademark, you probably want to avoid it.

      Also, look on eBay/Amazon and see how the climate is there with sellers – do a lot of people say “Genuine” “Not Counterfeit” “Real” etc? If so, then it is obviously a problem for that product, and is probably prone to counterfeiters.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  39. Hey Will.
    I was going to drop you a message on Reddit but I stopped here as well.
    On your recommend I bought The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (the new revision) and it is a darn good read/listen. It made me laugh in a few spots because not only do we have some similar ideas but he also used a couple of sayings I am a bit infamous for around work (easier to get forgiveness than permission).
    Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. Hey there,

      Glad to see you commented here, as Reddit banned my account for no real reason they can tell me…

      Awesome to hear you bought 4-Hour Workweek, it is definitely one of my top 10 books for entrepreneurs. I know the feeling about having similar ideas – I used to get people telling me I was stealing ideas from 4HWW before I had even read it. That’s what convinced me to buy it :)

      Let me know how you enjoy it,
      Will

      Reply
  40. Hey Will,

    When you were first starting out, how did you deal with the crazy high shipping prices? I don’t have a lot of money to put into this at this time, so I’ve been looking at items with free shipping. Is a good idea?

    Also, what would I do if I just want to buy a few samples of a product? I’ve been in contact with the seller and he has agreed to it, but would the payment be done outside of Alibaba since they may not sell just one item on the site?

    Reply
    1. Hey Adam,

      The shipping prices are always going to be high coming across the Pacific, just something you have to account for. I don’t think you’ll find any factories willing to send samples with free shipping, but maybe you can.

      The sellers are used to people buying samples. Just make sure your payments are protected in some way, either through Paypal or Escrow.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  41. You are SO AWESOME. A definite inspiration to me. I haven’t gotten this excited about something for awhile. If I’m ever in Florida, I’m going to buy you dinner.

    Reply
    1. Haha thanks a lot! Looking forward to dinner and drinks :-P

      Love your blog by the way, good stuff!

      Will

      Reply
  42. Hey Will,

    Thanks for the great read! Today, I was buying a sample from China (gold supplier) for 8$ + 25$ shipping (they only do FOB). They asked me for my DHL account number.

    I haven’t replied yet, because I don’t have a DHL account (and the 25$ seemed like a rip off, as I constantly buy personal items from china with free international shipping since they’re labeled as gifts).

    What’s the best way to handle shipping? Should I use DHL or FedEx, or something else to handle the FOB and EXW etc?

    Thanks,
    Summit

    Reply
    1. Hey Summit,

      Thanks for commenting, and sorry about the delay – was out of town!

      They like to ship onto other people’s shipping account. I think they will still ship themselves if you don’t have a shipping account though, just ask them.

      $25 is actually the low end of sample shipping costs in my experience, at least if you are shipping to the US. I usually pay from $25-45 for the first sample shipments. Not sure how they could do free shipping unless it is baked into the unit cost.

      Honestly, I usually work with the supplier a lot to set up shipping terms that work for both of us. What works for you is going to be different from others, as everybody is shipping different items with different shapes and sizes and regulations, and they all want to do different things with them (store in garage, closet, warehouse). You really have to work with the supplier to figure out what is going to work best.

      Hope this helps!
      Will

      Reply
  43. I think i may try Social Media Advertising but only because that’s what i work in.

    Reply
    1. Hey, there is definitely money there too!

      Reply
  44. Why does Alibaba have such bad reviews? Lots of people saying there a scam? I was really excited about a legit place to buy from until i seen the bad reviews :( Have you ever had a bad experience with them?

    Reply
    1. Hey Bud,

      Like I said in the article, it is really easy to get scammed if you don’t know what you’re doing and aren’t careful! Make sure you talk to Gold suppliers and use PayPal/Escrow to protect yourself.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  45. Why does alibaba have such bad reviews?i was excited about purchasing until i read about all the people that got scammed, have you had any issues with them or Chinese maufactureres?

    Reply
    1. Hi Bud,

      There are a ton of scammers, middle men, and terrible suppliers on Alibaba. You have to be really careful, you can lose a lot of money (and I know people who have!)

      Just be sure to have all the filters I mentioned above on, and make sure you use Escrow or Paypal so you can reverse/dispute the order if things go sour.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  46. Will,

    First off, congratulations to your success in importing at such a young age. I am a 22 year old college student and just now seeing some of the potential in the import/export business. I have a couple of questions I hope you don’t mind answering.

    Living in a small apartment with a roommate, I don’t have the ability to store much product. Do you feel that there are any suppliers out there that will drop ship for me with no prior relationship to me? I did not even realize this was an option until reading your article, so thank you.

    I would also like some advice from you about a product I am interested in importing. What do you think of this http://www.amazon.com/Bronze-Finish-Power-Outlets-Rectangular/dp/B00427T4KY/ref=sr_1_60?ie=UTF8&qid=1358460321&sr=8-60&keywords=lamp+with+power+outlet. The margins are incredible. Doing ebay/amazon searches do not return many results for the lamps and I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. There seems to be little retail competitors, but maybe also few customers? I know it is something I would want in my home though.

    Just one more question if you don’t mind. Do you feel that an LLC would be a good way to legitimize your import/export company?

    Thanks for taking the time to write such an informative article. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Nathan

    Reply
    1. Nathan,

      Thanks a lot for reading and commenting!

      It is going to be extremely hard to find a supplier that will drop ship for anybody that hits them up out of the blue. They generally want some sort of relationship built up first. My first couple years I was only importing a few boxes few of stuff and never ran into storage issues, but of course I don’t know how much room you have.

      Lamps are going to be really, really tough to sell unless you have a list of people buying lamps to advertise to. You need to niche down a lot, just selling a random lamp is going to be really inconsistent and tough. I would assume there is no consistent base of buyers for the specific lamp you are referring to, meaning you will have to build up that base of buyers, which costs a lot of money!

      I’d find a different product.

      I think I mention in the article that I never file for an LLC until I know that my business is going to be around for a long time. That’s just me, you could do it whenever you want though.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  47. So, please correct me if I am mistaken, you made a lot of money with only one product (the airsoft guns) sourced through alibaba, right?

    I understand that the regulations killed that product However what is preventing you of doing the exact same thing but with another product?

    Is it harder now with ebay? Do you consider ebay the best way to sell those products ? What about flee markets… Is it possible to make even more money there?

    Thanks in advance.

    Martin

    Reply
    1. Hi Martin,

      I think I replied to you on some forums, but here is my response from there –

      I didn’t continue with it at the time just because I was young and didn’t feel like doing it anymore. My goal in life is $1bn and didn’t need the money, so I went down a different path that I thought would get me closer to that.

      I think it is probably a little bit harder now, but I also think that we will be looking back at it in 5 years saying “It was so easy back then!”. I never tried Flea Markets, but I did almost try selling to flea market merchants as a supplier to them. Never got around to it before the ban though.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  48. Hi

    I just want to say thank you.

    Very good article !

    Saïdou Wane

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Saïdou, glad you liked it! Be sure to read the follow up as well ;)

      Reply
  49. Thanks for the informative article Will!

    How much capital would someone new to this business need to get started? You mentioned that you started at age 13, but with the high MOQs and costly samples, it feels like I would need at least a grand, unless I opted for AliExpress and significantly smaller margins.

    Reply
    1. Hi Marvin,

      Make sure you read my follow up post to this, I think it will answer a lot of these questions.

      If not, comment on that one and I’ll get back to you much quicker than I got back to this one!

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  50. Hi Will,

    I recently started dropshipping items like so http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Coal-Model-of-the-Famous-Titanic-small-Brilliant-Coal-Ship-model-made-with-Coa-/120851813197?pt=UK_Collectables_Nautical&hash=item1c2354534d

    now as you can see this is the cheapest of these items on ebay at the current time at £12.99 + £3.75 postage.

    but these items cost me £6.00 + £2.90 postage to customer.

    so i’m wondering how much would be best to undercut the current cheapest person on ebay?

    Thanks for reading

    Reply
    1. Hi Tezza,

      I’d undercut him by $1 for as long as you can!

      Congrats on getting started and finding a supplier that will dropship.

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  51. Amazing article Will! My dad will be retiring in a few months and I was planning to get him into the dropshipping business and I am really glad I bumped into this rather elaborate post. I am going to share with my dad and hopefully start a dropshipping business. Thanks a lot again!

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Sanjay! Hope you and your dad can extract a lot of value out of these posts! By the time you guys get started, we might even have a few more posts/courses/coaching/books/whoknows out! We are looking at expanding that side of our business.

      Hope to hear from you in the future,
      Will

      P.S. – Say “Hi” to your Dad for me :)

      Reply
  52. Hi Will!

    Good stuff! I’m a 22 year-old recent graduate working in the marketing field. I have a load of student debt, and I’ve been trying to find a way to make some extra cash, and I think this might be a possibility!

    I have a few quick questions:

    1. Can you explain your system for packaging and mailing out the airsoft guns, (when business was busy and before you outsourced it to another person)? I have a third bedroom in my apartment in which neither my room mate or myself use, it’d be perfect to set up a little ‘mailroom’.

    2. How much time a week were you devoting to this project? I know it’s going to be different for everyone, but in your experience did it feel like a full-time job?

    Thanks again, Will!

    Nick

    Reply
    1. Hi Nick,

      Thanks for commenting – glad you liked the article! Definitely a good way to make some extra cash as long as you are smart/careful about it.

      1. Yep, that would be perfect. I usually just piled stuff up in a room, until eventually moving to a table in the garage. An extra room would be more than enough to make some extra cash.

      2. Of course it didn’t feel like a full-time job because I wanted to do it, but I was probably spending around 5-50 hours per week on this. Pretty wide spread, but it’s just up to you. There are no hours in entrepreneurship and nobody cares what you do or don’t do, it’s all on your internal desire to grow. You can spend 2 hours a week on it or 100 hours a week on it.

      Hope this helps Nick!

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  53. Hey Will,
    First off I just wanted to say this is an awesome site that will hopefully allow me and others like me to gain some valiable business knowledge and get our feet wet in our own businesses!
    I have found a few specific niches that I am exploring and should be getting samples of in the near future.
    I have a few questions for you though.
    1. I have found a product that I want to start selling. Through my research I have found another very well-known company selling this exact product with huge margins. However this company has already branded this product as their own. If I import this product and if everything works out start branding it myself, are there any legal issues that could arise? Can I brand a product that has already been branded?
    2. Have you ever run into any patent issues? Let’s say I want to sell pens that have LED’s on the end of them that light up when you write (not my actual product). There are other companies selling pens like this but I haven’t been able to find a patent on the concept of these pens but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. What can I do to protect myself so that if I am successful with this product and build a brand and a company around it I don’t get a cease and desist letter in a few years?
    I have about a million other questions but I’m trying to figure out as much as I can on my own. It would be awesome to be able to sit down and pick your brain for a few hours. Lol
    Thanks again Will,

    -Kris

    Reply
    1. Hey Kris,

      Thanks for the compliment – glad you got some value out of the site!

      1. It really depends on the product. If the product is patented then you’ll probably run into issues at some point, but otherwise you are just printing your logo onto a product.
      2. I don’t there is much of a legal risk with these types of products, just avoid trademarked brands. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a solid patent for something as generic as that. I’ve never gotten a cease & desist for selling anything, but I know a few people that have – and it always copyright infringement. In terms of limiting your liability I’d just recommend the standard – be behind an LLC and have your financials separate.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  54. Hey Will, first I would like to thank you for putting your experience into one post for free while this could have honestly been made into an ebook and sold for well over $100. I’m about half way through this post and I had some questions.

    I’m 14 years old right now and I found out about the importing business not to long ago. I originally had plans to buy apple earphones in bulk and sell them at my school (as there were way to many top competitors on ebay) however I thought that selling 100 earphones at school might get out of hand and I would get in trouble one way or another.

    Since then I have lost interest in the whole idea of buying in bulk however once I read this I was encouraged to get into it. I had a few concerns first. I noticed that you said you started when you were only 13 years old. How did you have the money to even start to buy the items in bulk? And if not in bulk and only like 5-15 units, you were buying airsoft guns, which aren’t cheap.

    Also, how would you recommend I build up some capital to start testing products. I have around $120 to start off with right now, I just don’t feel this is enough to really get into the swing of things.

    Thanks again for everything,
    Devin

    Reply
    1. Hey Devin, thanks a lot for commenting and for your kind words.

      It’s never too early to start learning what you’ll need to learn to be an entrepreneur, good to hear you’re getting in so early (you won’t regret it!). Sounds like you were onto something with the Apple earphones, if it were me I would have sold them and worried about getting in trouble later :)

      Again, I screwed around with some other products before I found my airsoft supplier which I used to fund a lot of this. Even with the airsoft though, I started by ordering 1, then 3, then 5, then 8, then 10, then 15 and so on until I worked out the dropshipping deal with that supplier. It is possible to start with less capital, it is just going to mean less growth (in all businesses).

      Like I said in the article, I’d like $500 of padding to test for a good product. To get to there, you’ll have to make some quick cash. I know when I was 14 I found some quick ways to make cash at school selling candy, soda, or whatever else I could get away with (wallets, purses, sunglasses, headphones, etc). You have a massive market of buyers walking around you every day at school, the sooner you realize that the sooner you can profit off of them. It becomes especially profitable in college :)

      Hope this helps!
      Will

      Reply
  55. Hey Will

    This has been a great read for me. A friend passed this link to me when I told him I was working in imports in Argentina. I am possibly older than I would like (26), and my mindset has changed in the passed year. I am a science and engineering background and always had the employee mentality before I moved to Argentina.

    Anyway, not to get off track. I work in purchasing with my company, and eventually my boss wants to send me to China to learn how to purchase and deal with the providers. After reading your blog, I had ideas of using your advice to do something similar, but with a trusted friend who lives in the US (since I can´t do anything from here).

    I was wondering if you think it would be better for me to wait to go to China and do reconnaissance before making any moves, or if you think this is something that can be accomplished simply by following your advice.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hey Nick,

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the article – and tell you friend I said thanks for sharing!

      The good news is we may all be older than we would like :)

      You can of course do some prospecting online before you go to China. How would you know who to visit anyways?

      I have a friend whose supplier flies him out to China and Vegas once a year just to build their relationship and grow their companies together. This started off as a simple Alibaba thing as well, but has obviously progressed.

      I think it is good to do your recon online. Once you find a good product and are ready to start buying in bulk, then it may be time to fly over to work out some deals.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  56. Hey will thanks for replying to my comment above, is it possible to reach you by skype in anyway. I know you don’t want to give it out to everybody on here however if you could send me an email that would be great.

    Like I said in the previous comment — I’m only 14 and don’t have much start up capital. I did however find a GREAT product that I could start buying and making a decent profit I sold my whole inventory. I’ve already emailed the supplier about some samples and I’m just waiting to hear back from them. I wanted to go over this product with you though first just to see if you think it would sell well.

    Thanks again for all the time you put into this website,
    Devin

    Reply
    1. No problem Devin! You can email me at will startupbros.com

      Reply
  57. Hi Will,

    I really appreciate you taking the time to write this article it was very informative and sparked an interest! I was looking to start importing and found a few products that I think have potential, but I had a few questions first.
    Since these are being imported in can we get in trouble because they have a brand name on it?
    When you email suppliers inquiring about samples should you offer to pay for the sample or will they just send you them?
    Have you ever used something like Terapeak.com to research Ebay sales?

    Thanks,
    Alex

    Reply
    1. No problem Alex, I appreciate you taking the time out to comment! Good to hear you already got started.

      Yes you can get in trouble if you import products that have trademarks on them or are patented. If the company that owns the intellectual property decides to sue you, they will have a good chance of winning.

      Your supplier will usually require you to pay for the shipping costs of your sample products. It is pretty rare to find a supplier that gives free samples.

      I’ve used Terapeak and will actually be featuring it in a future post.

      Hope this helps, and be sure to read the follow up to this post.

      Will

      Reply
  58. Wow Will I have to say its a little humbling to glean such valuable insite from a guy less than half my age!!! but your article was terrific!!! I made many of the same mistakes and am currently sitting on a garage full of running gear that i have sold out of the popular sizes :( so i was thinking i was faced with a descision to order $5000 (minimum qty) do you think I could negotiate a lesser minimum order??

    thanks!

    -Chris

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for your kind words Chris! There is something to be learned from everybody ;)

      I don’t see why they wouldn’t allow a lower MOQ, especially if you lie a bit and act like you are bigger than you are. I have almost always found a way.

      Good luck getting rid of those sizes!
      Will

      Reply
  59. I hardly blink my eyes reading your amazing article, full of inspiration and motivational words, Although I normally buy men and women’s t-shirt from Aliexpress and sold them off locally in my Country. I did make profit but very very little.

    I wanna try ebay, amazon and those selling channels maybe I should start something else on them. But my problem is that I am from Nigeria in West Africa, the cost of shipping the product to my buyers is what is killing me, how do I go about it? I don’t know those that can help with dropshipping or what to do

    Reply
    1. Thanks for your kind words Sam! I have to imagine this business is a little tougher in Nigeria, but not impossible! I haven’t been to Africa (yet!), but there have got to be some things that are profitable to buy and sell there. If not, maybe think about something like affiliate marketing or something.

      I’ll tell you what though, I have to imagine entrepreneurs and internet marketers living in Nigeria are pretty comfortable. Congratulations on being a good track.

      Hope this helped,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hello,
        First of all, your article was of a huge help, to me at least.
        I am Eva, I live in Greece and I was thinking that it would be good and, profitable of course, to create an online store, selling imported clothes and shoes, both chinese and known brands. Something like NastyGal, but with cheaper shipping rates and, maybe prices, for Europe and Middle East.
        What I’d like to ask, is if the Asian manufacturer can put tags with my bussiness’s name on it and, if in your opinion, would be a good idea to start a bussiness like that, when the internet is full of these.
        Looking forward to hear from you, on this matter.
        Thanks,
        Eva.

        Reply
        1. I’m glad the article helped you out Eva! Asian factories can definitely do custom tags for you, if not they are pretty cheap regardless. As to if it’s a good idea, that depends on what you’re trying to do. I think it’s a great idea to start your own site and your own private label brand, and customize/differentiate your product as the market demands it. However, that takes more resources that many don’t want to invest. Do whatever you feel is best for you!

          Reply
    2. I’m not sure exactly why but this weblog is loading extremely
      slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is
      it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still
      exists.

      Reply
      1. Thanks for letting me know, I’ll look into it…

        Reply
  60. Hi it’s jason from BHW,

    Please explain one thing only…

    For example I want to sell knifes. First step is to pay the supplier for example 100 knifes and then what…Do I import all 100 knifes and then ship all around the world to each customer or the supplier ships the knifes to each individual customer???
    -I dont understand the entire process…

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hi Jason,

      Thanks for commenting! You are describing two different concepts, importing and dropshipping. It is up to you if you’d like to import or drop ship, but I’ll tell you that it’s pretty tough to find a factory that will do dropshipping for you without a long history. I see that you’re in the area of Serbia, so I’m not exactly sure if there is a local Amazon/eBay/Craigslist that you could sell on. It’s going to be tough for you to sell and ship internationally though due to shipping costs.

      Hope this helps, and feel free to respond with any other questions!
      Will

      Reply
  61. Are you still selling products on ebay as of now WIll?

    Reply
    1. Yes! I stopped for a long time, but I’ve been doing some light importing since this post was made. Had to make sure I knew what I was talking about :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  62. Hey,

    I enjoyed reading your article. However, i been trying to do this online business for so long but still could NOT do a single legal transaction on ebay or amazon other than selling brand name stuff in my house. I did the brand name importing from CHINA. ITs not a good idea!! I learned that lesson. so i am heading in the right direction, right? I guess its a rite of passage. haha. Can someone point me towards a niche or a item that i can sell on for profit from ALIBABA. I been there but can not find a item to sell for profit. I did many many hours of searching. It seems like someone on ebay or amazon is already marking it up so low it would be impossible to make a profit. I’m losing my hope that ebay/amazon could reallyl be a profitable business in 2013. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hey Joe,

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the article! Yea, like I said in my article I also went down a similar path. Sounds to me like you’re on the right path. Branded counterfeits are always going to make people a ton of money, it’s just very risky. I hope you saw my 2nd article on how to pick a profitable product, I put a TON of work into that one. It should do a lot to help you in finding products. If not, I have another article on the way that will describe a few other ways to find products.

      Keep in mind what you’re looking for too. If you go out looking for a profitable niche to operate in, you’re not going to find much. If you go out looking for a high-margin product, you’ll have a much better chance.

      Hope this helps, and I’ll also be responding to your other comment now too so hopefully those two responses help!

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
      1. thanks for the info. I would like to make a few suggestions to improve this blog. 1) make the site mobile friendly. some of us use our phones to access the site. 2) I probably spent at least 3 hrs last night on alibaba but can’t decide on a product. found some radios but looks like China seller kill it already. how about you make a page that provides something like item of the day that we could sell for profit. You could make the page paid subscription. and maybe allow members to post. no one wants to share items but I think we could all profit from each other since the market is unlimited. what do you think?

        Reply
        1. Joe – You’re the man! Thanks a ton for the thoughtful feedback, those are all great ideas (and I didn’t even know we were having mobile issues). I’m definitely going to take both of those things and add it to my list – now I just need more than 24 hours in a day :)

          Reply
  63. Hey Guys,

    Regarding the advertising route you took with Amazon, was it there PPC version? And if so, did you have to set up a ecommerce site for that?

    Thanks,

    Omar

    Reply
    1. Hey Omar,

      Yes, I’ve used Amazon’s PPC and in the past used whatever else they had. I set up my own site eventually.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  64. I am struggling with finding a niche product to sell here in the uk with low startup, can you help will? your writeup has been amazing

    Reply
    1. Hey Dan,

      Sorry to hear you’re struggling with the product selection phase. If you’re having trouble, check out my follow up to this post that deals specifically with how to select a profitable product. Here is the link – http://www.startupbros.com/step-by-step-guide-on-how-to-find-a-profitable-product-to-sell/

      Comment there and let me know if you still have trouble.

      Also – I’m working on a new post going deeper into the data on product selection, that should be out late March!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
    2. Hi Dan,

      I just finished using a uk dropshipper due to family life but in the last 6 months there has only been 1 other seller and he is totally overpriced email me for more information.

      t_clegg@yahoo.com

      Reply
      1. Thanks for the help Terence!

        Dan – feel free to hit up Terence, he’s a good guy!

        Reply
  65. yes. I think a lot of us need a lot of help to get out feet wet. I don’t mean we spoon feed anyone. but I think members should post products that sell well. don’t give away your cash cow but lead us in a way that we can find our own cash cow. point out some niches or if possible products. will, I think you should add another of my recommendation. Maybe make a page that shows what a seller needs to do to achieve a certain goal. let’s say for example I want to make 1000 dollars a month. how many hours should I spend. how many products should I sell etc. where should I get my products from. same for if someone wants to do 500 a month. or 10000 month. thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hey Joe,

      Thanks again for the great ideas – that’s all good stuff. It sounds like you want a community and some tools for importers, definitely something I’ll be keeping in mind moving forward. Like I’ve said, I think in late March we will focus on importing a lot, and may even write a book or create a course :)

      We’ll see what happens, thanks for the great feedback!
      Will

      Reply
  66. Will,

    This was a fascinating article. You are very generous with your trade secrets. Are you still selling imported products from China or are you into other businesses?

    Thank you.

    Greg Moore
    Greater NYC

    Reply
    1. Hi Greg,

      Thanks for commenting, and glad to hear you enjoyed the article.

      I still do some light importing, but now most of my time goes to running StartupBros and my marketing agency.

      There is definitely still money to be made though, some of the readers of this article are already making money and now focused on growth.

      Thanks again,
      Will

      Reply
  67. Great information

    I have been following this blog since December.

    I finally got my feet in the water. LOL

    I have found a Niche Market.

    I have two suppliers from Alibaba sending me Samples.

    It took me a while to sort out good suppliers and get a good price.

    Most were trying to sell to me @ close to retail.

    I would check target Niche product resale price on Ebay
    and I would be buying at a loss.

    I’ll keep you up dated on the progress.

    They have already sent me the tracking numbers

    one gave me sample Free . I just paid for shipping.

    The other I paid for samples and shipping.

    Both were paid with Pay Pal.

    One thing I found out was that when you place a

    product request or make an offer on Alibaba

    You get a lot of offers in your email.

    But most are not coming from Alibaba Suppliers

    So Pay Attention.

    All of these wanted Payment by TT,MoneyGram,Western Union.

    By reading this Blog I knew not to deal with them.

    But I wanted to see how the scam worked.

    Here is How It Goes:

    They send you a picture of the product you wanted.

    They offer you a very low price.A Great Price

    I agreed to the price.

    Then they ask you which of the 3 payments you prefer

    So I told them TT (BANK TRANSFER)

    They sent me an Invoice. It had their Bank information,
    and their so called business address.

    Here is where I caught them.

    I googled their addres. It came up another business name.

    This business name and address was on Alibaba.

    So I emailed that business told them that this company was

    requesting payment from me using their address.

    I asked do they know them or were they working together.

    They emailed me back and stated they did not know or have any

    dealings with that company.

    Next scam: The fake Company name was on the Invoice

    But the Benificiary of the Money transfer was a

    persons private account and not a Business.

    Next Scam: Website

    Their Website are Great.

    I Verified their website@ http://www.scamadviser.com/

    This site gives the history of the website: how old,owner,country and Complaints

    They supplier told me they had been in business over 5 years

    This site gave a negative rating on the Suppliers.

    Also showed me that their website and Domain name was just started
    Jan 2013

    So I emailed them back and presented these findings very nicely

    and the never contacted me again.

    So as Will says only pay Using Pay Pal
    starting out and only deal with Alibaba suppliers.

    Sandra

    Reply
    1. Hi Sandra,

      Awesome to hear you’re getting your feet wet with it, and thanks for your continued support!

      If you’ve already ordered some samples from Alibaba, then you’re well on your way. Sounds like you’ve figured out how to filter out the bad suppliers and find the good ones, especially the one willing to send free samples (always a positive sign!).

      Yes, I hope you took my advice and grabbed a new email before starting. Whatever email you use on Alibaba will be spammed for years to come…

      Great insights on how the scams work, maybe I will take that and turn it into a blog post :)

      Keep me updated on your progress!

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  68. Sir very good article and honestly it was exactly what I was looking for this evening. I decided to create my own website to install my store sport. I invested 3 nights to talk and chat with China and about a werk planning everything related to the project.

    When you say copies are like selling drugs it scare me because almost everything is copy in China, so can you tell me and describe me a little more about the risk of selling online copies in my own site and in another hand what happen if I buy something that is suppose to be original like nike shoes, I mean how can I recocognize an original product? if so what’s the bad thing around my business if I am not even sure if is original or not.

    Please help me to clear this topic in my business plan.

    Regards,

    DP

    Reply
    1. Hi Dan,

      Happy to help!

      In the US, the brands stay very vigilant against counterfeits. Furthermore, it is illegal in many cases. If your product is in any way trademarked it will not be real. You can’t buy Nike shoes from anybody but Nike. Of course, the people selling them are probably producing the shoes themselves (in some cases) – but you’ll still be sued and prosecuted if you sell them.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  69. Hello!
    So i am very interested in starting this, however I have a question regarding the shipping costs before pulling the trigger. I am looking to order a product which is
    costing me $1.70/unit for 50 pieces and the shipping is costing me 198$ on top.
    Also the supplier is 4th year gold supplier with escrow.

