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Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find A Profitable Product To Sell

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This post is a follow-up to How You Can Make Big Money Importing From China – The Rise and Fall of My Empire…

In my last post, I showed you all how you can create your own importing business on the side. I got an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and great questions from that article, and I can’t explain how much I appreciate it – thank you all!

But ultimately, my last article did not go far enough in showing you how to get started…

Where I Failed

Too many products

Though my last article did help a lot of people, I got a TON of questions from readers asking how to find a good product to sell. Out of all of the questions I got, 90% of them must have been asking for help with some part of the product selection and buying process.

What this means is that I failed to explain this part of the process well enough in my last post; which is terrible, because that is the most important part!

Though I answered everybody’s questions as well as I could, there were undoubtedly many confused people who did not have the time to email me or comment.

I decided to put all the responses I sent to fellow entrepreneurs together and craft them into a (hopefully) beautiful Step-by-Step guide, which you should all know by now I love.

So without further ado, here is the Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find a Profitable Product To Sell…

Step 1: Prepare – What’s a Good Product?

If you haven’t read my previous post on importing, I would highly suggest doing that before going any further, as it really ties the whole concept together.

After you’ve done that, you can move on…

Done? Alright.

Now what we have to do is understand what I actually mean when I say “product”

I talked to one person who asked me if I thought he would make money if he sold towels…

That is not what I meant when I said product! So let me explain…

What’s a product?

When I first started my importing business, that “big niche” kind of thinking caused me to lose money hand over fist.

Every “niche” I tried I lost money in. Samples were causing me a fortune and it seemed that the only way out was to quit.

In a desperation move, I started only buying products I was selling consistently and making money on. What I discovered was that there was no profitable “niche” per se, but many profitable products!

You see, you need to be looking for a single profitable product to sell, not a profitable product niche to operate in. If you are looking for a profitable product niche, you are never going to be looking for the right thing. You are going to be completely overwhelmed from the beginning looking at mountains of data that are not at all relevant to what you’re trying to do.

The one exception to this is if you want to create a brand and branch out. But even then, you probably still want to start with one product, the one that will be your most profitable.

If you are trying to make some nice easy side income for yourself, then you don’t need to worry about branding or branching out into new products yet. All you need to worry about is finding a single profitable product to sell, and selling it.

What makes a good product?

Now that you know you are only looking for one single product to sell, you need to know a few things about what qualifies a product to be “good”.

There is a specific sweet spot that you should be looking for.

I would suggest you read over the following list a couple of times before moving forward, and really grasp all these points and why I put them there.

Good products are…

Good Products

  • Small and light enough to be easily picked up - The bigger and heavier it is, the more it costs to ship both in and out (not to mention any returns and storage). I’ve never tried dealing with any product I can’t easily pick up, so I can’t suggest you do…
  • Specific, niche products (usually) - Again, you aren’t going to be selling things like “Necklaces” or even “Clock Necklaces”. You want to find one specific product, like “Silver Owl Pendant Clock Necklace”.
  • Selling to consumers for $10-200 - I am sure there is plenty of money to be made in products over this range, but it is going to take a lot of capital to get started. You can certainly try, just know it’s just going to be riskier. Most items under $10 are even tougher, as most markets don’t have enough volume to create any sizable revenue. Furthermore, any markets that do have volume under $10 are typically going to be run by big importers who can work on low margins.
  • Consistent stream of buyers - You want something that is going to sell consistently all year long and for the foreseeable future. So don’t get into iPhone 2 cases just because you got a great price – that product will have an ever decreasing base of buyers. You also don’t want to get into super seasonal stuff, like Halloween Costumes or Christmas Ornaments
  • Selling for twice as much as your buy price - I would not even look at a product with less than a 100% markup, which is a 50% margin. That means if I cant double the price, I am not looking at it. I suggest you use your worst estimates here, which I’ll explain further below.

Bad products are…

Bad Products

  • Mechanical and demand high quality standards and great warranties - Hoping this one is self-explanatory, but you definitely don’t want to be dealing with things like table saws, hydraulic lifts, and manufacturing machinery. That is just a headache waiting to happen (probably much worse than a headache though…)
  • Sold at Wal-Mart or Best Buy - If you are thinking about a product that is being imported by GIANT retailers, you are missing the point. We are trying to find a single deep-niche item with consistent buyers that we can undercut the current selling prices on. This is the best way to reduce risk.
  • Fragile and require perfect shipping practices - Not a headache, but a nightmare waiting to happen.
  • Have multiple “Powersellers” already selling large volume - If you are thinking about doing something like headphones, you don’t want to pick the headphones that have 10 powersellers who sell thousands of units a month already. These are businesses built to run on eBay, and you won’t be able to compete with them. You need to find products that don’t have a ton of sellers, but the ones there are selling consistently. Don’t let a little competition discourage you, but also don’t try to start selling socks and be able to compete with the 20 companies on eBay already selling 20,000 socks a month factory direct. You gotta get more out of the box.
  • Trademarked and will get you sued – Don’t buy anything with any trademark on it. This means counterfeit purses and wallets, as well as Snoopy and Twilight toys. Anything with big US trademarks on it won’t get you too far.

Note that these are just my recommendations based on how I wanted my importing business to run. I am sure there is money to be made in products that break every rule set above, but I can only help readers with what I know works from my experiences.

Even when I was making a fortune importing airsoft guns, there were only a couple of products I made good money on. I could only make money on metal gearbox electric rifles and bolt action sniper rifles. I tried multiple times to get into accessories, pistols, tactical gear – pretty much everything I could think of. I could only compete on eBay and Amazon with a few specific products, and I made a KILLING with just those.

Notice that even the products I didn’t have success with fit perfectly into all of my requirements I listed above. The list above is just a framework to guide your thinking, a set of filters to run your ideas through before researching to save time.

You will still have to get your hands dirty with some data to know what products might actually make you money, so let me attempt to show you how I do it…

Step 2: Research – How To Find Good Products

Now that you know what makes a good product and have something to guide your thinking, let’s start our search.

Tools you’ll need

  • Alibaba - Your new best friend. This is where you will find product listings from overseas suppliers. At this point you are using it to check prices. You’ll be using it more after you find some good products, but for now we’re just checking price.
  • eBay - The best place I have found to get an idea of what products are selling for. Right now you’ll be using eBay to get an idea of the volume and price point we could sell the product you’re researching.
  • Amazon - Another great place to see what products are selling for and if you can compete with them. I put eBay above this because eBay gives me a better idea of what percentage of the product listings are selling and at what price. Amazon is also awesome for browsing around and coming up with ideas to research and expand on.
  • Etsy - I actually never sold on Etsy, but I have had at least 20 people email me with products they found selling on Etsy for $20+ more than they could get them on Alibaba. I think Etsy is still relatively untapped by importers and thus a good place to look into if you’re using this method.
  • This spreadsheet I made for you - This is a simple spreadsheet I use to keep track of different products I find while on my search, and I suggest you do the same. I usually try to find 5-10 good products before pulling the trigger on samples. You’ll see 5 niches I found for this post on there for examples.

Open up all of these links, because you’ll be jumping around all of them in your search.

Things to keep in mind while searching

  • Alibaba search filters - When searching for products or suppliers on Alibaba, always make sure you have the “Gold Supplier” button checked. This will save you from most of the low quality suppliers and scammers. Gold Suppliers Only!
  • eBay search filters - When searching for products on eBay, always make sure you have the “Completed Listings” button checked. This will allow you to see what prices things are selling at and how frequently they are selling.eBay Completed Listings
  • What you’re looking for – You’re looking for good products that you can mark up at least 100% in your worst estimates. Don’t forget what makes a good product and what makes a bad product with the list in Step 1. If you find a product that fits all the characteristics of a good product, and you’re able to mark it up 100% in your worst estimates, then add it to the list. By “worst estimate”, I mean using the worst case scenario buying and selling prices in your calculations.

Start searching…

Unfortunately, it is tough for me to describe exactly how I find products, because it is such a loose process (and it should be for you too).

Just so you can see how loose this process is for me, here is my search history while I was searching for the products I listed in the spreadsheet you should have opened above. I also marked the products that ended up being possible winners…

Belt buckle, Bottle opener belt buckle, Las Vegas belt buckle, Texas belt buckle, Military riot helmets, Children’s toothbrush holder, Picture cube, Photography light box, Photography mini studio kits, Survival Cards, Folding credit card survival knife, Knife, Steak knife, Stainless steel serrated steak knife, Vintage, Cat magnets, Super magnets, Magnet putty, Glow in the dark magnetic super space putty, Hair scissors, Baby bath, Bath sets, Mineral bath salts, Lighter, Blowtorch lighter, Windproof lighter, Kids instruments, Jewelry scale, Gold testing kit, Party lights, Incense holder, Novelty toy, Shock toy, Hiking boots, Wedding decor, Decorative pillows, Guitar picks, Vintage lighting, Pet bedding, Pet toys, Umbrella storage, Umbrella cover, Hair apron umbrella

As you can see, there is not a whole lot of sense to be made out of that. I found good niches, but the path to them is always pretty hard to understand.

Here are some of the ways I came up with ideas for things to search during my process…

  • Looking at random objects around me and trying to think of some spin (belt buckle, kids instruments, guitar picks)
  • Thinking of things that have been trending up in recent years (photography light box, survival cards, vintage)
  • Thinking of little impulse buys people consistently buy (cat magnets, incense holder, novelty toy, shock toy, pet toys)
  • Randomly clicking around eBay/Amazon/Etsy (picture cube, lighter, party lights, decorative pillows, wedding decor)
  • Thinking of something randomly while looking at search results (pretty much everything else)

If you are still having trouble coming up with random product ideas, you can also look at any of these for inspiration – Amazon Best Sellers, Amazon Movers & Shakers, mySimon Top Searches, Shopzilla Top Searches, Kaboodle Hot Picks

It took me about 90 minutes to go through the above process and find 5 possible products, averaging just under 20 minutes per product. You should expect it to take a little over that if you don’t have much experience with this.

Once you have a few products on your spreadsheet, take a second to really think about each product and compare them against the things I’ve said above.

Will you product have a high refund rate? Will it be expensive to ship? Will it only be bought 1 month of the year? Will people expect it to work flawless for years on end? Will people expect great customer support and education?

These are all things we want to avoid with this particular method, and now is the time to double check and be sure you don’t have any bad products on your list.

Once you have decided on 2-5 products to try out, you get to find suppliers and buy samples (the fun part!)

Step 3: Buy – How To Find and Test Suppliers

Now we are going to search for and contact 3-10 good suppliers for each of our products.

A lot of the people that messaged me with questions were intimidated by contacting sales representatives – don’t be!

They are there for no other reason than to answer your questions, so please feel free to ask the suppliers you contact anything! I assure you they have heard it all.

Before you start

I would suggest making an alternate email address before contacting any suppliers, and making sure that you run all Alibaba communications through that inbox. If you don’t, then expect to be spammed with random product offering for the next 2-5 years from everybody you contact.

Finding & Contacting Suppliers

Here is what I would do, using “Stainless steel serrated steak knife” as an example.

  1. Search for your product on Alibaba with the correct filters – At this point we will want to switch our search settings and look for “Suppliers” rather than “Products” and search for our product. Start by filtering by “Gold Suppliers” (which you already should have checked), and keep clicking “Onsite Checked”, “Assessed Supplier”, and “Escrow” until you are down to 10-20 suppliers. If there is still a lot after that, that’s fine. Just try to find a way to narrow it down the the very best with 10-20 you can contact.Alibaba Product Filters
  2. Write a generic message asking for the information you need – Now just write a generic message that you’ll be sending to each supplier in Notepad or something. Here is the one I will be sending for this example – I suggest stealing this one and adding anything you might need or want to know. This means anything specific about your product, or anything you are confused about and want to know more about.

    Hello,I am starting a company and may be needing a large supply of Stainless Steel Serrated Steak Knives. Could you send me your price list for these Stainless Steel Serrated Steak Knives, along with any shipping and payment information you can give me. Also, could we work something out regarding a sample being sent to me? Products will be going to Florida, USA. And what would the MOQ be after the samples?

    Thanks,
    Will

  3. Send generic messages to suppliers – Now just go down the list of suppliers and click “Contact Suppliers”. Copy & paste your message into the box, send it, and wait for the responses. You should start seeing replies within a couple of hours.Contact Suppliers
  4. Decide on which suppliers to buy samples from – Within 24 hours you should have replies from most of the suppliers you emailed. You probably only want to deal with the ones that email back quickly. At this point, you will want to “dry-run” each supplier and get a feel for how it is to do business with their company. Most of your communication from here will be through email or Alibaba messaging. Your first response from them will likely contain a few price sheets, product specs, as well as responses to your questions. As you are trying to message at least 5-10 suppliers, you should get a good idea of the high/low prices for your product. This information combined with your gut feeling on the supplier through talking with them should get you down to 2-3 suppliers you like well enough to buy samples from and test to see if you can actually make money.
  5. Buy samples - Like I said above, through your conversations with the suppliers you contact you should whittle it down to 2-3 suppliers you are comfortable doing business with and want to buy samples from. This usually happens through email as well – You’ll tell them what products you want sent to what address, they’ll tell you how much it will cost and where to send the money, you send the money and tell them that it’s sent. Expect the shipping alone on your sample to cost $25-45. I would only do business with companies that take orders through PayPal or Escrow. Any other way than that and you are risking being scammed and have absolutely no financial protection in your order.
  6. Sit and wait for your samples to arrive – It will usually take 7-20 days for your order to arrive. This part sucks.

Additional questions I got on this step…

Are the details on the product listings such as Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) concrete?

The minimum order suppliers list on Alibaba is generally not concrete, and most of the time represents their average or desired order size. There is no way to know for sure without messaging the suppliers directly, which is why I message 10-20 initially.

In my experience, overseas 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 shouldn’t mind sending out even a single item via air (which is what they do with samples anyways).

Again, some items will be different than others. 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 get much better prices on Alibaba if you are willing to put in the effort to communicate with suppliers, but AliExpress is always an option.

 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?

Just make sure they are sending via EMS, TNT, DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc to your house and you shouldn’t 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 via air, 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 :)

 When comparing items on selling sites and Alibaba, is it important to find the same brands? Does it need to be the same manufacturer? Can I just find a comparable product and try to sell it?

It really depends on the product, but it would be prime if you could find the same exact products that are selling already, 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 the same product and sell them on eBay or any other channel, because you know people are buying a similar item. Then it just comes down to positioning your product 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.

Is there a trick to finding products that sell without being branded? Maybe certain niches where brand name means less (or nothing at all)?

The reason airsoft guns worked were because nobody cares about the brand. People go on to buy a cool airsoft gun for themselves or their kids, 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.

Is there a way to know the exact current volume of sales before choosing a product to sell?

I just count how many are sold in a given week on eBay, that will usually let you know a ballpark amount. Take note of the ratio of sold vs unsold listings for your product. 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.

How much to buy at first

How should I negotiate with my supplier? How did you?

It really depends on your relationship with your supplier. You will usually find yourself talking with one person 95% of the time, so you will slowly become friends with them. It is a weird relationship, you both know that business is cut throat, but you are partners in it and will help each other as far as you can. Asian business is really different than in the US.

Whenever I negotiated prices with a supplier, it was very informal and very laid back. I would usually just email them along with my normal email saying something along the lines of “I have another factory offering me this product at $0.50 per unit lower than you, I may have to move to them for this specific product”, or “If you can give me $0.50 off per unit, I can sell X number of units more for you per month”, or “I am starting to do a lot more volume with you, do you think we could talk about lowering the product or shipping prices in order to account for these recent bulk orders”.

Sort of contrary to popular belief, they are extremely friendly, and will genuinely try to help you as long as they are making something on the other end. They really believe in Karma over there, that helping you may help you help them in the future, so why wouldn’t they?

I also haggled a lot on specific orders, so I would sometimes email or skyped him saying hey, I have an order lined up for 5 of this item, but they want it at this price. If you can give me this price on these, I can sell them right away. This worked really well for me to feel out what the actual cost of sale was for the factory and something to work towards.

How does escrow work?

The Alibaba Escrow service (or whatever service you want to use) consists of you sending the payment for your order to a third party (Alibaba in this case) who will hold the money until you tell them that you have received the order and it is to your satisfaction. At that point, they release the funds to the seller. If you arent satisfied with the order, you can basically dispute the transaction and get a refund. It may a little bit safer than PayPal, but normally I still try to use PayPal anyways.

How long does it take to find a good supplier?

Now, I could probably find a good supplier in a day or two, just because I know what to look out for now (most of which is included in the post). To find a perfect supplier like my airsoft supplier is a little more difficult, and requires some time and luck. You usually have to work with a few good suppliers to find a perfect one. Really, I don’t know how much of it is “finding” one as opposed to just developing a great relationship with a great factory. I often forget that many people over there are just as entrepreneurial and ambitious as I am, if not more. Find a great factory, and work with them to build your business. Once you have constant cash coming in, they will really start to help you out, because helping you increase your sales also increases theirs.

Step 4: Sell – How To Sell Your Product

Once you finally have your hands on your samples, deeply examine them and see how they are.

Is the quality what you expected? Do any areas look cheap? Are there any things that are missing? Does anything look like it will fall apart after some heavy use? Is the packaging quality up to par? Is there anything at all that would cause a customer to not be happy with this if he ordered it from you?

These are all things you need to ask yourself. If you decide that your samples are at least high enough quality to sell (most products don’t need to be perfect), then I still recommend doing one more thing before you start buying in bulk…

The importance of testing the waters

I once thought I had an awesome niche in a certain type of bed cover. I bought my samples and got up to this point in the guide, impressed with the quality of the sample bed covers.

But instead of testing the waters and listing/selling my samples online, I immediately put in a bulk order…

A few weeks later I got my huge box full of 100 sets of bed covers. I jumped on my computer excited as ever and then started listing my bed covers…

I immediately sold 5 on the first night and shipped them out the following day. I thought I hit a gold mine.

After a week of solid sales, I started getting feedback from customers. It was HORRIBLE! Every single piece of feedback was basically hate mail.

Turns out the colors on my bed covers were running in the wash and not only ruining the designs, but in some cases more of the customers clothes.

I immediately stopped selling the covers, but not before the damage was done. I took a huge hit on my eBay feedback that would have gotten most accounts banned; as well as a hit on my bank account and pride when I had to throw away over 75 bed covers and refund all customers.

That is how I learned to always sell your samples first before putting in a bulk order, and I strongly suggest that you limit your risk and do the same.

How to sell your samples

This part should be pretty easy for you, but here is a quick overview to help.

  • List your product on eBay, Amazon, and/or Etsy – You’re going to want to set up a sellers account if you don’t have one, and then list you samples. The way I do this on is just looking at the “Completed Listings” for my product that have sold the most in the past couple months, and then rewriting their copy. On Amazon it is even simpler than that, you just list a price and quantity. You usually won’t make a profit on your samples, you are only selling them to test everything out. Don’t get hung up on this part too much, just get your products up and selling and wait to see if you make sales. If you aren’t making sales, start comparing your item to ones that are and figure out why they aren’t.
  • Ship out orders – Obviously if you start getting orders you are going to want to send out your samples. All you have to do is take it to the post office or whatever with the product and address.
  • Wait and evaluate – You should soon enough start getting some feedback on your products. If you get good feedback, awesome! If you get back feedback or refund requests, not good. If you had to drop your price below what you thought you could sell at, maybe not good. If you didn’t sell anything and still have your samples, definitely not good. You guys will know if you want to move forward or not.

Additional questions I got on this step…

How do you handle returns and warranty?

Unfortunately, you’ll have to eat the costs on any returns at this point. Ideally you want to find a product that doesn’t have a huge return rate or high demands on quality in general. If you did that correctly, you should never run into any issues with returns outside of a 1-2% refund rate. But yes, you do have to eat the cost on all refunds and returns, and I suggest you do so happily to keep your eBay/Amazon/Etsy feedback scores high.

If one starts with a fresh email account on eBay/Amazon, does it take long before someone actually buys one of your items?

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.

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?

My listings would look like this

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?

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.

