How to import small quantity from China?

Clients who are the first time to import from China, usually prefer to purchase a small quantity products to test their markets if good sales. It’s really a wisdom choice, and good to avoid much risk in the business. We really agree with such action, and want to help business starter to develop their business much easier.

Most of them know well about the import business is not easy. They will not simply think it’s only to find a Chinese supplier and buy products in low price, then ship home and sell high price in local market. That’s right.

In fact, there are many different problems need to face, such as MOQ is much higher than your small order; shipping fee is too expensive than the value of the order; or can’t ship the goods to your country because of some regulations requirements.

Buying process in China clothing wholesale market

1.What is small quantity business?

It’s difficult to identify what’s means small quantity business, while in sourcing agent business, there is a normal consideration of it. We usually think, customers who purchase USD5,000-50,000 in one order as small business. Of course, the order can buying from more than 10 suppliers for many kinds of products.

Furthermore, another reason of considering such amount as a small quantity business is that: with this amount, the shipment volume usually is from 5CBM to a 40HQ container which can usually reach factory’s MOQ and buy from them directly.

In our opinion, it’s better for the small quantity business, to control the volume around 4-5 CBM. Because such volume is the minimum for LCL (Less than Container Load) shipment. Otherwise, the total export & import process will be very complicated and costs lot of money, which means the average cost for each product will be higher.

For such small quantity business, or some samples purpose for new business, we usually call them a business starter, or small quantity buyer.

2. What products are suitable for a business starter?

It’s very important for a business starter to consider and make decision before action. You should know clearly, what to import from China, and how to sell in your country.

First of all, there is a dilemma you have to recognize, shipping cost. Because your shipping volume is always too less for LCL, usually less than 3 CBM, so you have to choose air freight or express. Then the problem arising: since airway shipment cost normally 8-10 times higher than LCL sea freight, how to compete with the same goods which was imported via seaway shipment in your local market?

It’s really a big problem for a business starter, so what to import from China? Following are some advice for you, maybe can help you to find the solution.

① High value and small size products

High value means the cost of shipment will not be too much, sometimes can only be 10% of your products value, and minimize the influence for your price in local market.

Small size means you can pay the shipping cost based on weight, not by dimension weight (length*height*width), less charged.

Usually, most of the high-value-products importers, will not use sea shipping, because they always focus on the timeliness of good sales season in local market. So that you don’t worry about the your shipping cost is higher than competitors.

Below products list, maybe a good choice for a business starter, and all is very popular in Guangzhou Wholesale market:

  • Fashion design clothes, or individual printed clothes, such as T-shirt, hosiery, women’s dresses, women’s underwear, etc.
  • Fashion accessories, such as bags; glasses; watches, wallet, scarf, belt, etc.
  • Fashion Fake Jewelries, such as necklace, sweater chain, bracelet, rings, etc.

Of course you can make decision according to your country’s demand.

② Interesting and differential products

Do remember, avoid to purchase common products which can be bought everywhere in your local market, because there are surely already have someone import massively and sell with low profit, it’s no meaning for you to consider.

Special, Fashion, interesting, individual products, are always can be good sold with much higher price than common items. Focus on the products that have much added value, and the price based on design or function, not depending on raw material. Of course, in the market, there are sometimes HOT Selling products, you can pay attention to sourcing.

③ Easy to sell and fast turnover products

Since you a new starter, you must think about the cash flow, pay attention to your stock management. Too much stock means your money don’t use efficiency, lower turnover of stock usually means the risk of business. On the contrary, less stock means you will often miss sails chance, and you business will not grow rapidly.

Do think of purchasing products that easy to sell, it’s very important for your business, not only the profit or risk, but also relevant to your aggressive and passion.

3. How to find Chinese suppliers for small quantity orders?

It’s better for a business starter to find Chinese suppliers on Internet, not only because of the high travel cost, but also because, you can’t judge a supplier is good or not before you receive goods of your first business.