    Reply
    1. Hello Preet,

      There’s no way for me to come to any conclusions with that information. Shipping costs are dependent on many variables and are going to be different for every product. Why don’t you just go to the UPS or DHL site and estimate the shipping cost? It’s a very simple thing to do.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  70. We are working in China providing everything from sourcing to quality control to shipping to mainly german SMI companies. I have to disagree with the point that gold suppliers are always the way to go. We have worked with gold suppliers and there is really not much that makes them so golden to work with compared to other factories. More over you can often find better factories on chinese trade shows. Many factories are not listed on Alibaba simply because they have another approach to generating sales than replying thousands of emails every day with mostly zero sales. If you have found the right product I advise you to go to china and buy a larger quantity right away. Why this approach? If you play your cards right you will be in the middle of a supply chain management dillemma before you know it. So you might as well figure out how to safely buy larger quantities right from the start.

    If you are not standing on the factory floor in China and taking care of business here, forget about scaling your business. Bigger and “more professional” suppliers use the same cheap tricks to sell inferior quality if they see an oportunity to do so. One oportunity is definately if you are just ordering by email and have no staff on the ground in China. Never go with “it’s gonna be allright” attitude because it will break your neck.

    Reply
    1. Hi Yannick,

      Thanks a lot for jumping in with your insights.

      It sounds like you deal in much higher volume than what this method is intended for. I agree with most of your points, but for higher volume buyers. Obviously people struggling in the US won’t be able to spend a couple months jumping around from factory to factory in China. They don’t need to either, they are just trying to make some quick arbitrage cash.

      If you want to scale up and start taking containers in and things like that, then it’s time to start visiting factories and negotiating deals. Always have the end in mind – if this is what you want to do, then this method isn’t for you. In the articles I speak about how scaling is a different story, this is good for side income. Most of the principles apply in scale, but scaling to the level you’re speaking of would be a different article entirely.

      Thanks again,
      Will

      Reply
  71. Awesome post, thanks a lot! I just made my first purchase on Alibaba with your help. Hopefully everything goes smoothly!

    Reply
    1. Awesome Isaia, congratulations on taking the first steps! Definitely keep me updated and feel free to throw questions over!

      Talk soon,
      Will

      Reply
  72. Hi Will,

    My samples arrived.

    I checked them out.

    They all fuction as they should.

    I made my choice about which supplier to use.

    I also was able to talk the price down some more.

    I am going to place them on amazon amd ebay.

    Will keep you posted.

    Sandra

    Reply
    1. Awesome Sandra, so far so good! Sounds like you are well on your way and things are working out. Keep me updated when those samples sell!

      Reply
  73. Hi Will,

    I just set up my DHL Import/Export Shipping Account.

    Sandra

    Reply
    1. Keep moving forward Sandra! :)

      Reply
    2. Hi Sandra! I’m starting importing from China and the shipping fee quoted from the supplier is even higher than the price of the goods. But if you have your account, who is going to physically pick up the goods? Also in terms of the escrow, I was asked to pay the escrow fee, isn’t it supposed to be paid by the seller?

      Thank you!

      Reply
  74. Thank you very much for all the information, i have a question :
    I have writen to several suppliers And in return i recieved a lot of mails from different suppliers who i cant find on alibaba.com ,,, are they scammers? What can i do to the legal suppliers answer to me?
    Thanks
    Greeting from chile

    Reply
    1. Greetings Diego!

      No problem, thanks for commenting!

      Yes, like I said in the article I always set up a new email address. Your email gets leaked or sold or stolen pretty quickly, and will soon be spammed to death by scammers. Ignore anything coming in your email directly, just deal through Alibaba or whatever shipping site you want.

      If you want to take the risk though, just make sure you’re behind PayPal or Escrow and you’ll be fine.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,

        When you say protect yourself with escrow, do you mean for any orders (large or small), or just for sample orders?

        I am running into some suppliers who have the “Escrow” designation on Alibaba, but will only do accept paypal for sample orders, not bigger ones.

        Red flag?

        Thanks

        Reply
        1. Hi Cort,

          I usually try to use escrow, paypal, or whatever form of financial protection for the first 3-6 months of working with a new importer. I start with the first sample order, I’ll almost never buy something without financial protection on that order. The thing to realize is that any time you aren’t using a third-party to protect the transaction, you’re taking on risk. It’s ultimately up to you when you feel it isn’t risky any more to buy from your supplier using Western Union or a Bank Wire or whatever.

          Escrow and PayPal essentially perform the same financial protection function. Either one of them will do what they can to protect you in the case of a bad supplier (or worse). So, no red flag there :)

          Hope this helps,
          Will

          Reply
  75. Hello, 3 days ago I bought 3 watches at total of 22$ with free shipping, watches are 5-8$ each and searching on internet for the exemples i found selling at 150% from their price and there arent many seling them. Also i found that some of the models aint even listed on sale :D so i guess that its my time to strike now.

    The watches where send 1 day ago, now i have to wait 3 weeks with Chine Air Post Mail. The VAT taxes are 7$ for all.. i live in Europe in a country where VAT taxes are 24%… but goods under 10 Euro dont have to pay taxes and goods under 150 euro dont pay border taxes. Waiting to see what i get.

    Reply
    1. I forgot to say that i ordered from Aliexpress.

      Reply
    2. I remember doing playboy watches this way. I was buying 3 for £10 and then was selling for £10 each good luck with your find.

      Reply
      1. I guess the watch market has a lot of opportunity in it!

        Reply
    3. Hi Silviu,

      Awesome to hear you’ve already got your samples in the mail! Great to hear that you found a way around the VAT taxes, those are brutal and nearly kill this method…

      Keep me updated on how you do!

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  76. Hey! Can you give me advice on marketing tips? By the way since starting my importing business I have only ever dropped shipped to my customers. That’s after as you have said finding a solid supplier. No inventory, less hassle more money!

    Reply
    1. Hey Gage,

      I can try to answer any questions you have, and also do coaching/consulting for people who request it. Throw me an email and we’ll talk!

      Congrats on your success so far, keep it up!

      Talk soon,
      Will

      Reply
  77. First off I just want to say this is the best single piece of literature I have read on this subject. It is so difficult to find real information. Here’s my issue:

    I have been communicating with a 3-year gold star, inspected supplier from China (via alibaba.com). She says I need to either:
    1. order a 20 foot container of their stuff and pay for freight.
    2. for smaller amounts – order through their US contact who gets it directly from them (problem is the contact is an Amish guy in Ohio and works off of a communal fax machine that he checks daily.) She is insisting that he is the greatest guy ever and that his credit is so good and that’s why he is able to work directly with China.

    First of all, if I were to order a container, how on earth does that process work? I’m in San Diego, so at least I’m close to a port.

    Is it normal to be asked to deal with a distributor that is Amish and uses FAX? I’m laughing as I’m typing this.

    Please have a go at this.

    Reply
    1. Hi Anne,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words! Glad to hear you got value out of the article.

      I already responded to your email, so I’m just going to copy and paste it here for future readers.

      Sounds like a strange situation to be in, though definitely not the worst problem to have. It’s good that you’re already seeing some success.

      It does make sense that the US contact would be able to supply you for cheaper, since they are probably buying many full containers worth per year. Honestly, that’s a similar situation to how I ended up with my airsoft dropshipper.

      I don’t want to say go for it if you’re uncomfortable, so make sure you use caution. But if it were me, just from what you were telling me, I’d probably try to figure it out with that Amish guy. I’d imagine once you get the ordering process figured out you guys won’t even have to talk all that often.

      Hope this helps, and keep me updated!
      Will

      Reply
  78. Will I need to get an importing/exporting license?

    Reply
    1. Hi Victoria,

      Honestly, it depends on where you live. Some States/Countries will require an importing/exporting license, but most States in the U.S. don’t (as far as I know).

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  79. Hi Will

    I have a Quick update.

    I had a small problem with the samples.

    But lucky I paid attention to your advice.

    In my excitment I forgot to check 1 detail
    of a function that the samples were to perform.

    Right before I was to place my Larger order
    I caught the mistake.

    I informed the supplier that they did
    not send the sample I wanted.

    They said they were sorry,
    and admitted @ this time
    they did not have my requested item in stock.

    Since I paid with Pay Pal
    and it was their mistake,
    they refunded all my money.

    they will contact me when they get the right product
    that I requested.

    Lesson learned.

    Check products and all functions completely.

    Thanks Will,

    Sandra

    Reply
    1. Hi Sandra,

      Sorry to hear about the hiccup, but definitely glad to hear that you took my advice and used PayPal! It could have been much more than a hiccup :)

      Looks like you just ended up with some free stuff, and the assurance that your supplier will stand behind their mistakes.

      Keep me updated,
      Will

      Reply
    2. Hello, here is my suggestion:

      Go and buy from Aliexpress and have the benefit of the Buyer Protection + the Free Shipping in 99,99% from all the products. If you’re using Alibaba, check for the Escrow mark near each supplier, if they dont have it, dont buy from them !

      Reply
      1. Hi Silviu,

        AliExpress is certainly an option, especially for importing samples. I think if you go the extra mile with Alibaba though, you can find better margins. Like I said in the article, being able to sift through and find suppliers is an early competitive advantage. Anybody can buy something on AliExpress, those products are much more saturated for importing. But again, lots of suppliers like to put some small items on AliExpress along with their main importing profile on Alibaba.

        And definitely agree with you there – financial protection or no sale! It’s a must when importing from China…

        Thanks for the input!
        Will

        Reply
  80. Great advice. I am over in the UK and am desperately trying to get hold of LCD/LED TV’s. The problem, is not the supplier but the cost of getting them from China to the UK. Any advice?

    Thankyou

    Darren

    Reply
    1. A way round shipping cost is to buy in bulk as many surpliers will offer discounted shipping on bulk orders this may not be an option with your product but its worth asking.

      Reply
    2. Hi Darren,

      Ouch, importing LCD/LED TV’s to the UK would probably cost a fortune due to your tax system over there. VAT and Importing Tax will both hit you I believe, but I’m not sure. Definitely look into that.

      Other than that, I also tried to get LED/LCD TV’s imported once – it didn’t turn out well. The cost of entry is EXTREMELY high. To compete, you’d need to buy 50-100 TV’s minimum – and even then you’d still barely be scraping by. The electronics market is typically pretty tough.

      But hey, if you find a way you find a way…I just couldn’t

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  81. Hi Will,

    Because of your advice, i am thinking of jumping into the import business. I been doing a lot of work since i read your blog a couple of months ago. Here is what i have so far and please advise on what you think i should do moving forward. I am going into to clothing/garment importing from Asia (not China). I see a lot of powersellers on ebay selling women clothing for cheap prices. For example, a basic cotton top for like $5.99 and up. These guys are selling thousands of these per month. My supplier whom i verified through a friend that lives in the country is offering me the same clothes for like $1.99 or less. Most are less than 90% of the selling price on ebay. I can kill this market/niche.

    My question and concern is this. I would have to buy a lot. possibly $10,000 to buy all supplies just to get started. I would need to buy tops, jeans, dress, shorts etc. Would i be able to sell this and will buyers buy from me if i am cheaper and better quality? only negative i have is, i would be a new seller. Those powersellers are like 10 years old accounts. Can i compete? I will go on a marketing craze and try to dominate the niche. What do you think?

    Reply
    1. Hi Joe,

      Good to hear you got some extra motivation from reading the article!

      That’s what this method is for! Buy some samples batches and test them out. There is no way to know if it will work without testing. In fact, there is tons of stuff you won’t even know you have to know that will be revealed by selling sample units.

      I definitely wouldn’t just jump in and buy $10,000 worth of a product though, especially in the fashion niche (as I have never understood it well).

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  82. Hi Will,

    Great post.

    Have you tried importing in Bulk to resell in Bulk?

    For instance you import 1000 t-shirts for $0.50 and you sell 200 t-shirt lots for $1.50 each? etc

    Reply
    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for reading. I was buying in bulk at one point, but eventually moved over to dropshipping. The only exposure I have to it now is with a few clients.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  83. Hi Will,

    Thanks so much for this post. I’ve been researching for weeks, even paying for a useless webinar. And this was exactly what I was looking for.

    I have two questions.. The first concerns volume. On your chart you list volume as low or high, etc. Can you give me some idea of what a low or high volume number actually is? How many units have to be selling per week on ebay for it to be considered high or low? What are the numbers I am looking for? And how can I tell exactly how many units are being sold on ebay? Just going through the listings and manually counting?

    And how do I tell if something is a knock off on Alibaba? For example, Im looking at the “Fibit Wireless Activity and Sleep Monitor” on Amazon. Then I search for the product on Alibaba, and come up with the “Fitbi Sleep Monitor”.. notice the missing “t”. Does that indicate a knock off? Could this land me in trouble? Something to avoid?

    Again, thanks so much for the great information. Definitely has me on my way.

    Reply
    1. Hi Cort,

      Glad to hear my article could help!

      I’m not sure if you saw my follow-up to this article – http://www.startupbros.com/step-by-step-guide-on-how-to-find-a-profitable-product-to-sell/

      In that article, I go in deep detail on product selection.

      To answer your question though, high and low don’t really mean anything. They’re just relative to other products you’re looking at. It’s a comparative exercise.

      If this is uncomfortable for you, you can also use Terapeak to pull real data from eBay. Very awesome tool, and it has a free trial.

      That fitbit is definitely a counterfeit. Buying any trademarked product will put you at legal risk. You won’t be able to buy most trademarked goods in bulk.

      Hope this helps, feel free to respond back after going through everything!

      Talk soon,
      Will

      Reply
  84. Thanks Will, Terapeak definitely gives me the data I was looking for.

    Im just a little hazy on what is trademarked and what isn’t on ailbaba. Is there ever an instance where you legally buy and import trademarked items from a manufacturer?

    What about OEM? Something to avoid?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that Cort, glad it helped.

      There are some situations where you can import trademarked goods, but you’ll probably be working directly with the trademark holder or their distributor. In most cases on Alibaba, people sell copies of trademarked goods.

      Now, will you get in trouble for this? That’s an entirely different question. Some companies go after everything, and some don’t even care. Do some research, because it’s very case by case.

      On your last question – I suppose you could say a lot of what you import will be made by OEM factories anyways.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  85. I just wanted to say, I contacted my friend and spoke with him about the “SWAT” incident I mentioned way above, it turns out he was importing FAKE “otter boxes” Apparently they take that kinda of thing very very seriously. Just thought I would add this, and I see someone asking about this very topic so I thought I would reply down here. Like you said with knock off designer crap. You will make money but its not worth it, I wouldn’t import something that’s a knock off or fake intended to be sold as a name brand item.

    Reply
    1. Hey again Paul – thanks a lot for giving us the update! Yea, that’s what got my other friend in trouble as well (but with fake brand name shoes). Glad to hear we’re all on the same page again (though sorry for them…)

      Reply
  86. Morning from the UK

    This site has been very helpful in me completing my first order. It has been delivered and sold at a 40% Margin within a week. Naturally, I am not going to share the product information over the www as this would be fool hardy but I am going to give some advice on choosing your product.
    I have no idea why people are looking for “Niche” products. Even if the market place is saturated with the item of what you wish to sell it means that is
    1. Very popular
    2. Very profitable
    3. Very Marketable
    Did the guys at Burger King think “Hmmmm, we’ve no chance in this Market place with McDonald’s” Or did Microsoft concede to Apple?
    My point is, if you believe in your product then turn it into a company, create a logo, offer a top class service and go dance with the Wolves. 99% of the small business market place discovered nothing new. They emulated what others are doing and have done and made it there own.
    Anyway guys, it’s just a point of view. Good luck:)

    Reply
    1. Hey Darren – Goodnight from the US :-P

      Glad to hear this article helped show you how to make some money! Sounds like you’re well on your way in the importing game.

      Completely agree with you there, some people are scared off by competition. People have to be more confident in their ability to compete, and see competition as validation of a market/product. The balance of supply and demand and opportunity for differentiation are much more important.

      Again, awesome that you already made some money with your first imports. Be sure to keep me updated on your progress!

      Thanks for sharing,
      Will

      Reply
  87. Thanks Will, terpeak is a big help.

    Am I wrong in saying that the majority of the stuff on alibaba is trademarked or a knock-off? Everything seems to be stamped with a brand.. How do I build my own brand that way?

    Can you talk a little bit about OEM and how it pertains to importers?

    You’re the man.. Really appreciate all the help for the noobs!

    Reply
    1. No problem Cort, glad it helped!

      Everything Gage said seems spot on, so I’ll leave it at that…

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  88. Hey cort smith.

    OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer…. Which means you can create a brand with a pretty little logo and ask the manufacturer to put it on your products with hardly no extra cost, many manufacturers will accept OEM and the best thing is that when you create a brand of products you can sell the brand for a lot of money.

    Referring to alibaba.com that there are a lot of generic designs and if you want to avoid buying knock off products, all you have to do is ask the manufacturer and in my experience they will tell you if it has a logo on already.

    Thanks !

    Reply
    1. Hey Gage, thanks for your response. So Im generally safe from trademark infringement if Im buying OEM?

      Reply
      1. IMPROVE YOU MARKT WHEN SELLING ON EBAY.

        For all importers selling on ebay, I take it if your from the UK you will use http://www.ebay.CO.UK

        To expand your market over seas please use http://www.ebay.COM for the U.S market

        And http://www.ebay.COM.AU for the Australian market.

        Please contact if you would like to learn more about drop shipping ( getting the product from the manufacturer to the customer with out you seeing it but seeing the money.)

        Thanks!

        Reply
  89. Cort Smith….

    Yeh you should have the OK. I would double check the product you have isn’t patent protected like the iphone lol but most likely it will not be.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Thanks for the help Gage! :-D

      Reply
  90. Hey will, was wondering if I could write an article on here about drop shipping and how it works and how you can run a profitable business from it ?

    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Hey Gage,

      We haven’t accepted any guest posts yet, but throw me an email and we’ll see if we can work something out!

      Thanks again for the help above,
      Will

      Reply
  91. Hi Will, this is a very rich source of information from someone who seems to be genuinely altruistic. I get this vibe that you want everyone to prosper. Keeping in mind that information is one of the most sought after assets of our time, you really do a good job with freely disseminating it. I can see a lot of people charging money for just 30% of what you tell us in this article and I consider myself lucky to have found it all for free. I just wish all of us were this generous with ”insider information”. A lot of what you say here may be considered trade secrets by many people (which is sad). I have a lot of admiration and respect for people who unselfishly give others such important information. I believe in Karma and I know that the universe is gonna reward you for this.

    That said, I’ve wanted to sell stuff over the internet for so long. But, just like others have said in the comments, I’m still looking for ”that right product”. I stay in Norway, I’m a new resident in this country and everything seems to be totally different from what I’m used to, so it’s hard to pin down people’s consuming habits here. Nonetheless, I’ve always believed that things that target demographics like women, children and teens have the potential make ridiculous amounts of money. I’m considering jewellery, lingerie and toys. But even then, I have to figure out which ones exactly.

    Thanks for having a big heart. May the universe pour its rewards on you..:)

    Reply
    1. Hi Solo,

      Thanks a lot for checking out the article and for your kind words! You’re right that I want to help everybody to prosper, I’m glad my writing gives off that positive vibe. The more people I can help prosper, the more prosperous I become. Seems like we agree on that – what comes around goes around! I’ve met some incredible people through running StartupBros!

      I’m assuming you saw my follow-up article Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find A Profitable Product To Sell – If not, that will definitely help in product selection.

      In Norway you’ll have to be careful to avoid the taxes as much as you can. If you get hit by VAT tax it will kill your margins. There are ways around it, but I’m not too familiar as I’ve never done business in Europe.

      You’re right about that – women spend the money! A lot of readers have been making good money with jewelry, but I’ve never made money there. It seems it’s all about finding a good sales channel, as most jewelers are selling everywhere they can already. But my readers that have found an unsaturated sales channels have been making easy money there.

      Hope this helps! That follow-up should help a lot, if not check out Terapeak (eBay’s own analytics – freaking AWESOME for product research/selection phase). If neither of those work throw me an email!

      Talk to you later,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Will,
        Of course i did read the follow up article. How could I miss that? You are right about the VAT issues in Norway. Taxes are some what exorbitant here due to the welfare policies and all that. I have to look into that, inform myself and know how to deal with it.

        I have been seriously thinking and researching about the choice of the product for the last two days. I think I have made up my mind already. I want to get your opinion about it. Let me know if I can drop you a line in your email…) Thanks man.

        Reply
        1. Awesome. Yea, my opinion is that the EU tax system is out of control. In fact, I think the US tax system is out of control. But, I try to leave my opinion out of it and just tell you that you need to find a way around VAT tax :) I know there are ways, as some readers have told me they have figured it out. It’s out there.

          Congrats on taking action – for sure feel free to drop me an email any time!

          Talk later

          Reply
        2. Hi Solo,
          I am new to Norway like yourself. Would love to hear if you have found a way around the tax issues on importation.

          Regards,
          Rory

          Reply
  92. Hi Will,

    Can you expound on how to forecast/mitigate the “other” costs involved?

    As I understand it:
    The supplier will be able to provide information on VAT.
    The supplier may have a preferred shipping partner, but this can be negotiated.
    Import taxes can be determined using an HS code.
    Insurance is optional (recommended?)
    Anything else I’m missing?

    What seems to kill the margins on the items I’ve looked at are the shipping fees being quoted by the suppliers. I’d really like a bit of guidance here if you can elaborate on how to keep these fees “reasonable”.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hi Jason,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. It seems like you understand the additional costs, but…

      -Your supplier might not be able to provide information on VAT, but it is worth asking them. I think I mentioned talking to supplier to see if they know ways around VAT. VAT kills this method, it might as well be required to get around VAT tax. You will probably have to do your own research on that though.

      -Your supplier will prefer to ship FOB (Free On Board), which means the liability is transferred once they hand it to your shipping company. They will want you to have your own UPS/FedEx/DHS/EMS/TNT/whatever courier account for this reason. It also eliminates any potential for them overcharging you on shipping. If you don’t have a courier account, then you can usually get them to ship it through their account. The bigger the factory, the less they will like doing this.

      -Yes import taxes can be determined by HS Codes, but the tax system will be very different from country to country. In most countries the cost of this isn’t too meaningful (unless you import food, drinks, plants, animals, or natural resources)

      -Insurance is optional yes. This is through your courier company though (liability is with them at FOB point). It’s the same concept as insuring domestic packages (at this scale).

      -Sounds like you have everything figured out. Just make sure you test your product correctly. Watch for returns, shipping materials, fees, all that good stuff.

      Hope this helps!
      Will

      Reply
  93. Definitely a great article 10/10! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Chris, I appreciate it!

      Reply
  94. Hi Will,

    Needless to say this has been a session full of learning….thanks a ton for the same…

    I am not a resident of US, live in India.

    Quite interested in importing stuff from China and re-exporting the same to US.

    Not sure about the overheads for the same and on the face of it, this looks like a business heavily loaded with overheads (largely shipping) and may not work for most of the products. Also, the transit time for cargo is also my worry, since I would need to ensure the product reaches customers without much delays, which means I will have to maintain sizable inventory.

    These are just few of my apprehensions as of now. I am in the very start, currently finding out the process, cost and time taken for the Import as well as the re-export.

    Would be glad to get your view point on this situation.

    Thanks
    SM

    Reply
    1. Hi SM,

      No problem, awesome to hear you got some value out of the article. Happy to hear it.

      You’re going to have a tough time importing from China to India and then back to US. You can do it if you play a middle man/trade agent role, but I think your overhead will be too high to compete selling straight to consumers (like you said).

      A lot of people play that trade agent role and middle man US importers though. In fact, a lot of this article is about how to avoid dealing with middle men and go straight to the source. But there is definitely money in there.

      As you said, I think your shipping costs will be too high and too long to compete in consumer markets. I think you’d do better finding good products and selling them to US importers.

      But either way, your overhead will be much higher that way.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi SM,

        I have found recent inspiration to start importing products from China and to sell them online. I am still a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information I found on this page. taking it one step a time.
        I have been benefiting from all the comments and am getting closer to order some samples. I saw your post and reminded me the days of Me trying to import Indian/Pakistani Mangoes to US which wasn’t a big success due to tons of regulations involved. Anyways, I think you rather be better off sending your product directly to US from China and then sell it online.

        I will be setting myself up with some warehouse space and shipping arrangements. Let me know if you want to split the cost with me and have your items directly shipped here in New York.

        you can contact me at anwarratoltraders at gmail dot com

        Thanks,
        Yasir

        P.S. Great Blog Will. I’m still absorbing information. I will definitely come up with questions later.

        Reply
        1. Hi Yasir,

          Awesome to hear you’re taking action! One step at a time :)

          Sorry to hear you had trouble importing before. I mentioned in the article, food regulations are a huge hassle. Can’t imagine having to deal with that!

          Thanks for checking out the blog, and definitely feel free to post questions!

          Talk later,
          Will

          Reply
  95. Hi Will,

    Thanks for all excellent information you’re providing! I really appreciate it! I have a question for you if you’d be so kind enough to give it a read. I have a potential supplier who is willing to ship me a sample through Fedex. I’m concerned because he wants to use Paypal only for the sample transaction and not for a large quantity order. Does this sound normal to you?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hi Childes,

      No problem, just glad to see you’re moving forward with everything! Many suppliers don’t like using PayPal for bigger orders due to the increased fees, but if you cover the fees he shouldn’t have an issue with this. Either way, it would probably be hard to find a supplier who wouldn’t take a large bulk order through PayPal if he has a working account!

      It is possible that the factory doesn’t have PayPal, and that the employee is doing this for you through his personal account. But, it is also possible that it is a scammer doing the same. Just be careful, try to get to the bottom of things without damaging the relationship, and don’t send them unprotected money until you trust them 110%!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  96. Hi Will,

    This is really an excellent article.

    I live in Australia & am currently negotiating 2 models of products in China, only 10 pcs each model for a start ship directly to amazon.com (USA) via DHL without me seeing the products. I know that I would probably have only $4 of margins on each pc but that’s fine with me, just to keep this importing business going.

    What can you advise for me because I won’t be seeing the goods and amazon.com is big on customer service. If there are defects, my sellers name will be jeopardized and since the goods will be shipped via DHL, do you think the shipment will be hassle free without me needing to pay for additional customs duties, tariffs and other taxes?

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    1. Hi Maria,

      Thanks for reading and commenting, glad you liked it!

      Let me know how that works out for you, dropshipping direct from China to US buyers has never worked for me. There are so many things to keep in mind. There is really no way you can do this without getting samples first. Chinese factories usually package their orders with whatever random crap they can find. There will be Chinese characters all over it, and US buyers hate that. You also won’t be able to get in front of any problems, and shipping time will be 7+ days in many cases.

      It’s probably possible to dropship direct from China to a US buyer, but it didn’t work for me years ago. Maybe if you tell the US buyers they are coming from a Chinese factory it will work.

      You could maybe also work this out somehow with Amazon fulfillment, but that’s probably going to take a lot more work.