Step 5: Grow – How To Move Forward & Other Questions

So at this point you should know a huge amount about whether or not you’d like to move forward with this. You should have all of the data you need to know exactly how much money you can make, exactly how many units of your product you should buy on your first bulk order, and which supplier you’d like to work with moving forward.

Growing from here is really up to you. There is no limit on how large or how small an importing business can be.

I have a friend who started out selling car audio sub woofers just like I describe here. He started selling 2-3 units per week on eBay.

Within a couple months he had expanded out to Amazon and started putting his own brand name on the sub woofers he was ordering.

Within a year he had a website for his brand and began bringing in more and more products to sell. He also began thinking of ways to turn Amazon and eBay customers into recurring revenue by signing them up for his email list and social media profiles.

Now, not even 2 years since he started, he is set to clear $700,000 of revenue for 2012 at just 20 years old.

He started out with this simple concept and decided that he wanted to build it out into his own brand. That is definitely one way you could go!

Of course this also takes MUCH more time and energy to build. If you want to build this up and still keep it as a side business, there are ways to do that as well.

Here are just a few of the ways you can grow your importing business from here -

  • Listing yourself on other existing sales channels – Make sure you have all of your products listed on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and any other places you can get sales from.
  • Build your own sales channel – It is becoming easier and easier for anybody to create an eCommerce store and start building their own sales channel. Even if you don’t want to build your own brand, there are many benefits, such as listing your products through Google and Bing Shopping Ads.
  • Advertising on existing sales channels – I had a lot of success advertising my product listings on Amazon and eBay, and I am sure you can do the same.
  • Take on new products – As you sell more of your product you will have more feedback and money to play with. You’ll be able to test new products and start bringing in new things to sell.
  • Brand yourself – Branding takes a lot, and obviously goes far beyond the scope of this post, but you can certainly build out your importing company into a brand like I described above. You can see how I pick brand names here.
  • Recurring revenue – The best way to make money in any business is recurring revenue. You can start thinking about putting promotional materials in boxes, starting an email newsletter, monthly subscription packs, and things like that. The more people you can siphon from eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Google, or whatever into your contact databases (email, mail, etc), the better.
  • Getting better prices from your supplier – As your volume starts to pick up with your supplier your bargaining power will grow with it. Don’t be afraid to ask for small discounts here or there once you have some volume going.
  • Outsourcing parts of the process – Once you are making 10 or 20 orders a day, you will probably start getting sick of shipping things out constantly. Outsourcing this to a friend or employee of some sort is an obvious way to free up time to grow your business. Hiring a VA to keep track of your inventory and respond to customers immediately may be a good investment as well.

Here are things that probably won’t work -

  • PPC Advertising – I have not had much success with Adwords/FB PPC with this method. If you know what you’re doing go ahead and try, but I know what I’m doing and don’t find it worth my time.
  • Social Media – Just isn’t going to work for importing unless you are trying to build a brand or something. Social is good for brands, not for eBay/Amazon sellers. Again, different if you are building a brand.
  • Pretty much anything I didn’t mention above – If I didn’t mention it in the “working” section, then it didn’t work for me.

Other questions I received…

There were a few questions that I received that didn’t really fit into any of the above steps, but I did want to include them anyways. Here they are -

What was your experience with getting the merchandise through customs? Were your orders always by air or did you dabble with larger container shipments?

I never had much trouble with customs. 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. There are also a few extra fees involved, but again your supplier will know them, so just ask them.

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.

What are the hilarious boxes of useless stuff you still own?

I have a box of a bunch of purses and wallets taking up space in my closet. I have a pair of these ridiculous transparent gangster shoes (BAPES or soemthing) that I got sent instead of a sample I ordered. I have tons of airsoft stuff still laying around, more T-Shirts than I will ever be able to use, and probably more…

When to start advertising?

What do you think about the viability of this in a smaller international market like Australia?

I think this will work in smaller markets, but even more interestingly I think those markets may have more opportunities. Everybody is in the US markets, there have got to be some under utilized sites for different countries.

There might also be products that don’t sell very well in the US and do in Australia, which would probably increase your margins greatly. There have got to be some products that are Australia specific that might be awesome niches.

Shipping and imports might eat you, but in Australia I think you will actually get everything a lot cheaper than we do in the US (not sure though). I know Australia and China have been playing nice, and are obviously very close to each other, so it might be significantly cheaper.

Obviously, treat it with caution as my experience is in the US market and could be wrong because of that, but I think you should definitely look into it.

I live in Europe and anything outside of the free market is typically charged VAT as it comes in – how did you deal with this?

I definitely didn’t need to deal with VAT tax here in the US, and I would hate it if I did. Honestly, it probably won’t kill the method entirely, but it is going to limit your niches a bit more. You’re gunna have to find a really, really good niche, and probably on a small item with few parts to avoid a high VAT fee.

Why should we avoid WWB/Doba?

I think in some cases WWB/Doba can give you some good contacts, and it may have changed since I was a member. In my specific experience with them, I couldn’t find any items that I could make a significant margin on. I remember going through tons and tons and tons of data to find the most profitable items I could sell via eBay and Amazon and couldn’t find a single item to make money on. Coupled in with the cost of membership I couldn’t see myself ever making it worth the money, but again I was 14-16 years old at the time and may have been missing some vital points – but that is my experience with it.

Why didn’t you move to other products when you were younger?

I guess I don’t really remember why I didn’t start exploring other niches at that time. My best guess is that I was 16 and scatterbrained and wanted to try something new and exciting. I also got picked up on a professional paintball team right around that time also, so that took up most of my time for a few years…

Do you still find suppliers on Alibaba and sell items?

I still use Alibaba to find suppliers for me and my clients for whatever we need. Some of my recent imports have been yearbook-style books, branded promo materials (pins, bags, shirts, posters, etc.), and industry specific tools (think hair cutting shears, bartender items, things like that).

How do you find dropshippers?

Dropshippers are a little bit tougher to find than bulk distributors, because they need to trust you as well as you trusting them. I think it is really best to build a relationship through small bulk orders before moving into dropshipping. A great site for finding dropshippers is WholesaleCentral.com – but the best dropshippers are found through your existing suppliers.

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?

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.

How do you do taxes on this? Say you’re self employed and keep good records?

Yea, I never had many tax issues with it. Given I was 15/16, I was using my parents accountant to do it, and just gave them my records basically.

On shipping, do you buy a bulk order of boxes and print off labels or whatever?

Yep, that is exactly what I did. Add in a tape gun and packing peanut dispenser and you’re golden.

Additional Questions?

I tried to go as far as I could without getting boring in this blog post, and I may have even failed at that.

However, if you are still having any issues with any part of this process, feel free to contact me and I will do what I can to help you.

As many of our readers already know, I typically answer all questions with a couple of hours, and try to do as much as I can to help you succeed.

You can contact me by commenting below or emailing me at Will at StartupBros dot Com

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!

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400 comments… add one

  1. Awesome Blogpost!
    Really a lot of great content in this and your previous post.
    I actually started importing just a few days before finding your post which is kind of funny! I agree on everything you say!
    For now i don’t have any more questions… just wanted to say thank you for the great articles! I will be following your blog in the future that’s for sure. ;)

    BTW i think you forget to post an image in your article if i am not mistake:
    After the quote:
    “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?”
    There is nothing related to your listing. ;)

    regards Peter

    Reply
    1. Hi Peter,

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

      Glad to hear another importer agrees with the ritual I’ve formed :)

      I did forget to post that link – I knew I was forgetting a link somewhere. Thanks for telling me, I am going to add it right away.

      Thanks again for everything,
      Will

      Reply
    2. Hi, Mr. Will, after reading this article , I have no words. Its an amazing explanation!!!!!!!!!!!
      Thank you so much for the info.

      Reply
      1. You have at least twenty-two words! Hope they weren’t your last :-P

        Reply
  2. Once again, amazing blog post! I’m sure many people appreciate what you’re doing Will, keep it up!

    I think you forgot to insert an image (or link) at the part where you’re talking about how your listings look like.

    Reply
    1. Hi Lamine,

      Thanks a lot for reading and taking the time out to comment again, the only thing better than feedback is consistent feedback :)

      Thanks for letting me know, just added the link now!

      Hope you got some value out of this one Lamine, and I’ll try to keep up the good work.

      Will

      Reply
      1. Thank you so much for all the info….really good of you to share…

        Reply
        1. Thanks for reading and commenting MissKeda :)

          Reply
  3. Keep up the good work, man. Thanks for another great post.

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Brian, hope it helped!

      Reply
  4. This post is pure awesomeness. I’m a web developer that suck at marketing, and this kind of post is really usefull. Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed guide.

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for reading! Glad I could help :)

      Reply
  5. Hi Will,

    This is a really great article! Thank you for sharing such valuable knowledge on how to start this daunting process.

    Reply
    1. No problem Robert, hope it helps you get through it :)

      Reply
  6. Great article, one question…What percentage of return did you shoot for before giving a product a pass or a go?

    Reply
    1. Hey Marco, I recognize your name from the Adwords Coupon I sent you, hope it helps :)

      My goal was to stay under a 2% return rate, but anything over 5% would be unacceptable to me.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  7. How can I tell if a certain product is selling well/poorly on Amazon?

    Reply
    1. Hey Isaiah,

      Though you can’t see the exact amount sold in any given period, you can try to look at how quickly prices are changing, the “Bestsellers” number of the product (#x,xxx bestseller in x category), or …that may be it. It is a bit tougher to get an idea of volume on Amazon, that’s why I recommend eBay for that phase.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  8. Thanks. Great advice. But I would buy thru AliExpress, I’d avoid AliBaba, I’ve heard that AE’s escrow is far far safer than AB’s.

    Reply
    1. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the advice!

      Reply
      1. I think AliExpress is more expensive. It is more of B to C rather than B to B.

        Reply
  9. This was awesome, truly powerful information and I have to thank you for sharing!

    One Question:

    How do you deal with force majeure? Especially with the turmoil in China and any unlikely weather disasters?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for your kind words Bar!

      Good question, I have never had any issues like that, so I am not sure how it would be handled in an air order. I want to say when shipping by air there may be some sort of insurance by the shipping company, but I am really not sure.

      Really good question though, I will have to look into it. Thank god I never had any issues like that! I have had some issues with container shipments, but never something like a ship sinking or any complete loss. I will definitely have to look into it.

      Hope the rest of the article helped,
      Will

      Reply
  10. Great post outlining this method. Does eBay have to many of these’niche sellers’ or are new niche products emerging rapidly enough for new comers to make a buck with this technique?

    Thanks you all the info

    Shout out from your home 813

    Reply
    1. Hi Ryan,

      New products are coming up all the time, and there are millions of great niches out there. I cant believe all the great niches people have been finding!

      Thanks a lot for reading!
      Will

      P.S. – I’m in 727 :)

      Reply
      1. Thought I read one of you guys were from tampa. … O well :P

        Reply
        1. I’m in Palm Harbor – quick drive away :)

          Reply
  11. I looked up airsoft guns on Alibaba but there were no listings.

    Reply
    1. Hey Stephen,

      China made airsoft guns illegal, so they now need to be smuggled out of the country and are much more expensive to produce. Factories definitely don’t want to attract attention by listing illegal items on Alibaba. If you search for something an airsoft factory would legally produce, like airsoft clips, airsoft parts, bbs, accessories, etc – you should find some factories. My bet is they just don’t openly advertise the “weapon look-a-likes” (that is what is illegal in China).

      My supplier is still going strong, I just put in some orders with him last week to test the waters again. Same exact guy as years ago!

      Hope this helps, not really sure if you had a question or what…

      Will

      Reply
      1. How do you find out if they sell actual airsoft guns? It seems like they wouldn’t just go around telling anyone who messages them. Or would they?

        Reply
        1. I would just ask them, I am honestly not sure exactly how it works now.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_issues_in_airsoft#China

          Reply
  12. Haha yeah it was essentially a question. So just link up with a supplier that sells airsoft products and ask them if they have any guns available?

    I know you said airsoft accessories didn’t sell well for you. Did you try selling CO2 cartridges and if so what were your results?

    Thanks for answering my question so quickly.

    Reply
    1. No problem Stephen, thanks for replying so quick :)

      I never tried doing CO2 cartridges, I am really not sure how they would do. I never got into any of the gas powered stuff.

      I can tell you though, it is going to be tough to compete with me if I get back into it, my supplier for airsoft rocks :-P

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Quick question: How did you identify the worth of an airsoft gun? I’m looking at a few manufacturers’ catalogs and most of the guns just have pictures and not model numbers that you could identify on eBay/Amazon. So how did you estimate the value?

        Reply
        1. Hey Isaiah –

          If by value you meant your cost of goods (inventory), then you need to ask your supplier.

          Hope this helps,
          Will

          Reply
  13. I know you didn’t really do much yourself as far as taxes go, but what about the setup like obtaining a resale certificate or anything? Did you need to do anything like that? What about charging for sales tax for your state (if applicable). Or did you literally just keep all records and hope for the best when it came to tax time? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hey Teddi,

      Sorry I missed your comment somehow. Never again!

      I didn’t have a resale certificate until after a good year after starting this. I don’t see any use in dropping money on bureaucratic formalities until I know that it is going to be advantageous to me. After a year I had built up a good amount of cash flow and it was obvious that I would be continuing to operate the business for the foreseeable future. At that point, I filed for an LLC and Sales & Use Tax license.

      My LLC for that was filed in Nevada, so I got a Resale Certificate in NV and collected & paid sales tax for orders from NV. That was the extent of it though.

      If you keep your records in order any accountant will be able to do it for a few hundred bucks.

      Don’t stress the bureaucratic crap so much – it is just there to steal your time and money.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      P.S. – The only way I would stress this stuff is if you live in one of the really anti-business States like Cali or NY. If I lived there, I would probably get an LLC before doing anything for any business.

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,

        Thank you for sharing your experience and a great posting. I am inspired right away to take my first plunge in to importing business and follow the steps described above. Please excuse my ignorance in my below questions as I have no experience in entrepreneurship and am typing this message right after reading your blog.

        To follow the same thread on Teddi’s question.. my interpretation of what you said is don’t start w/ bureaucratic stuff until there is light at the end of the tunnel. However :
        1- Is it possible to clear imports at the customs without tax ID? No questions asked?
        2- Can seller accounts be opened on the websites you mentioned (i.e. eBay, Amazon etc.) without a tax ID?
        3- Does PayPal not require taxID to open an account? How do they report earnings of members to IRS, based on SSN?

        Thank you so much,
        Al

        Reply
  14. If I find a supplier that is “Gold”, “Onsite Checked”, and “Escrow”, but NOT an “Assessed Supplier” is this a deal-breaker? What does “Assessed Supplier” mean?

    Reply
    1. Hey Joe,

      Not being an Assessed Supplier is NOT a deal breaker for me. The only deal breakers for me are if they are not gold members, or if they do not take PayPal/Escrow. Assessed Supplier I believe means that they paid for a third party to come in and inspect their factory, a little expensive, and somewhat rare still. Gold + Paypal/Escrow is my minimum, everything else is a bonus :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Thanks, Will!

        Reply
        1. Great article! I have been wanting to do this for a long time. After reading your articles I think I’m going to go for it! Now I just need to find my first product to sell!
          Going to start my homework I guess!

          Thanks
          Dave Hartmam

          Reply
  15. Great article! Do you have any advice for a broke college kid? This seems really awesome but I’m worried it would take make me forever to save up enough to get started. Any advice on low start up costs?

    Reply
    1. Hey Max,

      Thanks a lot for reading + commenting!

      The way that I wrote this out is basically my “bootstrap” method for this. $500 would be a good starting amount with this method, but you could even go lower.

      If you don’t have $500, walk outside! College is a massive pool of hungry buyers with other people’s money! Easy money to be made all over the place.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  16. This is a great follow up post Will. I’m gonna read back through it a second time; lot’s of good details. I have a good idea of a product I’m working on with a friend – I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m glad I could be a inspiration for your first importing post which has BLOWN UP. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    1. Hey Devan, glad you like the follow up as well! Definitely keep me updated on the new project (you know my email). Hard to believe that simple email you sent out started all this! Cloud Atlas or what? :-P

      Reply
  17. How many samples do you recommend we buy?

    And has anybody ordered anything yet?

    Reply
    1. Hi Stephen,

      Thanks a lot for commenting.

      I would recommend you buy 1-2 samples from 2-5 factories per item. Obviously if you are thinking of importing something like jelly bracelets you’ll want more than 1-2 units, so use your judgement depending on whatever product you’re looking at.

      A lot of readers have already bought samples, I have probably heard from 20-30 people that are waiting on their first batch of sample orders as we speak. I am sure there are many more who didn’t email me!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  18. Who did you set your courier account up with?

    Reply
    1. UPS, but now I am with FedEx. They switch their rates around a lot, so just see what you want to do.

      Reply
  19. Hey

    You say revenue.. but can you give us an idea how much profit he made?

    THX!

    “”"”I have a friend who started out selling car audio sub woofers just like I describe here. He started selling 2-3 units per week on eBay.

    Within a couple months he had expanded out to Amazon and started putting his own brand name on the sub woofers he was ordering.

    Within a year he had a website for his brand and began bringing in more and more products to sell. He also began thinking of ways to turn Amazon and eBay customers into recurring revenue by signing them up for his email list and social media profiles.

    Now, not even 2 years since he started, he is set to clear $700,000 of revenue for 2012 at just 20 years old.”"”

    Reply
    1. Hi,

      Thanks a lot for reading/commenting.

      I believe he works on around a 40-50% gross margin, but we will be having him in for a podcast interview within the next couple weeks and I’ll be sure to ask him for his latest numbers.

      Of course, how much of that goes into his pocket? Not a whole lot right now, because it is all being reinvested (he still has 100% equity). He could take money out or take on investors and take money off the table, but he doesn’t want to. Equity is always better than cash if you’re confident in your ability to grow the company.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      tl;dr – 40-50% gross margin

      Reply
  20. Thanks for the interesting article, I’m really enjoying looking around for products to sell, still nervous about spending my money on something that won’t sell though. What kind of percentage for sales should I be looking for on items (on eBay), as in percentage of listings that sell. And what constitutes high, medium and low volume.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Hey Aaron,

      Sorry about the delay on the response, I was out of town for the holidays.

      I would also be nervous about spending money on items that won’t sell! That’s why I go through this process to test each product and each supplier to make sure everything runs smoothly before I start buying in bulk.

      It really depends on your item, but I’d say anywhere over 75% not selling is too much. You’re looking for volume too, so look for listings with multiple items. Some will be selling a couple units, others hundreds. Once you start comparing items you’ll start to get an idea of averages and how to compare them.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  21. Do you check the rate on shipping through your courier or do you have the supplier do that for you?

    Reply
    1. I usually just let the supplier deal with all of it. If I feel inclined to I’ll check shipping prices to make sure I’m not getting ripped off, but it is really rare I have ever been slighted on shipping price.

      Hope this helps Stephen, and thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  22. Great post once again Will. You are inspiring a new generation of young import entrepreneurs.

    Have a happy holiday and enjoy the weather down there in Florida.

    Heres to a great 2013 with new opportunities!!

    Reply
    1. Hey there Alex,

      Sorry for the delay on the response, hope you had a great Christmas

      Thanks a lot for reading, I’m glad you liked it :)

      Let’s kill it in 2013!

      Will

      Reply
  23. Hey another question!

    So when you search the top sold products on Amazon. How do you really know what you are looking for. I mean, I’ve found some products I can import for a good price, but all those products seem to be sold by tons of people on eBay. How do you personally, tell what is being imported and what isn’t by other people, and what you can actually sell, and whats over saturated.

    Thanks again for the great article!

    Reply
    1. Hey Zak,

      That’s what this article is supposed to be – How I personally tell what is being imported and what I can actually sell!

      There is no way to be sure without taking a risk and trying, that is business.

      This is the exact process I use to test products to see if it is profitable for me to move forward with them.

      Every product is different. Airsoft guns I was importing an exact make and model and killing it, but with the knives example I could import any decent quality knife and kill it.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  24. How do you keep shipping costs down on pretty small products? It seems like even with a product like a 24 pack of batteries, the shipping would cost at least $5. I know that this can’t be the case for all sellers because some products with free shipping would cost more to ship than they are selling it for.