In fact, many larger quantity suppliers seldom come to China. They always prefer to find an sourcing agent to handle all the export process on their behalf. Of course, if you want to under China wholesale markets and products much better, and want to have a deep idea of your purchase business, you can arrange a trip to China, and better to visit a comprehensive fair such as Canton Fair.

① Alibaba

This is a very popular B2B platform, good for buyers searching Chinese suppliers on it, no matter the orders big or small. However, if you really want to buying very small quantity, which can’t reach the MOQ required, for example, less than USD400 for each item, it’s hard to persuade the suppliers to sell you. Sometimes, if you agree to pay in higher price, maybe the supplier will sell you as a sample order.

By the way, as a remind, don’t spend much time on persuading them that you will place big orders in future after you test local market by this small order. It’s no meaning and doesn’t work at all, because the suppliers are hearing such wording from other clients every day.

② Global Source & Made in China

These 2 sites are mainly for stronger suppliers and direct factories, because of the higher auditing standards and annual fees for members. You can take a look, maybe you can find a good supplier with lower MOQ and acceptable price.

③ Dhgate and Aliexpress

If you still feel MOQ is hard for you to reach, you can only go to DHgate and Aliexpress. Usually DHgate tends to small quantity wholesalers, the MOQ required is between Alibaba and Aliexpress. While Aliexpress mainly tends to retailers, small quantity and a little higher price.

Anyway, if you have chance to visit China, we think the most directly and useful way is to sourcing in wholesale market, communicate and negotiate with the suppliers in their shops, so that you can understand products well, can explain your requirements to suppliers clearly, can make decision after you feel strongly confidence.

4. How to ship from China for small quantity orders?

Small quantity always means higher cost, especially like shipping cost, it’s the fact we have to face. However, choose a better methods according to your order amount, surely will save much cost for you.

① International Express and Air Freight

Airway shipping is the fastest way to goods delivery, and the cost is most expensive. We usually suggest our client to use Express when the goods is less than 300kg. Express is easy to handle, don’t need care about the customs clearance and duty related issues.

Air freight is better for the goods around 500kg or more, the delivery time roughly is same as express. But air freight needs the same import & export process as sea freight, a little complex for a business starter, and you also need pick up cargo at the airport.

Please note: Hazardous articles such as liquid, power and products with battery cannot be shipped by air shipment.

② All-In price LCL sea shipping Service

Although we suggest a new business starter to choose airway shipping, but there is a good methods of LCL sea shipping, very easy and cheap, it’s the best choice for small order buyers.

In Guangzhou, there is a certain sea shipping company who only service a certain ports or area, we called All-In LCL sea shipping. The company will handle all custom and shipping process, and you just need to pick up your cargo in their warehouse, or sometimes they have door to door service. The price is very low even you ship 0.5CBM, because the container is shared by 10-30 clients.

Such kind of companies are popular in Guangzhou, mainly for South Africa, Southeast Asia, it’s better for you to ask some experienced importers in your country. We know some of this kind shipping companies, and we will share with you if you need. Leave your email and we will send you contact information if we have.

There are companies offering $75/CBM to Malaysia & Singapore, delivering to door; $260/CBM to Kenya but you have to pick up cargo at their warehouse in Nairobi; $260/CBM to Sydney/Melbourne warehouse, etc. The rate is just for reference.

③ Consolidate Cargoes from Different Suppliers And Ship Together

As a business starter, to place small order to different suppliers, purchase more kinds of products is better, such action is good for you to test your local market.

In such situation, you can think abut consolidating all of the goods in one shipment to save cost. Then you consider which shipment way to choose and proceed.

One solution is to find a reliable sourcing agent or forwarder who has its own warehouse, then you can use it for consolidation. You need pay them commission or service fees, and can use the warehouse free in 7 days usually.

Another Solution is you can choose one reliable supplier, and let other suppliers send all the cargoes to him, then the forwarder can pick up cargoes together in one place.

We think consolidating goods is better for you, no matter the more kinds of products are better for your business, but also for your import experience, preparing for your next step to enlarge your products range and understand the process better.

Shipping Methods from China to your local market

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