      Hope this helps, sorry it probably wasn’t what you were hoping for :-\
      Will

      Reply
  97. Thanks Will for that reply.

    Oh well, everyone has different experience, I suppose. I did put on Shipping & Returns and on Warranty pages that goods come from China. Probably, buyers understood that because they still bought on my website. I didn’t see the products at all because they were directly shipped to USA. I am just hoping that the goods are good and they are what the buyers expect them to be.

    Regarding fulfillment by amazon, I will just plunge on it because it seems to be a good business model for this age where capital/investment is limited.

    Anyway, thanks for your posts because they will help me in starting up an import business.

    Reply
    1. No problem Maria, I hope I’m wrong! Like I said, if the buyers know that it is coming from China, then it’s a little bit different. If they bought on your own website, then I wouldn’t be too worried about it!

      In most cases the products will be good enough quality, I just don’t like doing anything without seeing samples first.

      Let me know how it goes, and keep me updated on how your grow your importing business in the future!

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  98. Thanks Will.

    I am actually reading & following your post on http://www.startupbros.com/step-by-step-guide-on-how-to-find-a-profitable-product-to-sell/#/

    When the supplier quoted the 20 pcs. of samples via DhL, I would lose $3.60 for each piece because there is still amazon fulfillment fees that I had to consider. The supplier suggested sea freight as this would be way cheaper.

    Do you have experience in sea or air freight offered by shipping companies via alibaba.com?

    My idea is to buy all product samples (each box maybe will have 5 to 10 kilos) then ship them together using the sea or air freight offered by these companies?

    Reply
    1. You’ll boost your margins incredibly shipping via sea freight, and it’s not too tough. Of course, it does require some additional investment and carries some additional risk. But, that’s all part of the game :)

      Reply
  99. Great informative article. Did you ever have to pay import duties when importing through channels such as AliExpress?

    Reply
    1. Thanks Natasha, glad to hear you liked it! I’ve never used AliExpress, but I’d imagine it’s pretty much the same. The shipping companies should charge you for the duties/taxes, and your supplier should know which products will be taxed going into the US. Also, many factories will mislabel their goods to avoid you duties and taxes. So talk to your supplier and your courier and they should know :)

      Reply
    2. For exemple in my country East Europe I have to pay 24% VAT if the order is above 10 Euros and VAT and Border Taxes if the order is above 150 Euros but I manage to bypas the taxes almost everytime now, as I as the supplier to send separate packages below the 150E, and as gifts with 3$ value. I started to order from Aliexpress because of the Free Shipping. Thanks for the wonderful informations here Will. You saved a student here :)

      Reply
      1. Awesome Silvero, thanks for the input – that’s super helpful. I couldn’t even count how many people email me struggling with VAT tax, I always feel bad I can’t give them good advice!

        Thanks!

        Reply
        1. You’re welcome Will, I manage to sell at 170-300% profit :D Yay I am so Happy !!!! Thanks !! (i sell vintage watches)

          Reply
          1. Awesome to hear! Can’t ask for more than a 300% profit :)

            Keep me updated, really glad to hear about your success. Shoot me an email, maybe we can feature your story on the blog!

            Talk soon,
            Will

            Reply
          2. I will shoot you with a detailed email about my story :) I am earning a constant profit of up to 260% :)

            Reply
            1. Congrats on finding an awesome product Silvero!

              Reply
          3. I am keeping an eye everyday here on replies:)

            Reply
            1. Glad to have you around, thanks for the help :)

              Reply
  100. Hi Will,

    I’m having a similar problem where the cheapest air freight is costing me around $3.5/kilo and causing a huge impact on the price per unit since what I’m importing is a bit heavy. 1.5kg/unit.

    Is there any of your articles on receiving good imported by sea. I have no experience with sea freight and just assume that getting freight forwarder or broker would just add a lot of cost and will cut the margins short.

    Please advise where we can find a guide on importing by sea. I’m in New York and am sure there are a lot of people in NY importing by sea sharing containers.

    Thanks,
    Yasir.

    P.S. Thanks for your earlier comment.

    Reply
    1. Hi Yasir,

      Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with shipping the weight of your product. Like I said in the article, importing heavier products is tough to do profitably.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any articles about importing via sea freight. I have a little bit of experience with it, but not much. I don’t know anybody who has used a forwarder or broker (depending on your definition of broker). I have a few clients who import a ton of product, I could ask them specific questions for you if you want.

      Couldn’t tell you where to find an article on importing by sea, sounds like a quick Google away though.

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  101. Thank you so much for this! I’ve been looking for products to sell for about a month now and everything I come up with is already being sold for a low profit margin. And everything I end up looking at is low cost items. For my first product, should I really try and stick to the $10 and over thing you said? I keep getting stuck on the £2 and £3 things (I’m in the UK). That makes me worried that I wouldn’t be able to undercut prices easily and could also be very easily undercut right out of the market.

    Reply
    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for commenting! Awesome to hear you’re already taking action and looking for products to import.

      Honestly, if you can make money on it, then take it! Don’t worry about the cost if the margins are there and there are no issues with shipping or whatever. It’s tough to find a product to import, but keep at it!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Just wanted to chip in on this one. I’m in the UK as well, currently sourcing products to import, and I’m finding that what with the build up of expenses (shipping, duty and VAT if relevant, P&P, listing/seller fees), it’s difficult to find anything that’ll get you that 100% markup for under £20.

        Well done for you’re making a decent profit on lower value items, but it’s not something I’ve personally found to be viable.

        Reply
  102. I’m not even sure how I ended up on your page but I was very frustrated when I was clicking my way through the internet, not even knowing what I was really searching for. Coming across your article enlightened my hope that there might be a way to start a business like the one you are describing here. I live in the “boondocks” in Wyoming and hope that this would be something I could do from home after I was laid off a few months ago. Very nice and informative article!!!
    Thanks for putting in all the effort.

    Reply
    1. Hey Christine,

      I’m not sure how you ended up here either, but I’m glad you did! :)

      Good to hear you got some value from these articles. Hope our future posts can be even more helpful :-D

      Reply
  103. Hi Will
    Just felt like I was reading a story . “TAKE ACTION” . Thats what i wasnt doing until now.

    Thanks Will
    Viv

    Reply
    1. Hi Viv,

      Awesome to hear! I think taking action is the key to success at anything, as you know if you’ve read this article :)

      If you just keep taking action, you literally can’t fail! Just keep moving…

      Will

      Reply
  104. Will,

    The depth in this series you’re doing on Importing from China is superb. This really has inspired me as to the possibilities. Registering with Alibaba now. Keep up the good work!

    Ian

    Reply
    1. Ian,

      Awesome to hear, glad the articles could help! Let me know how it goes.

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Will, I used your simple letter with a few tweaks to make it specific to the products I was interested and got tons of responses. I targeted 3 different product types at basically three different price points – low, medium, high.

        I am now working with the suppliers and making sure that I can make payments through PayPal with Escrow, even for samples.

        You were definitely right about the email address you use, so think it’s worth reiterating for folks. CREATE A DESIGNATED EMAIL for the products in question. It will also help you as I used one email and now I am sifting through tons of junk mails trying to find the relevant ones for that product. All the suppliers names are very similar and it’s hard to discern otherwise. It’s all good, and I think I’m making progress towards finding a supplier to go with.

        Thanks again, will report back with progress/questions!

        Reply
        1. Awesome to hear that Ian, glad to hear it’s been working out so far! Haha, I’ve had some people email me in regret after using their personal email. Glad you’re not one of them :-P

          Reply
  105. Common frens, Grow up.
    This is just a shit! Dont take me wrong. Cant you see that even Chinese are there on eBay and Amazon. Do you think them fool. They will sell those products that you are going to sell @ better bucks hmm!! Got something.
    Dont windup with all your investments..

    Reply
    1. There will always be opportunity out there Sanjog, the environment just changes. You can read through these comments and see numerous people making money with this, and many more on forums and elsewhere. It’s definitely possible to make money importing from China, it’s just getting harder. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no longer importing things from China. I think there are better opportunities out there for me personally. However, I know a fair deal about importing products from China, so that’s what I wrote about here :)

      The people who have been making money with this method have been making around $500-1500/week in profit after the first month. So there is definitely opportunity there, it’s just getting a little tougher to do it consistently with how quick the market changes. Great entrepreneurs know that change breeds opportunity, you just have to find and leverage it.

      Reply
  106. Hey Will,
    I am from India n I really wanted to start an Import business. First of all I wud say you r doing a pretty gud job on clarifying doubts people have on their mind in this blog. Keep up the good work. I have started doing some research on Alibaba.com and found products like dirt bike helmets and pc accessories like mouse etc would be having some decent profit if imported to India at the price mentioned by the supplier(yet not sure cause i haven’t been to import business). Then I came up with a lot of websites n even forums of Alibaba revealing that Alibaba.com has a huge scamsters around there in the name of suppliers. I am really confused if i could take my next step on import business. It would be very nice of you if you guide me on how to make my next move. I would like to stay in touch with you.

    Reply
    1. Hi Saravana,

      Awesome, glad to hear the article helped put you one step closer to your goal :)

      There is probably some potential for importing from China to India. And those products may even work well. The key is, as it seems you’ve figured out, where do you sell those products? It’s key to find a product with high potential, import some samples of those products, sell those samples, and see what happens. That way, you minimize your risk and find out the true potential of a product quickly.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      P.S. – Not sure if you’ve read this, but if not – http://www.startupbros.com/step-by-step-guide-on-how-to-find-a-profitable-product-to-sell/

      Reply
  107. Hey Will,

    Firstly, thanks for the great article, it has definitely taught me alot.

    My question is this. Say you have a product already, now the problem is who would want to buy something from someone on ebay with a new sellers account containing zero feedback?

    Reply
    1. Everyone has to start from zero, Andrew! Make some trustworthy product pages and ship your product sooner than you say you will. Once you get the first few you’re off to the races.

      Reply
    2. Hey Andrew,

      Thanks for reading, glad to hear you could pull some value out of it :)

      Nobody will ever buy anything from somebody with zero feedback, and there is no way to solve this issue! Sorry, should have mentioned that if you don’t have established accounts on eBay and Amazon that you, in fact, can never sell anything on those platforms!

      I’m kidding of course :)

      The truth is this is a VERY small issue, and if you’re going to pursue the importing business it’s one of the smallest issues you’ll ever have. Can you really not think of any way to get some feedback? Come on now, you’re smarter than that!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  108. Hi amazing article,
    I’m 14 years old and obsessed with making a profit.

    I currently sell iPhone covers on eBay, but it isn’t doing as well as I wanted it to

    I would be very great full just if you gave me some advice on expanding my little business. I know I’m young and not fully experienced. But could you give me a few ideas. For example the supplier , most profitable products at the moment.

    Kind regards
    Harry

    Reply
    1. Hi Harry!!

      How about you buy iPhone chargers, screen protectors, iPhone headphones ect …. And sell them as a pack like an iPhone starter pack??

      Always here to help

      Gage!

      Reply
      1. Not a bad idea! Gage always drops in with some good advice :-P

        Hope all is well!

        Reply
    2. Hey Harry,

      Thanks, glad you liked it!

      Yea, iPhone covers are a tough market. It’s good that you’re taking action though, especially at such a young age! You’re right around the age I got started at :-P

      I’m not sure on the most profitable products to import from China right now. I have a little bit of an idea for the US market, but definitely not for the UK. Sorry :-\

      The best advice I could give you is to try reading the other post – Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find A Profitable Product To Sell

      After you read that, if you still want more – try out Terapeak. That’s eBay’s data analytics tool, it will dig into what’s selling on eBay and why like you wouldn’t believe! It’s got a 7 day free trial, so make sure to cancel on day 6 if you don’t want to spend money.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  109. Hi Will,

    Very interesting article, definitly the best around and I am going to try out this.

    But I have a few question for you first

    It is probably because i’m new to the website but this is getting really frustrating, I have been trying to check Alibaba and surprisingly almost no suppliers or products show their prices. Does this mean I have to contact everytime the supplier, that would be time consuming.
    How can you fastly see the prices on alibaba?

    Also another question to which I’m very curious about,
    The way you described everything seems like you can get huge profits out of this.
    Worse it goes with 10 orders per day you get a 100$ profit a day, thats way more a normal worker would get.
    If this worked so well when you was only 15, I can imagine how it could work so good now with all the experience you have.
    So here is my question, If your techniques works so good why are you here writing articles revealing your secret methods instead of being out there making tons of money for yourself.

    Don’t get me wrong i highly appreciate what you are doing, I’m just very skeptical when it comes to online money making techniques

    Thanks alot for your help and assistance, and for your amazing information :)

    Reply
    1. Daniel,

      I found that as Will mentioned, there are some suppliers that respond very quickly on Alibaba. My additional tips based on the queries I submitted and the quality of responses follow:

      Have a notepad/Word Doc open and copy the draft letter and change a few things to make it specifically related to the products you’re inquiring about. Also in your Word Doc, have a custom title you create for the message. After filtering the suppliers as mentioned, pick your top 20 or 30 and click on the Contact button and then when the message pops up you paste in your custom title, custom letter, and hit send. It takes less than 2 minutes per Supplier. Changing the title helps you stand out, b/c it prepopulates a generic message title that many people probably don’t change.

      I did 30 suppliers for one product type in less than an hour. And I had responses in less than 12 hours pouring in. You do need to sift through some of the spam as once your email is out there you’ll start to get emails from suppliers selling $150 iPad mini’s and all kinds of other (obviously counterfeit or real but don’t have the rights to sell) so you have to resist the temptation!

      Regarding the why share vs. do, it’s obvious — these guys have been around the block and want to help people. They’ve done some of this low level stuff and it’s concrete advice for people who want to work, but it is that — work. You will be marketing the hell out of your products, tracking orders, interfacing with customers, and shipping all kinds of products. Unless you can afford to outsource some of that you will be busy. And while it’s good activity that can certainly bring profits, it’s work that anyone can do vs. them leading people by providing the know how and attracting a following. The Age of hoarding ideas and charging boatloads of money for access to content is over. Sharing ideas, delivering great content, and creating community around a common goal/niche is where we’ve arrived. And they are offering something you don’t see all that often–a fresh and honest perspective that will sometimes kick you in the teeth and make you think :-) There are many great folks out there sharing great ideas – like Pat Flynn or Michael Hyatt, but I just like that Will and Kyle don’t BS and are not all “fluffy”. Sorry for the long response… and Startupbros keep up the great work!!

      Ian

      Reply
      1. Hey Ian,

        Thanks for those extra tips, and for the help in the comments :)

        Definitely takes some time to send out the emails, but not that much. As I’m sure you know, that time is nothing compared to the time spent in product research.

        I don’t think I could have put that second part of your answer any better, so I’m glad you did! I’m glad you get the impression we’re not fluffy and all “anyone can do it!”. I didn’t think this article gave off the “Get Rich Quick!” feeling. As you know, I’m all about putting in some work and building a real business…none of that silver bullet stuff ;)

        Thanks again for the comment,
        Will

        Reply
    2. Hi Daniel,

      Glad to hear you liked the article! Hope you do try it out, I always love people taking action :)

      Everything Ian said is pretty much spot on (thanks Ian!), so I’ll keep it short…

      Yea, you’ll have to contact suppliers each time. That’s why I included a section on that with my email templates and workflow to do it in the article.

      Ian has it right above. I don’t use this method any more, and I’m not planning on it. And I don’t really want to make importing products from China my specialization as an entrepreneur, so that’s why you don’t see me trying to sell you importing products. I just have some experience, and the purpose of StartupBros is to help entrepreneurs learn from my experiences as an entrepreneur :)

      There’s an unlimited number of ways to make money. Like Ian said, it’s not about hoarding ideas. I can’t implement every idea I have. Some I implement, some I save, some I share, and some I throw away.

      Moreover, I’ve met some incredible people through this article. I basically converted my experience into new connections that will actually help my career grow (since again, I’m no longer importing products from China). I think that’s better than throwing it on some sales page and trying to sell it to everybody.

      Hope this answers your questions :)

      Good luck on your venture, keep us updated!

      Will

      Reply
  110. Great experience and well written….what better than real life experience.
    Soon I will start on my own and your article was a real great read.

    Deep.

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Deep, glad to hear you liked it. Hope my article can be of value to you when you start importing products from China yourself :)

      Reply
  111. Hi Will,

    As everyone has said on here already, great article and a really valuable resource to anyone who has been considering this type of thing for a while! Its very kind of you to take the time to reply to everyone’s comments too.

    I wanted to ask a couple of brief questions about shipping bigger items. as you mention in your article to generally stay away from these. I am looking at bringing in Bicycles from China/Taiwan to the UK.

    1) Are there any major pitfalls you are aware of with bigger items (Damage, weight restrictions, time etc)?

    2) Suppliers I have spoken to so far seem to recommend going for a 20HQ or a 40HQ container (depending on quantity) but quote anywhere from 900 USD to 6200 USD, any reason for this fluctuation?

    3) FOB pricing has confused me, even after looking it up all over the place? Am I generally right in saying that is the cost of getting it to the port (e.g. Shanghai), then shipping and what happens once it arrives is down to me?

    4) I have contacted around 20 suppliers but only heard back from a couple and had to chase most by chat. Then many of them have not actually got my email. Is it common for most emails to get lost when using the automatic contact boxes?

    5) For payment terms, how much is generally paid up front and at what point is the remainder released from Escrow?

    Think thats all for now! Thanks again for the article.

    Alex

    Reply
    1. Hi Alex,

      Awesome to hear you found the article valuable, thanks! Responding to comments is the least I can do, this is a LONG article to get through! :)

      I’ve never imported anything from China larger than I can hold. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, or that you can’t make money doing it. I just didn’t…

      Like I said in the articles, it’s just riskier to import bigger items. Due to the increased shipping costs, every error is much more expensive for you. There are a lot of other things to wrap your head around, but I wouldn’t know since I haven’t imported large products…

      FOB stands for Free On Board. It’s referring to liability, the supplier is free of the liability of the product after it’s boarded onto your transport (free of liability on boarding). It basically means that if the product is lost, damaged, or destroyed during shipping – they are not liable. This is why shipping insurance is there for.

      Some suppliers are harder to get in touch with than others. Some markets don’t take Alibaba inquiries as seriously. It’s different for every market. Every supplier will also have certain mediums they respond to better than others as well. I’d just keep looking around and following up.

      Everything goes into Escrow, and you release it all at once. Some suppliers will want 10% up front or something like that. There are also payment terms like Net 30, definitely go with that if you can convince your supplier.

      Also, with you talking about importing containers, this is all pretty variable. Like I said, I haven’t done huge items like bikes. It may be that some of this information is wrong for that market, so make sure you do your own research (as I’m sure you will)

      Good luck!
      Will

      Reply
    2. hi Alex,
      did you finally got some outcome from your products??? if you still interested in that product i know few suppliers who will be able to provide a great offer..!!
      let me know so i can follow up while im in china…!!!
      Regards…..!!!

      Reply
  112. This is really great information. Do you guys offer any type of paid consulting/coaching for things like verifying the supplier, picking niches etc?

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked it Rob! I do a LOT of consulting/coaching for people importing products from China. I don’t verify the supplier and verify niches though, I just help walk people through it and help them learn to do it. Give a man a fish, teach a man to fish…you know :)

      Reply
  113. this is really a awesome article, great job will. you show us transparent process of importing from china and how to sell them. we cant find this kind of useful article at zero cost in todays world. thanks alot.

    i am from india. and i know many manufactures who are looking to export their products to foreign countries. this manufacturers are basically of plastic industries, textile industries, kitchen ware products, and from many more. so pls suggest me that in which country i can easily get importers of these products. i want to do this business as middle man or export agent. thanks alot in advance.

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Jignesh, glad to hear you liked it!

      Just look at the comments! Seems like a lot of people from the EU, USA, and Australia really want to start importing products from China or India! As in any business, the trick is how to sell it :)

      Good luck
      Will

      Reply
  114. I found this article very interesting and encouraging, just the right kind for a beginner looking to start business. the suggestions were very honest and practical. I would wish he also provides some tips on e-business tie up and some do’s and don’t.

    Reply
    1. Awesome, glad you found the articles encouraging! Hope you can get some value out of them on your journey to the top :)

      Reply
  115. Hi, I’m 14 and I want to get started in this business. I want to know how much you invested to get things rolling in the beginning. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Hi Stone,

      Awesome that you’re getting started so young, keep it up! I probably lost $300-500 before I started making money with this, but I had to figure it out myself. But, you still need to be very careful when importing products from China :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  116. Hi Will,

    Do you know anything about iOffer? I’ve seen some good deals there that would provide good margins on ebay and Amazon. I was looking at designer sunglasses specifically.

    Thanks in advance!
    Rich

    Reply
    1. Hi Rich,

      I’ve had some success with iOffer before, but not a whole lot. With the small amount of traffic iOffer gets, you can only scale it so high. It’s definitely something to look into, and I know you can make money there with products you import from China/Asia. But, I don’t think you can build a business exclusively off of that sales channel. You’re probably going to want to branch out eventually, either way you grow.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  117. Hi Will,

    Thanx for the great article.

    I am in the UK and have been trying to find out for some time now how to go about setting up a little buying and selling side line to supplement and maybe eventually replace the income from my full time job.

    I went to my local ‘car boot’ sale last week (not sure if you have them in the USA) and there was this guy selling new plain boxed electrical items from China from the back of his car. I watched him sell the entire contents in less than half an hour! After seeing this it renewed by enthusiasm to try and do something for myself and now your excellent article has pointed me in the right direction.

    Off to Alibaba right now.

    Andrea

    Reply
    1. Hi Andrea,

      No problem, glad you liked it – Hope it can help you in replacing your full time job!

      We don’t have those in the US, at least not established meetups :) There is a whole economy of people making a living selling imported products from China, but with the internet you can really scale it up! Just make sure it’s all legal, of course…

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Will,

        Thanks for sharing that information. That is where I am now. Trying to cut out the middleman and import from China. I have a indoor market booth and see great potential if I can get the right products.

        Reply
        1. Hi Will (sweet name!),

          Glad you liked it! Congrats on your success so far, importing your products from China could definitely help you grow. I don’t think I mentioned it, but when I was importing the fashion accessories, I tried to sell to Flea Market Booth Owners. Had some limited success, but face-to-face sales is tough when you’re under 16 :)

          Good luck,
          Will

          Reply
  118. Hi Will,

    Thanks for sharing your secrets on this blog. I would like more detailed information on shipping. I contacted a supplier a few months back about importing a product that wasn’t large but but could be very heavy (up to 55lbs per piece) so the only viable shipping method was sea freight. They quoted me FOB shipping and said that I would have to find my own shipper and take care of my own logistics. Is this how most suppliers operate? I went through the motions of looking into finding shippers for my product and started with the usual suspects like UPS, FEDEX and DHL. I was told by these shippers that I would have to find a customs broker to get my items through customs or I could hire a their own internal customs brokerage division but this was a seperate fee from shipping. Have you ever shipped anything via Sea Freight? If so what has been your experience with this (From sourcing shippers, truckers, figuring our U.S. tarrifs on the stuff you want to import, etc.)? How does the entire process work step by step from getting the products out the factory door to my own door step?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hi Benny,

      No problem, glad you got some value out of them! Yea, when you’re importing heavy products from overseas, shipping is a much different game…

      When importing something unusually heavy or large, you’ll usually have to set up your own shipping courier, and further ensure that all regulations are taken care of.

      Your research was correct. You’ll probably have to find a customs broker. I know from friends that UPS is good, but I have no idea on the fees or how they compare to anybody else. I’ve never personally imported anything like that, I’ve only dealt with friends/clients that have. Of the people I know who ship via Sea Freight, it’s about half and half. Smaller importers tend to use UPS/FedEx/DHL, while larger (and more frequent) importers use their own broker. Of course, I only know a few people that do that, so take that last bit with a grain of salt.

      Although, maybe it’s time for me to get a guest post! A step-by-step guide for importing products from China via Sea Freight would be very valuable, and certainly answer many questions!

      Until then, I hope this helps…

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  119. Hi Will,

    Thanks for the great article, it has been an immense help in getting started.

    I had a quick question for you, our main goal in the end is to have drop shipping to our customers however we are currently in the first talks with one of our suppliers where they say that once we place our order there will be a 30-35day production time to complete. From what I can tell, this factory creates on the spot vs carrying inventory. Which does not hint towards the potential to drop ship. Do you think it is still possible to have drop shipping in the future with them? Should I breach the subject with them due to this concern this early in our relationship or should I give it a go anyways?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hi Nick,

      Thanks for commenting, glad to hear the article could help!

      It’s possible to have a drop shipping relationship with anybody, it matters how you want to do it. You should really talk to suppliers, especially since drop shipping is often not advertised. It’s also very much on a supplier-by-supplier basis, and less of a product-by-product basis.

      I definitely think it’s ok to ask about it though. If you want to grow into that, then find the perfect supplier that will grow with you. You may have to negotiate a custom deal, as most supplier won’t just up and agree to start drop shipping (unless they’re made to dropship). But, keep looking, they’re out there!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  120. haha its like we lived parallel lives.. Im up in Canada and I was a part of the massive airsoft flood back in the days.. I was the same age as you, at the time airsoft was borderline illegal to buy in Canada so I would have the guns shipped to US addresses and break them down there and drive them back over the border and reassemble to sell locally.. haha it was great.

    TBH.. I still don’t work, my friends always ask me about it but I ask why? Let your brain do the work.. not your body. Very good read.. Maybe we can even collaborate! Cheers

    Reply
    1. Haha, awesome JJ! I’m sure you were making even more than I was in Canada. I could never figure out how to ship into Canada. I’m sure you made a killing as a small time smuggler though :)

      Yes, I agree with you there. When posting this article on importing, I didn’t think it would be as popular as it was. You’ll always be able to make money importing products from China, but I think there are much more lucrative ways to attain success now. But again, it depends how you want to build your life.

      Thanks for the input JJ!

      Reply
      1. Hi from the UK, Will :).

        Great article, but I was just wondering about your last comment about there being more lucrative ways to make money, could you through a few hints?

        Cheers!

        Reply
        1. Hi Nicholas, thanks for commenting!

          While you can still make money importing products from China, I think there are definitely more lucrative ways to make money quickly. Importing is a very long and hard business to start from scratch. In my book, importing is old news, a common commodity.

          If you can combine importing products from China with other methods, then maybe you have something. But simple import arbitrage is getting harder, and the margins are getting slimmer while fading faster.

          A good entrepreneur can create more value for people in a weekend than they can in a lifetime of importing products from China. There is so much opportunity on the internet, and much of it is greater than importing.

          Of course, it matters on your skill set and passions and things like that. You have to learn to take those and create value with them. Then you have to effectively spread that value in the correct way, while having the correct systems in place to convert that into money.

          It’s a tough game, and for me importing products from China was a big stepping stone in my path to where I’m at. The most important thing is to keep taking action. If you feel the urge to pursue this, then pursue it. Worst case scenario, you’ll lose $1,000 and 3 months. But you’ll learn a ton. I still use things I learned in the overseas importing business today. Just look at this article!

          What other income methods/online business models were you considering? There’s literally thousands, it’s all about finding and connecting the right ones in the right way.