    Reply
    1. Hey again Isaiah,

      For very high volume sellers, they likely work out bulk deals with UPS/Fedex as well as have their entire company streamlined for these types of shipments. That is why I suggest not trying to compete with things priced lower than $10-20. Batteries are also generally a high volume low margin market, the type I’d suggest not going into. You want a higher margin.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  25. This is a great article! Extraordinarily informative and probably the best source for advice on finding products to import!

    I fully agree on the advice to only buy from suppliers that accept PayPal and Escrow. Does anyone else find it odd that many vendors “lose” their PayPal accounts right before you’re ready to place an order with them?

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for reading! Glad you liked it. I don’t have much of that specifically, but I’m sure it happens. Gotta avoid those scams.

      Reply
  26. I am guessing the best way to counteract that is to buy in bulk once you know you have a sellable product.

    Reply
    1. Exactly right, thanks

      Reply
  27. Should we be negotiating with the suppliers? If so, how much wiggle room is there usually? What percentage of their initial asking price should we be starting at ? And thanks again for another great article!

    Reply
    1. You can and should negotiate with them, but know that you don’t have much to bargain with at first. At best you can bluff. Once you start buying a lot, you become more valuable and reliable to them, and they will work with you more. It is much easier to negotiate your costs down when you are already buying a lot consistently.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  28. Great article, one question though: If you are using Aliexpress with free shipping do you still need a 100% markup on the product? It seems to me that you could be profitable even with much slimmer margins.

    Reply
    1. Hey Edward, thanks for commenting. You could be profitable with slimmer margins, but it leaves less room for growth, scale, unexpected events, taxes, etc.

      I like the 100% markup minimum, but I’ve gotten by on less.

      Reply
  29. Hi –
    I am a newcomer to your site but I wanted to start off by telling you how I am thoroughly blown away by the content in this article and the top 10 on your site. I already added your blog to my RSS reader and someday soon I will definitely be reading some more back posts! You offer so much value here and I am really grateful and excited to have found you!

    Now on to my question – I am looking at products on alibaba and eBay and I think I have a couple of good ones that might be viable – but they look to be low volume. Does that matter starting out? On one product, there isn’t even a relatively good match at all (I suspect it is an untapped market) but the ones that are there do sell consistently, just not often…I think because the ones that are there suck. And on the other one, the volume is more like 30 sales over about 3 weeks across all buyers. Do you ever throw out a product because it’s just not selling (enough)?

    Again thanks so much for the article!

    Reply
    1. Hi Olivia,

      Thanks so much for reaching out with your kind words, I really appreciate it! Glad you like our content, and I would love to hear how you think we are doing in the future. Somebody has got to keep me up to quality!

      I don’t necessarily discount an item like the ones you’re describing, but it does discourage me. Ultimately, it comes down to risk. It is much riskier to import something that is not already selling more, and it will require more time, money, and effort to get selling steadily. But, in the long run, it may pay off. Again, it is just riskier.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  30. Ok, So I listed my product on ebay and it has been about 4 days. At this point should I assume my product is a dud?

    Reply
    1. It depends… are similar products with better descriptions selling? Are your listings getting views but no bites? You may be able to just change your description and make some sales. It just depends on your problem.

      Reply
      1. Could I send you a link to it?

        Reply
        1. Definitely – send it to either of us via email and we can check it out. Will [at] startupbros

          Reply
    2. Not necessarily a dud, but it definitely isn’t a good sign. You will have to try to figure out why it isn’t selling and move from there. It may be the price, it may be the headlines/titles, it might be any number of things. Definitely not as ideal as hitting it right away, but I would encourage you to drop prices until you sell your samples so you can make some money back and see what price things start moving at.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hey, Will!

        I am always wondering about something strange in eBay. Some sellers put super overpriced listings. At the same time they have sold items, but when one click on the history, all of them are sold at a normal price. So do you know is it just a listing mistake or it is a strange trick?

        And again YOUR GUIDE IS AMAZING! :) Thank you!

        Reply
        1. Glad you liked the guide Ivo! That is a strange trick actually, I’m not sure of what they’re doing exactly – but I believe they’re transferring money in some way. I might be wrong on that though :)

          Reply
        2. I believe you’ll see this happen when eBay has a free listing promotion – sellers will put auctions up to fail on purpose during this period and be able to relist it for free later at their leisure.

          That is my understanding, at least.

          Reply
  31. Great article guys!

    You said somewhere that one way you try to figure out how good a product is, is by looking at how many of that exact product was sold on Ebay that week using the completed-section. When I go to the completed-listings I can see how much the items sold for… but not how many were sold. Where do I look to determine this??

    Reply
    1. Hi Sean,

      If you click on the sold auctions, you will sometimes see that they were selling multiple pieces under one listing. It will say something like “xx sold” or something near the price/quantity information.

      Apart from that, you should be able to get a good idea of the price that your item sells at and what percentage of them sell just by looking at the completed listings results page.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. So what you are saying is that if the item’s price is green in the “completed listings” then it means that item was sold at a good price and i should price my similar products at that price?

        We are only using it as a gauge to test to see if my product will sell that that price?

        Thank you for posting this article.

        Reply
        1. Yes, you’re trying to get a general idea of what prices your product will move at, and how much will move at different prices. That’s why there is no “Look at this number” sort of thing, you just have to browse around and understand the prices and what prices are right. That’s why the product selection phase can be frustrating for some people, you kind of have to learn how to do it by doing it.

          Reply
  32. Hey Will, thanks for taking the time to sit down and write this follow-up to your previous post. Just wondering, but could you elaborate on your record-keeping for tax purposes? You mentioned handing over your records to your parents accountant, just wondering what your system for that was. Once again, thanks for the content! I found you guys a month ago and have definitely been pushing your blog on my friends.

    Reply
    1. Hey Chase,

      Thanks a lot for commenting, and for helping spread our content around! Really appreciate the help!

      I handed over all my transaction data pretty much. This means report printouts from Amazon, eBay, PayPal, credit cards, banks, etc. Pretty much just put these things together and handed it to them (and obviously there were a few more things they needed as they went through that I got for them).

      Not all too far off from how I do my taxes now, except now I use some creativity :)

      Hope this helps!
      Will

      Reply
      1. Thanks Will! Keep doing your thing.

        -Chase

        Reply
  33. Hi Will,

    Can you give me a quick step-by-step for finding the percentage of completed sales on ebay? Thanks, and thanks even more for writing these articles.

    Reply
    1. Hi Adam,

      Unfortunately I don’t really have a system for finding out the exact percentages, I just kind of relate them to the other products I am looking at and see if more or less are selling that others. You can get a good idea of what price your item starts selling at, or if your item is the kind of item that no matter the price is only bought a few times per month. Ideally you’ll be looking at 20+ products, so after a while you should get an idea of the “sales volume ranking” of each compared to the others…

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  34. Hello,

    I am a consistent reader of your blog, and i was inspired so i created a eCommerce website called thetabletmarketplace.com, which launched today. Given that it is a marketplace, it is nothing without traffic from buyers and sellersI was curious if you could check it out and maybe give me tips on marketing and or give me a shoutout. thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hey Dan,

      That is awesome! Congrats on the quick execution!

      The site looks great. Like you said, the tough part is getting people there. You will have to spend some money to get people in and hope you have the back end system built up to retain enough people to turn your investment into a return. If you want to bounce some ideas around email me!

      Hope this helps, and good luck with the venture.
      Will

      Reply
      1. What’s your email address?

        Reply
        1. Will [at] startupbros

          Reply
  35. Hi Will! I absolutely LOVE this blog. This has given me great motivation because I have been thinking about starting to sell things.** Just saying ahead of time, I am a complete newbie in this business and would love your help!** What I’m stuck on and trust me, I have been google searching and trying to find a solution to this but have not yet found one. I found some great products at Alibaba and would love to order them but they do FOB shipping which I have come to an understanding of the term. But what I’m wondering is, what do I do? Do i pay them the FOB price and then also have to pay for shipping and customs? If so, who do I pay it to? The supplier or the shipping company? How do I know the products has been transferred to me? It’s just alot of tedious things that I don’t know what to do and how to deal with. I guess what I need is directions on what to do after let’s say I buy the products from them using FOB shipping.

    ** As stated above, I am a complete newbie to the trading business but would love to start!

    Reply
    1. Hi Bao,

      If it is FOB shipping, you’ll need to give them a FedEx/UPS account to charge the shipping to (that would be easiest). Or you can ask them to ship for you for the first couple orders, and they probably will. Just ask them, they want to help you get samples as soon as possible :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  36. What do you think about bundling a couple unique products together as a “kit”? I feel like you’d be able to charge higher margins

    Reply
    1. Hey Alex,

      I think that is a great idea! I once did a Fake ID creation kit with everything needed all sourced from China. It is obviously more complex, but definitely a viable option!

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  37. I found a product that fits all of your criteria. 50% margin. Niche market where brands aren’t a focus. It seems as if one a day has been selling on ebay. However it appears that ALL of the sales of this specific kind of product (there are plenty of variations but none that are consistently selling daily (certain size and color) are being sold by ONE ebay seller.

    What has been your experience in this type of scenario. Is this guy consistently selling because he’s the only one selling this product, or (he has a ton of positive feedback) is it because he has built some loyalty with his customers. When you enter into a competition with other sellers, have you run into scenarios where you compete for lower bids and price each other out of your niche market?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Hey Dan,

      That is a tricky situation. From what you told me, I’d have to guess that the one seller is either loving his single seller status and bring in all the sales – or he is operating on an extremely thin margin and has priced everybody else out.

      Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure it to buy some samples and try to see what happens. Short of that, you just have to compare and contrast the product options you have come up with. If you aren’t comfortable enough to try the samples out, then just find another product. They’re out there (as you’ve tasted).

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  38. Will, thanks for the info and the read. I will definitely refer to this when I want to startup my drop shipping business.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Isaiah, good luck to you when you start it up!

      Reply
  39. Another great and informative post from you guys! Keep up the good BROS!
    Thanks for another great post, and I look forward to learning more in the future.

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Rand! Keep up the great stuff at welltraveledmile.com!

      Reply
  40. Amazing, simply amazing. You have inspired me to get started and I will pick a product ASAP. Would you recommend me to stick with one and only one product when starting or should I diversify and try to look for a winner with many different products?

    Reply
    1. Hey David, thanks a lot for reading – glad you liked it! I would try to find one good product and sell that one, because you’ll be able to scale it up and bring your cost per unit down quicker.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  41. ey bro i love you (no homo) your such a good person for posting all this info respect people realy need this.

    :D

    Reply
    1. Hey Roy – Thanks a lot! Glad it helps :)

      Will

      Reply
  42. Such an awesome post. Thank you so much for detailed explanations.

    What do you think about glass products? Do you think they worth the risk if there is a good opportunity?

    Best regards.

    Reply
    1. Hi Matt,

      Thanks for commenting, glad you liked it!

      There may be some glass products that are good, but I have always considered them too risky. Lot’s of shipping risk!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  43. Hello Will,

    Great article! What do you think about selling products with my location being independent? I hope to travel anywhere and simultaneously conduct business as long I have super-fast internet and phone service. I would maintain a PO Box somewhere in the states and meet with clients every so often.

    Best,

    NOLAMAN

    Reply
    1. Hi Nolaman,

      It is certainly possible, but it sounds like you’ll definitely need a dropshipping supplier! If you could get one, you would just need some steady online sales – you could travel wherever you wanted!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  44. what is your opinion on using terapeak to search for products to sell?

    Reply
    1. Funny you should mention that, I was just talking to my friend Jim yesterday about Terapeak! I think Terapeak is an awesome way to get great data during your research phase. Even better, they have a free 7 day trial :)

      I’ll probably add this into the post (or a future one)

      Reply
  45. Great post Will! I have imported a couple of products very similar to how you recommend here. None of them really took off like I had hoped, but I learned a ton in the process. My question is in regards to shipping. The samples I order were sent via UPS, but it cost something like $105 and it weighed less than 2 pounds. It arrived in two days, so it was definitely shipped express. The only other option I was aware of was FOB. What is this shipping method you mention that is $25-45 and takes 7-20 days? Is there a method that allows for UPS or another similar carrier to handle the pickup in China, the customs at the port, and the transporting from the port to my house that I’m not aware of?

    Also, a little advice I learned the hard way for your readers. I used my own UPS account for samples and used PayPal for payment for protection. If you ever file a dispute with PayPal (like I did), you can’t get the shipping refunded if you pay for that separately. Plus, the manufacturers usually have a better price than you if you’re just starting, so it might even be cheaper to pay the manufacturer for shipping and keep it all in the PayPal payment :)

    Again, great post!

    Reply
    1. Thanks Austin! FOB (free on board) just means the liability transfers to you once they drop it off at your designated shipping port. I want to say you didn’t have to go Express – you can usually give them your UPS/FedEx account number and they will ship it whatever way you want through your account. They just don’t want the liability. There are also companies that manage shipping and customs in China and act as a third party, but they are massively expensive and generally don’t do much you couldn’t do yourself (at this scale at least).

      You say in the 2nd paragraph that they did use your UPS account, so that is weird they shipped it express. I’m not sure why they would have without approval, maybe some misunderstanding? Or maybe the item was shaped strangely? Fragile? Something? Lol…

      Good advice on keeping the shipping costs protected as well.

      Thanks again for commenting!
      Will

      Reply
  46. Hi Will,

    Thanks for the write up – very educational. When contacting the people on AliBaba – do you ever just write and say ” Hi blah blah, Can you do product XYZ for $XX/unit, shipped to my address “? I just find that often the products look good, can be priced well, and then shipping makes it hardly worth my time – so I almost want to start with a low-ball offer…

    Does that make sense? Thoughts?

    Thanks :)

    Reply
    1. Thanks for commenting Guy, glad you enjoyed the article. You could definitely go around messaging suppliers with low ball offers, but obviously I don’t think that’s the best route. Try it out though, action is better than my advice!

      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,

        I found that it worked with filtering out the guys that weren’t really interested in shipping under 500 MOQ.

        I love that people say 1000 MOQ, but you say ” I can do 10 for the first order after the sample” and they’re like “Ok”, haha.

        Found that it’s easier to negotiate on MOQ than price. They dont move on price very much.

        Again, thanks for the article, Im a new eBay store now with a few imported products, and importing new bits and pieces as I find them, along with a separate eCommerce website, a bit of branding and we’ll see how it goes.

        Fastlane all the way, right?

        Cheers.

        Reply
        1. Hi Guy,

          Interesting filter technique – an ironic one. You’re probably right about it though!

          I’ve found the same thing. Chinese factories tend to work on low margins, so they can’t budge too much on price. MOQ is just a matter of somebody having to do something different, like pack an order in a smaller box. Inefficient for the company, but much less “do-able”.

          Awesome to hear you’re moving on both eBay and your own store – let me know how it goes.

          Keep me updated,
          Will

          Reply
  47. Hi Will,

    Thank you for your great insight on this topic! I have a question regarding your competition when researching a product on ebay…When you are considering a potential product, when or at what number of sellers do you decide that there is too much competition?

    I fear this may be a case-by-case basis, but regardless let us know if you have any opinions on how you personally would go about evaluating this. Thanks Will and keep up the great work!

    Reply
    1. Hi Michelle,

      Yea, your fear is correct. It is really case-by-case, but you are really trying to compare and get a feel for different products. I never really quantify anything when comparing sales volume via ebay, it is more rough estimates and gut feelings based on the data I can get.

      If you want a premium option, a few readers have been using Terapeak.com to dig down and quantify sales data – maybe try that. They have a free trial.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  48. Hell Will I wanted to know if you recieved my email and if you could help me. Thanks in advance

    Reply
    1. Hi Luis, I think I responded to you today – let me know if I didn’t. Thanks for reaching out!

      Reply
  49. Now when it comes to branding, how can you brand something that isn’t yours? What I mean by that is, if i have a supplier of say paintball guns, how can I put my brand on that if there are 10 other people importing the same product? Am I trying to sell the brand name at that point?

    Reply
    1. Right on the spot Keon, branding is just branding. You’d start by setting up a private label manufacturing deal to put your logo/design on it. From there, if successful, you could start to discuss custom products from the factory, but it becomes more expensive as you’ll need to pay for huge runs of products. Private label manufacturing is a great way to get started in it, I have a friend who started private label with a factory and now that factory runs specifically for his company. It is much more expensive/risky to build a brand though!

      Reply
  50. Great Post!

    Do you know if there is a Terapeak version for Amazon?

    Thank you,
    Omar

    Reply
    1. Hey Omar,

      I’m not sure if there is or not, I’ll look into it though. You would think there is someone out there…

      If you find one, let me know – I’ll do the same!

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  51. Hi Mitchell,

    This is great info. i can’t believe your giving away free secrets that are REAL!!. The only difference between me (and others trying to do this business) and you is that you already did it. You found that product. I am still looking. I know if i get that first one, it will give me the confidence to go all out and be successful. I have a question. I have a friend overseas (GIANT ASIA MARKET). He is a factory owner. Manufactures clothing for the big boys walmart, gap, burberry etc. A few times he tells me the brands will cancel a order after the production for whatever reason, maybe the buttons were pointing the wrong way or whatever but the difference is small. He tells me foreign importer not the orginal brands (Americans, THATS US) buy this clothing. This are called stock lot. How are they legally importing this brands? For example, a Disney character little mermaid may have a red tail instead of regular blue. can they do this? is it legal.

    Reply
    1. Hi again Joe :)

      Glad to see you liked this one too! Keep me updated on if my writing is improving or declining, I need more reader coaching! :)

      It looks like you understand pretty well that you’re looking for a product rather than a niche. You just need one product to get things started, then use those profits to expand into your niche or whatever.

      I can’t really speak to the legality of that arrangement, especially since it sounds like it is more of a case-by-case basis sort of thing. I’m sure factories do this for smaller, non-trademarked things all the time as well. Definitely something to explore for you, even more so since you have the personal connection to that supplier. In my experience, personal connections get the best prices most of the time!

      Hope this helps, and sorry I don’t know much about that specific question.

      Thanks,
      Will

      Reply
  52. Hey Will, I love the blog! Thanks for taking the time to not only provide this information, but answer questions as well.

    I know that you did not used Etsy to sell, but do you know if there is a “completed listings” option similar to eBay? I am trying to gauge the demand for a product!

    Reply
    1. Awesome Ben, thanks for reaching out! I’m not sure if there is a way to see that data in Etsy, but I have to imagine there is some way. I’m working on another follow up about product selection and finding better data, so I’ll definitely take your advice and look into it for that.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  53. Hey guys,

    Was doing my product research and was very interested in the Etsy marketplace. I ran into this site which you gives you the top sellers on etsy…http://craftcount.com/
    Hopefully it helps you guys out. Im having a hard time finding good products myself :-/ but best of luck to you.

    P.S. Im interested in a potential partnership with someone whos serious and wants to create something special and of course make some mula $$$. feel free to contact me. Thanks again will!

    Reply
    1. Hey George,

      Awesome resource – thanks so much for posting it here! Tons of people have been asking me for a tool like that, so I can’t thank you enough.

      Good luck with the newest venture, I’m working on some more follow up material that will hopefully continue to help!

      Talk soon,
      Will

      Reply
  54. Hey George, email me at Omar 1487 @ icloud.com
    I’m going overseas soon, let me know what you had in mind.

    Reply
  55. For some reason on my ipad I cannot stay signed in, so I can’t rack up any points haha. Has this happened to anybody else? The only option I have is to input my email, but this will re register me rather than sign in.

    Reply
    1. Hey Omar – I’ll take a look at that, it definitely shouldn’t be giving you issues! Thanks for letting me know, I’ll keep you updated

      Reply
  56. I’d like to say that if you two wrote a book I’d buy it lol. I guess it’s a little early in your entrepreneurial careers for that but the amount of information you guys are providing is amazing, I’d pay for it lol. Now I’ve emailed some prospective suppliers on some products I’m interested in and I have a few questions.

    I’ve gone through all the comments and I see you’ve advised those of us living in anti business states to LLC. I live in NYC unfortunately lol, next January I’ll be moving to FL(no income tax woot!) Should I LLC or first test the waters?

    I was thinking of ordering a little more than 1 or 2 samples, I want to about order4-5 or maybe even 10 and sell 3-4 of them to guage interest. I was wondering your thoughts on this. I think this could save me money in the long run if the samples tank as opposed to ordering 1 sample, falling in love and then ordering 100.

    I know I asked something alongs these lines already but do you guys have any advice on branding/packaging. I’d like my brand to resonate with the consumer, ordered something generic like HID bulbs for my car and I honestly can’t remember the name on them. Did you guys custom package your products?

    Reply
    1. Hey Keon, thanks for commenting – Funny you should mention that, I think Kyle is getting the first print of the first StartupBros book – “Self Made U”. We’re also thinking of doing a book on importing, but we’ll see…

      Awesome to hear you’ve already gotten started and began contacting suppliers. Weird coincidence, I’ll be in NYC this weekend (and obviously we live in FL). Sounds like a lot of reasons to grab a drink!

      I typically test the waters for a few months before filing for an LLC, just because it gets annoying keeping up with LLCs if you have 5 or 6 failed ideas in a year :) Another option is to just start an LLC for yourself and file a DBA for each new company, but again I’d try to get this done in Nevada, Wyoming, Delaware, or maybe FL/TX. We’re in FL for StartupBros, they’re not too bad for small companies.

      Yea, the more samples the merrier honestly. Obviously there is more risk, but it seems like you understand that (and also understand the risk in not having 5-10 samples).

      Our packaging wasn’t customized in any way, but you could definitely start a brand. It’s just a different route, more risk and potentially more reward. Branding is tough, a little more than I could talk about in these comments – I’m thinking that might be my next blog post topic though!

      Thanks again for commenting,
      Will

      Reply
    2. Yessir! Book’s launching at SXSW :) Can’t wait to show everyone!!

      Reply
  57. Will,

    The information on this topic and the China topic is great stuff!
    I have a few questions:
    1) Do you need to have a website to promote your products?
    2) Do you choose products that are geared toward women or men? Which tends to sell the best?
    3) So you choose products based more on margin than on popularity?

    Thanks,

    Michael

    Reply
    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for commenting – glad to hear you liked the article.

      1) You don’t need to have a website to promote your own products, but that is one way you can expand after you max out Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. Obviously, your own website will take more time. I think it’s good to get the cash flow and validation from the existing sales channels before trying to create your own.
      2) I don’t really try to choose a product that is good for one or the other specifically, it is more based on the numbers I can buy and sell it at. Women spend way more money than Men on consumer goods though, so it might be that those sell well. But again, I think it’s so different from product to product that this is almost a dangerous question to answer, really the data is all that matters.
      3) Definitely. If I’m not making money on a product, then it’s popularity would only scale up my problems :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  58. hi will

    I got a question for you. found a product on alibaba.com. but I see that on eBay there are two powersellers with more than 100000 feedback selling it. my buying price is good
    . I could beat them by a few cents. and still make a decent profit. do you think this is a good idea. should I go for it. thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hey Joe,

      There are very, very few cases where I would compete for a few cents per sale. I need at least a few bucks per sale. Profit margin is everything in importing.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  59. will.

    I would like to send you a private email about another product I been looking at and maybe go for a big purchase. I just need your feedback. did all the research. looks promising but afraid to pull the trigger. what’s your email. thanks.

    Reply
    1. Feel free to email any time Joe, just reply to one of the emails you get from us :)

      Reply
  60. Hi Will,
    Great blog it has really motivated me into trying to start a little part time ebay business on the side. I have an idea of a product that is fairly small in terms of competition on ebay, however the margins may be quite small and I’m worried that if I dive into it i might end up losing money. The prices i’ve been looking at on alibaba range from 2-20 dollars. However on ebay they are selling for around £8-10. I might be able to get a good deal on alibaba that allows for a good profit margin but do you think its a good idea going through with it or do you think its too risky?.
    Mat

    Reply
    1. Hi Mat,

      Happy to help, and glad you liked the article! I think risk and reward are proportional, and the only way to find out the truth is risk. There’s no way for me to know more than you about your specific product’s market at this point.

      Those margins seem fine if you can buy them at the low end. Buying for $2 and selling for $8 works well, but you have a huge spread for your cost estimate. Again, I’d assume the only way to find your true costs will be to buy samples.

      The key is to compare a LOT of products to know which ones to take the risk on. The more you compare, the better your odds.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hi Will,
        Thanks for your reply.
        I have continued my research into my product yet not placed an order for any samples. I’m in the UK and one thing that puts me off is the import tax. By the time I add import tax, packaging, delivery etc im worried that the margins might be very small. The product I have found and considered is selling at around 100 a day for top sellers and have an average of 3000 sold.
        Your advice is much appreciated
        Mat

        Reply
        1. The import tax and VAT taxes completely kill this method (and a lot of other ones). Such a shame.

          Many readers have been telling me that you are exempt from the import tax if your items are under $10, or something…Maybe something to look into.

          But your concern is definitely legitimate!

          Keep me updated,
          Will

          Reply
  61. Great information that you’re giving away here. I very much appreciate you sharing all your knowledge.

    I’ve read both of your posts on this topic and I’m stoked to move ahead. Somewhere you mentioned the real money to be made is by getting my customers info, like email address, so that I can directly market to them. Exactly how do you do go about doing this? I know on eBay that when you use their messaging system it hides your email and I believe it strips out any email addresses and URL’s. Assuming etsy works the same way. All I can figure is to include something in the package when you ship the product to them.

    I have already bought a domain name and partially built a website around the product I plan to sell hoping to eventually sell directly to my customers and cut out ebay, etsy… listing fees.

    Reply
    1. Hi Tony,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, appreciate the kind words!

      I’ll probably be writing a post in the next month or two specifically on that subject. It will deal with scaling up the importing business and how to build a brand with a recurring revenue stream. To get to that point though, you will need to have a product that you’re ready to scale up; a good problem to have but a tough one to get to.

      Yes, that’s the easiest way to do it though. Product packaging can be a great promotion medium. Think of what would make you give a company your email – maybe a “go here for a discount” or even “go here for a free thank you gift”. Same principles as an email optin online.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  62. Great follow up Post to the previous-definitely answered a lot of the questions I still had lingering.

    I’m working on some ideas now and thanks to this post, my research over possibilities has been made much easier. Also, thanks for the tip on the site for drop shippers- Becoming fully automated is ideally where I’d like to end up with a business like this.

    I’ve been browsing your site for the last couple days and it really is helping me get this thing off the ground- still at my full-time job during the day but dedicating my free time to building my business on the side (and reading your blog while at work, of course!)

    Looking forward to more great posts like this one, thanks again!

    -Jamie

    Reply
    1. No problem Jamie, glad to hear that this post fulfilled it’s purpose :)

      Let us know if there is anything else we can do to help you get started! And by the way, if you have trouble with product selection moving forward – you may want to try out Terapeak. It’s eBay’s analytics tool, and it’s got a free trial :)

      Thanks for reading,
      Will

      Reply
  63. Hello Will,

    Thanks for your great article! It’s been a very helpful reference guide for my ecommerce endeavor! I have a question about branding. I’ve been reading through the comments and there is one talking about private label manufacturing. Is there a reliable company you could recommend to me?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hello Childes,

      Thanks a lot for reading and commenting, glad to hear it’s been useful for you.

      Pretty much any industry will have private label manufacturing. It is just a little more expensive, and the MOQs are much higher. Just ask in your emails to suppliers if they offer private label manufacturing, and you shouldn’t have any trouble. If you can’t find anybody, it may take some searching. It’s going to be different for every product.

      Unfortunately, I’ve never done any private label manufacturing, so I have exactly zero contacts for it :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  64. Thanks a lot Will for this Awesome Post! I am bookmarking your site for my reference. You will definitely help me in starting up an import business.

    As I said in your previous post, I live in Australia and will be selling the product at amazon.com. You mentioned Australia in the post but the problem is I don’t wan’t to handle packing, storing, shipping & customer service because I don’t have a warehouse, so, amazon.com is my only option. I am trying to set up a Delaware LLC so that a US Bank Account for the company could be opened because amazon.com accepts Bank Account opened in a US Bank.

    I hope my import business will prosper with your guide on your site.

    Reply
    1. Hi again Maria :)

      Glad to hear you liked this one as well – hope it helped.

      You don’t need a warehouse to play the small time importing game. Just grab some samples and start selling! Don’t overthink.

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  65. Hey Will,

    Thank you for your awesome posts. Would you be able to give some useful pointers on importing from China (shipping, import taxes etc)?

    Ed

    Reply
  66. Hey Ed,

    No problem, thanks for reading! Glad you liked them.

    I’m guessing you saw my other article that was linked in the post above – that’s just about all of the tips I have for importing from China!

    If you have any specific questions though, feel free to ask.

    Hope this helps,
    Will

    Reply
  67. Thanks Will, the info is really helpful. I am looking for a good product to sell as well. Just one quick question, I read what you said about the volume on ebay, but what is a good ratio that you would find the volume to have a decent amount of volume? Also, how can you tell if the competition is too tough, because I saw some products with thousands of listing on ebay? Thank you for your time answering my questions.

    Tan.

    Reply
    1. No problem Tan, glad you found the importing articles helpful :)

      I’ve answered this question in a few other comments in your look around a bit. There is no right or wrong number, it’s a relative comparison based on hours of your own research.

      If you want to skip all that, you can try the free trial over at Terapeak. That’s eBay’s analytics tool, it will actually show you the number of sales for your product over time, and even the ratio between sold and unsold listings over time. That will save some time when looking for products to import.

      Competition is too tough if you can’t sell into it!

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  68. Hey Will, thanks for sharing your knowledge on this topic – something that a lot of people are not willing to share. I was looking into importing micro fiber cleaning cloths a few years ago, long before they became readily available everywhere. I found a couple suppliers on Alibaba but decided not to proceed because I did not know if they would sell. There was certainly no step-by-step guide like what you have provided. It would have helped me a lot. Thanks for your effort in putting this guide together and keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. Hey Simon, glad to hear you found the articles helpful! I guess it’s too bad that they weren’t written a few years earlier. I have to assume there was money to be made importing microfiber clothes when it was blowing up. Too bad, but at least there’s always another product!

      Reply
  69. Hey Will,

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I could not stop reading it. I’m just starting my first online business and have a few questions.

    The manufacturer has a warranty on there products, should I advertise to my customers about the warranty? It seems to me that it could be a lot of work. With returns, exchanges etc.. I don’t mind doing it for my customers but I don’t want to be left hanging with the bill when the manufacturer doesn’t want to exchange for a new item. The manufacturer told me that any defective item will be replaced in the next order. Any advise on this subject?

    Would it be better to sell a bunch of items or just a few that you know will sell regularly? I’m just starting so I don’t have the funds to buy a lot of products. So I was thinking about just buying a few items in bulk and slowly add one or two new products as my business grows. Or just buy a variety of items in less quantity?

    Again Awesome blog. Thank You
    Rija

    Reply
    1. Hi Rija,

      Thanks for reading, glad to hear you enjoyed it!

      When I was importing from China, my suppliers would always replace defective items. I advertised that any defective items would be replaced, but nothing more. I think most buyers expect that kind of service now, so most don’t even think to look for it. They just assume that a defective item would be replaced. Moreover, you’d want to, or else they might give you bad feedback!

      In this article, I explain that it’s always better to sell one product you know will move, rather than trying a whole bunch of different products or a product niche. You’re describing the method in this article, so obviously I agree and think it’s a good idea :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  70. Hi Will,

    I’ve been looking for a way to make money online for a long time now. A person I know from work mentioned he knew a guy who sells on Amazon and is doing very well. That started me on the path of looking into the process and I found your page via google. I’ve been doing some research and I have a product in mind and a supplier lined up. My concern is: It almost seems too easy. Is there more to this than meets they eye? Is there any hidden cost such as tariffs or a customs tax that I’ll get hit with later on? I’ve really been enjoying your posts here and I thank you in advance for your feedback!

    Rich

    Reply
    1. Hi Rich,

      Awesome to hear you’re getting starting, and even more awesome that you checked out our site! :)

      It’s just like anything else I suppose. It looks incredibly easy, then turns out to be incredibly difficult, and then back to incredibly easy. It’s a pretty simple business to run, and quite literally anybody could run it. However, most things are like that. If you want actual results and real growth, you’ll need a concrete understanding so you can think in abstract ways about whatever task you’re mastering. So, it’s simple, but there’s a lot of variables that you can learn.

      You’ll have to pay the IRS their typical fee for the privilege of being their loyal subject. There are some duties and tariffs on some items, but they are few and far between. Most of the time, your supplier or shipping courier will be able to help you with those things. If not, it’s just a short Google away, but it’s always going to depend on what product you’re importing.

      Hope this all helps!
      Will

      Reply
  71. Thanks for the reply. You were certainly right about the incoming spam to the e mail address that I used. One of the offers is for incredibly cheap iPhones. It looks like an attractive offer but they don’t accept PayPal. I’m assuming this supplier would be one to avoid. Your thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Rich

    Reply
    1. No problem! Hope you took my advice and used a separate email account – I’ve had more than a few people regret ignoring that part haha :)

      I would ignore any emails you get into that spam box honestly. Unless you message the supplier first, it usually doesn’t turn out too well. The products will generally be very bad, either completely fake, or non-existent :)

      Hope this helps, be thankful you’re smart and didn’t fall for it :-D

      Will

      Reply
  72. Yes, I used an alternate e mail that I usually use when I expect to be spammed.

    Reply
    1. Haha, it might even be too much spam for your spam email! :-P

      Reply
  73. Thanks for a great post. Made things very clear for me

    A week ago I finally found my “product”, emailed the text you provided above to 5 suppliers and… only one responded (it’s been 5 days already…).. the one that responded never responded back to my next email.

    Am I doing something wrong ? is it typical ? should I resend my email ?

    Thanks !!!

    Reply
    1. Hey Shac,

      Awesome to hear this cleared things up for you! Some suppliers can be a little weird with email, just try emailing again. They are usually more reachable via Skype, if you want to try that. If not, on to the next supplier! There are better ones out there :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  74. Great article! Devoured it whole!

    A question about Etsy….I thought they limited their items to things you YOURSELF had made. The only exception being for vintage items (think antique shop stuff), and supplies for crafting (like necklace clasps and earring backs, etc). Can you comment on this restriction?

    For example in your Google Spreadsheet you listed the throw pillows, then linked to an Etsy page with throw pillows. I thought that your Alibaba throw pillows would have been rejected by Etsy since you didn’t make them.

    Did this rule change?
    Here is the link that tells what you can sell: http://www.etsy.com/sell?ref=so_sell

    Thanks for any comments you can add.

    Reply
    1. Hey Jon, glad to hear you liked it! Hope you’re a quick reader :-P

      Honestly, I’ve never sold on Etsy. So I wouldn’t know! But, I do know that I have found things selling on Etsy that I can buy from Alibaba. Not sure how it works!

      Hope this helps, though I’m sure it didn’t :-P

      Will

      Reply
  75. Thanks for this amazing article, it was fun to read and also very informative! I’ve had some experience on ebay (dropshipping iphone cases) and I was wondering how did you make your ebay listings look that professional? Did you design it yourself or outsource the work?

    Reply
    1. Hey Eric, glad you found them fun and informative. I figured I beat informative to death, but might be lacking in fun :)

      Hope you had success in your first drop shipping venture. My eBay listings were honestly just swiped from other sellers that were selling well. I know there are places out there that sell templates and things like that. If you’re serious about selling on eBay, that $50 investment would definitely be worth it.

      Your sales page doesn’t need to be too beautiful though, very few people would refrain from bidding due to a simple listing. But, you can get people to bid that otherwise wouldn’t with a good listing.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  76. Hi Will,

    Fantastic article`s, how old are you now if you don`t mind me asking ?

    I work in the web industry and also dabble in affiliate marketing, so know only too well how you should keep relaying the message home about product niche research and saleability…

    I notice alot of your ebay sales are at $0.01.. ??! Can one assume you are making a loss on the product, but a profit on the postage ?

    Cheers

    Ben

    Reply
    1. Hi Ben,

      Glad you liked the articles! I’m 22 now, but 23 on Sunday :)

      Yes, I’m sure with your experience you already knew a good amount of the information in the article. Hope you found some new things and reinforced the old…

      I’m not selling on eBay any more, I just run my marketing agency and StartupBros now :)

      The people that sell at $0.01 are generally still making a profit somehow though, probably on shipping.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  77. Well many happy returns for Sunday Will, don`t party too hard! ;-)

    You sound like the next Zuckerberg in the making. If ever any of your businesses are floated on the markets, drop me a line as I`m always looking for individuals like yourself to invest in, as you have real drive and belief in what you do.

    Reply
    1. Haha, thanks Ben! No big plans, just seeing an Orchestra play 2 hours of The Doors with the girlfriend tonight :)

      Thanks for the kind words, we’ll see how I do! Keep me updated on your ventures as well. :)

      Reply
  78. Hey man,

    Thanks for all these articles man, they’ve been extremely helpful. One question I have is, how does shipping work out? Most of these suppliers list an FOB price, so who takes care of making sure the end product reaches me (the retailer) from the port?

    Reply
    1. Hey Nomaan,

      No problem, glad they could help! You have to work out shipping yourself when importing products from China, with your own courier. FOB means “Free On Board”, it refers to a transfer of liability. Once your supplier gives the product to your shipping courier, then the liability of getting it there safely lies with you. Most of the time, you transfer it to your supplier with shipping insurance and things like that. But, you’re probably not going to be shipping to a port any time soon. If you were, you would need to hire another company to ship it from there to you with a rig.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  79. Hey Will – Both of your articles on Importing are very informative! Thank you for sharing your experiences (both positive and negative). It may have been answered already, but I was wondering if you ever used a letter of credit rather than paypal? I have read a few books and publications on IM/EX that put heavy emphasis on letters of credit to cover your arse!

    Another question I have is regarding some of your larger transactions. Did you ever use the services of a customs broker for larger sea-bound container shipments to get them through customs? If so is it worth the $$? It sounds like a lot of your suppliers had the HTS codes ect figured out and handled a lot of the customs related logistics but it seems like in some cases a customs broke would still be needed.

    Thanks for your time!

    Reply
    1. Hey Lewie, glad you liked the importing articles! From my understanding, a letter of credit is usually going to be used with larger purchases. In the small scale importing game, you’ll probably want to use PayPal or Escrow for financial protection. They’re all essentially doing the same thing though – acting a third party to verify a smooth transaction before releasing any funds. I might be wrong though.

      My answer on the customs broker is unfortunately the same as the one above. I’ve never dealt with a customs broker one-on-one, only when helping friends and clients. Customs brokers are typically going to be reserved for much larger orders, the same types you’d be using letters of credit with. Even if you’re going big enough to require these things, you’ll still usually be dealing directly with UPS/Fedex/DHL/whatever. It’s not until you’re shipping full containers with some frequency that you’ll need to set up a custom supply chain. One of my close friends uses UPS and their brokerage department to ship a full container a month with no issues. I think the shipping couriers make it as easy as possible.

      If you have further questions, it might be good to call UPS/Fedex/DHL and ask them. I’ve had some readers email me telling me that their support staff helped them understand what they needed to do.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  80. Hey Will, thank you very much for this! Thanks to your guide, I had the confidence to browse through alibaba. While busting my brain trying to think about what I can list on ebay/amazon with all those parameters, I got hit with a great idea. My dad is a contractor, and there is a certain widget he goes to Home Depot/Lowes to buy every week. He also gets this widget from wholesalers, but the price is just about the same as home depot lowes. I looked at suppliers, looked at the guide to not getting scammed, and ordered 500 of this important widget from a gold supplier with iso certification who specializes only on this type of widget. The pictures and blueprints match the same widget you see in store, minus a brand name. It usually retails for around 20, and I’m getting them at just under 5 bucks each. My father will be saving over 1000 bucks, and he said that he will tell all his contractor friends to order more through me. I only need to mark up 2-3 dollars, they save money, and I get my cut. I’m going to be pre-ordering by the thousands. I’m soooo stoked. Thank you thank you!!!