          Reply
          1. Thanks for the quick reply

            I was thinking online marketing/advertising, but maybe that would need alot of initial capital. To me honest, a friend and I just want to start something where we can make £1000 a month each to start, but which also has the potential to grow when we feel comfortable.

            Reply
            1. No problem – what else is there to do at 5am on a Saturday but build! :)

              Again, there’s about a billion things out there that you can make $1,000 a month doing. It’s more about what you’ll actually do! That’s where the whole passion and skill set thing starts to play into it.

              Why do you think online marketing/advertising takes a lot of initial capital? I started my marketing agency with nothing…

              Reply
  121. It’s 10.30 here… On Sunday :P I have a terrible hangover.

    I thought that because I’d have to pay a programmer to do the websites and such. I’m pretty good with computing, apart from actual computer languages.

    I literally have no cash right now, stupidly walked out of my accountancy job because of a tiff with my manager, little did I know there are no jobs in Wales right now apart from door to door selling.

    I’m willing to do absolutely anything it takes to become successful. My dad has a company in London centre but I wouldn’t like to work for him, I’d like to make it on my own if possible /endsadstory haha

    Reply
    1. Haha, yea I’ll be going to bed soon enough :)

      I didn’t have to pay anybody but a designer for my logo when I started my marketing agency. Actually, I first started just doing consulting work for local businesses, and eventually it just evolved into something more. I don’t know how to code either, apart from HTML/CSS.

      It’s tough to build anything sustainable when you’re up against a wall. I would focus on getting money in the door for now, and then figuring out how to scale that up. That’s essentially what I did when starting the marketing agency. You need money now though, and it’s going to be really tough to think long-term and delay gratification within your business. I think you’ll have an urge to pull money out short-term at the damage of your long-term game. If you just focus on bringing money in the door and scaling up from there, I think you’ll avoid that issue and learn everything you need to know about building a successful business on your skills/passions.

      Those who are willing to do anything to become successful will figure out how to eventually. The obstacles you run into are the rites of passage of success. Good luck, and hope this helps!

      Reply
      1. Great advice, I think that’s exactly what I’ll have to do.

        No doubt I will be pestering you along the way though!

        Thanks for all the great replies :)

        Reply
        1. Pester away – good luck!

          Reply
  122. Hi Will
    I am Chinese and have been living in the uk for last 12 years. I have always wanted to start up my business, trading here and there. I found your article very inspiring and helped me a lot. thanks man!

    Pangpang

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that Pangpang, glad I could help out! Good luck to you, but you won’t need it if you’re fluent in both Chinese and English :)

      Reply
  123. Will,

    great article!! what are your thoughts in the reverse? selling US made items to China? I have read 65% of chinese would rather have western items such as vitamins, baby products, etc because the regulation is lax there and not trusted. My wife is Chinese and she is always shipping things to her friends in China. Do you know of regulations on shipping, tax and other issues related to this idea?
    Thanks,
    Mike

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked it Mike! Let me preface my answer to this by saying I have no idea what I’m talking about on this one, I’ve never even began to research doing this in reverse. However, it makes sense that there is demand there.

      The first thing that comes to mind when you mention importing outside products into China is their Government. I have no idea, but I have to assume their Government would absolutely hate this on any significant scale. Now, I know you can bribe them pretty easily, much different than in America – but I’ve never dealt with anything like that.

      It’s just such a vastly different political climate in China, that I’m not sure if it’s legal or heavily regulated or what. But, that shouldn’t stop you! Especially with your wife already making money by shipping products into China, she’s probably significantly more qualified to answer this than I am :)

      Hope this helps, and good luck!

      Keep us updated,
      Will

      Reply
  124. Hi Will,

    I found this post yesterday, have to say it is really well written. Includes lots of quality information and it made me act right away.

    However, I’m not from the US, neither from any of other big countries of the world, I come from Slovenia which is in EU, but am worried about how to handle supply of the packages to customers, as postage costs are really expensive here and it would hurt margin too hard, so my question is in regards to this. Anyway, you wrote something on topic how supplier from China handles all shipments and customer returns, does that mean that you do not have any contact with product shipment to customer at all (Except ordering samples and test it before continue with bussiness?)? Can you write a bit more on this topic?

    Thanks for help in advance and keep up the good work!

    Regards,

    Zigy

    Reply
    1. Hello, I can help, since I am from EU, i know the Customs Post tricks. You dont have to be affraid of the VAT and Customs Post taxes if you know how to do it, in USA there are no vat taxes… I posted a tip above for EU people, here is a copy paste for you:

      “For exemple in my country East Europe I have to pay 24% VAT if the order is above 10 Euros and VAT and Border Taxes if the order is above 150 Euros but I manage to bypas the taxes almost everytime now, as I as the supplier to send separate packages below the 150E, and as gifts with 3$ value. I started to order from Aliexpress because of the Free Shipping. Thanks for the wonderful informations here Will. You saved a student here”

      Yes, for exemple I ordered 20 days ago, 8 watches from 5 to 11$ as price. The total price was around ~$50, so for my country the VAT tax is 24%, I will be insane to pay 24$ from $50 no ? So I asked the supplier to send my watches in different packages in different days, a delay of 2 days will be fine, and he agreed ofcourse. For my country its doesn means if the supplier writes 3$ as value and or gift, my Customs Post requires me the printscreens of the order with the price on it, so they can see them clearly.

      But there is a catch too: every package sent by the supplier were watches that do not exced the 10Euro tax free limit, means that in one box is a watch with 5 and 8$ which is 13$ and below 10 Euros. With the free shipping, I will have nothing else to pay but the get the watches from the Customs. Your packages will arrive with a delay of 3-4 days, so there will be no problem for you.. no extra taxes no extra bullshit.

      This method works for EU people only, but please check your taxes before doing anything, must be the same anyway, only that your VAT may be lower than mine… Good luck.

      Reply
      1. I forgot to say, import something that is in 10 Euro per piece, search for something that isnt too expensive, like a phone, dslr camera or anything that is above this price and look for Aliexpress.com to take advantage from the free shipping, or else you will face the high taxes..

        Reply
        1. Very good tip, Silvero. Must be the same in other countries as well. Thanks for that tip.

          Reply
          1. You’re welcome, and we all thank to Will, thats why we are here now :)

            Reply
            1. And I thank all of you for being here :)

              Reply
          2. Hi folks,

            first of all thanks Silvero and Will for their answers. I really appreciate!

            Silvero,

            so in this case, if I want to avoid paying customs and tax, there is no way of growing business big? I mean, like selling tens of pieces a month?

            And my question to all importers who sell their products worldwide:

            question is about DELIVERING product to target customer, how do you handle this? My goal is to sell my products internationally – worldwide, because I my country’s market is just too small and doesn’t offer any potential for business growth at all. And as I did a fast small research with the available data on prices I found on shipping companies’ websites, shipping costs are just too high both for me (if I cover them, margin will be close to none) and for my customer (if he covers shipping costs, then product will be too expensive for him).

            Any ideas?

            What has been your average margin on a product you sell, Will? Or maybe just few examples?

            Thanks for answers in advance, really appreciate your help!

            Kindest regards,

            Zigy

            Reply
            1. Hi Zigy,

              Yea, glad Silvero stepped in! :)

              Shipping tends to be the biggest expense and challenge when importing from China, especially when you’re in a smaller market. There’s not a whole lot that can be done, unless you know some way to get rid of the physical limitations that are leading to increased costs :)

              I try to keep my margin above 50%. If it’s below that, I consider it a huge problem.

              Hope this helps!
              Will

              Reply
          3. Zigy

            “so in this case, if I want to avoid paying customs and tax, there is no way of growing business big? I mean, like selling tens of pieces a month?”

            You can grow the business big, but when you will do it, the taxes wont be a problem for you then, if you know what I mean. Every business owner pays taxes on import, thats the way the country earns from importing… If you will buy furniture or TVs in the future you will pay the VAT as you pay the VAT for every small thing you buy from inside, like water, bread, milk, toilet paper, you pay VAT anyway.

            The selling price will cover all your taxes and will bring profit for you, but if you get there, you will pay in advance the tax and you will get the money from the tax when you sell it, got it ? Its like paying in advance for something that you will earn after. In your selling price will include all your taxes you paid at the first :) plus the profit you’ll take. Dont worry, this is how business works.

            Reply
        2. Awesome information there Silvero, I’m sure that will help hundreds of people who will never comment. I appreciate you saying I saved a student – it seems you’re saving a lot yourself!

          Reply
          1. Will i wish we could meet and drink a beer :) Thanks for everything :)

            Reply
            1. We will one day soon Silvero! :)

              Reply
    2. Hi Zigy,

      Thanks, I appreciate that! I always say I’m a terrible writer, so I’m glad to hear the guide is easily comprehensible. Also glad to hear it helped you to take action! :)

      Yea, when you’re importing to the EU, you have to be sure to comply with or preferably avoid local taxes and regulations. You can find all that information in other comments though, it seems you know that so I won’t repeat it all…

      The drop shipping thing is a little off. I had an American company who worked exclusively with my Chinese factory supplier, who I eventually got to start shipping for me. You can get Chinese suppliers to ship for you as well, but there are a lot of issues with it. But, if you tell your customers that before they buy, then I don’t see much of an issue.

      Hope this helps, if not comment back!

      Will

      Reply
  125. Hi Mitch first of all thanks a lot !! for the tutorial and inspiration man great stuff done mate. I am in the process to take action man, I have order my sample from a supplier in china already its on its way. If I like it I will be ordering from them.
    Do you think its still possible to make profit from ebay ?

    How can I get the cheapest shipping possible to ship to customers here in the US? theres ebay items that are charging low for an item and even include free shipping

    Is there a tutorial on how to get dropship to clients ? For example I want to get into the medical field for example wheelchairs, supply to dentists etc. How can I get them to be interested in my chinese product ?

    I hope you have a little bit of your time to take a look at my questions and answer like I said again Thanks A Lot mate. You sure are an inspiration man

    Reply
    1. Very good tip, Silverio. Must be the same in other countries as well. Thanks for that tip.

      Reply
    2. Awesome, glad to hear this article could help you take action! With samples on the way, you’re pretty much already importing from China! Now to make money doing it…

      It’s definitely possible to make a profit on eBay. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be anything for sale!

      Shipping prices are set, unless you start shipping in bulk. Compare each shipping courier and educate yourself to know when each one will be the cheapest.

      I haven’t seen any guides like the one you’re asking for unfortunately. Maybe I should write one! :)

      Hope this helps, and good luck to you!

      Reply
  126. I know it can be a major pain to be handling 30-40 products a day on eBay and other sites, did you use some sort of software to manage this and make it easier to keep track of everything?

    Reply
    1. Not really at the time, like I said I was young and ran it pretty lean. Once things got too big for me, my friends, and my garage – I was lucky enough to find a dropshipping partner through my supplier. Somebody else asked me this question earlier this week though, maybe I’ll put a post together on inventory management soon!

      Sorry I couldn’t help more :-\

      Reply
  127. thanks you give the best advice really appreciate it,

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Mark, glad I could help!

      Reply
  128. Will,

    Some brilliant information here.
    I knew what I wanted to do, but just didn’t know where to start.
    Thanks to you, now I do!

    Good luck with everything! :-)
    Rach.

    Reply
    1. Hi Rachel,

      Glad I could help you to get started, good luck! :)

      Keep me updated,
      Will

      Reply
  129. I think it is Awesome of you guys and specially yourself! To be helping people like me who are 35 and so lost about all the different tech. stuff I have been researching Alibaba for awhile before finding you! Question I am not sure what I want to sell, so should I get a website url and if I do can I change it later??

    Reply
    1. Hi Nick,

      Thanks for your kind words, I’m glad I could help! I wouldn’t get a website URL just yet, it’s important to find a good product to import and sell first. You can get a URL, but it’s going to cost some money, and will cost some more to change it. It isn’t necessary to have a website with this method, so I wouldn’t worry about that until you’re ready to scale up a product that’s been working for you.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  130. Hi Will,

    It was a fantastic read and cleared lot of my confusion regarding import / export.

    Couple of questions:

    - Did you explore India also apart from china or any other country.I want to explore india as I have my roots there.

    -Second I have heard that apart from books you need to pay custom duty on other imported goods and for that you need to higher agents which help you get the goods from customs on airport or seaport.Is that true? I wonder how you got around that.Did you ever hired an agent ?

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
    1. Hi Narender,

      Awesome, glad to hear the article helped you!

      Unfortunately, I’ve never imported anything from India, I’ve only imported products from China. I think I’ve also imported some products from some other countries, but not very often. There’s no real reason for this, I don’t try to avoid any countries (off the top of my head). I’ve just almost always ended up with a Chinese supplier…

      Yes, you’ll definitely need to pay all customs, duties, and taxes on your items when you bring them in. Most of the time, you’ll work this out with your shipping courier. Once you start getting into large orders (2+ pallets at a time), you’ll probably need to rethink things a little. But, you’ll likely still work it out with your shipping courier (who will probably know a customs brokerage they recommend, or have one in house)

      Hope this helps!
      Will

      Reply
  131. Damn Will I am having a hard time deciding if to pull the trigger and order the items I want to order. Here are my points
    1. They dont sell them at walmart or these big stores
    2. You need to be in the business to obtain one of these
    They cost me around 1.8usd they sell for around $20 minus shipping and ebay/amazon fees. What do you think mate ?
    Im scared I might end up with a product that wont sell….
    Any advice ? :/

    Reply
    1. If you can import the product for $1.80 and sell it for $20, that’s worth checking out to me! Of course, there’s always the chance that they won’t sell.

      Make sure you read the follow up article to this, it deals specifically with testing your product to make sure it will sell. In short, buy some samples and sell them to make sure everything goes smoothly!

      Hope this helps…

      Reply
  132. Thanks a lot mate, I will look into it. Although its not a hot product you think ? I mean its a house electronic part that goes out and they require someone to call in to come replace it but sometimes people decide to replace them themselves and Ive seen they do sell on ebay. Matter fact my dad ordered one from ebay like a month ago he replaced it himself.

    Reply
    1. I couldn’t tell you if it’s a hot product or not without some research, especially when I don’t know what it is :)

      But again, every product, and further every product model is a different market. I’d suggest testing your product in almost every circumstance imaginable :)

      Good luck!

      Reply
  133. Any suggestions on where to sell them ? How about taxes do I pay taxes when receiving order ?

    Reply
    1. Sell them where people are already buying them! That’s the easiest way to cash flow. If you can make money there, automate it and start expanding out.

      It depends where you live, all laws are different. For me in Florida, I only pay sales tax on orders from within Florida. I’m pretty sure it’s like this for everywhere in the US (possibly not California), but outside of the US, I couldn’t help much :(

      Reply
  134. I Live in Arizona. I know I ask to many questions, but how can I find out more if I need to pay taxes. Ok so say I order anywhere from 100 to 500 items from china I get them delivered how will the gov know I need to pay taxes ? Or how do I know I need to pay taxes for this stuff ?

    What if I just receive it and start selling it ?

    Reply
    1. Well, your Government will tell you it’s your responsibility to know every law and abide by them all. So, it’s really dependent on where you live. If you’re in AZ, then you’re obviously going to be paying the US Federal Government for some taxes, and I’d imagine the State might want some as well. You’ll also have to pay some duties and tariffs and things like that, all of that needs to be worked out with your shipping courier or customs brokerage.

      The Government never actually knows what’s going on, they just do the bare minimum. They will have no idea how much money you make unless you report it to them, or unless somebody really wants to find out. If you just bought some and sold some without ever reporting anything, it’s unlikely that anybody will ever care (unless you get audited). That being said, I still pay all of my taxes :)

      Wish I could help more, but tax law is different State to State. I’ve always just used Google and research things for a while, but you could also post on some forums or something. If not, maybe you know a local accountant or bookkeeper who could point you closer?

      Sorry I couldn’t help more!

      Reply
  135. Hey Will,

    I read your book, it was pretty awesome man, it’s good to see the categories of entrepreneurship.

    I was wondering if you could possibly right an article on other fields of making money that you know of, maybe online marketing?

    Thanks!
    Nic

    Reply
    1. Hey Nic,

      Thanks for checking it out, glad you found it awesome :)

      I can definitely do that! I also run an offline marketing agency, so I’ll have some good case studies in the future. Hopefully I’ll get one up soon!

      Thanks a lot for the help,
      Will

      Reply
  136. Hi Will, Ive been spending all day yesterday looking and looking for a good computer parts supplier from alibaba. But right when I was about to buy some products from a company I found out the company has scammed many people. Ive been spending all day yesterday and today trying to find out how to know if a company is a scam ?

    Can you PLEASEEEE please do an article on how ot find out if a manufacturer is legit ?

    How can I know ?
    What steps should I take?
    Is it same to pay with T/T ? will they take my money from the bank ?

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear you’ve been taking action Frank! What do you mean you found out the company was scamming people? I pretty much laid out everything I can in this article and the follow up article, including how to protect yourself financially from scams. Check it out – http://www.startupbros.com/step-by-step-guide-on-how-to-find-a-profitable-product-to-sell/

      Hope this helps! That article should answer all the questions you mentioned :)

      Reply
  137. Hi Will, great post. It has answered a lot of questions I had. So congrats on such a successful post.

    I “play” online to make extra spending cash and have been thinking about importing some stuff. If I could do good enough so that my wife could do the orders and keep her home, that would be great as we have been thinking of at least cutting her hours to be with the kids more.

    Here is what I see and what is keeping me from making my first purchase.

    I find that a lot of these factory suppliers are also selling on eBay and Amazon at the same price as they are selling to us. This of course kills any chance of making online sales. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong stuff but it seems like everything I look at that might be a good niche can be found for what they are wanting to sell it to me for.

    This leaves Craigslist for the people that do not want to wait on shipping.

    What am I missing?

    Thanks again for the great post.

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked it Vince, and thanks for commenting!

      That’s a great way to look at it – you can’t fail when it’s a game, and life is a game :) Every failure is just an experience on the way to the next level…

      There are some mainstream products out there that Chinese suppliers sell, that’s a relatively new addition to your competition as an importer. I’d definitely avoid those if I were getting back into it.

      Like I said in the article, I haven’t been in it for a few years. But, I know there are still sales to be made to US companies on those products. A lot of people simply won’t buy from China, or need it sooner than 10-14 days. So there’s still a market there. That being said, I think you’re smart for avoiding those areas.

      Yes, you can branch out to different sales channels (which you should anyways). You can also find other products that don’t have the same issues. I’d suggest doing both.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  138. Thanks a lot Will you seriously are great man. Ive found out because I googled it and also I checked on Alibaba forums. Thanks again im on it. I am currently reading the article

    Reply
    1. No problem buddy, thanks for jumping on and talking! Hope you find as much value in that article as you did in this one :)

      Keep me updated,
      Will

      Reply
  139. hi there will,

    well i have to agree that this is really an great article because it kept me reading every line all through it, ofcourse am not a reader.lol

    anyway this is the thing, i kinda have the reverse of all this, as in, i am in china and might stay here for a very long time. i used to do exactly as you said about alibaba and aliexpress while also dealing with “taobao.com”, china’s very best. for someone like me, getting the samples and telling them to reduce the prices wont be that difficult because we meet and i study in chinese. so they barely consider me as a foriegner

    now i would like my market to be based in the states if i ever start this thing. i have relatives and friends there, but my current base for a very long time will be china, so do you think it can work out, and if so kindly explain how!

    Reply
    1. Hi Shaffy, great to hear you liked the article! Glad it was readable by a non-reader, because I’m no writer! Haha

      Sounds like you’re definitely in the right place to take advantage of methods like this. I haven’t seen that website, I’ll check it out. Very jealous you can speak Chinese though :)

      There are plenty of companies who have a presence in China and the United States, and just act as middle men to smooth out the process of importing products from China. I think you definitely have an opportunity to do something like this! I couldn’t tell you how to build a company like that step-by-step, but feel free to comment back and we can bounce some ideas around…

      Talk soon,
      Will

      Reply
  140. Can you elaborate more on starting your own brand. Did your friend just put a brand on generic items, or did he actually get the producer to make something unique?

    I’d also appreciate if you added more to the whole courier situation. When you buy a product from a supplier in China, do you have to decide who they ship it to you with once it reaches the U.S.? Do you have to decide between fed ex and others before you order? I’m confused how that process works.

    Reply
    1. Oh, and I’ve just been really focused on learning all of this. I got right to the point in my question above, I forgot to say thanks for explaining all of this. You are definitely helping a ton of people for free. Thanks for everything!

      Reply
      1. No problem :)

        Reply
    2. Hi Shane,

      I believe he started by private label manufacturing existing products, and then eventually branching out into working with the manufacturer to create new product (and now even new product lines). He’s actually in China now meeting with his supplier!

      For smaller orders, you can get your supplier to ship via UPS/FedEx/DHL/etc. Every supplier will have different preferences, but they’ve all dealt with shipping product through those services! Once you start importing containers full of products, it begins to get a little tougher. But, until then, it’s not too bad.

      Reply
  141. thanks for guidness

    Reply
    1. No problem, hope it helped!

      Reply
  142. Mitch one more question mate, Can one sell items for example keychains etc. with the basketball player michael jordan on it ? How about a brand printed on those keychains ? Is this illegal ?

    Reply
    1. You can sell them, but the owners of those trademarks may eventually sue you for it :)

      Reply
      1. Great article. I live in swedan and would really like to start business. to Import products from Asia. But still searching , which product i can import and sell in europe with good margin??
        Any help

        Reply
        1. Thanks Rocky, glad to hear you liked it. There are tons of items you could import. Without doubt, most of the things you use were imported :)

          I couldn’t help you with finding a product for you to sell though, apart from this article – http://www.startupbros.com/step-by-step-guide-on-how-to-find-a-profitable-product-to-sell/

          That article has everything I know about finding a great product to import!

          Hope this helps,
          Will

          Reply
  143. But I see so many people that sell these here in the US ??

    Reply
    1. TheBusiness

      People sell drugs a lot too. But I can guarantee that is illegal lol. Of course it’s illegal to sell Michael Jordan memorabilia. Why do you think businesses like Nike have paid Jordan so many millions if it was just free to use his image?

      Thanks for the response Will. I think I’m really going to get into this. If for nothing other than to learn about all that is available on the internet. Hopefully one day I’ll be working full time for myself.

      Reply
      1. Glad to hear you’re getting into it Shane, and thanks for the help! You’ll get there before you know it :)

        Reply
    2. I’m not 100% sure how it works, but they either have the right to sell those items or are doing so illegally. I’m not even sure illegal is the right word, as I don’t think there are many criminal liabilities, just civil. In either case though, I’d advise against it :)

      Reply
  144. great article helped me alot on understanding how to do it…
    as soon as finished with exams ill go for it
    and hopefully nail it
    Regards

    Reply
    1. Glad I could help Umair! Good move not cluttering your priorities though. Hope you find success once you get the chance to try it out – keep me updated!

      Reply
  145. Thnks alot.. great article.. !!
    I am trying to find a supplier.. No one is ready for paypal payment.. what to do ? :(

    Reply
    1. Thanks for reading Kiran, glad you liked it! In some niches, nobody will take PayPal. But most of the time, if they refuse PayPal and Escrow, then they aren’t the supplier you want to deal with when importing products from China!

      Hope this helps…

      Reply
    2. Hi Kiran,

      What you want to import from china . I have a indian friend who lived in china for 15 years and doing this business. Let me now if u need his help??

      Reply
      1. Yes i want to import memory cards. I really need some help and i wil be happy if u do!! Thanks a lot :)

        Reply
        1. Hello kiran Tej,

          Can you send me you email id .. if will send you detail over there??

          Reply
          1. Great to see you guys connecting and helping each other out – keep it up! :)

            Reply
  146. hey mate i was just going through alibaba i wux thinkin of earpods(iphone 5 headphones) what do you think will it be a gud idea to start from it as i am a student and dont have much capital in hand.what do you think will it be a good idea

    regards

    Reply
    1. Hi Umair,

      I couldn’t tell you if it’s a good idea or a bad idea, that would take an incredible amount of research and knowing on my part! Hopefully my follow-up article to this post can help you – Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find A Profitable Product To Sell

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  147. Hello Will,

    Thank you for the awesome tutorial. I have been following your steps and the process is going smoothly.

    I did however have a question in regards to samples and shipping. I am currently trying to get two suppliers to send me samples, but what, in your opinion is the most cost-effective way of getting the samples shipped.

    e.g.(Use a UPS/FED EX account)?
    Payment use card ****’s?

    Warmest regards,

    CMCM

    Reply
    1. Hi CMCM,

      No problem, very glad to hear you can progress through smoothly! Maybe my writing isn’t as bad as I thought :)

      Most of the time, you’ll just pay your supplier to ship a sample out to you. It typically costs $30-40 for small items.

      I go into shipping in-depth in my follow up article to this, you might want to check that out for more information.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hey Will,

        Thank you and your correct, I got a sample for $35.

        I will look into your article today.

        Thank you for the support,

        CMCM

        Reply
        1. Hey CMCM, thanks for confirming my suspicion :)

          Hope the samples turn out great, keep me updated!

          Have a good weekend,
          Will

          Reply
  148. I noticed that you said to not use anything other than paypal in the six months. What are your thoughts on paying with the escrow service?

    Reply
    1. Escrow is fine. As long as you have third-party financial protection!

      Reply
  149. I noticed that you said to not use anything other than paypal in the six months. What are your thoughts on paying with the escrow service?

    Reply
    1. Escrow is fine, just make sure you have third party financial protection!

      Reply
  150. Great article, really informative, many thanks.
    Was thinking about starting something like this to supplement my crappy day job!

    Reply
    1. No problem Steve, thanks for commenting.

      Importing products from China makes for a great side business! Once you get started, it’s easy to scale it as large or as small as you want. It takes some time to get there, but once you find a product it gets much easier.

      Reply
  151. thank you ! Am alot less in the wrong direction now…I think

    Reply
    1. No problem Ree, glad to help!

      Reply
  152. hey man just wondering how lengthy and difficult the actual shipping container process and arrangement is? Is it a costly and risky exercise? Am i better off sticking to smaller items and air shipping? Great article by the way!

    Reply
    1. Hey Ryan,

      It’s not too difficult or risky. Your risk will be in the inventory you hold, not shipping it. It will be much harder to sell a container’s worth of product than to get it shipped to you. I’ve never shipped in containers, just because I haven’t had any reason to. I would suggest starting small, and only buying a container when you’re forced to because you’re getting so many orders :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. oh awesome! Personally i was hoping of just working with air freight as it’s so much easier and cheaper to bring product into Australia that way. Also thanks heaps for replying so quickly, legend man!

        Reply
        1. Yea, if you’re in Australia that will be a quick, easy shipment for you! China and Australia have been cozying up lately, so you’re in a good spot for this importing strategy!

          Reply
  153. Will I have a questions why do you say phone cases arent a good profit, if in reality you sell it for like 7 times more than what it costs you when you buy from alibaba ?

    Reply
    1. Phone cases may sell well for all I know, but I’ve never tried with them. I’ve seen a LOT of people rush into the importing game and buy WAY too many phone cases, so I’m reluctant to advise anybody to at this point.

      Phone cases live and die by the fad of the month. It’s really easy to end up with 500 cases that don’t sell. Or worse, you sell 500 cases, buy 2000 more, and sell 100 before the fad dies out. I’ve seen this happen many times.