    Reply
    1. Art – that is AWESOME! Way to see opportunity and grasp it. This is where the real money-makers differ, they can take a method and tie it together with their own skills, connections, and knowledge to create an exponentially larger opportunity. That’s exactly what you’ve done – congrats!

      Be sure to order some samples to make sure the quality is up to your father’s standards, but I think you’ve hit a possible gold mind here.

      Congrats again, and be sure to keep us updated!

      Reply
  81. Hi Will, really good articles here. Impressed to hear that you managed to start this all at the age of 13.

    However I do have a question, and its about payment. A supplier has offered; Western union, Moneygram, T/T, HSBC(Company account), but not paypal. Shall I carry on through with this supplier or shall I ditch them?

    Jamie

    Reply
  82. Hello Will,

    Thanks so much for all of the info that you’ve provided in these blogs! I’ve been reading and re-reading for weeks now and have finally started ordering samples! This is exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life and I am so glad that I ran across your thread on the Fastlane Forum!

    I do have a few questions though (that I believe haven’t been asked yet).

    1. Is it typical that a manufacture will list their FOB price for a product, but then when you inqure about it they are greatly over their FOB price?

    2. When using Paypal, is it normal for the supplier to ask you to pay the Paypal fee?

    I have been asked by most of the suppliers that I pay the 3% Paypal fee for them and I haven’t figured out if I should be doing so or not. So if you could give me your insight when you get the chance, I (and I’m sure many others) would greatly appreciate it!

    Thanks so much!!

    Reply
    1. Hi Ben, glad you have been finding it valuable :)

      Awesome to hear you’ve already started ordering samples, sounds like you’re well on your way! Congrats to that, keep the momentum up!

      It’s common for suppliers to have a higher FOB price for smaller orders. So if you’re looking on their page, they may be quoting their average order size, rather than any concrete prices. Or, they could just be trying to trick you, no way to know for sure! But yes, it’s pretty common for these prices to fluctuate greatly, especially in smaller order quantities.

      Yes, it’s common that you’ll have to cover any third-party costs. You’ll have to pay Escrow, Shipping Insurance, Paypal, Bank Fees…almost all of it will be passed to you as a buyer.

      Hope this helps!
      Will

      Reply
  83. Hi Will,

    Can you help me? I am new to this and am trying to get my head around the Alibaba website. For some reason i do not get a price of the product that i am looking for when i search for something using the supplier filter. I notice that there are prices under the products filter, but there is nothing under supplier. Does this mean that i have to contact every supplier to ask for a price per unit?!! Please help thanks
    Grant

    Reply
    1. Hi Grant,

      Glad to hear you’re taking action and getting started! You won’t find any prices on the Alibaba site itself (only AliExpress). The reason for this is because there is no real price, you negotiate with the supplier to set it. So yes, you need to contact each one individually. That’s why I show my process of mass messaging suppliers efficiently in the above article :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  84. Hi Will – thank you so much man. I love your posts a lot, great info!!!

    In the past few years I have been thinking to go in this exporting business but didn’t know how to pull the trigger. The product I want to buy is seasonal, something you SUGGESTED not to get into.

    I have an uncle lives in GuangZhou, China. He has been in the trading/middleman/look for suppliers for many buyers in the past 20 years. I know he has a great source of suppliers for the products I want and he will help me to find the suppliers, but he has never shipped anything out to U.S and he doesn’t know the process. I have a few question i hope you can answers…

    1. I only have about $3k to start – is it too small?
    2. Let’s say my uncle pays for the products – should he ask the supplier to ship them to me directly, easier? (with such small order – estimate about 500 piece, not heavy) or my uncle can do the shipping through DHL for a lower cost on products ??
    3. If ship by the supplier or my uncle to my house, do I need to pay any taxes when they get in the U.S?
    4. I read some posts and watch video on Youtube, they mentioned something like to visit U.S Custom and Border, fill out forms, look for a port….etc. Do I need to do any of those for such small order? At what size of the order I must done those U.S Requirements?
    5. What advice and recommends that you can give about my advantages & disadvantagaes?

    In addition – how can i get into the middleman business and how should i start? Buyers Me My Uncle Suppliers

    I wish I can learn more from you. I hope you can help me and walk me through how to get start this business. Please email me at jeffly883@gmail.com whenever you could find the time.

    Reply
    1. No problem Jeff, glad you liked the importing posts!

      Sounds like you have a great connection there, I’d definitely try to leverage that. I bet he knows a TON about finding suppliers, so much more than I will ever know! Haha.

      Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what’s needed on his end. I’m sure it’s not as simple as just calling up UPS with the Chinese Govt. But then again, maybe it is! :)

      $3,000 is plenty to start with, you should be able to find a great product and start profiting from it long before you run out of that. Then, it’s just a matter of scaling up!

      I would assume that it would be best to have the supplier to ship directly to you, just because it cuts more touch points out of the shipping process. But, again, that would be something to look into more deeply.

      You won’t have to pay taxes until after you’ve sold things. There might be customs, duties, tariffs, or whatever else as it comes across the border, but you’ll only pay taxes on your profit in the US. It’s unbelievable to me that the EU and UK tax 35% (accumulated) when you BUY the items! So even if I lose everything and the products were terribly made and I didn’t even sell them, the tyrannical UK/EU will STILL tax me, just for the privilege of importing into their borders! What garbage! Luckily it’s not like this in the US (yet). Most of the time, UPS/DHL or whatever will pay the customs and pass them on to you, but it’s always good to make sure for yourself.

      I wouldn’t go out to any ports or anything with smaller orders like that. Once you’re looking at importing containers you can start doing things like that, but not this early.

      Your main advantage is your uncle, that’s the thing your competition doesn’t have!

      Hope this helps, and good luck…

      Will

      Reply
  85. Well as many have already said, thanks for all the great information. Currently I just have one question, but what are your thoughts on selling name brand items that you get through liquidated auctions? Is this something you have had experience with or know someone that has? No doubt wholesale with a good supplier is more stable, but I was mainly thinking of starting off with liquidated items because you can get them for pretty cheap to help build up some income, to then invest in wholesale later and I would think there is less risk, but I’m not really sure. Any thoughts would be great.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Hi Ghoro,

      I’ve heard of a lot of people having success with liquidation companies and auctions, but I’ve never done it personally. Definitely something to look into, but not something I could help with all that much! Sorry I couldn’t help more…

      Thanks for commenting,
      Will

      Reply
  86. Hi Will,

    I just have a few questions for you if you don’t mind. I may have found a product, but am concerned at the MOQ of 3000 units being outlined by the supplier. I’ve never done any thing like this before and I’m not confident that i would be able to sell the 3000 units on Ebay or Amazon.(i’m not sure yet how to ascertain amounts being sold) In your experience would you advise me to ask the supplier to drop the MOQ? and if so to what amount? Also am i right in thinking that 1 unit represents 1 item of the product. For example, if i was looking at toy guns each unit would represent one toy gun? Finally, when searching completed items on Ebay what is the quickest way to find out the amount of product being sold? Is adding each completed item up as you search each page the only way of getting a figure? (Sorry for the dumb questions) :)

    Reply
    1. Hi Grant, thanks for commenting!

      You’re right not to be comfortable buying 3,000 units, that would be needlessly risky! In the article above, I go in pretty deep detail about it. Yes, you can typically negotiate your MOQ down. One unit is whatver the supplier calls a unit, it could be a case, a carton, an item, a pallet, etc. This will usually be easily found on their pricing sheets and catalogs.

      Like I said in the article above, there is no way to get an exact count on those statistics without using Terapeak. You’re looking for relative values, that’s why the research taks time! You have no baseline going into it, you have to get a feel for everything.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  87. Hey Will

    I know almost nothing about importing and my son sent me a link to this post. I absolutely LOVE the ‘nut & bolt’ kind of approach you lay out, even the way you lay out the ‘fuzzy’ parts of the process. My son found a product that fits a lot of your criteria but I think it’s knockoff/counterfeit stuff. It’s perfume. Mark Jacobs “Daisy”. I also know nothing about the perfume industry. Maybe there are many factories that produce perfume for the Mark Jacobs brand according to their specs or maybe this is counterfeit perfume. I’m pretty sure I saw other people including links in their comments so I’ll put a link here and maybe you could tell me what you think.

    http://perfume.cd/product_index.php?pid=18764&$products=Daisy

    Thanks for everything!!!!!!

    Danny

    Reply
    1. Hey Danny,

      Haha, that’s an awesome way to find us! Tell your son I said thanks for the help spreading the word :)

      Glad to hear the guide could help you guys out, and congrats on getting out there and taking action on the idea (something tells me you’re raising a good kid!). Unfortunately, that is probably a kockoff. The only way to know for sure is to go through a intellectual property firm, or to contact the company. But, with a brand as big as Mark Jacobs, I’d guess that they are pretty strict with who they sell to. I’d keep looking :-\

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Hey Will

        I had two product ideas that got stuck in my “Bros Post” checklist hopper.

        First was a sleek Mens Electric Shaver. Found it on Ebay then found a similar one on Alibaba. Then I started re-reading what I now think of as the “Little Guys Kickass Chinese Import Bible”.

        *Sells for more than 10 and less than 200 – CHECK!
        *Sells for at least twice what I will pay for it – CHECK!
        *Small and light – CHECK!
        *Lots of tolerance for manufacturing error – BzzzzzzzzzzzzT
        I figure moderately sloppy factory setups will end up pinching a lot of customers faces and my ass with returns.

        Another idea is a Digital Infrared Baby Thermometer.
        I’m not sure if it fails for the same reason or not. I started researching myself but I got lazy as I was about to search some PDF schematics and figured I’d ask you first. If Google Digital Infrared Baby Thermometer you’ll immediately see pics of these things. I usually do all my research myself but you may know already.

        Thanks a bunch …

        Danny

        Reply
        1. Hey Danny,

          I love seeing this! Clearly, you followed things more than I even expected, and it saved you some time! Maybe my writing isn’t so bad… :)

          You’re right there though, I’d be nervous with an electric shaver for that exact reason. Maybe worth a shot still, but it’s important to realize that product will carry a higher risk. Which you did, of course…

          Wow, that ones tough too. I’m in the same boat, not really sure. My worry with those would be consistency of the sensors across 100, or say 10,000 units. I’d bet that their sensors aren’t the highest quality, but then again I don’t know much about sensors…

          With both the shaver and the sensors, I’d be worried about long-term durability as well.

          Don’t mean to discourage at all, hope I don’t have that effect! But, these are just a few things to keep in mind. Remember that buying some samples and trying to sell them is the only way to REALLY test a product. I’ve never bought things like electric shavers because I was afraid to, but that could have been my unknown mistake!

          Hope this helps, and keep me updated…

          Will

          Reply
          1. Sup!

            This post is probably years old. Idk because there is no timestamp around here. Anyways I was just reading your articles and had to respond to this post. I’m an american currently living in China and my ayi (maid) used to work in a factory just north of Shanghai that produces digital baby thermometers. She has told me in conversation before that they’re very unreliable and overall a total crap product. Just an FYI for you. ;-)

            Oh! 4/4/2014

            Reply
  88. Hey Will,

    Thanks for this awesome post. I have found a product that fits all the criteria you listed so I am very excited but I am having some trouble with samples.

    The three manufacturers I have contacted have given me quotes of between $20-30 per unit when ordering 100 units. For a single sample unit however they want between $200-300 which is much more than the product sells for. Is this normal?

    Thanks in advance,
    Anthony

    Reply
    1. No problem Anthony, thanks for taking action! :)

      Shipping prices for samples vary widely based on size and weight. There’s no way for me to tell you without knowing all of the information regarding the shipment, but maybe this will help –

      For a small object in a envelope or small box, it’s usually $20-40 to ship from China to USA. If you’re shipping to a different country, or your samples are larger/heavier than I described, then it will be more expensive.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  89. Hi Will,
    I’ve been reading this article for a month.I think we guys could really form a community or forum and list members according to their country much similar to Alibaba but here we guys can get spot light to export from this small genuine circle of trading members :) We can strictly adhere to escrow or paypal payment policy.

    In this way, we don’t need to rely on chinese suppliers for almost any products on this planet :) I think Joe made a wonderful effort. Congrats Joe.

    Reply
    1. Hi Saravana,

      Couldn’t agree with you more, awesome idea! I’d love to put together a community! It’s on my list of “things to do eventually” :)

      And yes, congrats to Joe – he’s killing it :)

      I know you’ve been a Bro for a while, so I’m sure you’ll see when we roll out the next iteration of this post!

      Thanks for the help,
      Will

      Reply
  90. Will,

    Thanks a lot. I have a great idea to improve your site. Why don’t you put a wholesaler/importer list that you know will not scam and are legit. I would love to be on that list. Many fellow bros would much rather just buy from each other than risk all this scam in China. People losing thousands of dollars. I got lucky and found an alternative source. I would love to do business with fellow bros even at a reduced profit.

    I know how hard it is to do importing business. Its not easy. I literally spent 100s of hours (late nights). Talking and networking overseas. Your guide is great but lets move on to the next level. I think you should give this a consideration. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hi Joe,

      Awesome idea! I’m definitely going to include something like that in the upcoming course/community I’m building up around selling imported goods online. You definitely found a golden source, I’ll be in contact with you when building the course :-D

      Would love to hear more of your thoughts on how to move it up to the next level, especially as I move towards building the course. I hope the course will quite literally be the next level :)

      Thanks for the help,
      Will

      Reply
  91. A nicely written article, keep up the good work and thanks for educating me on this subject. That said, I have been glued to my computer screen for 2 weeks now and feel exasperated with trying to find the right product. As soon as I think I’ve found something, I’ll find it on ebay for about the same price as Alibaba! I just can’t figure out how they’re doing it at their prices, because I agree with you that you need a minimum 100% markup, especially on a sub $100 item. But when you add shipping costs and tax, I am left with maybe no more than 20% on most items compared to lowest ebay price. The only remotely promising product I have found so far can only be bought at the right price with an MOQ of 500! It makes me wonder whether importing from China is always the cheapest option compared to sourcing from a local wholesaler. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks again, Jon.

    Reply
    1. No problem Jon, glad to help!

      Sorry to hear you’re having trouble finding a good product to import. As you probably know by know, this is one of the most difficult parts. It’s also a lot of your competitive advantage – not everybody can find a good product to import. It takes time to develop the skill, like anything else. Sounds like you’re well on your way…

      You could try to local wholesaler, but it’s important to realize what’s happening there. What you’re really doing is buying imported products from China, through a local distributor. You’re essentially getting middle-manned. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and there can be advantages, you’re still getting middle-manned. In most cases, you could buy the products from overseas for substantially cheaper prices. But, in some cases, the MOQ will make that impossible, or the factory sells exclusively to one distributor, or the distributor will help with shipping. In these cases, maybe a local wholesaler is the way to go. But again, you’re going to pay higher prices on it than you would if you could locate and purchase from the source.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  92. Hey, thanks for this thread and the related ones. I’m using them, along with some guidance from members over at http://www.thefastlaneforum.com (I think that’s how I found you originally it was either that or Tropical MBA) . I just wish the people at the mfr’s would respond quicker. lol I’m hoping to have the first of my sample orders in by the end of the week.

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that – you’ll have samples in hand in no time! Yea, you would think they would try to respond quicker, I’m always surprised by that. I think it’s due to many new importers coming into the market, they never know whether an Alibaba lead will be serious or profitable. Oh well, as long as it works out :)

      Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
      1. Well my first order is on the way. After I placed it, I found another supplier for a lower cost. Still profitable and ok for sales testing. I’m also figuring out how to source multiple different parts from different suppliers and assemble them into a package here.

        Thanks for the help and guidance so far!

        I have a question I’d like to ask via email or phone call but not sure the best way to reach you.

        Reply
        1. It could definitely be worse! Usually when you find a cheaper supplier, you’re getting closer to the actual factory that makes that specific product. If you can find the original factory, it will pay you dividends for years to come. You’ll get lower prices, higher quality, more options and flexibility, and quicker response times. Keep hunting!

          You can email me at will (at) startupbros.com – I usually answer all emails within a day or two.

          Talk to you soon!

          Reply
  93. Thanks Will for your reply. Now here’s where I’m at after deciding to persevere. I’ve finally hit a sweet spot with spotting products but it’s been an extremely arduous task communicating with suppliers. What should take 2 emails seems to take dozens. Getting a price is sometimes like getting blood from a stone. Many are clueless to what product you are enquiring about, even though you make it perfectly clear in your email. Most have been rock solid on their MOQ’s. Just when I think I’ve got somewhere, a supplier will tell me they can’t send a sample.
    Does this sound like a legit response? This is from a 5th year gold supplier for a belt:

    “Dear Jon ​

    Thanks a lot for your fast reply.

    But I am so sorry that we could not sell 1pc only,because we don’t have them ready in stock! We have to make production,and the MOQ is 200pcs.

    Thanks a lot for your kind understanding!”

    This is the 2nd time this has happened. I finally find a supplier with the right product at the right price, only to be told they can’t send a sample. Or other times they wouldn’t budge on their MOQ. But can they really have legitimate reasons for not sending a sample or do I need to stay well clear, even when no other supplier has the same product? Anyone else run into these same problems or am I just being unlucky?

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear you’re an official product finding pro Jon – at least that is a silver lining!

      Very weird to hear that you’re having trouble with supplier communications, especially since I rarely hear that. There are some products that suppliers just won’t budge on, but not a ton.

      I’m not sure what your product is, but maybe if it’s some industrial product they won’t budge. For instance, I could see a nail and screw factory that sells to construction companies reluctant to send samples to many people. In a market like that, there are probably other elements at play. Suppliers producing a low-margin, high-volume product may try to weed out anybody who isn’t going to order a certain amount per month.

      I’m not sure of the solution either. I would just email back and forth with suppliers and try to get to the bottom of it. Maybe you can get one of them to tell you why they’re not responding often…

      Other than that, I’m not too sure unfortunately! Be sure to let me know how it goes, we’ll get to the bottom of this :-D

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  94. hi will

    hey just wondering i would like to know what website or supplier that you could recommend me to that will be good for hair and beauty product or even car detailing products thanks….

    Reply
    1. Hey Allen, car detailing and beauty products are pretty far apart! I would do some thinking on what you can sell before buying anything. Sales is the hard part, buying stuff is easy :)

      Try this article – http://www.startupbros.com/import-why-you-cant-find-a-product/

      Reply
  95. Hey Will

    Working 90 hours a week leaves me very little time for much else so it has taken quite a while but I got my first shipment from China two days ago. I decided to take a chance and skip the “check out the sample” step. I did that because their Alibaba reputation was excellent, their dealings with me were good, and I would rather risk $800.00 than lose time. I got lucky. The product arrived quickly and it’s perfect!

    Thanks for all your help and I’ll keep you posted.

    Danny

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that Danny, it’s always nerve wracking, especially without the samples :)

      Let me know how selling them turns out for you guys – good luck!

      Reply
  96. Will,

    Great Article again!
    let me ask you this and i am sure you can help me out on it:
    You mentioned about counterfeit products and their problems on Ebay in another article of yours. I want to avoid selling these products as well. If, for instance, i am importing electronics or any other product that is made by big Manufacturers like Dell, Apple, etc. and sell them online, while they are not fake ones, is this considered to be an issue as term as counterfeit rules?

    I need your input man.

    Thanks
    Shafi

    Reply
    1. No problem Shafi! Just make sure the products don’t have any trademarked brands on it and you should be fine. You can get hit with patents as well, especially in electronics. I’m not sure how to look into that, like I said I try to avoid electronics. One piece of advice if you’re going into electronics – you usually want them manufactured in mainland China, and the components from Japan or America. The quality just isn’t there on Chinese electronic components.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  97. Will,

    Thanks for your prompt replies.
    I don’t think there is a good market in electronics for new starters either.
    I am at the stage of finding several exceptional products that can sell themselves. Found one so far, it is a chincese product, contacted the suppliers, received three quotes on samples and two of them seems reasonable and similar. I think i would go with one of them and order the sample, they are shipping by DHL and I would be able to receive them in 3-5 days. I will give it a shot once i receive it, but i am not sure if it is the right product.
    I will keep you in the loop.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that Shafi, it seems you’re really progressing and learning a lot about importing. If you keep it up, I’m sure you’ll be successful with it soon enough.

      Let me know how the new samples turn out, and more importantly if they sell! I’m working on an importing course now that I think will help you out a lot, I’ll be sure to give you a free preview copy to get your thoughts!

      Hope the new samples are great,
      Will

      Reply
  98. Will

    Another question has sprung to mind and I thought you might be the man to answer it. You touched upon avoiding branded products in your article. I am not sure if one of the items I am considering would be classified as branded. For example, would a T-shirt with a Harley Davidson motif be classed as branded? Or a whiskey brand depicted on a sign? I would guess not as it isn’t an attempt to counterfeit (unless Harley Davidson make T-shirts), but I want to make sure there won’t be problems at customs. What’s your take on this?

    Reply
    1. Hi Jon,

      Yes, any trademarked brand can give you trouble. If you use the Harley Davidson logo, or even the look and feel of their brand, they could take legal action against you. Most of the time you just get a cease and desist, and you’ll end up with a ton of product you can only throw in the trash. You shouldn’t have any trouble at customs, as they don’t know if you’re authorized to use the brand, or constitute what intellectual property infringement would be. That’s for the courts to decide.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  99. Hi Will,
    Your website has been very helpful for me and I used your guidelines as much as i can.

    I have recently received a sample from a supplier and I was able to sell it on, which was a good start I guess. I asked the supplier for a bigger order and it was going well until he told me the shipping price for UPS (which was huge), I asked if we could do the shipping with another company, but he won’t agree to any other.. what shall i do? bite the bullet and pay the price? or just leave?

    Hope you can help.
    Thanks
    James

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that James, glad to help!

      It depends on what your product is, how much money you’re looking to put into it, and some other things. If you’re just looking to do 50 iPhone cases or something like that, then UPS is probably the best. If you’re looking to do 50 sets of weights, then UPS definitely won’t work.

      The only way to bring those costs down are to ship over sea freight. There are a few ways to do this, but it would be a lot to talk about in these comments. Hopefully I can do a post on those soon.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  100. Hi Will,

    Great article, I have been looking at starting my own business for a while and this has given me a kick start.

    Do you have an idea of the taxes I would have to pay living in the UK? Would these taxes make this idea not profitable?

    Also do you have any other general tips for importing into the UK?

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Jacob!

      Unfortunately, the UK makes it very difficult to import. When you bring it into the country, you get hit by VAT tax at 20% and importing taxes at 15%.

      If you manage to make money after that slaughter, they then tax that money another 30-50%+. I might have it slightly wrong, but the UK has a very bad tax system.

      If you go through these comments, there was somebody who found out and shared a way to get around some of the taxes. It’s possible to make money importing in the UK, it’s just more difficult.

      Don’t forget the real reason for these ridiculous taxes is to control people – they don’t want people easily importing products from overseas. That’s a problem when you’re starting out, but once you’re experienced and know the loopholes, it becomes advantageous.

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
    2. Hi Jacob,
      I import into the UK on a regular basis. The things to watch out for are VAT charges applied to anything with a value over GBP32.00 and then duty will also be applied. You need to check the customs and revenue web site to see what % the items you are looking at will be classed at.

      If you are VAT registered then you can claim back the VAT every quarter when you do your VAT return. So you just need to watch these few things and make sure the extra charges don’t tip you over the edge and make it too expensive to compete with.
      Cheers
      Jim

      Reply
  101. Thanks for the advice Will, that’s helped me decide to steer clear of anything with a brand name on it.

    I just want to add to your reply to Jacob above; True that you have to pay 20% VAT on all imported items to the UK, however, import taxes (duty) depends on the product and is usually around 5% or less. You have to find the code for the product and this will give you the duty to pay. Lots of people are importing stuff from China into the UK and making tons of cash and I’m hoping to be one of them!

    Reply
    1. Thanks for the added information Jon, I didn’t know that! Combine that info with the info somewhere else in these comments on how to avoid VAT taxes, and you’ll have turned the taxes into an advantage against domestic competitors :)

      Reply
    2. Hi Jon/Will

      Any idea of how to find out these codes? I have seen general items that are low on tax e.g books, however no where to find the codes/tax rate of a specific product.

      Reply
      1. Not a clue – hopefully Jon will see this!

        Reply
  102. Jacob, try this link https://www.gov.uk/starting-to-import. Lots of essential info here. Look for the ‘commodity code’ link.

    Reply
    1. Awesome – thanks for the help Jon!

      Reply
      1. Cheers will have a look now. Thanks for your help guys

        Reply
        1. Hi Jon/Will

          Sorry to ask another question. I have been looking around on Google and the website you suggested, and im not sure which licenses I would need to get. Im only just starting so will only be small time.

          Cheers

          Reply
          1. I assume you’re not looking to import missile launchers or plutonium or something, so you won’t need a licence. You’re looking for the commodity code relevant to the product you are interested in. Look through the trade tariff to find your product. For example, garden umbrellas have the code 66 01 10000. Clicking on the code will show that there is a duty to pay of 4.7%. I don’t know how to be any clearer than that! **Info relevant to UK only**

            Reply
            1. Brilliant – you rock Jon! I would have never known any of this :)

              Reply
          2. Thanks Jon, I did think that it was strange to get a license given the products and amount of products that I will be importing.

            Reply
  103. Hey!

    I have a question, you say to start with a few products but how can I make it so that I only pay one shipping price to get them here? Is there a way I can fill a pellet first then pay one flat fee to get them here?

    Reply
    1. Yes! You can work with companies on the ground in China to take in all of your orders, organize them all on a pallet, and ship them to you. I believe they’re called shipping brokers or consolidators, but I may be wrong (about to go to sleep!).

      Anyways, yes you can do it.

      It’s a little more complex for just a short comment, but I will go in depth with this in my upcoming course I’m working on. I’ll be sure to give you a free copy for your help with this great question.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  104. Hi again Will

    Just a quick question, you said about not putting your current email onto Alibaba as you would receive endless spam messages. Does the same apply to putting your address or mobile number? Probably a stupid question I know, just wanted to double check.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Hi Jacob,

      That’s a good question. For some reason, I’ve never had any issues with that. You would think they would mail you a catalog or something, but I’ve never been mailed anything I didn’t request. Surprisingly!

      Good to ask though, better safe than sorry…

      Will

      Reply
      1. Yeh thought I had better play it safe.

        Thanks again

        Reply
  105. Will,

    Thanks for all of the good advice.

    I, currently, am looking at a specific product to sell. I received information from the seller on alibaba that the price of each item is $10, however, the shipping will be $23.50 per item in a carton of 9 pieces at 10kg (57*34*73CM). So, I am looking at the total cost of each item at $33.50. First question, is that a reasonable shipping price? They ship DHL out of Guangzhou and I looked up the shipping rates and I got a totally different quote (it was actually a lot higher than the quote from the seller).
    Next, most of the items sold on eBay are between $30 and $60. When you say that you want at least a 100% margin, are you factoring in shipping costs? I feel I can sell the items for between $50 and $60 on eBay/Amazon/Etsy.

    Since the margin has come down quite a bit due to shipping costs, is this something that you would suggest that I proceed with? Your response would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much for your time.

    Reply
    1. I’m not sure what will would say, but if this is your first order, I’d say go for it. Sounds like it must be a heavier or larger item. You can work the margin a bit on larger future orders. The important part is getting it and verifying the viability of selling it.

      Recently, I discovered there were regulations I was unaware of. The registration was outside my price range currently so I’ll have to revisit that item further down the road.

      Good luck and let us now how it goes!

      Reply
      1. Completely agree with this advice!

        How did you end up finding out about the regulations? I get that question often, but never know where to send people. Any advice?

        Reply
        1. Will,
          Lol it was through the very scientific process of receiving an email from DHL at the port of entry in LA. It, unfortunately, stopped this shipment cold because its about 90 days and $2500 to go through all the registration. I at least now know what has to be done when I revisit this product down the road. At this point I think it’ll be a $175 loss. Not near enough to break me.

          I’m working on figuring out how to find this info Will. I have an idea but don’t want to post it until I’m sure as neither one of us wants to hear the screaming and whining that I was wrong. Lol I’ll keep you updated.

          Now, a side note. I’ll make the money back shortly. Over the weekend, my father and I wandered into a local membership warehouse store and I spotted something on the shelf that seemed cheap to me. So, using an app on my iPhone, I scanned the barcode and it cross referenced it on Amazon. Turns out that on Amazon, it was selling for about $27.76. The store had the product for $12.99. I checked ebay and saw sales records recently for an even higher price. So I bought a pile of them and just sent them off to Fulfillment By Amazon for my first experience with them. Not a huge gain but a good start.

          Cheers.

          Reply
          1. Well sorry to hear you took a loss on that product, but $175 isn’t too bad. I’m sure you can turn that knowledge into more than $175 :)

            Awesome to hear about that product you found. I also see products like that sometimes, and wonder “How in the hell?”. Way to jump on the opportunity rather than playing the “what if” game. It goes to show you that there is opportunity everywhere if you know how to see and act on it – even when doing some weekend shopping with your dad :)

            Definitely let me know if you figure out that regulatory issue, and keep me updated on your business!

            Will

            Reply
    2. Hi Curtis,

      Yes, shipping is often the largest expense in the import/export business. That shipping price sounds about right. Suppliers often get bulk discounts with DHL/UPS, so it’s normal for you to see that price drop. Of course, still pay with PayPal or Escrow to be safe.

      Your net margin needs to be 50%, which is a 100% markup from your total cost of goods sold. So yes, always include your shipping prices.

      Your products will become marginally cheaper once you start buying in bulk, so I wouldn’t dismiss the product all together. But, some items won’t work. For instance Bubble-Wrap has ridiculous margins until you calculate the shipping costs.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
    3. Curtis,
      If you look at a freight consolidator like “we deliver the world” you can actually use them to give you a quote to collect the product and deliver it to you. The get prices from all the big guys like DHL, TNT and FedEx but at discounted rates. The online quoting system takes about one minute to get your price. Start an account and they offer more discounts. All the way bills and shipping docs get emailed to you which you would then in turn email to your supplier, freight is paid for by you so all good!
      I sent some candles to a hotel in Langkowi from Australia. I have a FedEx account and they wanted for a box that weighed 2 pounds 280.00 to deliver it. I got onto these guys who I used when living in the uk and arranged it for 85.00 dollars.
      Lots of ways to skin a cat Curtis!
      Jim

      Reply
      1. Hi Jim

        I wondering how is this. How would they collect the product? Is it possible to rent a pellet box or a 20 feet box and have a lot of things shipped?

        Thanks

        Reply
        1. Yes, this is how it would work. You would have your supplier ship a container to your consolidation warehouse. Then the warehouse would break it down, stock it, and ship it to your customers. It’s a great option!

          Hope this helps,
          Will

          Reply
          1. Thank you for your reply Will

            What would the process be? Any sites to where to start?

            I also have a question: is there a way to decrease the MOQ? I found a profitable product and I asked for a sample but they quoted me $22 dollars for shipping and $2.50 for it. I Am not sure why I would even think of buying that sample. It doesn’t make sense to buy samples. At least 85.512% of the sellers I have asked for sample have quoted me an average of $24.215+ unit price, I know these products will sell but that is way too much for a sample.

            Reply
            1. The process for finding profitable products to import and sell? That’s exactly what the article is! A Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find a Profitable Product to Sell :)

              Actually, those are extremely low shipping prices for samples. Your average item costs about $30-50 to ship from China to the U.S. – it is very expensive to ship one small little box to the other side of the world in a few days. If those prices seem like too much to buy samples, and buying samples doesn’t seem to be worth it to you, I would suggest staying out of importing. People that don’t see the value in buying (many) samples tend to be relieved of their money pretty quickly when importing.

              Hope this helps,
              Will

              Reply
          2. Hi!

            Your logic here doesn’t make sense at all. What makes a profitable product is being able to find it for cheap and sell it for ridiculous mark up prices. Its what you have been promoting here. To be honest, you are the first person online I have found to recommend buying samples. If you think about, if you try selling 5 products, these samples add up. When you can be buying 1 single profitable product in large quantity and using that sample budget towards the shipping for that product here. Its not like these products are NOT profitable, no they are very profitable but the idea here is not wasting money just on samples. You also talk about selling those samples to test them. Well, there is no real point in that because these samples already belong to a niche that IS selling. As you said, that is the whole point of this blog. To find a profitable product. Well, the simple fact that you took the time to check them out through Terapeak and ebay completed listing kinda defeats the point of testing to see if that sample actually sells. Would make better sense to just buy something from a different seller and then reselling to “test if its profitable”. Its true its a best idea to spend 30 bucks for a sample to see how their service is but at the same time, isn’t that the whole point of Gold Status and whatnot? Because they have proven themselves that they are reliable manufactures?

            Thanks

            Reply
            1. You don’t buy samples to test if a product is profitable. You’re testing suppliers.

              I think the mistake you’re making here is thinking that every supplier that offers a similar item in China is the same. You will find massive differences between every factory in any market. So when I say to buy samples from several different suppliers and sell them to see what feedback comes back, I’m telling you to test the quality and partnership of each supplier. Anybody can upgrade their Alibaba account to a Gold account, and indeed every decent scammer is on the prowl for new importers out to get rich quick.

              Buying samples is a prerequisite of buying anything in bulk. I don’t know any importers who don’t get samples of everything they buy in bulk. It’s really just standard practice. I’m surprised I’m the only person you’ve heard of recommending it.

              tl;dr – I don’t recommend skipping that step :)

              Hope this helps,
              Will

              Reply
  106. Hi all,

    I came cross an expert named Importexport. I was wondering if anyone purchased his ebook and think it is worth the money. It seems there are other safer sources to find real manufacturers than Alibaba. Let me know your opinion please!

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. I’ve never heard of it. I haven’t found Alibaba to be problematic so far.

      Reply
    2. I haven’t heard of it Gan, but like CEBenz said – it isn’t too tough. We have a post here that might help – http://www.startupbros.com/how-to-avoid-scams-middle-men-and-fraud-on-alibaba/

      Most of the things you need to know about Alibaba are in this article. There are a few tricks I have up my sleeve that I’m going to reveal in the importing course I’m working on, but you can get by just fine with the information above and in the article I linked to.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  107. Will, as many have said before me, thank you! Your blog has been an essential part of my “kill time at work” bookmark collection and your Chinese importer articles are definitely a highlight.

    As a huge fan of the Craigslist arbitrage/hustle I feel like this could really take my side-cash to the next step. Now just to figure out which product… laptops on CL to prospective students?

    Reply
    1. No problem Peter, glad I could help! As somebody who has already seen some success on Craigslist, I’m sure you could combine your skills and come up with something great. I don’t even recommend Craigslist just because I don’t get it. But I know there are some people who make a killing on there!

      Let me know what you end up doing,
      Will

      Reply
  108. Just one quick question I still have, when looking on something like Terapeak I know I should be looking for like a 25% and more sell through rate, but about how many listings per month on average should there be for that product?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Hi Ghoro,

      It really varies from product to product and person to person. Obviously you probably don’t want to go after something that is only selling 1 per month. You might not want to go after a market selling 50,000 per month either. It really depends on the product and your own goals.

      How have you been using Terapeak so far?

      Reply
  109. Hey Will

    Your article is awesome. Got me real motivated to start asap.

    I read it when on holiday close to two weeks back and the search and negotiations on Alibaba are still on.

    I am from Mumbai, India.

    The shipping charges quoted are killing and so will be the import duty.

    Would you recommend negotiating on the shipping charges as well?

    I am currently planning to order samples and then place the main order.

    Awaiting your suggestions.

    Regards
    Poonam.

    Reply
    1. Hey Poonam, glad you liked the article! Congrats on taking action and getting started.

      There isn’t much you can do to negotiate shipping prices. When you start shipping high volumes, you can negotiate with UPS/FedEx/whatever to lower your prices.

      Chinese factories won’t try to rip you off on shipping too much. I think you would have much more luck negotiating the price of the product rather than shipping prices, which they don’t control.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  110. Hi
    Thanks for this article, it was super helpful! A quick question about shipping: The items I am ordering total somewhere in the $400 neighborhood but the shipping cost is insanely expensive $300! Is there a cheaper way to do this? My items are small ceramic furniture hardware.

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Krystin! I would imagine that ceramic hardware is pretty heavy, so I’m assuming that’s where the shipping cost comes from. The only way to do it cheaper is to ship it via sea freight, which would probably raise your MOQ as well.

      Reply
  111. When it comes to selling on Ebay for profit, are there any licenses or anything needed? And are you required to pay taxes on profit? I don’t want to get in any tax trouble or anything like that.

    Reply
    1. Hi Michael,

      All of that depends on your local regulations. In most States and for most products, you don’t need any licensing. Regulation-heavy States like New York or California may require something, I’m not sure. It’s smart to at least get an LLC either way. You will need to pay the taxes that are required wherever you live.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  112. hey will! i’m 14 and have been researching products,still having some issues. many suppliers are not getting back to me! Anyways I am looking still to find a product, could you point me in the write direction?

    Reply
    1. Hey Andrew,

      Suppliers sometimes won’t respond if they feel like you’re not a serious buyer. I would suggest emailing them again from a separate email (as a separate person), and just casually asking for a price sheet/catalog. Don’t talk too much business in the first email. If you can get them to respond to the first email, they will be much more likely to respond to you in the future :)

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
  113. thanks for you share
    2 question:
    1,if you will buy things in new aliexpress store ?
    2,if there are many different kinds of thins in a new store ,you will not trust them ,right ?
    thanka again
    Karen

    Reply
    1. Hi Karen,

      I have nothing against AliExpress, but you can get better prices than you will see there. It’s a good place to buy samples.

      You’re correct there – if a supplier sells everything from toys to matches to silverware, that’s a good sign that they aren’t actually a manufacturer. You want to find the source of a product, where it’s actually made. The more specialized the factory the better.

      Hope this helps,
      Will

      Reply
      1. Great advice! I too had wondered the same thing about such a broad array of items being sold in one “store”/by one supplier.

        Reply
        1. Yea, they can be decent for low MOQs sometimes – but they are not the source, and thus not as cheap or reliable or flexible. Good to know :)

          Reply
  114. Hey StartUp Bros, I’ll be quick. Just call me Jay.

    So I’ve read about your “Rise and Fall” article and thanks to you, I now know where to get a really good supplier not to mention how good the quality is. However, I still require some assistance.

    1. I live in Malaysia and the rates for items are expensive for me. 1USD is tripled in my currency. I have contacted a supplier but they said that delivery fees are under my coverage. (FedEx) What’s your advice on delivery?

    2. They have agreed to send me samples. How much should I get? 10 or less? Or more?

    3. After getting my product or sample, should I sell it?

    4. How do I validate my product/idea?

    5. I need consistent help. Please, if possible, continue to email me.

    Reply
    1. Thanks for checking out the site Jay! Hope you got some value out of the post :)

      Most of the answers to your questions are in this article, I’d check it out – http://www.startupbros.com/how-you-can-make-big-money-importing-from-china-the-rise-and-fall-of-my-empire/

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  115. Just when I thought I’d cracked it, having evaluated samples and sold them easily on ebay, and having satisfied myself that I am dealing with a quality supplier, they are telling me that I need to pay 100% in advance if I want to order from them. The order is for $2600, they say they won’t do 30% deposit + 70% balance on orders below $5k. But once they have my money, will they have the impetus to come up with the goods in a timely manner and with the right quality? I strongly doubt it. I know I should have clarified this before I got to this stage but I was speaking to dozens of suppliers at the same time and couldn’t remember what I’d asked who. Will, I have total respect for you getting as far as you did. You must have the patience of a saint. Is there any way round this without starting from scratch with a different supplier? Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. It’s ok I have negotiated better terms now (50% up front). Still having 2nd thoughts though as it turns out that the stuff will take 3 months to arrive! I didn’t realise how long it took to make simple things.

      Reply
      1. Awesome to hear that Jon! Yea, shipping can sometimes take a while. The bigger customers usually get shorter lead times. If they can’t do any shorter than that, it’s possible they are middle-manning it. Not always a bad thing, but something worth knowing.