      So, while I might be wrong, and I’d love to be proven wrong; I’ve always avoided importing phone cases from China.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  154. Excellent article, I am looking forward to follow your advice

    Reply
    1. Thanks Pedro, I appreciate it!

      Reply
    2. Awesome to hear Pedro, glad I could help!

      Reply
  155. Hi

    Thank you for your experiences, you have given me the courage to try and import. One question how do you get your goods from the ports and is there any fee?

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. No problem Tracey, congrats on taking action and good luck to you!

      You probably won’t need to deal with that for small orders, you’ll only need to work that out if shipping your products via Sea Freight. If this was the case, you’d need to hire a rigging company to deliver your container from the port to your warehouse.

      If you’re making smaller orders, you’ll just be dealing with UPS/FedEx/DHL to ship things for the time being.

      Hope this answers your questions,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Thank you for your reply. I have been quoted a price delivered to a port at Felixstowe in the UK. Would I be able to collect myself?

        I appreciate your help

        Reply
        1. Hi Tracey,

          I couldn’t tell you how that would work in that specific port (or in the UK). Most of the time, you’ll only be shipping to ports like this with large orders (multiple pallets). In that case, you’d hire a rigging company to take your container from the port to your warehouse, at which point you’d need to unload it.

          For small scale importing, you won’t have to deal with this much, if at all. Your supplier can help, and most things will be done via UPS/DHL/FedEx/etc.

          Hope this helps,
          Will

          Reply
  156. UPDATE: THANK YOU. THANK YOU. WILL MITCHELL. YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE ME A MILLIONAIRE SOME DAY. THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES. A while ago i asked for your advice if i should make big purchase importing clothes. I made the purchase and have not looked back!!! I am a bonafide importer/wholesaler now. Last month, i generated sales over $85,000 USD. BUT I AM NOT IMPORTING FROM CHINA. COMPANIES ARE FLEEING CHINA BECAUSE OF HIGH COST. They are going to South East Asia. Guys, i am importing and making a killing by importing from south east asia. Prices are a whole lot cheaper. You will have a difficult time beating china sellers on amazon/ebay and anywhere else. Think about it, You can not buy from them and than try to sell on ebay/amazon when they are selling it themselves. BUT you can beat their price if you get cheaper from somewhere else. And that place is right now in South Asia. I would like to offer my service as a importer/wholesaler.
    If anyone wants, you can order directly through me and pick up from my warehouse in NYC. No need to worry about scams or dealing with people in other countries. I did the hard work already. Will, May i have your permission to offer my service. I am importing mainly garments/clothes such as tops, jeans, denim, shorts etc. and few other things. I can get mostly anything that china sellers are selling on ebay/amazon a whole lot cheaper. Will, Thank you again. You have no idea how much your article changed my life. EXPECT A BIG DONATION SOON!!

    Reply
    1. Hey Joe,

      $85k in just a few months?! You’re a machine! Looks like I’m going to be taking lessons from you soon :)

      Thank you my friend, this is the best feedback I’ve ever gotten! Awesome to hear you’re killing it, and it doesn’t sound like you’re planning on stopping any time soon!

      Great insight there on Chinese businesses dealing with high costs, I had no idea. I have seen much more action in Indonesia/Taiwan/Thailand/Vietnam area though, good to know what the reason behind the trend is. Very valuable information for new importers, like you were only a few months ago!

      You may have opened up a whole new area for people to look into as well. I usually tell peope to try to avoid importing products that are being sold on eBay/Amazon by Chinese suppliers. But, maybe even those suppliers can be undercut with your method. Thanks for the perspective.

      For sure, offer away! I’ll be sending you a congratulatory email here later today as well :)

      I can’t tell you how motivating it is for me to know this article could help you Joe! Just looking at your comments from Feburary and March of this year, it’s really hard to believe you’re an importing pro now! It just goes to show you how quickly you can change your life for the better, all it takes it some action :)

      Seriously though Joe, I can’t stress this enough – YOU’RE A FREAKIN ROCKSTAR – keep killing it man!

      You da’ man!
      Will

      Reply
    2. Hi Joe,

      How are you selling these garments? Through ebay and amazon? I’m from south-east asia, and I’ve seen how low those prices can get :) Congrats for finding an excellent source of merchandise. I’m currently based in Australia, and hope to start a business too. I would love it if you gave some pointers on how you started selling :)

      To Will:

      Thanks so much for your article! It’s the most comprehensive and detailed guide I’ve come across so far. I’m already taking the first step and getting some samples in. Hopefully it works out. If it does, you’ll be helping another student! :)

      Reply
      1. No problem Juliana, glad you liked it! Awesome to hear you’re already getting samples in. Sounds like you’re well positioned to make this successful for yourself, good luck!

        Reply
    3. I’m curious, Joe. Where did you source your suppliers from? Congrats on the success!

      Best,
      Tom

      Reply
      1. I don’t think Jim is responding the everything anymore, but I am planning on doing a Q&A webinar with him soon! If you get our emails, you’ll see it for sure :)

        Reply
    4. Hi Joe,
      Just curious about your merchandise like tops, jeans, denim, shorts etc? Feel free to email me back. I live in California. Thanks’

      Kevin

      Reply
      1. See my above comment Kevin – I’ll be doing a Q&A with Jim soon!

        Reply
  157. Hi Will, I have just purchased some vitamin supplements from China which I intend to sell on eBay. This product is marketed by a Canadian company and there are a number of distributors selling their product on eBay. I contacted then to get a wholesale price and they replied with a price of $22/bottle compared to the $7.20 which I paid. I am sure that they are also importing their product from China. Anyway, am I in violation of any laws if I sell the products I purchased on eBay. They are my products.

    Reply
    1. Hi Tarik,

      I’m not really sure, there’s no way to know without looking into the companies that own the brands you’re referring to. I would be very careful though. Like I said in the article, I try to stay away from anything you consume due to regulations. On top of that, it sounds like the company could easily come after you. But again, it’s going to take a time investment to figure those things out, as it’s very case-by-case.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  158. Business owners who purely want to get into the import / export business and those who already have an established business can both benefit by learning how to import from China, although for different reasons.

    Of course the advantage for China import / export businesses is obvious. This is true for entrepreneurs who have an established offline or online business and even for start-ups. You’ll make money by moving goods around the globe, taking them from an area where they are cheap to buy or produce to an area where they could be sold for a profit

    Reply
    1. Thanks for the input Jonah…

      Reply
  159. Hi Will and thank you for all the good work you have put on this flag. Here is my dilemma. I found a product that I would like to sell on amazon and ebay which I thought had a niche. I searched alibaba for suppliers and I found a few. The unit price was in between $1 to $2.09. I searched on amazon and WOW the same product was selling for $9 and up. So I though this is great. But then I checked ebay and I found sellers from China that they were selling the same product for $2 to $5 some of them including shipping. Have you come across something like that before? The difference is substantial, who will buy from the Amazon sellers, everyone will go to ebay…

    Reply
    1. No problem George, glad to help.

      It’s increasingly common to see Chinese suppliers selling on eBay. Some people, like Joe expained above, have found ways to turn this into an opportunity. Others avoid it. But you definitely don’t want to compete with your supplier. You can try if you want, but there are surely better opportunities out there. I’d keep looking.

      Hope ths helps,
      Will

      Reply
  160. I loved the article i am on my way on getting into this business but i have a few questions…

    1. Is dhgate.com a good source to find suppliers?
    2. I noticed that you said electronics wouldn’t be good because it’s hard to compete with other sites and sellers (so therefore buying and selling apple accessories wouldn’t be a good way to start out?)
    3. Please give me some ideas on what to buy and sell that are good sellers i am looking in mostly electronics.

    Reply
    1. Hi Noel,

      Awesome to hear you’re getting started imported products from overseas – good luck to you!

      DHGate is decent, but I’ve never used them. I’ve heard decent things and bad things, never anything good. The hard truth is most suppliers aren’t going to be on there. The people on there have built a business around it, they are DHGate suppliers, more than actual factories. The majority of suppliers aren’t even on Alibaba, let alone the more fringe sites like World Wide Brands or DHGate or Doba. Your supplier is your main competitive advantage at the early stage of this business, so looking through lists of suppliers that everybody else uses might be a waste of time… Of course, I haven’t used the site, so I could have it all wrong :)

      I’ve heard of people making good money with iPhone accessories. It really depends what it is, of course iPhone cases aren’t electronics. But, they can still be tough, because it is tied to the electronics market. It’s just a very fast moving market, it’s inherently riskier and easier to get stuck with dead inventory.

      I couldn’t give any product ideas, that would take me many, many hours of research :)

      And again, even then you can’t be sure. Business is risky. If you follow my method of sample testing, you can minimize that risk, but it’s always risky – it’s business.

      If you have a LOT of trouble with finding products, check out Terapeak. It’s eBay’s data analytics tool, it makes initial product research much easier.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  161. Hi Mitch,
    Your article is really interesting and yah, it actually help me a lot. I have thought of importing something to sell but i wonder if i need to pay any taxes for the oversea shipment? I’m still staying in U.S and looking for something that is possible for me to make good money. Please help.
    Thank you :)

    Reply
    1. Hi Gigi,

      Glad to hear you liked the article. If you’re in the United States, you’ll have to pay all the taxes you’re familiar with. There may be some other duties and fees for importing specific products, but your supplier and shipping courier will help you with that more than I can!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  162. Hi Will,

    I have started to look at some products on Alibaba and cross referencing the completed listings on eBay.

    I have found a merecedes branded USB key, that I can buy for $1-2 and sell for £8-10.

    I have a couple of questions.

    1) How do I know if this product is licensed by Mercedes and not counterfiet.
    2) Most of the completed listings show as being sold by a Chinese ebay account, call be suspicious, but i am concerned that they could be advertising and purchasing there own products on eBay (just owing eBay the sales commission) to fake demand? Do you have any view/experiance of this, or have you always found the completed listings to be an acurate indication of demand?

    Thanks for a great article and I look forward tpo you reply :)

    Reply
    1. Hi Barry,

      Good to hear you’re taking action – keep at it!

      Sounds like there is a great profit margin on that, but you’re right to worry about the Mercedes-Benz logo. They will probably go after you for it eventually. Chinese factories generally don’t have the rights to use any of these trademarks, and whoever imports them into the country is subject to the laws (not the producer).

      Many suppliers of very generic items will sell on eBay themselves these days. The only thing to do is avoid it. The sold listings have always been a reliable indicator of demand for me, but there’s no reason for the factory to list and buy their own items. If they are selling on eBay, perhaps they do have permission from Mercedes-Benz. But I believe you would still need to get permission separately if you wanted to import them.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  163. Hi there, I felt like I just found a gold mine after reading this article, thanks for posting it. My question is, (might be a common sense for others), when you place an order on alibaba.com, is the shipping generally free or do they charge you on top? Do you have to arrange to pick up goods at all or the sellers generally sort it out for you? Thanks a bunch.

    Reply
    1. Glad to hear you found value in this article!

      I cover shipping pretty in-depth in the follow up to this article – check it out!

      Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find A Profitable Product To Sell

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  164. Thanks mate, loved it , lots of helpful little tips there for anyone prepared to give it a go.I do all the time but just haven’t cracked the right one yet,But will give it ago once again.Thanks again going to go and use some of your tips to give it a blast right now.
    Wish there were more people out there willing to help.
    Kind Regards Todd Poynter

    Reply
    1. Glad to hear you liked it Todd! Hope it can help you on your journey :)

      Let me know how it goes!

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  165. Hello Will
    Just read your post . Thanks for sharing your valuable experience.I am Amit from India and I am in the field of dentistry.I am a dental technician having my own dental lab.I want to start the dental material trading business.I did some research and came across alibaba.com.There I found that the cost of the product is okay but thecost of the sshipping is more than double the cost of the product(I enquire for only a single piece just to check out).My question to you is how to find the cheapest mean of transportation? Also would you advice me to go to china first and see the stuff before purchasing? I can visit china.
    Please guide me as to how should I make my first move..I am anxiously awaiting for your valuable guidance.
    Thanks and Regards
    Amit

    Reply
    1. Hi Amit,

      Awesome to hear the post could help inspire! Sounds like you’re on to something…

      It’s very typical for sample orders to cost much more than the product itself. If you read through my follow-up post to this article, I go into deep detail on that – http://www.startupbros.com/how-you-can-make-big-money-importing-from-china-the-rise-and-fall-of-my-empire/

      I don’t think it’s necessary to visit China in this early stage, but when you are looking to scale up a winning product you’re already importing, I would recommend it then.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  166. Certainly these tips would be helpful in entering the global market. Hoping I will succeed in my importing business too. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. No problem, good luck! :)

      Reply
  167. Dear Will,

    My name is Gabe and I’m 13. I would love to start this bussiness you did when you were my age. How should I go about advertising, what do I do with used samples, his airsoft import/export legal (does it come out of china yet)? Thanks fo rthe help

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that Gabe, it’s never too early to start taking action!

      I’m not sure if you’ve seen this yet, but my follow-up article to this post covers most of your questions – http://www.startupbros.com/step-by-step-guide-on-how-to-find-a-profitable-product-to-sell/

      Let me know if that doesn’t help!
      Will

      Reply
      1. Thanks a lot I started and it helped immensely. I think you are a very cool dude and was hoping I could get your email for more in depth. Thanks so much :)

        -gabe

        Reply
        1. Awesome to hear you’re up and running Gabe! Sounds like you’re pretty cool as well 8-)

          Good luck in the importing business,
          Will

          Reply
  168. Hi Will,

    I’ve got a quote from China and most of them have stated the price without tax. I have no idea about taxation in their country. How does one ascertain that the tax if they charge is authentic and that I am not taken for a ride.

    Regards,
    Huseini

    Reply
    1. Hi Huseini,

      I’m not 100% sure how local taxes work in China, but you probably won’t need to worry about it. Any taxes they need to collect will be collected, and any taxes you need to pay you’ll pay at customs. I’ve never seen anybody get in trouble operating that way, but it may be worth some deeper research. As I said, I’m not 100% sure on that.

      I would be highly skeptical of any increases in price. Most suppliers won’t even try to pull that sort of thing on you, as it’s very bad business practice. 90% of the time I get quoted from an overseas supplier, they include all of their costs in the cost per unit. I’ve very rarely seen people tack on extra fees after the fact. It’s very, very bad practice.

      Chinese (specifically) suppliers have a bunch of taxes that they need to pay to get the final product produced. You shouldn’t have any extra taxes if you’re exporting (only customs duties).

      You said they aren’t charging you any taxes though, so it doesn’t look too dangerous this time :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  169. hi if you want to purchase a large item for your home can it be delivered to home address rather than shipping yard.
    thanks

    Reply
    1. Damn straight! :) Thanks for the help

      Reply
  170. Hi Will,

    I have gone through a lot of articles which talk about importing and exporting in the last one year while doing my research and I have to say, This is “The best article out there”. You have explained it so precisely and simple.

    I would have saved a lot of time if I had found this article earlier.

    Regards,

    Mark

    Reply
    1. Hi Mark,

      Awesome to hear that, thanks for letting me know! I would love to hear if you think I missed anything :)

      Thanks again,
      Will

      Reply
  171. Hello could you please email me i have a couple of questions for you thanks

    Reply
    1. Feel free to email me your questions or post them here Amanda! Just reply to one of the emails you get from us :)

      Reply
  172. Hey,

    Would you mind emailing me at gabrielkahane1@gmail.com I have some questions.

    All the best,
    Gabriel

    Reply
    1. Email me any time Gabriel, just reply to one of our emails :)

      Reply
  173. Hi, Will

    Thank you for sharing with your experience! I loved it. Got one question: does Alibaba have only ready products? If I would like to create a product myself ( find a company in china that can make a product that I want to create) Do you know anything about that?
    Thank you again :)
    Guile

    Reply
    1. No problem Guile, glad you liked it! You can definitely contact suppliers through Alibaba for custom manufacturing work. I’ve never done it, so I couldn’t give a step by step, but it’s not too tough. Just start messaging suppliers that manufacture similar products and tell them what you want to do. They will probably point you in a better direction than I can :-D

      Note – if you have a REALLY unique product that would surely get counterfeited once you hand over the schematics, then you need to approach this a different way. But most of the time, you won’t need to worry about this too much in the early stages.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  174. Great article Will and I feel inspired. I am thinking of doing it the other way round to you though e.g. finding a product in UK and selling online in China (I live and work in China). I have dealt with Alibaba in my line of work and also know of online sites in China equivalent to ebay etc. Not sure what product would sell in a country of fakery but I believe there is a product that is not available in China and if found popular could be very healthy :) Thanks for this

    Reply
    1. Great idea Wes, I’d love to see how it turns out! The Chinese and Asian markets in general have more disposable income than ever before. I’ve heard prices are on the way up for Chinese consumers specifically, so it could be a gold mine there! Be sure to let me know :-D

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  175. Hi,

    Great article. it has been very motivational.Would you kindly link me with Joe Rosen for business purposes.

    thanx,

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Tyne! Just send me an email and I’ll send you Joe’s info :)

      Reply
  176. Hello again Will :D I am coming with fresh Tips about the importing and customs tax, for EU people.

    Ok so your country is part of the European Union and you want to import stuff from China/Japan. Here are a few Tips & Tricks + Info about the taxes you will have to pay and how you can bypass the customs taxes (for a while)…

    Importing from a country which is outside EU (in this case China and Japan) means that you will have to pay customs taxes and VAT. This is available for every EU country and the taxes may be all the same.

    Importing using the Free Shipping will come through the Border/Customs Postal Service and the followings are:

    For personal use
    ———————–

    Non Paying Customs Taxes:
    - for products in less than 10Euro

    Paying Customs Taxes + VAT:
    - for products in more than 11Euro

    For comercial use:
    ————————

    Non Paying Customs Taxes:
    -for products in less than 150Euro

    Paying Customs taxes + VAT:
    - for products in more than 150Euro

    Importing using a fast courier will cost the additional cost of the courier: EMS, UPS, Fedex but will arrive in 7 Days instead of 25Days as Free Shipping.

    For people who want to import for personal use, DO NOT import more that 6-7 products per piece. The Customs doesnt allow you to make “business” using their service as for personal use ! Trying this 2-3 times will Blacklist your name and your order will not be delivered to your home and also, confiscated. Also if you import less than 6 pieces, dont tell them that these are for sale.

    You can make imports in more than 20,30,50,100+ pieces and so on, only if you are registered as Self Employed and pay taxes to the country. In this case you can order above 150Euro and no one will look strange at you, if you provide the papers.

    If you order for personal use and want to bypass the 11Euro tax, when you order 5-6 pices, make sure that you talk with the supplier and ask him to send in different packages and different days, so every pack will worth below 11Euro. If you order 6 pieces and all come in one package the total will excess the 11Euro limit and yo uwill pay VAT+ Customs Taxes. For me this is a rip off, as the VAT is 24%.

    Keep in mind these Tips and Infos and if you have any questions, please ask here.

    Happy importings :)

    Reply
    1. Awesome, thanks for the help Silvero! That’s a whole lot of helpful information. People in the EU are constantly asking me about these things, but I never know what to tell them. Now I have somewhere to send them :-D

      Thanks again Silvero, and hope you’re still doing well with the imports :)

      Reply
      1. You are welcome Will :D

        Reply
  177. hi will, really wanna thank you for your great article, its like a ticket for a big business. i would like to tell ma story short. Before 2 months when i was searching online a digital tshirt printer for my friend,i was landed up in alibaba.com thats the start of the spark.when i was surfing that site the idea came into my mind was buying quality products from alibaba and selling it on ebay and amazon for a profit.so i planned to publish a website and did all stuffs needed for that. i finished ma website and its live now. As currently my financial situation is quite low i couldnt do business on alibaba,so at initial i planned to work as an affiliate for amazon and other websites and make some money and to start over my business. when i searched for products & reviews to promote i landed in your page. when i read the post i was really surprised and very much happy to see you already run this business successful. I had a 0.5% of fear whether this business would be a success or not, but seeing your article that fear have gone. And this is not just an article it is your experience, so i got an idea about the Do’s & Dont’s. very very helpfull and i really dont have words to express how much am happy on your success.Keep it going well.

    cheers..

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear you liked it Shankar, hope you can redeem that big business ticket :-D

      Awesome story as well, good to hear you’re already getting started! It’s not a bad idea at all to sell Amazon products until you have the money to get started importing, but I wouldn’t make affiliate sales my end goal. It’s a good stepping stone, and it seems like you recognize that :)

      Hope the rest of your journey goes well, keep me updated!

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  178. Hi Will ,
    what a great article !

    Need you advice, I ordered 10 bedding sets from aliexpress which a totally terrible ( wrong size and color) , seller doesn’t want to return my money, I opened a dispute , seller declined it. What can I do next? Is there any customer service I can call?

    Reply
    1. Hi Hamlet,

      Glad to hear you liked the article, but sad to hear your first order was a dud! Thank God you ordered samples first – it could have been much worse! I wouldn’t be too upset by this small setback…

      If you paid via PayPal or Escrow, you should be able to get your money back. With PayPal, it’s as simple as a few clicks. With Escrow, it’s a little different, but not much more difficult.

      You mentioned that they already have the money, so that worries me. How did you give them money? With Alibaba Escrow, I believe the money stays with Alibaba until you approve the merchandise.

      Let me know,
      Will

      Reply
  179. I’m REALLY glad that I came across your blog because you may have changed my life with it! I’ve been thinking about starting an online boutique ordering clothes from aliexpress and setting up a shop on bigcartel.com and sell them from there like a lot of other people I see on Instagram. I’m glad you gave pretty good detailed tips of Do’s & Dont’s as well! I actually grabbed a pin and pencil and actually took notes from you! Hopefully I will be able to start soon, I’m planning on starting off small, see where it goes, and increase a little bit and keep it steady from there! (Just like you said…. well sorta… lol) Thank you! Thank you! thank you for the inspiration!

    Reply
    1. I’m really glad you stopped by too Akia! :)

      That’s actually a really good idea about Instagram, I didn’t think of that! That’s exactly the type of thinking you need to be successful in importing. I’m sure you’ll do great if you keep up that out-of-the-box thinking. You’re right to start off small and see where it goes. Don’t get greedy and use your first couple products as a learning experience. You’ll be profitable in no time :)

      Keep us updated and let us know how it goes!

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  180. Dear Will,

    I am about to order 100 singing bird clocks that tweet on the hour. It’s a dream supplier. Is this a good product? And the supplier said he will help me through customs so not to worry about tax, what does that mean?

    Gabriel

    Reply
    1. Hi Gabriel,

      Sounds like it could be a decent product, but you should know that before you buy it! Long before you buy it, in fact. If you’re buying 100 of them, did you already buy and sell some samples? What did those samples sell at? How quickly did they sell? How did the end user like them? How did they work after 2 months of daily use? Those are all questions I would like to have answered before buying 100 of anything. So I would work on that first.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  181. Will,

    Great article. I have been looking for an opportunity to start a business and start somewhere to be my own boss. I found your article today and it sounded great.
    Many of my questions were answered. I started a seller account on Ebay a week ago , trying to throw some stuff on this site to help myself understand it better.

    I am interested in importing stuff from China and sell them online. Help me out with this question in my mind:
    I live in TX by the way.
    1. I know there will be fees that i have to pay for customs, what is the procedure on that, how do you pay them?
    2. Do i need any license to import goods from China?
    3. Do i need a license to sell stuff online, as this will considered a business.
    4. Do i have to pay income taxes once i start making money on this business?

    I know that is too many questions, but i see you are replying to everyone.

    I appreciate it.

    Shafi

    Reply
    1. Thanks Shafi, glad you liked it! Importing is a great side-business to transition into being your own boss, but it’s not easy…

      Great move throwing some items on eBay, this will help you understand the process and build up some positive feedback.

      Customs and taxes are usually paid to your supplier or shipping courier in my experience. Usually, the shipping courier is the one dealing with customs. It’s typically very straight forward, but I would always look into any other taxes you may have to pay in your specific situation.

      I don’t believe Texas will require you to register a business or collect sales tax (outside of Texas). But, if you find a product that works, and you start making a decent, consistent profit – then register the business and get your resale license or whatever. It will be worth it at that point.

      Yes, you’ll have to pay income taxes on any profit. That’s why it’s only worth it to register it as a business after it’s making money. There’s no real benefit to an LLC or Corp when you’re still looking for products to sell. Once you’re selling products, then build up the business structure around it. That’s just how I do it, but I believe if you ask a lawyer they would suggest against it.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  182. Dear will,

    What’s freight forwarding because the company said I won’t have to pay tax because of it. Also is a 30 usd shipping fee to good to be true for 100 pieces?

    Reply
    1. Hi Gabe,

      Freight forwarding is a company that basically organizes your shipments from your factory and manages the actual shipments. They can be useful, but generally not for small orders. Honestly, I haven’t dealt with them much, so I can’t help a whole lot there. I’m working on researching that for the importing course I’m working on.

      $30 could be good or bad, it depends on what those items are, how much they weigh, the dimensions, shipping time and method, etc.

      Hope that answers your question,
      Will

      Reply
  183. Hey Will,

    I’ve contacted some suppliers and have whittled it down to 1-3 for different goods that are related. 1 supplier has a product that costs 403.2$ total but costs 240$ to ship it via DHL.. Working with these kind of shipping rates it doesn’t make much since to me. I would still make a profit but it would be smaller and riskier with shipping rates this high. Also the product is small and light.

    Reply
    1. Hey Brenton,

      That is a pretty crazy shipping rate for a small and light item, it makes me wonder why it costs so much. You could probably get that cost down. But anyways, you’re expecting to lose money on sample items. If you make money on them, it’s an extra cherry on top. It’s many times cheaper per unit to ship in bulk, but you need to know your product is going to work before you start doing that.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  184. Good Day Will,

    Just completed the read and love the story. It is a very accurate depicition of supplier interaction and best measures to take when approaching them. Personally I find myself on the other end of your equation. I am building an exporting business out of China which is why your points resonate so closely to what I’m doing. It is because of the opportunity to improve the supplier relationships with buyers around the world that I’m here digging into my own nich industry and marketing it to the world. Needless to say, if you are ever sourcing within the bamboo industry and are looking for a partner, look me up. Best to you and thanks for the read.

    Rupert

    Reply
    1. Hi Rupert,

      Awesome to hear from an exporter working on the other side of the equation. I would love to hear what you can add to the article or what you think I missed, I’m sure you know some things I don’t! Good luck to you on your business, I’d love to hear updates about how it’s going as time goes on. Maybe I can help connect you with some importers at some point :)

      Will

      Reply
  185. Will,

    Thanks for telling your story. Where did you store all of your products/air-soft guns before you started drop shipping? Were they stored in your home or at a warehouse? Also, how do you sell multiples of the same item on eBay, amazon, and Craigslist? Thanks so much for your time.

    Reply
    1. No problem Curtis, glad it could help! I stored all of my products in my parent’s garage and my room, which worked for the amounts I had. If I kept growing though, I would have needed to move out of there into a cheap warehouse. Luckily, you won’t need to get a warehouse until you’re making the money to afford one. eBay and Amazon have built in systems to sell multiple quantities of an item, Craigslist I believe you’ll just have to manage yourself…

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  186. Will,

    I enjoyed reading your story. Two questions: 1. Where did you store your products 2. How do you sell multiples of the same item on eBay, amazon and Craigslist. Thanks for your time.