        Good luck!

        Reply
    2. Awesome to hear you found a product to import Jon, the first obstacle is jumped :)

      Usually you can arrange for 50% up front and 50% after delivery, or at least 70% deposit. I would just try to negotiate, and mention that you want to build a long term relationship and are willing to re-negotiate in the near future, after a few good orders.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  116. So I take it FOB means Freight on boat? Ones without this listing air ship?

    Reply
    1. Yea, Freight/free on board refers to the liability transfer that occurs once they give it to your shipping company. It means if something is damaged in transit, it’s your responsibility to deal with it (or your shipping company, insurer, etc) – but definitely not them.

      Reply
  117. Thanks for the detailed information and tips. It’s great to see in-depth information, that is really useful.
    -April

    Reply
    1. No problem April, happy I could help :)

      Reply
  118. Hi Will,

    You did an OUTSTANDING JOB on your blogs. It has helped clarify a lot of questions I had regarding the importation of products. I am tired of working for others when I can use my energy to profit myself and potentially grow my company.

    My question is this: while I know that selling these products on existing sites is profitable, what is your take on selling through an existing retailer? Do you think convincing a retailer to buy from you would be a problem? or do you think that they could very easily sideline you and order the products directly from the manufacturers being that they are financially capable? You also talked about trying to stay away from bulky products which I kinda agree with; however what is your take on importing them all the same? The product I have in mind is a furniture for the home (Kids) and though I see it on some sites, I have not seen the product in any physical store.

    Thanks a lot for your blog. Will be following your blogs

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot for your kind words Tee! Glad you could get some value out of it, hope it can help you escape the grind :)

      That’s definitely a good strategy, to import products and sell to retailers. It’s a little bit tougher, and could take some creativity/differentiation, but it’s possible.

      Furniture will be a tough market if it is tough to ship, because every mistake will cost you much more. Especially if you’re new, big heavy products can kill importers. That being said – I’ve never tried!

      Good luck to you :)

      Reply
  119. Hi, you really have a great blog going here. I just had the first of my questions before I take the plunge. You mentioned that in many cases you asked the supplier to ship directly to the customer. Doesnt that reveal the manufacturer to the customer. He may want to deal directly with the manufacturer to save on his costs. That means I get eliminated. Can you explain how you protected yourself. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. This only works of the supplier had a wholesale site that chances the address of where it came from so buyers don’t ever find them. I doubt Chinese trading companies and fabs do this.

      Reply
      1. Joe has it right Rohit. It’s almost unheard of to dropship from Asia to the US, or continent to continent in general. You can do it, but it’s going to take forever and arrive in strange Chinese packaging. You need to find a warehouse/distributor domestically.

        Reply
  120. Thanks a lot will, such a great article! I’m starting my fashion Womens clothing business online here in my country and hopefuly soon i will open my physical store if i found a reliable supplier at alibaba. As of the moment ordered at Aliexpress for the first time since i can buy 1 piece per blouse,shirt,tops etc. at the same time as a sample product to check their quality. I believe quality is very important for buyers satisfaction.

    Will u enlighten me with my doubt, because as i’ve said i already place an order at aliexpress spent 200$ all in all and i read some Bad reviews and feedback at aliexpress stated that many are scammers. Hopefuly all of my products will arrive soon. WIll i have some questions, i read alot of forum saying that it is better to place an order at b2b portal like eSources,WholesaleDeals,WorldWideBrands etc.. but the website has a registration fee. Is it necessary to register there or alibaba is fine? im looking forward for my business to grow. Thanks will and Godbless! thanks once again for sharing your knowledge to us newbie.

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked the article Jovanni, hope it helps with the new fashion business!

      AliExpress is good to buy samples from, most sellers on there also sell in bulk on AliBaba. I wouldn’t recommend WorldWideBrand or any of those that require a registration fee, I think I mentioned that in this article – http://www.startupbros.com/how-you-can-make-big-money-importing-from-china-the-rise-and-fall-of-my-empire/

      If you haven’t read that article and the other importing articles on here, then read all of them! It’s very unlikely you’ll be scammed if you follow all that advice and know what you’re doing.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  121. I just started importing a couple weeks ago and have been looking for information on how to grow a business, as I just started mine in the past couple of months. I’ve basically been reading business articles for 19 hours straight now, and yours are the best I’ve come across (including other days’ worth of searching). Y’all keep up the good work, it really helps.

    With thanks,

    Michael

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear you’re taking action Michael, hope the article helped! Glad to hear we are “top-tier” – I try my hardest :)

      Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  122. This was a useful article , well done and thanks for sharing. As somebody setting up a branded company in Asia, who also works with some suppliers in China and exporting worldwide I am interested in how Ebay/Amazon will work and if I can run it myself or through importers such as yourself.

    You obviously know your stuff regarding checking product quality, market research etc. I think you got lucky with the airsoft gun though, apart from the strange ease that you were able to get these items through custom, one lawsuit for a faulty gun could have wiped you out. It could have been worse.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Brian, it’s always nice to get positive feedback from somebody with experience in the field! Perhaps I got lucky, it was a good couple years :)

      Reply
  123. Hi!

    First thing:

    This page really is absolutely awesome and the fact that the detailed information you share here is for free makes it even more awesome!
    On top of it you answer everyone personally, which is really cool :)

    I was looking into that kind of thing you described here even before I found your page, but now I´m really motivated, but still have some kind of an issue:

    Does all the stuff (you explain here) only apply for people living in the US?
    I am from Gemany and I really want to get started in that kind of import business.

    I just don´t know if it is possible to make good profit here, too?!
    Is there any special thing to the US making that kind of business very profitable for you guys (like no [or very low] Import tax, no VAT, etc.)??

    Or do you have the same in the US, when ordering from China?
    Do you just calculate that in, when calculate your profits, or are these kind of things just not an issue where you live?

    I know this post of yours is old, but I still hope you can answer that.

    ThX guys :)

    Reply
    1. Glad you like the page Flo, thanks for the kind words. I figure it people take the time to message me, I should at least have the decency to reply. I will say though, comments are my favorite ;)

      This was all done in the US, but I’m sure most of it applies in Germany. Yes, you’ll have to deal with VAT tax and a couple other things that I didn’t. But I’m sure there are tons of different opportunities that are less saturated.

      Yea, you want to estimate your total costs obviously. :)

      Hope this helps

      Reply
  124. Wil why do you say this ?
    Selling for twice as much as your buy price – I would not even look at a “product with less than a 100% markup, which is a 50% margin. That means if I cant double the price, I am not looking at it. I suggest you use your worst estimates here, which I’ll explain further below”.
    Isn’t true that if you are making 100% margin profits the business is good ? for example I’m getting a product at %9,8 and selling at $25,6 that is 100% revenue , isn’t that good , I dont get it ? It has to be more than 150% revenue to be good or what ? and why , please explain …

    Reply
    1. Hey John, not sure I understand your math here. Check out this calculator, it might help – http://www.csgnetwork.com/salesmarginmarkupcalc.html

      Reply
  125. How do you know if there are import fees and what they would be, and how does this affect your taxes? Also are there any items illegal to import and how would you find this out?
    About Alibaba, are there any drop ship companies that you only have to buy 1 item at a time instead of 20 or more? And I know you mentioned something about this but I wanted clarification. If a company says it only sells 20 items minimum should I contact them to see if they will sell less?
    Also any help on a good website and web hosting company that makes it easy to put products on there site for someone not so good with computers.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Sherry, the only way I know how to check for this is to ask your shipping company, your customs broker (usually affiliated with shipping company), or your supplier. They are usually pretty small, except when importing highly regulated or valuable products. But this is all based on Florida, USA. Other countries, and even other States, could have different laws and fees.

      There are definitely items that are illegal to import. I would steer well clear of cocaine, children, volatile weapons – things like that. :-P

      Again, every place has different laws – down to the city. I don’t know how to figure them out in your area, I usually use Google or call a lawyer. There are also legal forums and things like that.

      Most MOQ’s aren’t concrete. Just ask your supplier.

      There are some good websites out there now to build e-commerce sites in a snap. I’d recommend Shopify, Volusion, or BigCommerce

      Hope this helps, and good luck!

      Reply
  126. Will,

    Between these two posts you’ve put together a pretty comprehensive beginner’s guide… maybe could even charge for it.

    As you know, my son Pierce and I began a service biz and it’s going grrreat guns. But also as you know… a service biz’s profits are limited to how much time you can spend on the job. With a PRODUCT biz it’s possible to leverage your time, outsource, dropship, et to the proverbial cetera.

    For that reason, and because he’s recently gotten into paintball, we’re looking next into getting paintball supplies from China, maybe setting up some kind of importing biz for his friends to validate and maybe scale from there. Any thoughts?

    Keep Stepping,

    Kurt

    Reply
    1. Thanks a lot Kurt, glad you saw some value in the importing articles!

      I absolutely know that game – I’m still working on firing all my consulting clients so I can focus on product development. Like you said, it’s no fun trading time for money. But, it taught me TON about business and marketing – definitely a necessary stepping stone for me.

      Haha, that’s awesome – Kyle and I are big paintball fans. As you might know, we used to play professional paintball with Tampa Bay Damage when were were 16-19. We will have to play sometime, though I haven’t in years :)

      Not a bad gig for him to do. I have some experience with selling paintball gear. Plastic stuff like pods, squeegees, swabs, mask straps, etc you should get from China – he can make good money if he becomes known as the guy at the field who sells cheap, decent gear.

      You can make good money on paintballs themselves too, if you can find a good supplier. When we were playing with Damage, we would get as many cases as we could for $15 and sell them for $30-50. But, they are tougher than the plastic stuff to make money on.

      Then everything else you need to be a distributor for the big brands (Empire, JT, Dye, etc.) Not too tough to become one though.

      There’s still a lot of potential for innovation in there too – things like the Speedfeed and all the custom headbands and JT straps – all decent money-makers. You won’t be a billionaire, but maybe a millionaire :)

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
      1. Cool man! Yeah, I’d love to play you and Kyle. I get Pierce!

        It sounds like a market worth testing, if even for the object lesson. Thanks for the tips!

        What do you think of a paintball subscription? F’rexample, a guy wants to try out a variety of paintballs but doesn’t want to have to think about it and do all the searching. Would you nibble at something like a prepaid no-brainer subscription where an endless variety of paintballs arrived on your doorstep, courtesy of UPS?

        Heh… gotta quit “working” and get back to my vacation with my son and my Dad. Talk atcha later!

        Keep Stepping,

        Kurt

        Reply
        1. I personally wouldn’t do the paintball subscription, just because they are a nightmare to ship (and players know this). I believe that’s one of the reasons they have such a high markup, a lot of the shipments get damaged. One broken paintball per bag of 500 will discount a whole box (2000) of inventory.

          Now, a subscription service for swabs, pods, stuff like that – that might work. If you don’t go out of your way to hold on to those, you usually lose a few every time you go out.

          Hope this helps!

          Reply
  127. Hi,

    I like to know, is it possible to pay the money to Chinese company after checking product quality at my own country. If the product is not working than I do not want to pay for those products. Is there any paying method for it? I want to stay at totally safe side at while paying.

    Best regard
    Kushal

    Reply
    1. That’s basically what Escrow is Kushal. But, it’s still better to do your Quality Control before they ship it from their factory.

      Reply
  128. Hi Will,

    Great article, both this one the “How You Can Make Big Money Importing From China – The Rise and Fall of My Empire…”. Thank you for them.

    On the topic about selling trademarked items, one is surely likely to get into trouble selling fake big brands like fake Sony, Nike, and Louis Vuitton. Would you consider board games like Settlers of Catan, for example, as a trademarked product? Would you say it is risky to sell such board games that you buy from Alibaba, since they are certainly fake, selling at $0.50 per box?

    P.S. Thanks again for your blog!
    Thanks,
    Adrien

    Reply
    1. No problem Adrien, glad you liked the importing articles!

      If you sell any product with another company’s logo on it, you could get in trouble. Does that company care enough to find out and put the money into chasing you around? That’s a different question entirely :)

      Good luck,
      Will

      Reply
  129. Heading to Beijing mid October. Where do we start in regards to finding a product with a healthy profit margin. Do you recmnd the Canton import/export fest

    Reply
    1. Absolutely, Canton Fair is a great place to start! I’d recommend grabbing as many catalogs from as many suppliers as possible, and shipping them back. Then, go through and start seeing what you think you can sell and make money on. Good to go :)

      Have fun!

      Reply
  130. I love you will!!! I’m going to hunt you down, kidnap your girlfriend, and become your best friend ever. You will never be able to get rid of me and I will never let you go

    Reply
    1. I’ll let my girlfriend know about the bad news! :-P

      Reply
  131. hello:)

    great article will:)i followed every step you wrote but still can not get it right.i really want to try with this business.i will do anything to succeed i promis!!!i read your article but i still dont understand everything.i dont know how to choose a good product.i tried with your choice of product decorative pillows.i have contacted the supplier.i am talking with him on emails.but than i dont know how many i should order,what size,material,…how to fix the shipping,how to put a product on ebuy:(
    can you please give me an advice or some of your thoughts on this or some information that will help me!

    please please please!

    regards from Slovenia:)

    uros

    Reply
    1. Thanks Uros, I’m glad you liked it! Yea, I wouldn’t guess that the products I list there are too good. Those suppliers have probably had a hundred people asking about them since I posted this :)

      Try this, it might help – http://www.startupbros.com/import-why-you-cant-find-a-product/

      Reply
  132. Thanks Will for such a awesome post, Really appreciate the effort mate. This is one of the best posts that I have found online about importing from China.
    Everything you said made sense and after a couple of intense days scouring the net on this topic, i feel like you have helped cement and reinforce what I have learnt on the THEOREY behind all this.TIME TO TAKE ACTION and see what the best teacher in the world is going to show me-time for Mrs Experience.
    Thanks again Will.
    Chamaldo

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear that, glad I could make the list Chamaldo :) Couldn’t agree with you more – nothing makes me happier than people actually using the stuff I write :-P

      Reply
  133. Extremely in depth article indeed. I’ve learned a lot from this, especially the part about negotiating with suppliers. Thanks a lot. And j can relate to receiving counterfeit goods from aliexpress. Lessons are great teachers

    Reply
    1. Couldn’t agree with you more TJ – failure is the best teacher! Glad you liked the article :)

      Reply
  134. Hi, firstly thanks for some good info! Me and my business partner are looking to source a manufacturer for a new product. Very simple to manufacture but not sure if/how we can find a good reliable manufacturer in china, Any advice would be greatly received.

    Thanks

    Lee

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear you’re getting started and taking action Lee! Best of luck to you :)

      The process for finding a manufacturer is pretty similar to finding any supplier. Just make sure you make your prototypes in the US, then have them duplicated in China. China is great at duplication, but not great at prototyping. And the US is vice-versa. I would also send prototypes to a bunch of different suppliers and get a quote to see what it will cost.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  135. Hey just wondering how shipping costs enter into the equation, is there a bulk discount with air shipping..? It seems that at 6-10$ an item to ship domestically you are eating through all your margin, what was your experience?

    Reply
    1. Yep Nicholas, shipping is one of the main costs for importers and online sellers. There are bulk deals, you’ll hit them once your company gets up and running – but I wouldn’t depend on it beforehand…

      Reply
  136. what exactly are US Trademarks and how do you know if something is trademarked?

    Reply
    1. Hey Mike, here’s a link to a video explaining that and a lot more. I would type it out, but it’s pretty complex…
      http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/index.jsp

      Reply
  137. Hello Will,

    Excellent information. Your article has made me realised i went on the path of branding (bought a whole lot of products and opened a store) instead of product focus to build my base (im totally new to this).
    I did tried to search for specific products to sell but it seem alibaba has zillions of items therefore it was really difficult to shortlist a couple to try out. Your points are so true and I will follow your advice to try out the points to shortlist items.

    Reply
    1. Branding isn’t necessarily a bad idea, you need something to differentiate yourself and compete with. Make sure you check out this article, it goes into detail on that – http://www.startupbros.com/import-why-you-cant-find-a-product/

      And congrats on taking massive action – good luck on the new business!

      Reply
  138. Hello, i was wondering what year this post was made? im just wondering because im afraid some rules have changed with shipping products and tariffs and such. Further, when the supplier says FOB can i still get them to ship it via the carrier services you mentioned?

    Reply
    1. This post is from this year Kevin, still very recent! I would put the dates on here, but my Wordpress shows the wrong dates :(

      FOB refers to liability transfer. Once the supplier gives the order to the shipping company, it’s no longer their liability. If they give it to UPS or whatever, it just means somebody else is liable for it getting to you safely from there.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  139. Hi Will,

    Very simple question.. How can you buy “top rated seller” account on ebay?
    Is it possible?
    Reading this and previous article about importing I saw that you mentioned that option.
    Thanks alot!

    Darko

    Reply
    1. It’s probably possible to do that Darko, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You open yourself to a lot of risk not only from eBay, but also from the FTC and others. I think it would be much better to go around your house and sell some old things, or sell some things from local garage sales. You’ll get enough positive feedback to get the ball rolling that way.

      Reply
  140. Hi Will

    Thank you so much for such useful and valuable info. I have found a diaper company in China and I am interested in getting them and selling them in South Africa. The customer care of the company is excellent and they are very efficient.

    The only problem so far is that they don’t use Paypal. They use Western Union and their bank account only. Now what do I do since they don’t do paypal?

    Reply
    1. Awesome to hear you’re taking action Nyameko! I wouldn’t recommend using Western Union or a direct wire transfer on the first engagement with a supplier, but you certainly can. You just won’t have any financial protection – so if they never speak to you again, don’t expect to see your money again.

      Reply
  141. Yea im keen toknow if it is fine to use western union too. For sure i wouldnt buy it if it is directly into their bank accout

    Reply
    1. Maybe I should write a post on the billing side of importing soon :-D

      Check out the comment above, and note that Western Union is actually a bit less safe than wire transfers :-\

      Reply
  142. Reaaally greaaaat post! Thumbss upp!

    Reply
    1. Thanks Andres :)

      Reply
      1. Hey,
        this is a very good and in-depth article :)

        About airsoft guns, so they are banned in China now? The thing is, I cannot find them anywhere (Alibaba, Aliexpress, DHGate etc.) but on the other side, I see people from US and UK still selling Chinese airsoft guns. So where do they get them from?

        Also when checking ebay.com I see that there are only certain models that sell well, e.g. some sellers did auctions that ended with $2-3 only ……
        So is there any special model you would recommend for selling? The thing is, I do not have any good knowledge about airsoft guns *lol*

        Thank you!

        Reply
  143. Awesome post! Very informative. Though I think lots of products become profitable when they are also backed up by effective marketing, don’t you think?

    Reply
  144. I want say that your website and your wonderful advice are very well pleasing, and wish to say thank you for all these free kind advice that some other people will only give for a fee. I hope you continue to propser in all you find your hand into as you willingly and freely give unto others to succeed……..you are very kind person, hard to find!

    Reply
  145. Awesome Blog Post!!

    I just wanted to know I live in the UK, and every item that I think is a little niche turns out to be already on eBay. and in abundant numbers and also being sold by established eBay sellers.

    I just wanted to know in your experience do customers tend to side with the more established sellers, or is it more open to everyone and will I actually have a chance at selling some items.

    Also are there any current niches that you could reccomend haha.

    Cheers,
    Reece.