    Reply
    1. Glad you enjoyed the article Curtis!

      I stored my products in my house originally, and eventually started dropshipping. I actually still have some products in my garage that I never sold :)

      It’s not too expensive to get a little bit of warehouse space, or a storage unit, or even pay a friend to use some spare room. If you get to the point you need to do that, you should be making enough to cover it anyways.

      You can sell multiples of the same product, I think that’s probably the right approach :)

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  187. My name is Dave and I want to start online importation and I don’t know to start besides I live in Nigeria so how do I go about it we don’t ebay and amazon even craiglist too so what do I do?

    Reply
    1. Sounds like you need to figure out how to sell your products Dave! I’m not sure how, but always make sure you have a buyer ready to go before purchasing a product.

      Reply
  188. Awsome info. Just what people need to get started. Easy to understand and follow, highly recommended. Thanks bros

    Reply
    1. Glad to help Terry, thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  189. Hi Will,
    Awesome article Will . This article is inspiration for me.
    I have some questions .
    1. Is there any way to get low price shipping from china. I checked with DHL and they are asking around $230 for 8 kg box(mobile phone cover). can it be less then this by any other way.
    2. Do we need any company tag to sell items on ebay or flipkart etc.
    3. And when we have product with us how will we deliver it to different location in country after getting order through by online stores for 1 or pieces.
    4. Could you please tell me the steps to sell products on online stores like ebay flipkart etc

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked it Rahul! There are cheaper ways to do it if you buy more, but if you’re only going to ship an 8kg box, then air will probably be best. Eventually you can start shipping containers over the water, but you need to be buying in very large quantities.

      I’m not sure what a company tag is, but if you’re going to be in business in the future then I’d suggest getting the legal structure around your business set up.

      You would want to ship your items the same way you would ship anything domestically. If you’re in the U.S. you’ll be using USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.

      The steps to selling products online would take a bit more than a comment, but it’s the same as selling anything.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,

        My mean by Company Tag is that do i need to register a company on legal basis to sell products on online.

        Will it not be costly to send every item by Fedex to end consumer(buyer of product from online store) location??

        Who will bear the cost of shipping of every piece of item sell on online store, online store or vender ???

        Reply
        1. Like I said, you should register a business when you want to. You don’t have to, you can sell it all from your own personal legal entity as a sole proprietor. But, if you’re going to be in business for the foreseeable future, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t.

          Yes, it’s extremely costly to ship things. That’s the main cost of the business. I haven’t figured out a way around shipping out products to end customers, but let me know if you do :)

          You will bear the cost. As an entrepreneur, assume you bear the cost of everything until you don’t. So, if you don’t want to bear the cost of shipping, then have your customers pay it. If you don’t want to bear taxes, then pass it down to the customer. If you’re worried about liability or legal structure, then file for an LLC. If you want to deliver it by truck yourself rather than ship via FedEx, do that. The buck stops with you, it’s all up to you…

          Hope this helps,
          Will

          Reply
  190. i still cant believe this

    i was almost unconscious to see an iPhone 5 16gb costing just 130$ from china……

    i mean this thing costs 500$ cheapest…and costs between 600-800$ on ebay?????

    is this true i can buy an iPhone 5 from chine for 130$ and sell it on ebay for 500$ and make a profit over 300$ each?????????

    you were talking about bulbs costing 2.5$ selling at 11$ so can i do the same with this iPhone 5?

    Reply
    1. Chinese selling popular brand of mobile phone is not unusual. They sell it at a dirt cheap rate with a slight twist in spell and physical appearance which are not at once noticeable to the discerning eye. I once bought fake one with full knowledge. Because it was cheap my curiosity got better of me. One will notice the difference in software and hardware after sustain use and will realize the compromise made thereof. The Chinese girl selling me the phone confessed that it was fake but insisted that it was still worth the buy. I finally got rid of the phone by giving as gift to my girl friend who was ever so grateful to me.

      Reply
      1. Thanks for the comment Huseini – you said it better than I did :)

        Reply
    2. I come from China, and i can tell you just forget it… If that price were ture, then the phone wouldn’t be true. In China , we usually buy IPhone 5 at aound $800 or even higher to secure the quality of it. Maybe some people can get little lower price via some specail access but the price gap would never be so big. I dare not to image how big the trouble would be if you sell fake IPhone on Ebay…

      Reply
      1. Haha, Cecily is absolutely correct. Sorry Hash!

        Reply
    3. Don’t get too excited Hash :)

      If you noticed in the article, I recommend against any brand name products, and any complex electronics. An iPhone 5 is pretty much the perfect storm relative to that. You could try to buy it, but you’ll most likely be very disappointed.

      I believe I also talked about how I learned that. I tried to buy a sample iPhone (or something), and instead was sent a pair of these ridiculous see-through BAPE shoes. Needless to say, I was disappointed, and never got my iPhone sample. After researching more, I found out that they are usually poorly made, break often, are highly defective, and have a generic Chinese operating system installed. My BAPE’s are worth more than that junk! :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  191. Hey Will,

    This has been great information, I have literally followed all the steps somehow prior to reading this article and look forward to implementing the future ones based on the post. Although now I have hit a brick wall hard! With doing research and hearing about the countless thefts and fraud happening from China now-a-days I’m stuck like Chuck! I talked to some people, some promising the sky so wrote them quick. One group of people actually seem to be promising and I asked them about their clientele in america and they gave me some businesses that are similar to what I am looking at myself. Mistake 1, I sent some money via western union to pay for the shipping of the samples which they first said would be $100, then I said that was too much and I am willing to pay $30 and they all to willingly accepted that. Nonetheless I sent the money and am now waiting on a tracking number for that. I need to know if its ok to also try and have multiple agents bringing in different products,but then I get back to finding that awesome supplier which seems to be impossible! Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that you’re taking action with importing Mohamed, it sounds like you’re really catching on to it :)

      Hope you saw my reply to your other comment, I gave this link that might help you – http://www.startupbros.com/how-to-avoid-scams-middle-men-and-fraud-on-alibaba/

      Like I said, it sounds like you’re catching on to things. If you keep at it, you’ll learn all of this soon enough, and probably not lose a whole lot of money. I wouldn’t hold my breath for the order you paid for over Western Union, but you’ll still probably get something. We’ll see, but either way don’t get too discouraged.

      It’s fine to have multiple samples coming in from multiple places at the same time, if you have the money of course. I’d recommend it if you can do it!

      You’re right to be careful, there are a lot of scammers on Alibaba looking for new people just like you. But, you can beat them no problem ;)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hey will

        So a quick question, have you ever imported in the thousands? I’m wondering about customs, I live in Orlando so it’s probably similar. Do I just pay dhl? Or do I have to deal with customs? Thanks in advance

        Reply
        1. Imported in the thousands of what? Pounds? Dollars? Units? Yuan?

          Things get a little tricky in when you’re shipping containers to Florida, let me know what you mean and I can give you some advice.

          Reply
          1. For now its just through DHL and I meant thousand of items and its also around $1000 in dollars as well. Also I would also like to know about containers too! Especially if I planned on importing them! Thanks!

            Reply
            1. Ah yes, when shipping via DHL it’s very easy. DHL will usually deal with customs and duties for you and charge you. You usually won’t take too bad of a hit from duties and taxes, unless you’re shipping in something like food, drugs, plants, animal byproducts, etc.

              Once you start buying in the thousands, you’re going to want to start looking at containers and sea freight and all that. Since you’re in Florida, it’s even more difficult, as it can be very expensive to get a container here from China. In some cases, you’ll want a consolidation warehouse to break down, store, and ship your items to customers from new the port of LA. Short of that, you’ll need to get the container on a train from LA to FL, which costs around $2-3k last I checked.

              If you get to that point, make sure to send me an email and I can give you some more specific help.

              Hope this helps,
              Will

              Reply
          2. Sweet! I’ll keep that in mind and definitely let you know if it ever gets that big! I really appreciate all that you are doing and I wish you success in all of your ventures. You don’t know how much exactly this is helping me out!

            Reply
            1. That’s awesome to hear Mohamed, thanks for the encouragement! Glad I can help :)

              Good luck to your ventures as well,
              Will

              Reply
  192. cheers for such an insightful article mate, really a nice one.

    cheers!!!

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Vaibhav!

      Reply
  193. Will,

    Your information is very clear and comprehensive and will help most people avoid the pitfalls. But I have a question. On the completed Listings on Ebay the ones in green are the sales, however, if there is no date against them does it mean that although they have sold its not recently and they just sold in the past sometime?

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Steve!

      Like I said in the article, eBay keeps their listing data pretty ambiguous. They have their own in-depth data analytics tool called Terapeak that you might want to look into. That’s where all of that data lives, and they crunch it in amazing ways that makes product research much easier. And they have a free trial! ;)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  194. Hello,

    I find this article very useful. Between, am living in china for quiet a while. I do export various products from china across the globe. If you guys are interested in buying some good quality products with affordable price, please mail me with your inquiry to kevintron@live.com. We provide with high quality service and can clear shipment in an easier and most convenient way. Am ding this on a freelance basis and I do have a good contact with various factories around china. I can provide you with good quotation and can render excellent service. I do co-operate with some Chinese companies and can deliver the product in a more professional and friendly manner.

    Please be cautious about choosing the supplier as there are lot of wholesale websites which offers you a crazy low price.Most of them are fake. Before hand if you want to place the order ensure the company or factory have a proper certificate and can deliver on prompt time with all international quality grading, if you need any assistance or help feel free to mail me.

    kevin
    kevintron@live.com

    Reply
    1. Glad to help Kevin!

      For anybody thinking of emailing Kevin, I don’t know him personally and couldn’t give my own personal guarantee. I will say that having boots on the ground in China can be incredibly valuable, especially when you’ve found a factory and need to negotiate pricing and do quality control.

      Thanks Kevin!

      Reply
  195. Hi Will,

    I unconsciously spend the whole afternoon on this post; it’s so long and so precious. I learn much from it and have a strong willing to share something here as another “the other end of the equation”.

    First I’d like to introduce myself, I come from China and for sure can say we are a factory, well not too big yet though. We have been running our factory by this way for several years, that is selling our goods to exporting company and then they sell to customers worldwide.

    Last year we for the first time planned to sell goods to overseas customers directly. But this plan pended for almost one year out of the thoughts that we would earn more and easier money if we just finish the orders from exporting company like we have been doing for the past year since they have very good quantity for each order.
    The 2 main obstacles in our thoughts were as following: 1. Risk of Overstocking. We need to prepare stock first then are available to sell them in very small quantities. We time and time again refusing small orders requirement under consideration that it would be a trouble to deal with overstocking. 2. Risk of getting cheated. We also learn stories from friends that some Exporting company set up by foreigners suddenly disappeared from China without paying money to factories and it happened all the time.

    Currently upon double comparing the prospect it might have with the risk and effort we might take finally we decided to carry out this small quantities orders plan in practice. We know it would be much more complicated for a factory to deal with small quantity orders than to big one, but it Worthwhile. Meanwhile i believe if there is no quality problem with our products, customers would not maliciously refuse to pay money to PayPal.

    Typing too many English letters makes me a little bit dizzy … but it’s not finished yet.

    I have to say I can’t be more grateful than the moment when I get so many useful Tips for taxes or licence concerns. There have been so many potential home-based customers keeping asking me this questions and I was hoping I can offer more info than “ well you should consult with your lawyer or local institutes “ .

    This is not my first comment on this post, it was given to a IPhone question without even say any hello because I was a little too excited at that moment when I saw Hash having so big misunderstanding for it… So I sincerely sense that trust founds on mutual understanding by dialogue.

    Thank you Will I have subscribed this blog, looking forward to enjoy more!

    Good day!
    Cecily

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Cecily! Always good to hear from the other side of the equation, as you said. Congratulations on your success with your export company so far, keep it up!

      Sounds like you guys have planned out a path to growth, that’s great. It’s interesting to hear why so many readers can’t get low quantity orders filled – do you have any advice for them?

      Yes, the taxes and duties can be quite the issue. I can imagine you’d get a lot of questions on that if you’re trying to deal with low volume clients. Maybe that can be a problem you can solve.

      Thanks again for the help on this and on the iPhone, like I said it’s great to hear an exporter’s opinion.

      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,

        Appreciating your encouragement! i will keep making growth on this path.
        As for advice to get low quantity order achieved, well , it just take both sides more time to find each other, one side need to buy in small quantity, one side is availabe to offer this small quantity. All we have to do is to make more efforts to seek and select.
        As you said Alibaba is a great platform for starting international businness, i have plan to try it in the future. I am doing funny party products, i think it might have a big market around young business starter.

        Cecily

        Reply
        1. Awesome, thanks a lot for the advice Cecily! I think there’s definitely potential in your product, like you said you just need to find the buyers. I’m sure you guys will get it done :)

          Good luck to you and your factory,
          Will

          Reply
  196. Hi Will,
    Your awesome, your like a light to new enterpenours to show and enter into the business world. Your articles are excellent. The way your answering questions and giving soluctions – Nice!

    Here i am with 1 question, i am planning to sell Fastrack Brand watches on ebay as well as website based online store. Fastrack brabk wantches i want to buy from India and sell globally. Do i have legal problems?

    Cheers
    Lakky

    Reply
    1. Thanks for reading and for the support Lakky, I appreciate it! Happy to help…

      If Fastrack is a registered trademarks, then they will come after you where they can. China doesn’t care about American trademarks, but if you sell anywhere Fastrack can sue you they will. It’s usually better to avoid trademarks.

      Hope this helps – and good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  197. Hi Will,

    I am on the track of getting knowledge in importing business. I would like to thank you that you have given us a platform to get answers for our questions in this field.

    My question is:
    Consider i am a seller of mobile phone cover on ebay, flipkart or any online store. I received 5 orders from different states of my country then how am i going to handle the shipping of each order.

    Will i ship all 5 order to flipkart office and they will send to respective buyer at different locations in country.
    OR
    I only need to ship to each buyer.And if this is the case, then shipping 1 mobile cover of cost $4 to 350KM from my place seems costly.How i will save profit.

    Will, that would be great if u tell me with same or any example of SHIPPING products to buyers after getting order(please include sample rates).

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. No problem Rahul, glad to hear you’re on the right track :)

      I’m not sure how Flipkart works specifically, but I can tell you that you’d need to ship your own orders when selling on eBay. Shipping is one of the major costs of importing from overseas and selling products online.

      Good luck finding a new product,
      Will

      Reply
  198. Hi Will,
    Does QUARTZ is registered trademark company (Wrist watches)? if i buy from china and sell it globally, is it problem legally? Thank you very much for your previous advice!

    Cheers
    Lakky

    Reply
    1. The Quartz is only the watch mechanism, not a brand !

      Reply
  199. Thank You Very Much Silvero!

    Reply
    1. You are Welcome dude :)

      Reply
  200. Awesome article dude, cool to hear you going at it from such an early age. I’m 26 now and still studying about to complete my graduate medical studies… I feel like I’ve been stooged :P

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked it Jack – I could barely get through High School, I missed 97 out of 180 days my Senior year. I definitely couldn’t do medical school! :)

      Thanks for commenting,
      Will

      Reply
  201. Hi Will,
    I’ve been reading and re-reading your articles and still I learn new things from it. Your experience inspired me really.
    I have a question regarding a sourcing of supplier. I have tried alibaba and aliexpress already and am happy with it. Now i also wanted to try the website dhgate.com, what i like about this site is that thier registered user/suppliers listed thier product comprehensively like the pricing and MOQ and also the shipping method and many are offering free shipping using dhl or fedex which makes me delighted coz thier pricing are actually less/cheaper than those i’ve found from alibaba for the same product. Now what i am not sure is if it is safe and secure to use the dhgate website. I tried to communicate with those supliers but none replied to me. So am hesitant to place my order. So do you have any advice and information about this site? Your words of opinions and ideas are highly admired.
    Thanks a lot Will!

    Jeim

    Reply
    1. Happy to help you out Jeim, hope you’re successful in your importing venture :)

      I haven’t used DHGate, I’ve never had the need to go anywhere but Alibaba for importing products. I’ve heard a lot more horror stories about DHGate than Alibaba, it seems to attract new people more. I’d guess that it also attracts more scammers for that same reason.

      Any legitimate factory on DHGate will also be on Alibaba and AliExpress, so I don’t really see the need in messing with DHGate. But, I’ve never used it :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  202. Hello Will,

    I’ve learned a ton from your experiences concerning importing and selling products from China. Thank you!

    However, I’d like to know where I can go to read about the legality of storing inventory in my house for packaging and selling online. I live with my Dad and he thinks that storing boxes in the house, and packing material may interfere with codes or some other sort of regulations on the city/state level.

    I appreciate any advice you can offer for my situation. Thanks again for your work on this blog.

    Reply
    1. That’s a good question David! Personally, if some Government goon came and tried to tell me I couldn’t put boxes in my own home, I would fight them to bankruptcy. That’s absolutely offensive to me for that concept to even exist.

      I guess if you live in New York or California, maybe you’ll run into some issues, as those State Governments are out of control. But, they also can’t enforce anything because everything is so ridiculous. Either way I think you’ll be fine until you get up and running.

      By the way, to figure this out you’ll have to call around State and City offices and wait around until somebody seems to know something. And then, you’ll have to trust them, because it will still be your fault if they tell you the wrong information.

      Personally, I don’t wait up for the Government. Rules are made to hold you down, and entrepreneurs are notorious rule breakers. If you can’t convince your Dad that he has the right to put boxes in his home, I guess start calling around…

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  203. Awesome Will!

    Yes I agree, it’s a non issue for me, I could stack that empty room up with merch (lol). I live in Florida, and I think I’ll be alright, for the level of importing/selling I want to do. I’ll convince Dad and get my business started.

    Reply
    1. Oh ya, I’m in Florida and have never had any issues with the State. I’ve had more problems with Federal regulatory goons than FL people. I think you’re fine…

      Reply
  204. Thanks for the great article…..
    I have an engraving business and I am wanting to buy my acrylic kitchen products from china. Is this wise?

    Reply
    1. Hi Tracie,

      I think that’s an awesome idea! You already know what you need and what to look for. Even better, you can send the factories samples of your products, and they can send exact duplicates back, completely up to quality and everything. I would definitely start looking into it, it could increase the margins on your current business and give you a great competitive advantage.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  205. Hi will, quick question will alibaba ship to the uk or just America?

    Reply
    1. Hello, Alibaba ships worldwide so don’t worry about UK.

      Reply
      1. I wish I had a “Like” button on this! Thanks Silvero, you da man!

        Reply
        1. :D

          Reply
          1. Will, thanks for the guide. You should charge for stuff like this!

            Hey Silvero, thanks for the info! Are you by chance from Romania? I’ve got a couple of ideas…. let’s talk :)

            Reply
            1. No problem Schrader, happy I can help! Maybe we’ll charge one day, but not this time :-D

              Reply
  206. awesome article! it was insightful and I totally enjoyed reading it.

    Reply
    1. Glad you enjoyed it Ben!

      Reply
  207. Good article, i have been in the line of sourcing from china for the advertising and event management company i have been working for for three years. its so interesting job doing sourcing from china…..

    this article is going to be of great importance to the people who would like to source products from china….

    thanks dude…..

    Reply
    1. Thanks Alex, glad to hear such positive feedback from somebody as experienced in importing as yourself!

      Reply
  208. Great article! I am very passionate about starting to do this. Firstly I need some direction which I hope you can help me with :

    I am a student so I do not have much capital to work with and am looking to import baby accessories, baby proof stuff. I have been looking on alibaba and found a great supplier, gold member who does free samples.

    Where too now?

    How much capital should I need? This is what I worry about most

    My motives are not to be a millionaire I just merely want to make a good amount of money on the side to fund my creative passion.

    I am in New Zealand so there is not as many people to contend with but on the other hand there is only one website which holds the monopoly on trading (trademe.co.nz)

    I have found a PRODUCT not a niche of products and think I could do well with them (how could I know anyways right?) but am willing to take the risk on these , they are cheap and look good quality.

    I wanted to give you so parameters as to my situation so that I could get some advice from you just incase you seen unforeseeable problems :)

    Thanks a lot!!

    Jamie

    Reply
    1. Thanks Jamie, glad you liked the article!

      I suggest having at least $500 to lose before you start making money in importing. You can usually pull it off with $200, but $500 will give you some breathing room.

      The key to reducing risk is to buy a sample product and sell that to an end-user customer. Then you just wait and see what happens. Obviously the samples should pass your inspection as well, but the customer’s actual using of the product is the ultimate inspection. If it passes that, you know you have a reliable product.

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
    2. Hi Jamie,
      Born and bred KIWI myself so Kiora!
      Just a few things to watch out for. I have been trading in Asia for the past 15 years. Free samples are few and far between as factories could go bust with the requests they get so although they might “give” it to you they will want payment in some way like excessive freight or similar. If you were wall mart asking then im sure a free one would be sent without a moments notice.
      Now, the baby products you have been looking at. Something close to my heart as I invented and have a patent on a device for stopping kids falling from open windows. The thing is there is so much regulation in anything to do with children and sometimes the CE mark is way to general to cover this. Here in Australia its TGA, UK its SGS or similar testing authorities. If you impoirt things that are stopped at customs and they want these certificates and you cant show them you could lose your goods.
      Good luck though mate and although Trademe has a monopoly there is always room for another KIWI trying to make a buck!
      Jim

      Reply
      1. ^^^great advice!

        Reply
  209. Also, it says on your “what product to look for” list that I shouldn’t be going for products that will sell in the $10 – $200 range. Being a student I am unable to go for anything out of this range and it would aquire too much capital. If i’m merely looking for something to sell to make a comfortable amount of money then do I still need to target outside this bracket?

    Thanks again!

    James

    Reply
    1. I actually said to keep it in the $10-200 range, so you’re good :-D

      Reply
  210. Great article Will, if your business grows to where you don’t have the time or space to ship and store your articles couldn’t you use a 3PL? Have your pallet shipped to a warehouse, you forward the orders and they store, pack and ship to your customers? If your volume grows you already have shipping and warehouse space!
    That’s what I do and am always looking for young entrepreneurs with products. The fees are usually per item and storage is a minimal cost. It’s usually 5-7% of your selling cost and you get the advantage of our UPS rates.
    Just thought I’d throw that out there for any interested parties!

    Reply
    1. Great point Simon, you can absolutely use a 3PL (which means third-party logistics, for others). I didn’t mention it in this article, but I am going into deep detail on that in my importing product/course that I’m working on. It’s especially great for importers like me in Florida, because it’s damn expensive to receive shipments here rather than the Port of Los Angeles…

      Congrats on your success using it – I might be emailing you soon with some questions!

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,
        Just to clarify, I AM a 3PL. Any questions you may have I’d be glad to answer. I’m always looking to help any start ups, any business has to start somewhere and young entrepreneurs are the future:-)
        Thanks
        Simon.

        Reply
        1. Awesome Simon! I’ll probably be emailing you soon with questions :)

          Reply
  211. Hey Will.
    Aside from your marketting company startup, it seems like you know of far better opportunities to make money on the side than importing from china. As a novice businessman I would love it if you could give me some more clues as to where such options exist? For instance, if you had $15,000 in capital and wanted to start a business of this type of nature, what would be the market you would taget today and what would your product be?
    Thank you
    James

    Reply
    1. Hey James,

      I think you can pretty much make money at anything if you keep at it long enough. What maters more is how persistent you are and how much of yourself you put into the business. So, I think it’s more important to start a business that is in line with your personality, strengths, and weaknesses.

      For me, I’m having more fun helping other entrepreneurs grow their businesses by giving them a helping hand. I was doing fine with my marketing agency for a while, but I got tired of trading time for money. So I started StartupBros.

      For some people, importing will be the perfect business. Others will avoid it. If you’re drawn towards it, then try it out and see if you like it! If you have $15,000 in capital, then you have more than enough money to find and fund a business you’d enjoy building for the next few years (at least).

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  212. Great Article. I got ripped off to the tune of $4000.00 by a company in China that was able to supply me with company registration docs and pictures of their offices etc. It was all too good to be true.
    That taught me many of the points in this article and inspired me to find a great product, one that ends up in the trash regularly and turns good profits. All of the pitfalls faced by young people trying to have a go at reselling I have hopefully learnt (and i’m not a kid!)

    I now import contact lenses for parties, Halloween and soon will be looking to bring in prescription lenses. I have travelled to China many times and some products like these are made in china but are copies so avoid Chinese copies of products historically made in places such as Korea. I am going to be able to supply resellers as low as 20 pairs each shipment with mixed designs and all certified correctly right down to using FDA approved materials in the process of manufacture. Resellers will double their money on the products which in this era is a pretty good return on your $$$.
    Drop me a line goprosales@gmail.com for more information.
    Regards
    Jim

    Reply
    1. Sorry to hear you got scammed like that Jim, sounds like you ended up with some dedicated scammers. Good to hear you ended up turning that setback into a profitable learning experience. Very cool product, I’d love to hear more about what you’ve had to deal with on the FDA regulations. If somebody emailed me with that product idea, I’d be very scared of the regulations. I guess you’ve figured it out though!

      Congrats on your success,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,
        with regards to FDA its tough in the states as you know and each state have different laws. I am a UK company and sell singularly for the most part to the states. Never had a shipment stopped. Most of the lenses go all over the world. Saying that though my products are made by a company that has been around for many years and have been certified by the Korean FDA, use US FDA approved material, CE, ISO and a few more. I could buy cheap Chinese copies which are all over Alibaba but as a seller I feel I have a duty of care to my customers.
        Have a good one mate!
        Jim

        Reply
        1. Awesome – thanks for the advice Jim! I’ll be sure to add all of this into the importing course I’m working on :)

          Reply
  213. Hi great blog really helpful! I am in the UK and currently looking at importing sports cameras, they are small and light with a good mark up but are within consumer electronics just wondering what you might think.. Any comments or guidance welcomed

    Reply
    1. Hi Daniel,
      A couple of things to watch out for in the UK importing. I do this regularly and you need to watch it.
      Just this week I had a shipment of contact lenses come in. Was only USD940.00 but on top of that I was charged VAT GBP124.00 Duty GBP17.42 and a fee of GBP11.00 . the VAT is no problems because im registered and can claim it back. The duty and the handling fee are a direct hit in the back pocket. I knew these fees so im covered. Just watch out say you buy the camera for 20.00 quid, add shipping then add freight and duty you could be up to 40 quid before you know it.
      The secret is once you like the quality then import several at a time. One shipping fee for many products reduces the cost of shipping for each item right down.
      Good Luck
      Jim

      Reply
      1. Ah, and here’s all the info you need :)

        Thanks for the great info Jim!

        Reply
    2. Glad you liked the article Daniel!

      Since you’re in the UK, you have some tax issues you need to get around. There’s some great comments above on this article related to that, if you search around you’ll find it.

      Then, since you’re doing electronics, you’re going to have some extra quality control issues to deal with. You’ll need to hire an inspector to go in and inspect the order multiple times during production. You’ll need to make sure all the electronic components on the boards are American or Japanese made, because Chinese electronic components just aren’t up the American quality standards. You’ll need to test all the accessories and make sure you don’t have any voltage issues, that’s a very common problem. You’ll also have to go into the operating system and see how that is, because that will play a role in your product.

      These are all reasons I typically avoid electronics. It’s very hard to make money in electronics without very high volume. Products depreciate quickly and are obsolete in under 2 years. On top of that, you need to buy in massive quantities to compete with all the big buyers in that market. And you’ll have to visit China much more frequently with electronics. That’s why I say to avoid them in the article.

      That being said, if you can do all of these things, they will serve as protection from new competition. You can be successful in electronics, but it’s tough.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
    3. Daniel,
      An update on the camera/electronic plan you have in mind.

      I signed up some time ago on a dropshipper network site. The guy has been around for years, sells only genuine stuff and will create a site for you with RSS feed etc for very little.

      They were very helpful and I was up and running quickly. The beauty of this is he ships for you under your name anywhere in the world.
      The big disappointment was how little you make on each item and I only bring this up now as I just had an updated price list sent to me yesterday so I immediately thought of you.
      Happy to email it for you to check out as the guy does tissot watches, iphones and tons of other things. He is straight and I know a company that does considerable business with him but I also mentioned he gets attempted frauds daily upwards of 20,000 worth per month. He also faces problems with Paypal as they view this type of business with caution and make him leave 10% of all transaction in their system which in some cases is more than he makes. Lots of things to think about fella! if you want the list of his products to see what I mean you are welcome. goprosales@gmail.com

      And an idea for anyone, my son wanted super marios new wii game. Here in Australia $85.00 in the UK through I think amazon it was GBP39 delivered so a little bit of something in there to make. Its worth doing cross checking for things like this. Marks and spencer ship worldwide for free so check them out online, no freight and I think they also take off20% which is the local VAT (tax)
      Happy trading guys
      Jim

      Reply
  214. Hey thanks for the advice. Wish we would’ve had that to read before buying our stock. We have just had £5200 worth of beanbag covers delivered from an Alibaba Gold Member and they are not as described. Any idea what to do and where to start if the supplier won’t reply? Paid for by bank transfer as they only took PayPal for samples due to levy tax.

    Reply
    1. About the bean bags, if these guys are Gold members you can get pressure applied to them by Alibaba. The platform has had a major shake up trying to weed out the crooks and they chase problems up quickly. try this person as a starting point. killy@member.alibaba.com
      Killy sells gold membership and will be able to point you in the right direction. Just make sure your correct and all your paperwork is factual. They will want to see it all and photos of the products and shipping samples for comparison.
      Hope this helps and if you want a change try Crazy contact lenses!
      Jim

      Reply
      1. Many thanks Jim, l hope you are right. I’ll be getting onto Alibaba shortly. Thanks for the heads up about the contact lenses too :-)
        Hayley

        Reply
      2. Thanks Jim, you rock! :)

        Reply
    2. Sorry to hear about the bad order Hayley, hope you guys can turn it around. Jim left a great comment, I think he covered everything :)

      Reply
  215. Hi Jim,
    Thanks a lot for making me aware of these hidden fees! is there any other difficulties I might face when importing?

    Reply
    1. Daniel,
      I think you should get your toe in the water with a UK based drop ship company. You can buy pretty cheap and since they ship into the UK by sea their freight component is a fraction of an air shipment.

      Things to look out for. My mate sells cameras and all that type of big brand electronics online. He gets on average per month 20,000 of attempted fraud because when someone steals a card they try and buy big ticket items. That’s why I sell contact lenses, not really the target of criminals.
      Will made a great point in his blog. Look at LED bulbs, last time I was in B&Q I was shocked at how expensive they are and the GU10 ones we used blew with such regularity it was almost a fortnightly visit to the store.
      Look at these companies and see if there is some light at the end of the tunnel for you! http://uk-dropshipping-services.no1reviews.com/
      Cheers
      Jim

      Reply
  216. Hi, i am pallning to import products from China to INDIA. do i have any legal or tax or paying extra money or coustoms problem. i need to import electronic iteams through DHL. Could you please give necessary deatils!
    Cheers
    Lakky

    Reply
    1. Hi Lakky,
      I read it like you want to import from China to India. Are you in India? If your not in either of these countries or don’t have someone at each end of the supply chain you can trust it could be hard to manage and keep everything sorted. Will is spot on with regards to having to be careful about the electronics from China, Historically they are used in cheap toys and don’t stand up for long in high end electronics.
      Most electronic manufacturers are either in Malaysia or Taiwan. The golden rule I learnt the hardway is if it looks too good to be true……it is!
      Oh and the tax issues. Each country has its own level of GST,VAT, duty etc. And if you are living in say USA, UK or Australia then each of the tax regime’s in these countries would want to tax you on this extra earnings…because they can!
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
      1. Spot on advice once again Jim – you know your stuff! :)

        Thanks!

        Reply
      2. Dear Jim, Thank you vey much for your valuble advise. Yes i have friend in India he will take care sorting, storage and deliver to coustemer. i am planning to import LED head showers, not the toys. Do i really need to order 1-3 samples to chak the quality and condition? before buying bulk! As you said about LED bulbs… Will you suggest me, some Good One ( Product seller in China) from your experience!!

        Cheers
        Lakky

        Reply
        1. Hi Lakky,
          ok, I have had a look for you for suppliers of LED shower heads. As Will mentions gold suppliers should be the first point of call.

          Check out this company
          Company Name: Jiangmen Triumph Rain Showers Co., Ltd.
          Operational Address: No. 1-2, Wusha Industry Area, Lile, Jianghai Dist., Jiangmen, Guangdong, China (Mainland)
          Website: http://www.tr-shower.com
          Website on alibaba.com: http://jmyingyu.en.alibaba.com

          A few things why this company might suit you.
          Firstly they have gold supplier status 2nd year.
          Their MOQ (minimum order qty) is 20 units.

          I look at it like taking a shot at the casino. I can afford to lose $200.00 so I will take a gamble. If the MOQ was 1000 units then it would be like putting the house on black at the roulette table.

          Make sure you ask questions like what material is the product made from. What is the warranty for defective goods.
          What is the QA (quality assurance) at the factory
          What’s the life span of the item?
          and try to push for payment by PayPal even if it costs you an extra few percent as I think at present you can claw back the money or at least stop it with a dispute lodgement up to 45days after the payment.
          Good luck
          Jim

          Reply
          1. Awesome information here Jim, thanks for doing my job for me! I’ll definitely have to get you access to my importing course before it launches – half to thank you for your help, and half for your critiquing :)

            Reply
          2. Dear Jim,
            You People are awesome, Your guidelines and answers are Precious!! Giving Super Energy to New Entrepreneurs, Thank you so much Brilliant Guys (Jim & Will), we are LUCKY to have you guys!!

            Cheers
            Lakky

            Reply
            1. And I’m lucky to have awesome readers like yourself Lakky! :)

              Reply
  217. Hi Jim,

    I found this article very useful as I was just thinking about starting an online business by importing products from china. I have a close relative in china who has been buying and selling products in china. Will this person be helpful for me in exporting products from china to Australia.. I have zero idea about import and export business.

    Reply
    1. Hi Rosika,

      Your relative in China could be extremely valuable! It’s always good to have “boots on the ground” in whatever country you are importing from. Having somebody who can tour the factory will get you much better prices/MOQs. Having them come in and do Quality Control for you could be even more valuable.

      So in short, yes they can help a lot! I would even suggest giving them a 10% cut to help you out on this.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  218. gave me a good insight on doing business with chaina. :)

    Reply
    1. Glad to hear that Doren – now you just have to take action :)

      Reply
  219. Hi All,
    Just in case anyone needs to get in touch with the right departments at Alibaba use these links.

    Email address from Alibaba.com buyer service:
    alibaba@service.alibaba.com

    Email address for Aliexpress.com buyer service :
    buyer@aliexpress.com

    When you need to submit a complaint about a member, you need to submit it through this link:

    http://channel.alibaba.com/complaint/home.htmtracelog=24581_foot_report_dispute
    This link goes to Safe Trading Department for fraud case & dispute

    http://resources.alibaba.com/discussion_board/88/Safe_Trading_Basics.htm Safe trading tips at Alibaba.com
    Safe trading guys and remember, a sample is a sample, the end product may not be what you think you are getting. For 300usd you can get a service to go and call on the factory, check out the production if you need to.
    Jim

    Reply
    1. More information for my course! We’ve got to get together and do a blog post or interview or something Jim – you know your stuff!

      Reply
  220. Hello will,

    It’s really good of you to share so much knowledge and experience with us, it’s really helpful the way I got to your blog was again as I was trying to find out whether alibaba are reliable when they say gold members or online site checked, like everyone else here even I am looking to buy things from china but like lukky sell them in India, yes I do have family to look after it and sort everything out. M major concern is alibaba and the suppliers.

    I have been speaking to a few suppliers some have not got back to me and its the same company having posted the same product in diff colours as diff products which really confuses me.
    Any help or information would be much appreciated. Also the company said hat would give samples I have asked for pic first to make sure that the product is right and then the samples which they have agreed is this good?

    Also jim specified that each country can tax me on my income! Woo that’s bad looks like every
    One is there for the kill.

    I look,forward to getting some more insight into alibaba and how do deal with the suppliers.

    Many thanks,
    Charmy

    Reply
    1. Hi Charmy,
      Just to clarify about the tax implications.

      If you are a resident of the UK and you import something you will be hit for the VAT and duty when it enters the country. If you make money from it you will be libel for tax on those earnings same as if you stack tins on a shelf at the store for a job.

      Most tax offices only tax you if you are in their actual country but laws change everyday and you should get advice from relevant government departments or look online as there is a huge amount of information.
      If you sell one or two things on ebay or similar sites I don’t think the tax office is going to bust down your door so don’t fret, but if you are embarking on importing as a living you should start off on the right foot and good advice can save you $$$ and peace of mind in the long run.
      Jim

      Reply
      1. Hello Jim,

        Thank you so much for taking time out to reply, I really appreciate it.

        Regarding the tax implication yes I do understand that if I was importing to the UK from china i would pay the vat and duty but what I am really trying to do is buy from china and sell it in India while I live in UK that’s one.

        The next thing is I am looking to buy a product which was originally made in Switzerland but as china would always do they have made replicas now my thought here is to take advantage of that buy those replicas put my own logo on it and sell them in India would I have to do any legal formalities in it? Or according to you I would be better of just leaving the Chinese logo whatever they have got?

        After passing the designing phase the next thing is should I get the quality checked from an external company to make sure that the quality is good? And how do I rely on them to say that they would stick to the same standard?

        I have read your previous comments and understand that when buying from alibaba I should look at gold suppliers and escrow service. I have been doing that and I have found this company which has been gold supplier for 1 year does the escrow services site assessed they have also agreed to send me samples is there anything else I need to check if so how and what?

        I would love to hear back from you.

        Thank you once again.

        Charmy

        Reply
        1. Hi Charmy,
          Sounds like your on the right track picking the supplier. If possible they need to send you whats called a shipping sample. You have one sample and are happy with it. You then place your order and ask for 2 shipping samples from the production. Then you should see exactly what they are preparing to send.
          Watch out for anything made in China and carrying a name from elsewhere. Road to ruin that one. If say you want to do a nice watch, make up your own great sounding brand. Can be French, swiss whatever so long as its yours. And don’t forget. Get it packaged nicely as packaging in China is cheap and can add real value to your product if its a retail style item.
          Good luck and let me know how you go. goprosales@gmail.com
          regards
          Jim

          Reply
          1. Thanks for the help on this one Jim.

            And good luck to you Charmy! Be sure to keep us updated on your success story :)

            Reply
  221. very helpful article. n wud like to take ur guidance in every step. may I know in which year did u start ur business

    Reply
    1. Thanks for reading Pallavi! I started in 2003/2004. Things have changed quite a bit, some things are easier and some things are tougher for importers. But, the same can be said at any point in time :)

      Reply
  222. very helpful article. n wud like to take ur guidance in every step. may I know in which year did u start ur business.One more question. is there still same scope in china things bussines.

    Reply
    1. Hi Pallavi,
      started importing 15 years ago. Been to China many times. I spread my dealing across 4 enterprises and we import close to 4 million per year and we are a 2 man operation
      Good luck!

      Reply
    2. Pallavi,
      scope in china is still great, they are going through the industrial revolution at the moment and prices in general are creeping up. Cut throat manufacturers (normally western owned) are moving into new third world markets like Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, India (40% of the worlds poverty here) to take advantage of the low wages structure.

      Alibaba works with many manufacturers from many different countries so don’t be afraid to look in other places.
      Some thing I would always stay in china for. Duplicating. The Chinese are not innovators they are copiers and they have great steel resources for castings etc. The Taiwanese are great in electronics. The Thai’s seem to be awesome at canned tuna (don’t ask!)
      always scope mate. good luck!!

      Reply
  223. Hi Will,

    Great article, really enjoyed it.

    I have managed to get a supplier who matches all the criteria in your article accept escrow? They will accept paypal and I am about to place a small order with them for a couple of hundred dollars to test the waters.

    Do you think no having the ability to escow is a deal breaker?

    Regards

    Kal

    Reply
    1. Hi Kal,

      If your supplier will take PayPal, I think that’s fine. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t want to do Escrow but would want to do PayPal, so still be cautious. But, if your payment goes through PayPal, you’ll have financial protection in place.

      Be sure to let us know how the samples are!

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  224. Hi,
    Will
    i would say that u have written a fantastic article hats off to u i usually feel bored reading articles but i got the right person for an importing business…by the way Will the goods will shipped to home directly or we have to go and collect it from the customs…please reply my questions if i ask u in future i have many questions not getting in my mind right now…i will list down the questions and i will ask u in future…Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Sahir! If you ship via air, then it will come to your door. If you ship via sea freight, you’ll need to hire another company to ship it from the port to your (warehouse) door.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  225. Hi all,
    I have a friend in the Uk who was chatting to me recently. He wants to get into the swamped and oversupplied world of iphone covers, ipad covers etc. I talked him out of it as it really is an over supplied market.
    But wait………. could there be a niche in this market?
    most innovation is spurned from personal experience…..

    So when I lived in London one of the biggest pains was travelling the underground system. Trying to study a map on the wall at each station to plan the next change etc.

    This would be typical for most major cities in the world, Paris, New York, Chicago etc.

    So what about a cover with the underground map? What about a cover for tourists with some basic information for that particular city. Taxi numbers, emergency numbers, good hotel numbers almost anything of real help. Almost anything and some of the information you could actually get people to pay you to put on it making the actual item you are buying almost free…….. I get offered lots of things online from China and I think the last time I checked an iphone cover was like 69 cents and that’s before any negotiation.
    As a traveller I would buy one for each city I went to. No brainer……sheeeesh I wish there was more than one of me so I could actually do it! can I patent this idea?/ LOL
    Happy days and think out side the square!
    Jim

    Reply
    1. Jim, I’ve been watching your posts over the last couple of weeks. You are providing amazing information for people. I also know you are a two man operation and you mentioned “when I lived in the UK”. I’m also from the UK, Edinburgh and living in the US for the last 20+ years….Jackanory;-)
      Would really like the chance to talk as, you may know, I own a 3PF (3rd party fulfillment) company. My goal is to work with small and start up companies in order to provide them order fulfillment and warehousing for their products. Fulfillment (picking & packing, shipping) and storage for the likes of all of you without the overhead of employees and time to get your products to the end user. You concentrate on your marketing and selling of any products. Just get the products to us and we take care of the rest. You also get to take advantage of our discounted rates on shipping. All of you have complete visibility and order capability to you real time inventory with your own login/storefront via our computer system. Also we are able to connect directly to your shopping cart on your website so all orders placed come straight to us for shipment the same day.
      There’s a lot more to it, but we provide the tools to manage your stock and reorder points, analyze your sales/usage including alerts to let you know when you need to place orders in China or wherever your product comes from.
      Yourself and Will might want to explore this. We can receive, store and ship your product under your company name. From UPS/FEDEX (a few boxes) to pallet loads of merchandise. It’s extremely cost effective.
      Would be glad to help and provide further info.
      This blog is fantastic stuff and a great learning tool.
      Simon.

      Reply
      1. Hi Simon,
        I ship in Full containers for the most part and for the contact lenses I ship in to Australia for distribution.
        Your sort of service for me would be great if I were doing a range of items that I couldn’t warehouse or they needed to be closer to the market I was supplying.

        I have a distributor already in the states who warehouses a line of products I bring in from the Philippines so for me I am covered.

        Some of the start up people on here would probably be like me when I started and would rather have it piled in a bedroom or garage.

        Your service for me would be the step after my partner said, Jim, we cant move in our own house! most would look at adding a cost service into their plan as a giving away money but your type of service can actually open up markets with fast delivery and organisation.
        Good luck to you Simon……sad morning here as my rugby team the Crusaders were beaten by the Chiefs last night!
        Jim

        Reply
        1. Big Rugby fan myself though don’t get to see much of it here.
          Was just sticking that out there as some people may not have the room and this provides an option. I’m all for start ups as everyone needs to start somewhere, just like yourself and Will. We offer full line warehousing too for multiple products. Some of which have 3000+ different items (that’s mainly automotive stuff). It doesn’t matter what the product is and they get big business tools to go along with it.
          We take care of all the nuts and bolts of getting it to the customer with added advantage. Also we can package multiple things to make up a product (kitting/handwork).
          You’re obviously doing great, and your advice is instrumental in helping everyone.
          Keep up the great work!

          Reply
    2. Awesome idea Jim! It’s important to have this mindset going into it. You’ve come up with a spin on an existing, stale, and frankly DEAD market (for small-scale importing, at least). You’ve added value and made it interesting again. That’s exactly the type of modifications people should be trying and playing with!

      As usual, thanks for the valuable comment Jim! :-D

      Reply
  226. Hi,

    This article is very useful and provide lot of information. Regarding start up business or small kick starters, I would suggest you not to take a big order or find some cheap priced quotation in Alibaba. As there are lot of fake small companies available in Alibaba especially don’t try to source some branded goods as it is very hard to find the cheaper price with all certifications instead you will lose your money.

    If you want to source goods in small quantity and to do it effectively especially for start ups. Try to send mail to quiet a lot of established suppliers from china and make sure you write in mail that you need some samples and will expand the order after first time. This will help you to draw attention from suppliers and they will quote you really good price with descent quality.

    If you want more information or How to find the right supplier and to source the hot sellers, feel free to write to me at kevinjeremy@live.com. If you have any problem with certain suppliers or if you want to clarify is it a believable supplier or a fake one mail me at kevinjeremy@live.com

    Reply
    1. Kevin,
      Not quite sure what your saying but I don’t think what I think your saying holds water.
      Anyone want help with a supplier let me know.
      Never treat suppliers anyway other than professionally. You don’t need to make any claims of next order will be big or such like. They will give you a good price based on the information and deal on the table now. Once your creaming the market then ask for better terms or prices.
      Kevin you seem a little disjointed here.
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
    2. There are lots of scammers on Alibaba, but it’s pretty easy to avoid them. Just follow the basic advice in this article and in the comments and you’ll be fine. Like Jim said, you don’t need to act like the next Walmart to get good prices and quality. Just avoid the red flags and you’ll be fine.

      Reply
  227. Thanks to guide I want to start cloth importing bussiness frm china market what I do tell me.

    Reply
    1. I would follow the advice in this article! :)

      Reply
  228. hi

    i have some questions

    1 – if i bought some products from china id have to pay taxes ??

    2 – in what situation do i have to pay taxes ???

    3- can i buy wholesale , even i dont have a company ???

    thanks in advance

    Cesar

    Reply
    1. Hi Cesar,
      the taxes you pay depend on which country you live in. There is normally duty and GST/VAT/import tax. In Australia however if the shipment is under 1000.00AUD there is no tax or duty. Great country to start in.
      You can buy “wholesale” sure but the price is the price on small numbers and as Will always says look for niche markets.
      Happy to answer questions but you need to have an idea of what you want to do so you can start testing prices, searching for your suppliers etc.
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
  229. Hey man, I have some questions about this, I wanna try it, but I have some stuff I need help with, could you talk to me on mail please? :) Thank you! Great guide btw!

    Reply
    1. Of course! You can email me any time. For once, I have nobody waiting on a response :)

      Reply
  230. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences through your article! You’ve provided me with a lot of insight into the world of importing goods from wholesalers and manufacturers from overseas.

    My partner and I are from Australia and are thinking of starting an online business importing goods from Asia (mainly China) and selling on sites such as eBay to start off and basically try to grow it from there. And as nearly almost everything in Australia is expensive in comparison to the rest of the world, why not take advantage of this!

    As we can communicate fluently in Mandarin as well read and write, I thought firstly this could be another advantage when it comes to dealing with suppliers in China and Hong Kong etc.

    In addition to sourcing goods from Alibaba & Aliexpress, we’ve also managed to open up a Chinese bank account as well in order to purchase products from Taobao (you need to have a Chinese bank account). Taobao we’ve found to have been a great source to purchasing goods from China for cheap however I’m now considering perhaps it might be a good idea to attend a few Trade Expos ie.The China Import & Export Fair AKA The Canton Fair. I thought this might be a great opportunity to speak with suppliers directly face to face as well as build networks.

    I’d like to get your thoughts on attending trade expos in Asia (in particular China). As I would be having to fork out the costs of return airfares from Australia, are these expos worth the trip? Would it really help? What are the chances of me finding the ‘perfect supplier’ at these trade expos? Or is relying on sourcing suppliers online sufficient enough?

    Cheers,
    Nick

    Reply
    1. Hi Nick,
      The canton fair is an amazing place for newbies to get a real eyeful of the vastness of opportunity.
      I have been many times although nowadays I tend to stay away.

      If you go to it you need to know what you are looking for as its split into 2 x 5 day events.
      With over 7000 exhibitors you cant simply just go for a wander as you would need to do 1400 booths per day just to get around it.

      So target what you want.
      One of the problems with this show is there are many traders here. They mainly tell you they are the factory but actually buy and sell just like you want to. Problems I see is you might get products from different suppliers from them and therefore different quality of products.
      But saying that I started there and went there with a plan.
      Stay in a hotel near the exhibition because the crowds are something else and take advantage of the hotel if it offer registration. If you have to do it onsite then you need your passport and cannot do that as most of the hotels (actually all) hold your passport for the duration of your visit.
      Get pre registered and try to get ahead of the crowd.
      I would fly to HK then train up to Guangzhou which at show time of the year is so busy its unreal.
      Good Luck!!
      Jim

      Reply
      1. Couldn’t have said it better Jim!

        I think you have a ton of opportunity Nick. Speaking Mandarin alone is a massive advantage. The fact that you can actually go and visit China is even better. Like Jim said, plan ahead and make sure you get the most out of your trip. It is a MASSIVE event, it will blow your mind. It’s worth going to even if you don’t want to import :)

        Good luck,
        Will

        Reply
    2. Nick,
      just a comment to add.
      Reading your email I would assume you were bought up here in Australia as your grammar and sentence structures are very good.
      When I go and see one of my suppliers in Nanjing he always asks me to answer some of his correspondence from enquiries he gets from all over. He marvels at how easy we answer people with our knowledge of English. As you know or will soon find out, most Chinese companies produce brochures and 99% of them are shocking in regards to how they read. Many read like a Chinese person speaking pigeon English.
      Here’s a business idea!
      Go to the Canton Fair and meet as many stall owners as you can and hand out your cards offering a service to make their literature read like its written by westerners. Its got an endless supply of potential customers, the business is electronic so the running costs are very low and you speak and write mandarin.
      I think you could blow the doors off your world offering this service with the skills you have! you will see what I mean when you get there and read stuff, even menus for restaurants are all over the place.
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
  231. Hello will,
    Thank you for your information it’s great and helpful too,
    one Question,I live in San Diego California ,Do I need a business license for buying from china or Alibaba wholesale website?

    Thank you very much

    Reply
    1. Hello David,

      I don’t think you’ll need any special licenses or anything. But, since you’re in California, I would check and make sure. The tax system in that State is a little outrageous.

      I would just contact a freight forwarder or customs broker in your area and ask them the same question. It’s a simple question, but I don’t know the exact answer since I don’t do business in California.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  232. Hi Jim,

    Many thanks for the handy info. Much appreciated.

    Yes, my partner and I both grew up in Australia. We’ve traveled to China and all around Asia many times for holidaying so I know exactly what you mean about the bad English so see everywhere lol. Things like signs and restaurant menus with incorrect spelling and grammar. So your idea is definitely something we could definitely look into.

    We are planning to visit The Canton Fair this year (Oct-Nov 2013) so we’ll see what happens :-)

    Kind regards,
    Nick

    Reply
    1. Nick,
      Just make sure you book the train tickets in advance if your going from HK that way and a good hotel is the Ramada Pearl which has a pre registration service, free shuttle from Guangzhou train station to the hotel and of course free shuttles to the fair. Food is Buffet style with a nice little bar run by mad Canadians down the street serving burgers and fries and cold beer!
      Have a great trip!
      Jim

      Reply
  233. Although I live in NZ, this is the first info I have come across that goes over basics like how to start!
    I am also wanting to get some clothing made in China to import to NZ. I would like to choose the fabric and already have a pattern in mind. How does one go about finding a factory to do this. I’ve no idea where to start.

    Reply
    1. Hi Em,
      Great to see you having a crack at doing your own thing.
      With regards to you your own patter/design you may have to take substantial MOQ’s (minimum order quantities) but if its different and you have a great design it could be winner.
      The factory would make samples for you at a cost which they normally refund if you place and order.

      Try Alibaba for the manufacturers trying to stay away from traders who will basically hawk your order around to get the cheapest price. Cut and paste this link into the browser.

      http://www.alibaba.com/trade/search?fsb=y&IndexArea=product_en&CatId=&SearchText=clothing+manufacturers+with+certification
      You can see I asked for manufacturers and certification. This gives me almost 100% factories and gold members and shows they are serious.

      You now need to be specific about the quality of fabric. Even though they are gold members they might be making 20 cent shirts for the Bangladesh market. Make sure you tell them the fabric quality, ask them for rub test details (standard in fabric is the MARTINDALE rub test)
      you want to be able to tell them the thread quality and how to put the garment together with over locking or any other sewing specifics.
      You might also like to get them to send you a single piece of their best quality which might suit you fine.
      Have fun and if I can be of further help let me know
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
  234. Hey Will

    As far as customs goo for typical items, such as plastics. How much do they charge in Florida.and how will I know in advance so that I can allocate the money prior to receiving the shipments. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Hey Mohamed,

      The only way to know the customs details of any item is to research it and find out. There is something called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule that will help – http://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/index.htm

      Or, you can contact an importing broker/freight forwarder and ask them to quote you on it. I would recommend doing this if you’re unsure, as they will generally know best.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  235. Will,
    Can you please let me have Joe Rosen’s contact details for his merch in NY – his comment was from 13th June – he was the guy who is killing it with $85k per month.
    I would love to get in touch with him about buying some stuff for california.
    Thanks
    James
    jmrugg@gmail.com

    Reply
    1. No problem James, I’ll be sure to email him with that info!

      Reply
  236. Ooh Dear Will, its great work and service, you have establish a great community, who have little money but great talent, i was looking for such group of people.Now i will also start to find a business suitable to me and in my country. my homeland is Pakistan.