    Reply
  146. Hi there, wow I have read books and searched a great deal of websites about ebay and importing, never found so valuable information so easily explained. Thank you!!!
    Here is my little ebay story, I started selling on ebay about a year ago although I have my account since 2007. I have 100% feedback and never had any problems until last year when started selling “otterboxe cases” from China. After making about $1000 in profit in about 4 days I thought I found the gold mine, but deep inside I knew that the knockoff business was not for me. Well after selling a bunch “otterbox” cases I got a letter in the mail. Otterbox was threatening to sue me because of the knockoffs I sold, I called them the same day and I told them I was never going to do it again and I didn’t do it anymore. I kept looking for other items to buy because I was very committed to quit my 9 to 5 job and work on importing stuff to sell on ebay. I tried a couple products and didn’t work and I started to slow down until I completely stopped selling on ebay. About a month ago that same entrepreneurship feeling inside me started bugging me again about importing from China and I started looking at stuff again and doing research and that’s how I found this article. I am very comfortable at my job and I make ok money. I live in New jersey , I have two beautiful children and a lovely wife but I have no time for them because although I work from 9 to 5 in he office as a manager for ExxonMobil I have to go to meeting after work and also always on my phone. After i read this article i said THATS IT!!!!I want to be a millionaire and it is very possible for me because I loved when I was doing it not just because of the money but also the excitement of people wanting to buy your stuff and bidding on it and fighting for it. If you could help me on this new path on finding the first products and helping me I will give you everything I make in profit. I would appreciate if you could help me on my baby steps and I will help others as I learn and I will always make sure people know it was because of your help that they are being helped. Thank you and join me in This marathon if you could please.
    Take care
    Henderson

    Reply
  147. Hi will thanks for your explanation that’s more then enough lol

    Reply
  148. Hi,

    Im from Spain, and soon im gonna start drop-shipping in US from places like Wallmart and etc…as you know when doing freight delivery’s like furniture’s and stuff, i have to coordinate with the local shipping service to schedule delivery time with the buyer and i can’t give my shipping guy my customers number because they’ll call my customer and then my customer will find out where i got the item from, plus it’s gonna be difficult for me to do so because im outside US and the shipping guy has to call me and i have to call my customer back for coordination each time i make a sale. My question is, is there a company/group/people who would do this for me for a monthly fee? like when ever someone buys something from me , I send my customer’s number to that company/group/person and i put that company/group/person’s number on the order form instead of mine so the shipping guy will call them/him and ask them/him when to deliver and then they/him call my customer and ask when would be a right time for delivery and then call back the shipping guy with the deliver time. So in the end my customer wouldn’t know where i got the item from. Hope you understood what im trying to say. Please HELP!!!!

    Reply
  149. First of all thank you for sharing such a wealth of information.
    After all knowledge is the key to success and that’s what all
    Importers including myself need.
    My question is how do I compete with China based eBay sellers offering what I am attempting to sell myself.Their price
    Points,free shipping,warranties and guaranties seem to be tough obstacles,but the toughest fact is that some could actually be my suppliers
    Your reply is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

    Reply
  150. I just started importing and doing eBay and Amazon, I got busted selling counterfeit headphone and got suspended on Amazon and $4000 on hold for 3 months on my money account. And now I getting lots of returns for reasons like ” I used them and they work great but I do not like them, I want a full refund?” And I have been giving it to them. So, Amazon never told me if I am suspended for life or till the 90 days are up. What is the story, I have a 100% satisfaction rating still? Will they ever let me sell on that site again? I learned my lesson on that experience. Sad thing is I thought they were real, never did find out how they found out they were counterfeit ? Also when listing a product they ask for a product code, do most of your Alibaba suppliers have a product codes for the products, the headphones did not.

    Reply
  151. Hi, great blog covering all the basics to starting up! I have been researching a range of different products and I am particularly interested in famous and celebrity party paper face masks, I have looked and found a supplier yet will I be able to re-sell them on ebay as this could be an infringement of copyright or trademark? I am from the UK and unsure on the laws on this as I have seen others selling them stating they are official and licensed? My other product is a non-branded accessory to a branded product, if the quality of the samples are similar and satisfactory to the official branded accessory would I have no issues selling this as long as I advertise the product correctly as un-official? Finally any advice on tax laws and VAT from importing and re-selling as I am from the UK, I have struggled to find accurate and reliable information?
    I look forward to your reply :)

    Reply
  152. Hi Will,

    I am a college student who wants to start a side business of importing from China and selling on Amazon and Ebay.
    I have read your informative article very carefully, but after 2 weeks of research I have yet to find a product that meets your criteria of a good product.

    Maybe I am missing something, but do you have anymore suggestions of how I can find random profitable products ?
    Can you please help ? Thanks!

    Reply
  153. Hello Will, Happy New Year!
    Just read through your post and sort of confused on the topic of trademarks and reselling goods. So if I want to buy a Barcelona soccer ball from Alibaba and resell it on eBay, I obviously can’t do that legally. I would probably get away with it at first, but then If I start scaling up I will into problems. After looking at Alibaba, many of the products are branded or have the ability to be rebranded with your own logo. Many of the unbranded items already sell on eBay for pennies. Generally my question is about your airsoft guns. Were you rebranding them or reselling as a certain packaged brand.

    Reply
  154. Hi Will,
    I just read this article. Do you think that boutique-goods are a scam?
    Their prices are so damn unbelievable

    Reply
  155. Hi
    What you think about 5% escrow service charges?

    Reply
  156. I have read both your articles and I feel like I understand everything thankyou for the help, but I still can’t find a profitable product, any ideas?

    Reply
  157. What does FOB price mean?
    For example, how do I interpret this:

    FOB price: $8-$16/piece
    Port: Shenzen

    Reply
  158. Hi Will,
    I found a household electrical product that I might be interested in selling. However, the company is a OEM company. Now, doesn’t that mean that the product that they are selling could belong to another company which has asked this OEM company to manufacture for them? If I sell this product, can I be sued? Can I even put my own brand on it? Thanks.

    Reply
  159. Hi Will,

    I love both these articles you’ve written, they’ve been incredibly informative and have inspired me to take the next step which I’m right in the middle of now thanks to your awesome advice.

    I have one question regarding markup, we’re looking for products that will sell for double what we bought them. When you’re trying to determine your markup do you include all of the fees associated with buying your product into your initial price? For instance shipping can cost a good portion of the purchase price so should I add up all those fees and THEN double my price to see if I’m getting the kind of markup I’m looking for?

    Thanks,

    J.R.

    Reply
  160. This is a fantastic article. I have sold quite a bit of stuff from China on Ebay. you describe the process here perfectly except I had to find out the hard way. seriously anyone interested does not need to buy courses just read this blog. I also produced an audio recording of how I managed to find hot items if anyone wants a copy let me know. I don’t ask for money etc for them. Seriously this blog teaches you what most expensive courses cover without the useless filler.

    Reply
  161. Hey Will, I just read both your articles and I’m trying to interpet it. I’m 17 and I starting selling in school around 16 first soda then expended into candy and chocolate. I made some mistake like buy in bulk and buying to much products but that because I had to go buy my own products and can’t buy products that often.There are a lot of other sellers selling a little of about everything or something different and I try to get to most common candies. Any advice about managing products and money because I’m wasting money instead of benefiting from it, not wasting but I’m not wreaking any benefits.

    Reply
  162. Hey superb blog! Does running a blog like this take a large amount of work?
    I have very little understanding of coding however I was
    hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyways, if you have any
    ideas or tips for new blog owners please share. I know this is off topic however I
    just had to ask. Cheers!

    Reply
  163. Great blog Will. Thank you.

    Reply
  164. What’s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered
    It absolutely useful and it has helped me out loads.
    I’m hoping to contribute & aid different users like its helped me.
    Good job.

    Reply
  165. Hi Will,

    Firstly, I am a big fan of your work here! Thank you for your detailed information!

    A friend and I have decided to team up on an importing business, because we both have full-time jobs and neither of us could ship orders alone. Some things are throwing us off a bit, and we were hoping to get your insight as we are only in the planning stages:

    1) Alibaba requires you to list your business’ name when signing up with a buyer account. We have a name picked out and used it, but we are not recognized by any government (local or whatever) as a real business. Will listing a not-yet-established business name in any way interfere with the receipt of shipments? Do we need to hire a lawyer to tell us if we’re breaking any laws? We’re US citizens, hoping to sell only in US.

    2) Do we need to get any licenses for this kind of work, or for specific types of items? I imagine it is state-by-state, but what’s your take on it?

    Thanks again! I look forward to hearing more from you!

    Reply
  166. G’day Will,

    I discovered this site lastnight and have already found a product and ordered samples from a couple of suppliers, so far so good thanks to your write ups.
    I’m just wondering how I will be able to be competitive on ebay against established sellers with massive amounts of sales and great feedback, when iv got a fresh account with no sales or feedback (good or bad)
    The only way I could think of would be to sell cheaper then the competition, but even then Im not sure if buyers would choose saving a couple of dollars over paying a little extra knowing the seller has great feedback?

    Not sure if you still reply on here but any ideas would be appreciated.

    Sam

    Reply
  167. Hi will. Great article. I have decided to sell ladies bags by $10 margin on each bag. when I did research i found out that same bags people are selling on ebay and amazon for less than what they bought from aliexpress or alibaba. how is it possible? How are they making money then? even if they pass customers address to drop merchandise in their location but still they are loosing money. Whats the technique they are using here to make money?

    thanks
    Sama

    Reply
  168. Will im wondering why someone experienced such as yourself tells people to go after cheap items, items that can be shipped in small boxes as well. I understand a lot of guys here may not have much startup capital… but maybe they should just wait then or try this in a different way. There are literally almost no barriers to entry to get started in some of these things you went over.. how long can they really last? I have a friend who imports used oil drill bits and the margins are excellent, and its pretty niche the way he does it…. but they fly out of his hands as soon as they get to him. He also started with one used bit for about $300 i believe. We both approached our first product the same way as listed below.

    One strategy i think you should talk more about it breaking even to test potential buyers. So for instance i once got a price for a product at $1 per linear ft. I asked if i purchased approx $10,000 of product what would my cost be then. It was around 65.c

    I said ok, spent $500 worth @ $1 per linear foot…. got it to the states, sold it for $1 per linear foot, all of it and fast. Sounds stupid to everyone right, i made $0? But i then went and purchased $10,000 worth and then
    a) knew i had a market for it
    b) even had the old buyer waiting for more

    So with the $10,000 invested i made the spread between 65.c and $1 which is 35c profit per linear foot. So $3,500 was made very quickly, im in a much higher barriers to entry type of businesses now as well because of this strategy. Most people say…. ok but i cant get money. I can guarantee you that if you show a relative or someone you know well with money… hey i just sold (X) amount of this product for $1 per linear foot…. but i payed $1 per linear foot…. with $10,000 i can get it down to 65c…… many people will be willing to fund you and split the profit. I think this is a form of leverage at its finest and surprised more people dont do this. Everyone wants to drop ship something… well what are you doing to differentiate? I understand there are ways but seems it would be a constant fight. With more barriers to entry, things seem more consistent and life a little bit easier.

    Reply
  169. Great blog!! If anyone is looking for products cheaper than wholesale, please feel free to hit me up! I have lots!

    Reply
  170. Great information, I can relate to negotiating with the chinese. I am an american currently living in Southern China. I can assist anyone on this side of the world who is interested. I will act as your middle person here in China when it comes to negotiating and get you the best price possible.

    I have 8 years experience in International Trade as a Compliance Broker in the States. I am aware of some but not all custom regulations. If you are interested you may email me

    Sincerely,
    Anthony

    Reply
  171. Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to
    protect against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about
    losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

    Reply
  172. Firstly, thanks so much for this. So many things I know now than before I started my business venture.

    Please help me with the following… What is the legal procedure for buying a product in bulk from ex. a supplier on alibaba and then selling them in an area where the product is not yet available?
    Do I have to keep the original suppliers name and logo? May I sell it as my own product? Does there have to be a legal agreement of some sorts?

    small example: Importing wholesale teacups made in china and selling them here as a product of my own store/brand?

    thanks in advance!

    Reply
  173. Hi Will,
    I have read both your articles and am impressed with the way you have structured the information. It is really informative and along with the your responses to queries covers almost all aspects.

    Just a few quick queries though:

    Can I buy from China and sell in UK/Europe sitting in India? What additional challenges do you foresee from commercial viability and logistics perspective? Can you also recommend any ecommerce sites more popular than ebay.co.uk or amoazon.co.uk or are these the standard ones in UK as well?

    Regards Vivek

    Reply
  174. Hi Will:

    You have some great knowledge and info about importing products from China. I have done some of this myself in the past and have shared some of your experiences. I was importing erosion control steel T-posts and Dog Wire up to 2009 when the market went bad with the RMB changing from 8 to 1 to 6 to 1 to the US Dollar. I was fortunate that besides importing the products I also ended up importing a Chinese lady who I married in 2006 bring her to Atlanta, GA where I live. She was able to make good contacts and suppliers in China which made that part of the process easier. At this point we have some very good friends in North China (Liaoning Province) and can make easy arrangement with honest people who are our partners to locate good products and get them shipped to the USA. We would like to get back into this business but at this point are not sure what products will sell from China in the USA. The previous business with the erosion products was okay but the margins were relatively low. We have some very good access to steel products as my wife’s hometown is Anshan (Liaoning) and we also have good access to jade products. Any suggestions you might have or if we can be of assistance to you would be appreciated. I am currently working on project management projects for AT&T to bring in income but would like to begin importing again as the economy seems to be improving. Please comment as necessary.

    Best regards,
    Scott & Wenran Massie
    (770) 578-6583

    Reply
  175. I have started to buy and sell items made in China and received a sample wallet that I tested out and am wanting to re-sell. The only concern I have is that there was a trade mark on the wallet. I found the wallets on alibaba.com and when I asked for the sample they wondered if I wanted to customize it with my own logo. I’ve read your articles about selling trademarked items and don’t want to do anything illegal. Is it safe to assume that if it is listed on alibaba.com and they are a gold member that it is safe to purchase and sell these items?

    Reply
    1. Hi D,

      Definitely not. As a manufacturer I have to spend about an hour a day scouring the net for counterfeiters and many of them are on Alibaba. Even if they have a gold listing they can still be counterfeit. See if you can track down the original manufacturer or inventor if it’s a new product. You can find out quickly and order straight from them.

      Julie

      Reply
  176. Hey Will, this is some really good stuff and has been really helpful as well as intriguing! Much Love for that
    I was wondering how can I assess whether I should sell the product to its brand name or trademark etc. I.e. I found a product but alibaba says It is likely a brand name, and that I may need proper proof of authorization, I’m in a pit with this, any help?

    Reply
  177. Hi Will,

    This blog really has been invaluable for me thanks a lot.

    I am based in the UK but really want to start importing to generate an extra bit of cash. I have a few questions and wanted to run some product ideas by you. Could I grab your email to have a chat with you about them if thats at all possible?

    Thank you in advance

    Daneil

    Reply
  178. Hi Will

    It is fascinating to find your information.I currently own 2 businesses that are labor intense.I am 46 yrs old and need to look at restoring my body and use my mind instead.
    I found a product with a great margin but it contains liquid and supplier says they can’t ship by air because of that.I am not buying a container only 500 pieces.
    What suggestions do you have for me?

    Reply
  179. I wanted to start an import-export business a few years ago and wanted to either export American products to Eastern Europe (which is my background) or import stuff from Eastern Europe to the US but found that the US mainly makes high tech stuff and Eastern Europe mainly has stuff like coal, steel, grain, and oil. I didn’t know how to deal with any of that and didn’t have that much money at the time.

    Now, I have more money to build a business and after seeing your amazing blog want to have another go at it. I do have a few questions though, what do you think of my product being kids guitars? Is that enough to qualify to be a niche market? Or do I need to get even more specific?

    Also, did you ever drop ship when you were importing? Or did everything always get sent to you first and then you would go and send the imported items out once customer orders came in?

    Reply
  180. Hello Will,

    I am having a real hard time locating a reputable company abroad to manufacturer plain 100% cotton t-shirts.
    I want to make a good profit and a US manufacturer is pricey.
    Do you have any recommendations.I would really appreciate any suggestions .

    Thank You,
    Joli Alfani

    Reply
  181. Great info! What about shipping to customers. Craigslist. Do I have to price shipping to each customer? Yes, small and light items. Easier way?

    Reply
  182. How did your friend make his own brand name? Were his items from places like alibaba still?

    Reply
  183. Hi Will,
    I have been a regular visitor to your blog for the past few days. What an amazing stuff! Following your procedure, I looked for products on Ebay. However when I copied the title of a product on ebay and searched for a manufacturer on Alibaba, I’m told to input a search term less than 50 characters.
    If I discard some of the words, I get “0 matches found”
    Using your example “500 FPS NEW WG AIRSOFT FULL METAL 1911 GAS CO2 GUN PISTOL Sniper Rifle w/ BB”, which words would you put in Alibaba search box and what makes you choose those words?

    Reply
  184. i’m an older person who has done physical labor my whole life and need to stop. iv’e read and started your program.please help me to get going and learning! on alibaba i found 3 things i thought were unique,a primative bottle opener,collapsable bucket and a salt water powered car toy,then i went to ebay and amazon and found lots of all 3 and at the bottom of the page was a co. called zps that was selling all 3 for less than i can get them at alibaba??? can you tell me what you think of that?and when i tried to open business acct. with paypal they wanted email address,if a new email gets shut down how will this effect paypal acct. and/or payments?

    Reply
  185. Hello Sir,
    For the first time am reading your blog.Can you tell me from where to get the products to place on sites like ebay, amazon etc for sale. Whats the procedure.
    Also how the products are delivered to clients means by site or thru us.
    Am a third year student and dont want to be fooled by wrong people so asking your help. Please reply. Regards

    Reply
  186. Podcast? Podcast? I see no podcast?! How do I listen to the podcasts?

    Excellent articles, thank you so much, inspiring and helpful, much continued success to you and your readers

    *Marina

    Reply
  187. Hi Will,

    Did you setup a business for the importing with company bank accounts, etc such as a Inc, llc, etc?

    I own a consulting company that is setup as a corporation (.Inc) in Canada and wondering if I go down this route if I should setup a new company or run any truncations through my existing corp.

    As well, any specific comment on how this may change in the Canadian market?

    Thanks,
    Tony

    Reply
  188. First off I wanted to say thank you for the awesome advice! Not many people want to share their success for free! I’m hoping I can be successful with it as well!
    I do not have an eBay account and I was wondering how much harder it would be to sell my product being a new user. Should I wait until I build up some feedback before I start trying to sell things?

    Reply
  189. Hi, thanks for being such an inspiration. i wanted to know if you have to have proffesional pictures taken of the items you want to sell before you post them?Thanks again.

    Reply
  190. Hey Will,

    I absolutely LOVED your article. I am in the process of starting my own business online and this has truly inspired me. I am still looking for products that I could import/sell, but am having no luck. Do you have any suggestion as to what to do or even product suggestions?

    Thanks
    Arashk

    Reply
  191. Hi Will,
    How did you get a UPC code for your Chinese imported products? I have a whole batch of products that don’t have UPC so I can’t sell them on Amazon. I can buy one for $100 per product but it’s not worth that for a test run. I don’t know if they will sell.

    What did you do?

    Ebs, THanks!

    Reply
  192. This is brilliant! I’ve read a bunch of books on start ups with products but this was way more informative than any of them!
    Great job.

    Reply
  193. Hi Will ! I loved your articles! very helpful , very detailed, informative and absolutely everything that i am looking for! Im glad i met your articles!

    I wanted to ask you whether this site called salehoo.com are reliable and worth it if you happen to join before? :)

    Reply
  194. Hi Will
    thank you for your advice. When it comes to listing products do you take your own photos of your products or can your supplier provide these? Are there legal issues with using pictures from another persons listings?

    thank you

    Reply
  195. I skimmed through and found this article very helpful and informative. I am currently in China doing business and from my own experience with Alibaba and dealing with factories and with what I read here, the information is very spot on. Good article and thanks

    Reply
  196. Great info Will I been looking for ways to sell on Amazon this one is a winner for me,I’ll bookmark this page and read it a few more times

    Thanks!

    Reply
  197. Hey Will (or anyone who can answer this),

    I’m a little unclear about specific products listed on Amazon and the numerous sellers who sell that one specific product. For example, let’s say I search for product XYZ and there is only one exact match. I find it strange that there are 10 different sellers I can buy XYZ from, yet no seller has listed another product that can compete with it (we’ll assume there are substitutes for this product, just none listed on Amazon).

    Am I missing something here? Does Amazon not allow sellers to post a new product for certain searches? I can’t figure out why 10 sellers would compete to sell the same product when they could easily offer a replacement.

    Matt

    Reply

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