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Azeem! It is a great community, I’m lucky to have them around :)

      Good luck on your business!

      Reply
  237. Hi Will,

    This is a great posting ! Very informative indeed.Great Job !

    I am planning to setup a bags business in the USA for which I plan on using one of the following options :
    1) importing fabric from asia (India,China or others) and making the bags in the US
    2) Everything ready to consume in asia and shipped to me in US.

    In either case,what are the importing norms I need to be aware off ?
    Are there special restrictions on the fabrics that one could import into the US? I plan on using cotton or nylon for the most part.

    Would appreciate any DOs & DONTs on the above approach if possible, and any inputs you may have inorder to determine the exact customs regulations on fabrics.

    Also,is there any reliable supplier network like alibaba for india or srilanka ?

    I am a newbie,so my apologies if my questions are basic in nature.

    Thanks,
    Sriram

    Reply
    1. Hi Sriram,
      Few things to check out for you.
      Firstly you need to contact your customs and let them know the fabrics you are looking to bring in. In some countries duty on certain things is high to protect local industries. For instance I have a friend who sells over 5 million dollars worth of wire coat hangers in the states in the hotel sector. He was hit with what’s called a dumping duty to the tune of 300% to protect local business. Fortunately for him that only applied to hangers from China so he was able to switch to a non Chinese factory.
      So get that checked out.
      You will almost certainly pay more for a fully finished product than you will for components so again get that checked out. I import into the states a unique range of handmade vases, all feature natural products like shell, leaves etc. I get put through the ringer each time to produce my certification allowing me to export natural products. If you are looking into say cotton fabric then I would make sure your factory can give you certification and assurances( written always) that any natural products such as cotton are sourced responsibly. Its a great marketing tool as well as many customers are “earth wise” and like to think they shop responsibly.
      As for choosing suppliers from India or Sri Lanka you should be able to filter these through Alibaba. Make sure you get Gold suppliers and samples before pulling the cash out for an order.
      Happy trading mate!
      Jim

      Reply
  238. Hi guys,

    I wanted to find out if there are ways/websites either free or paid to get ebay or amazon sales/listings history.

    Thanks in advance,
    Sriram

    Reply
    1. Hi Sriram,

      Not that I know of, but it isn’t too tough to get going. Just go through and do some spring cleaning and sell what you haven’t used in a year. Or, have some friends do some cleaning of their own, and offer to sell their good for a 30% cut. I think those two ways are probably better than paying for an old eBay account or anything like that.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Sorry Sriram, I just noticed I completely misread your question :-D

        I don’t know of any tools to get the sales history for Amazon, but there is an awesome one for eBay (which they operate themselves) called Terapeak. It’s the best product analytics tool out there, and you’ll be able to pull all the data you want (and more).

        Here’s an affiliate link, if you’re feeling nice :)http://www.startupbros.com/terapeak

        Hope this helps!

        Reply
  239. Hi Guys,

    The following are questions for a startup:
    Any thoughts on how to handle returns on stuff imported from China ?
    Is it even meaningful and financially feasible to return back to china ?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. You definitely want to get that figured out before you buy in bulk. Every factory is different. Some will offer end-user warranties, while others won’t give anything. The best factories are the ones you can return damaged goods to for credit or repair, so aim for that! It’s sometimes worth it, but most of the time you just get credited and throw away the damaged goods stateside.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  240. thanks bro its really helpful for freshie like me.

    Reply
    1. No prob, freshie burn 8-)

      Reply
  241. Hi Will,

    Do you have an email so I can ask question privately?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. For sure Kevin – just put your email in one of the forms on the site and reply to that email! Or, if you really don’t want to get my emails, it’s will at startupbros.com :)

      Reply
  242. Nice article, very informative…
    must i pay for sample products i intend to buy

    Reply
    1. hi Jay,
      free samples would be great wouldn’t it!
      factories in Asia would go bust sending out freebies as they get so many requests. To weed out the serious buyers they would normally offer to refund the cost of the sample from your order. That makes you think carefully and gives them $$ for the cost of the sample.
      Be patient with the factories and never expect a freebie as most often you will be disappointed.
      safe and happy trading!
      Jim

      Reply
      1. He’s right Jay! :)

        Reply
  243. Import and export business can be extremely profitable, especially during periods of global monetary fluctuations.

    Reply
    1. Absolutely! If you get big enough, money management starts to play a big factor :)

      Reply
  244. Wow so much to learn here! Thanks for the post! I’m a Chinese living overseas and would like to start importing stuff from Aisa. I’ve never done business before and have no clue but I’ve been thinking about it lately. Again, your post is great and thank you :)

    Reply
    1. No problem Lin, glad you liked it! Good luck to you :)

      Reply
  245. Hi I’m from England and looking to get started in the buying and selling business and found this article/blog very informative an hopefully totally unbiased towards certain websites just a quick thank you for steering me in the right direction..good work!

    Reply
    1. Glad I could help Peter – Good luck! :)

      Reply
  246. It was a very useful information about importing. I really enjoyed reading it. Since I am researching to do similar business, this article gave me a better understanding of the process and it made me realize I am in the right direction.
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Reply
    1. Awesome, glad you liked it Kal! Good to hear you’re going in the right direction – let me know where you end up ;)

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  247. Dear Will,
    I am a student from India. And I would like to start import from China some Storage Devices like Hard Drives and sd cards. When I ordered for the sample quantities they are giving a reasonable price but the shipping charges they are asking is twice the product price. So can you suggest me on how can I check the shipping charges are genuine. And should I take order from a Non Gold Suppliers who are sending me very cheap quotations on my private mail address..how to check they are genuine?….Please help me…waiting for your reply….

    Reply
    1. Hi Vivek,
      You are entering a world of potential pain with electronics my friend.
      Shipping charges are sometimes a way of the factory making a little more to cover them selves. As an easy way to check go to a site called “we deliver the world” which is a UK based courier broker. On this site you can arrange pick up and delivery without being either the recipient or sender. The best thing is you can get a quote for the shipping normally heavily discounted in a matter of 2 minutes, No account signing in or giving them your email etc.
      Secondly, anyone selling electronics should be selling millions of them to make a living as a proper company as the returns are low per piece and if they are not a gold supplier steer clear.
      Best bet fro this type of thing is from Taiwanese companies. You will be disappointed at the low returns on electronics (I was).
      If you want to try from a trusted source and only ant to buy one or two things like these cards, or a DS or similar things then I have used http://www.stepfly.com
      these guys are genuine, sell very marketable items and you can make 20-30 per item on something like a DS as they sometimes give you a card with like 400 games on it for nothing so there is a bit of added value. They take paypal so that’s another bonus.
      and for anyone out there not sure of who they deal with, ask for a copy of their identity card. anyone less than honest will be extremely reluctant whilst anyone proper will be happy to send you a picture of their card.
      Happy days mate!
      Jim

      Reply
  248. One question I got banned from ebay for posting the same item multiple times what do you think ill be able to sell in the future ? I can still bu but not sell

    Reply
    1. Sorry to hear that. I’m not too familiar with getting around eBay bans, but I’m sure there is some way to do it. I would just start Googling! It won’t be easy.

      Reply
    2. Hi 22elnegocio,
      Ebay sometimes bans newbies if they go from zero to 60 in a nano second. That is to say almost idle to posting heaps of items. Its their way of checking you out and you have to do the running so you need to call them and explain why you now have multiples of the same thing and they may want proof of this so you need to be able to back it up. I had a similar issue with PayPal some years ago but they were fantastic once they sw I was genuine.
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
      1. That’s better advice than mine – do that first! :)

        Reply
  249. Hello,
    I just read your article and its very interesting.

    I just have a question. How you do with duties and taxes when you are importing?

    In my opinion the want to squeeze you as much as they can.
    I have an audit with customs because the package value was very low and it was a big package. Now I don’t know what to do. Thank you! Any help is appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Karla, and sorry to hear about your misfortune! That is a common tactic for Chinese suppliers. They under value the contents of the package to get their customers cheaper shipping prices. It usually works out just fine, but some packages get pulled and inspected. You probably won’t see your shipment for at least a couple weeks, probably over a month. Usually, they just hit you with a small fine for trying to cheat customs. You’ll be fine though.

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  250. The “4 Hour Workweek“ book you refer to in your article under “Negotiate better terms with your supplier” has some very bad reviews on amazon such as ” There’s a Sucker Born Everyday ( MUST READ BEFORE PURCHASING!) – Seems like more of the same old stuff

    Reply
    1. Then don’t buy it! :)

      You can go through and find positive or negative reviews, and you’ll put weight on wherever your original perspective is. If you don’t think you can learn anything from a piece of media, then you won’t.

      I would suggest only reading things that are exciting to you. You won’t get much out of forcing yourself to read something just because others recommend it.

      Reply
    2. Hi Honesty Pays.
      Congrats! Not many people take time to read reviews before spending money.
      I think what you need to be able to do is balance what reviews are saying. So you base your comment on the reviews that are bad ones. What happens if you ignored the bad ones? Or you make a comment in a forum based on bad reviews which you have done on here without actually trying out any of the information. Free speech is awesome and Will lets it flow here.
      I participate in this blog because I have experience spread across many years and if I thought Wills articles were crap I would be the first to tell you.
      Not everything is for everybody but the actual nuts and bolts of what’s is being written holds water. No matter what you think about the reviews. Try reviewing the actual book not basing your opinion on what others say.
      Its easy to be negative and make judgements and its harder to get of the couch and have a go at something.
      I trust your couch is a comfortable one!
      Jim

      Reply
  251. Hi Will, first off, this is a great site with amazing information! Thanks for giving me motivation to want to start a small business like this. I hope you don’t mind me asking a few questions :-

    1. Is this method of making money still working? I mean, since this has been posted, I’m sure there are tons of people who are doing or trying this, so how can i uniquely be different from the rest?
    2. Slightly similar to the first question, how long will this business last assume that we’re doing well for the first 3 months

    Cheers!
    Richard

    Reply
    1. Hi Richard.
      This method is very tried and tested and there is still money to be made. If your thinking get rich quick then you need to buy a lottery ticket. If your thinking slow and steady then that mind set will hold you in good shape.
      With importing you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Wheels work fine just how they are but if you could get a great wheel at a great price and be able to sell that wheel for some profit you are on the right track.
      For me personally i do a huge amount of business and all the products i sell end up in the trash on a regular basis. That perpetuates the new sale so you have customers coming back time after time. Product like this could be garbage bags, disposable gloves, LED bulbs, paper coffee cups. All this stuff gets thrown away daily and needs to be replaced by the customers so it is a good line to think about.
      Business will last as long as you want so long as you keep looking for new products all the time and maybe tie in your customers with a branded paper coffee cup so they like the look and keep coming back.
      In a lot of cases many sell similar things and one of the few things you can personally change is the service your customer gets from you.

      people who set out to achieve nothing normally achieve nothing and get annoyed. People who set out to try something normally get a measure of success and if you learn from it then the next time its a better level of success.
      Have a good one mate!
      Jim

      Reply
  252. Will,

    I found this article very helpful to my plans to start an import business. I am wondering one thing though. If i were to import something and put my own logo on it would it be considered copyright infringement..

    lets say for instance i wanted to import smart tvs and put my own logo on it and sell it. Is this considered illegal since i didn’t design the smart tv myself?

    Reply
    1. Hi Cory,

      As long as Smart TV’s aren’t a patented technology, you’ll be fine that way. Unfortunately, I’m not sure of a 100% certain way to check for patents. The best way I know of is to see if anybody has been suing anybody regarding the products I’m questioning. The “look and feel” of your TV would also have to differ, at least slightly, from major brands.

      I would assume that if smart TVs were patented, you wouldn’t be able to get customized versions of them in bulk via Alibaba. The major brands probably have their supply chains under control enough to prevent that.

      Maybe Jim knows of a better way, hopefully he will respond also :-D

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
    2. Hi Cory,
      I had a quick look at smart TV’s and most major brands offer them. Back a few years ago I looked at flat screen TV’s from china which pretty much are a generic unit with your badge on them similar to what your looking to do. What I didn’t like was the profit. in a 40 ft container I think the count was 700 units. I was about 80.00 ahead of the game in price but I was a nobody offering a nothing brand and had no back up service. When I dug more deeply into how can these huge stores survive making such small margins I discovered they sell extended warranties as the real profit base for the unit. So if I had a TV and the factory I bought it from gave me 3 years, I would tell you my customer that it comes with a standard 1 year warranty and offer to extend that to 3 year for an extra$$$$. either way I was covered even if the unit failed.
      What i’m trying to highlight Cory is unless you have a distribution channel for these and the customer is willing to take a chance on a nothing brand then ok. If you are going to try and eBay them I personally wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. For me brand on some things like electronics is a comforting thing.
      Hope I haven’t knocked the wind out of your sales mate!
      safe trading!
      Jim

      Reply
  253. I’m after a bit of advice. I’ve found a supplier that I want to use but their shipping costs seem to be extremely high. $1300 on an order worth only $4100. What are my options for lowering the cost of shipping? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Unfortunately, I would need a whole lot more information to give you any meaningful advice. All you gave me were dollar amounts :)

      Reply
    2. Hi Baba,
      Will is correct lots more info required to make any meaningful comment.
      Only thing I could add is whatever it is your looking to bring in must be big in cubic dimensions for that sort of cost.
      I’m bringing into Australia right now something from the states that weighs 65pounds and I am doing that by air for about 650.00
      Couriers work on both weight and volume and charge you based on the one that is the biggest.
      I ship some LCL (less container loads) of steel components into the UK. By the pallet it works out at about 0.50 cents per 2.2 pounds (Kilo) for freight and duty and local delivery from port to the customer. Maybe you need to look at sea freight for a better cost.
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
  254. This article is amazing bro, Thank you so much. I have a question for you.
    Where could I get a niche? I mean the information. Is there a website with information about the consume of the people or something like that?

    Thank you for your time

    Reply
    1. Hi Gustavo Alonso!
      That’s an awesome name by the way!
      Refer to a previous comment I made that finding a niche doesn’t have to be a niche product but could be special the way you offer it to the market.

      Say you sold hair dye and wanted to value add to that to keep you ahead of the game. That doesn’t mean selling a new brand or being the cheapest but offer something different. Most hair dyes are big enough for more than one application but many only supply one pair of disposable gloves. why not value add for a couple of cents another pair?
      Try to be better than the rest and make that your niche. Plenty of products out there to sell that are consumed daily and for many people service is not there.
      Have a good one mate.
      Jim

      Reply
      1. Hi Gustavo,

        Jim has a great response here (as usual), so I won’t add much. The only thing I would say is if you’re looking for consumption data to analyze during your research phase – check out Terapeak. Of course, it’s more important to differentiate and position your product and your brand correctly than to have this data, but still useful :)

        Hope this helps,
        Will

        Reply
  255. Hi,

    Great blog and so glad I had the chance to read it. I can actually go to China to source the products, and I have only sales experience so I think I have a good base to work off. My question is, the bankable sales channels such as amazon and ebay are increasingly charging higher and higher fees, this heavily erodes the margin. Is there a point where you think, it isn’t worth you selling there anymore?

    secondly, I noticed some people brand up a product and some are just selling the unbranded versions for a lower cost, what would help you decide which way to go? I would like to brand a product up, create a brand around it but how can we say if customers will buy into my brand, or just prefer to carry on paying for the lower priced items, without risking a larger investment?

    Thanks!!

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the post! If you can go to China to source your product, you’re already at a huge advantage!

      People sell more and more through eBay and Amazon every year, so I don’t think it won’t be worth selling there any time soon. Clearly some people have figured out how to deal with them. Like every obstacle, it can either help or hurt you depending on your skill as an entrepreneur.

      I personally brand and customize each item as much as I can. It’s all about adding value for the end user. Of course, it is riskier and more expensive. Another common principle in entrepreneurship – your reward will be proportional to your risk. If you can pull it off it’s much better to create your own brand. Here’s some good posts on that to start with.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  256. i think your a great guy for sharing such an info for others !, iam doing exact the same now and reading this gave me a good hint about selling on alibaba , i always buy but never thought to sell tho ! :) its a great one , but the thing iam curious about is shipping out of the states dosent have a traking number and the only way is threw Fedex or those
    expensive shipping companies , !? apreicate for everything

    Reply
    1. Hi Micjael,
      Selling on Alibaba has its highs and lows.
      I sell on there and I love the platform it offers sellers such as myself.
      The highs are obviously the amount of traffic the site attracts. The lows are everyone wants things at prices so unrealistic it can drive you nuts some days.
      The trick is to offer something your normal Chinese factory wont or cant such as offering to drop ship for your customers.
      I do just that and it works well. With regards to shipping you can use US Post service to see if you can get a better rate.
      Happy days
      Jim

      Reply
  257. everything was going well until one of the products sellers sent me an invoice per item on how much delivery would be. the price was somewhere between USD 60-70.. which is exceptionally high. this ruined my whole plan.. plus the item i was buying was not very big.. its just the high cost travelling expense from CHINA to AUSTRALIA… what now<

    Reply
    1. Hi Pat,
      sometimes the freight can be frightening. If your bringing in a generic product (like its already in the market in Australia) search for a big wholesaler who might offer it to you at better rates as they would be shipping by sea container. To give you an idea we ship vinyl glovce and the carton is say 40 x 40 x 40cm that would go into a 20ft container about 1200 times. That costs us about 1100.00usd this month. If I sent one case by air it would be a couple of hundred easy as its about 7.5kg.
      The savings are huge by sea so have a look and you might not be dead in the water just yet!
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
  258. thanks for tips brother!
    am a student in Tanzania and i hope to start importing smartphones, hard drives flash cards and tablet pc from china in October when we open our universities as most of students need those items at the start of their academic year.

    i want to import from china from dhgate.com, everbuying.com and many other but those two catch my attention and i was hoping to order with huge amount but with the tip about the starting amount ill try by starting with $200. help me if i can trust those two sites.
    thanks

    Reply
    1. Hi Gervax,
      Good idea to test the water with a small investment. Never pays to over extend yourself financially or otherwise.
      never dealt with DHgate but have dealt with http://www.steplfy.com.cn

      They are good to deal with, sell branded products (proper brands).
      Good Luck
      Jim

      Reply
  259. Hi Will
    Great work you r doing! really appreciate!
    Even i wanna start an import business, but actually confused about products. I am going to visit China in next 10days, just to survey the market. As i have heard about YIWU & NANFANG wholesale markets. I am planning to supply the product to wholesalers here in India. Moreover i have prior orders for replica shoes and mobile SD cards. the margins are very good.
    NOW my worries and queries are……….
    1. how risky it is to import replica or counterfeit products?
    2. Price i am offered for 8gb Sandisk & kingston is $3.2 (moq 1000 pieces), which is really mouthwatering and undigestable. Could it be in real or its a pure scam?
    3. which are the cheap but trustworthy markets to visit for electronics & shoes?
    4. I have got import import licence. Gonna import for the first time. Would it be ok to import on my own for the first time?
    Sir, got a list of 100 questions in mind………. But i think answers of these would make it a lot easier for me……
    Many Thanks
    Best Regards

    Reply
    1. Hi Gaurav,
      I dont have much to do with electronics since i got burned for over 4000.00 some years ago but i did learn a couple of things.
      Mouthwatering prices normally mean its too good to be true which means it probably is.
      If you get caught selling replica goods they authorities will come down like a ton of bricks, not sure about india but in the States, Australia, UK it is dealt with severely and big fines and confiscation of goods is the way it goes. If your a big time importer of knock off brands then it could be worse.
      Also, replica things such as flashes and cards will be made with inferior materials for sure. Thats why they are cheap. Get some prices from Gold members for the same things then compare.
      try this company first http://ibiz.en.alibaba.com/productgrouplist-214237241/Memory_Cards_Flash_Drive.html

      Lots of electronics made in Taiwan and Shenzen. Taiwanese electronics have a good reputation generally but all suppliers need to be checked out as well as possible. Shoes are all over with many being made in Malaysia and Thiland.
      As for importing on your own , thats 100% of the profit coming your way or 100% of the fine.
      If you are trying to make a fast buck then replica stuff can do that but there is no future in it and its not sustainable for ongoing business growth.
      Have fun
      Jim

      Reply
  260. Hi

    Loved your blog .I have some questions. I live in south africa is it possible for me to do this and if I sell these products do I need some sort of licensing

    Reply
    1. Hi Niki,
      You can sell anything you want that is general merchandise pretty much. My crazy lenses for instance are easily sold because they are a fashion accessory not a medical device.
      That’s not to say you must get good quality stock.
      Any further info on dropshipping crazy contacts please email me. goprosales@gmail.com
      Cheers
      Jim

      Reply
  261. Awesome article.
    Helped a lot!
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. No problem Anirudh, glad you liked it!

      Reply
  262. Is it common to be asked for 100 USD for one sample? It’s a toy worth 4 bucks!!

    Reply
    1. Daniel,
      that’s a classic ploy by a factory that really doesn’t want to deal with you. Might be because they believe your on going business will not be substantial or something along those lines.
      If its a toy made in China then chances are many others will be making it as well.
      Try another search.
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
  263. This article was just what I needed to read after recently trying to start importing fancy dress from china – any tips on this i have done what you said with alibaba and messaged the top suppliers gold standard! Fingers crossed x

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that Katy, hope it turned out well for you!

      Reply
  264. Will,

    Thanks for the article, I learned a lot. I’ve found some good products but the problem I’m having now is finding reasonable shipping. I have a product that is $35 wholesale but all the shipping options I can find are $15-$20, thus eating all my margins. Any advice?

    Drew

    Reply
    1. No problem Drew, glad you could get some value out of it! Shipping is always a big hit for importers. Like I mentioned in the article, it’s important to think about shipping costs when going through products. If you can’t pick it up with one hand, it’s going to be tough to ship!

      Reply
  265. This is a great article. I am a young aspiring entrepreneur with a background in accounting and finance, and I have been scouring the internet trying to find a way to get a small business started but always ended up chasing my tail. This article, and the other forums you have written, really hit it home. I was worried that I would become another victim of continuous trial and error and although that may still be true, this article helps to significantly mitigate that risk. I won’t drone on about my experiences when starting a business but lets just say I found myself nodding my head several times throughout the article. It seems not only did you reinforced the ideas that had come to my fruition, but also answered many other questions I had. Thank you for summing up years of experience, research, and knowledge into a post that everyone can benefit from. It seems, based on all the other posts, that I am not the only person that is truly grateful for your contribution.

    Reply
    1. Hey Seth, thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you liked our site so far, feel free to send your feedback over whenever :)

      Reply
  266. Hi Will,

    Just a thought, with all the interest on this topic, maybe you should create a forum? It would be very time consuming to go through all the questions people asked (although it’s worth it) and would be easier to dig through on a forum where you could search specific questions. Just a thought, I don’t have a question about anything at the moment.

    Reply
    1. Not a bad idea Shane, I’ve thought about it. I always worry about people coming back consistently, but it seems they do here. Thanks for the feedback – maybe we will get one started soon!

      Reply
  267. Will, I am surprised that to see someone talking positive about AliBaba. From what I’ve seen, heard and experienced, 90% of the suppliers are scam. My father tried to import bearings – samples pretty sleek, the original product – crap.

    Reply
    1. Hi Mellisa,
      Sorry to hear your dad had a bad experience. I have been using Alibaba for many years and am a Gold supplier myself on it. The platform went through a stage of growth that it found difficult to control. Nowadays the companies selling on it get vetted very well (trust me on this one!) and you should only deal with gold suppliers. We get vetted the most!
      So I think 90% of bad experience is not the case but there are many steps to making sure the product you are getting is what you are expecting. I have no experience in bearings but I would think your dad had a specification for what he wanted and once the production was made he should have got SGS or some other testing body to randomly test production and send him a report. That way no nasty surprises.
      Don’t lose the faith! Its fun out there!!
      Jim

      Reply
  268. Hey thanks for the article really informative. I really enjoyed it and am going to give it a try. Can you just explain a little more about “drop ship”? I feel the shipping portion is very crucial to the entire process because it seems a lot of errors can come from there.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Hi Steven,
      Drop shipping is where you advertise and sell a product but don’t actually own or hold the stock. Your drop shipper would take your money, send out the goods to your customer but the goods only have your name as the sender so it looks like they came from you.
      Great way for startups as its cash flow positive and you have no stock outlay. Downside is theres someone else in the mix taking a margin.
      Happy trading mate!
      Jim

      Reply
      1. The question is if you let your drop shipper handle the deliver process and gave them your customer’s information, what if they contact your customer and steal your customer…

        Reply
  269. Thank you amazing article and amazing you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. No problem Monica, hope you enjoyed it :)

      Reply
  270. HI
    I THANK YOU FOR YOUR HARD WORK .IT IS VERY USEFUL FOR A NEW
    PERSON .I JUST WANT SAY TO THAT IS IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO MENTION IN A RED LINE ATTENTION CUSTOMER DUE TO ANY CIRCUMSTANCES YOUR ORDER CAN BE DELAYED OR CANCEL .SO THE CUSTOMER WILL NOT GET ANGRY WITH YOU . I THANK YOU AGAIN .
    BEST REGARDS
    AKRAM

    Reply
    1. Hi Akram,
      I ship many containers per year. If my customers worked under the cloud that I could cancel their order I would be out of business. As for delays, this can happen but shipping is actually pretty precise. If you are sea freighting LCL (less container load) then it can be a longer process. My advice is not to highlight any potential problems to your customers and make sure you use a good freight forwarder. Make sure if you are shipping that your freight people do not “trans ship”. This is a lower cost method of shipping where instead of going from say Shenzen to Longbeach it will tranship via Singapore. Then it waits for space on ships that are looking to fill gaps in the hold which is cheaper. These methods are not highlighted by freight companies and once its been sent via this method it can add weeks to a shipping schedule.
      So remember, no transhipping, direct vessel is best!
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
  271. Hi, I also liked a lot your article. I am from Bulgaria (Eastern Europe), and Ebay and Amazon are not that popular yet. I wonder if you have ever tried to sell to to stores or you are selling only online?

    Thanks, Stoyan.

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Stoyan! Yes, I’ve heard of people selling to physical stores, or even out of retail locations, mall kiosks, etc. As long as you can move the product, do it! Good luck…

      Reply
  272. hi,
    I want to know what exactly you have to do to collect imported goods from china. do you have to go to the port and checkout all th egoods before delivery to ones address. eg if I am importing scooters which come in 20 foot boxes what would I have to do form the point of delivery to get them checked and to my address. Do you have to pay import duites etc and how is this all done?

    Reply
    1. Yes, if you’re importing 20 foot containers it is a little more complicated, but still pretty easy. You just need to hire a shipping company that will deliver it from the port to your warehouse, where you’ll need to unload it as quickly as possible. Scooters sound like they might be complicated, but there’s probably some opportunity there. Good luck!

      Reply
  273. Thank you so much! This was just what I been looking for! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. No problem Victor, glad you liked it!

      Reply
  274. Hi,everybody
    I am a Taiwanese.I can speak native chinese.And I found a big secret about ebay and Amazon. ( Ebay and Amazon ) many things are expensive than china shopping website like Tmall and Taobao website.So, maybe America people or other countries people can buy from there than sell same goods in their country.It have a big profit,but dont have MOQ .

    Reply
    1. Absolutely! :)

      Reply