Importing products from China is becoming a very popular approach for businesses that want to source a wide range of products. This could be anything from clothing to shoes, accessories, home furniture, furniture, electronics etc.
That said, importing can be quite difficult for first-timers, not to mention expensive and bewildering. You may not get the returns you’re expecting due to long transit times, regulatory fees, high delivery costs (which often fluctuate), and unforeseen delays.
The good news is that as a local freight forwarder with expertise in serving the Chinese import and export market; we have prepared a step-by-step guide on how to hack the whole process so that it’s stress-free and efficient.
Find a Supplier in China
First off, you need to identify a supplier that you want to work with, place an order with them, and make sure that you come to shipping terms that you can both agree with.
After you’re done choosing a supplier, ask for a Proforma Invoice (P/I) as per the products that you’re looking to purchase, and this should consist of the harmonized system number, value per item and full description of each product. The P/I should also include the dimensions and weight of the product once packed, and the terms of purchase as well.
What exactly is a proforma invoice?
Well, it’s basically a document that helps you financially plan for a future purchase. It’s non-binding which means that it doesn’t legally obligate you to purchase the products if you decide to not do so.
- A great way to reduce shipping costs is to ask your supplier to ship the products under the FOB terms of their nearest airport or port.
For instance, if you’re shipping the products from a Chinese vendor, then it would make sense to request FOB based on Shanghai terms because that’s the nearest port to the vendor you’re buying from.
- Remember that anything shipped by ocean will take a while to reach you, and the process itself requires additional long-term planning in order to get right. In fact, just exporting products can be arduous and time-consuming because you have to deal with many documents, customs clearance, inland travel, and just the handling of the goods at a terminal or port can take up to 7 days.
Our recommendation would be that you should place an order at least 3 months in advance so that you’re not impatiently waiting for your goods to arrive.
What You Shouldn’t Do:
- Looking for the lowest price
As with anything, you get what you pay for, and it’s no different with shipping goods from China. Cheaper is almost always a bad idea, and cheap prices often come with added risks like lack of quality, quantity, a bad reputation etc.
So, just save yourself the problems and choose a reliable supplier from the start.
- Failing to clarify product details
If you fail to describe what you want in exact details, then you might end up getting the exact opposite of what you’re looking for. Effectively, the factory will have to decide on your behalf, and nine times out of ten you can bet that they’ll go with the cheapest option available.
Once you get a quote, make sure to confirm the material quality and production process behind each product so that you know what you’re getting.
Also, ask your supplier to fully explain the specs of each product including the packaging. They might even send you a sample to make sure that you’re happy with what you’ll be purchasing.
- Not trusting your supplier
Trust is one of the most important characteristics of international trade, and it’s important to only work with a supplier that you trust, as that’ll give you a peace of mind knowing that they’ll take extra care in the production of your goods in the factory, and you’ll have a support team to speak to when things go wrong.
Arrange Your Cargo Transport
International shipping of goods comes with many different costs, from the packaging to the terminal handling, container fees and broker costs. So, you should take all of these elements into consideration when budgeting for the shipping costs.
If you find the freight quote agreeable then you can proceed to forward the supplier’s contact details to us, and we’ll take care of the rest. We’ll be in constant communication with you and your supplier the whole time to ensure that the entire shipment is quick, safe and painless.
We suggest you:
- Keep in mind that delays might happen
Keep in mind that there might be a delay in the time it takes to manufacture the product, the vessel transporting it might not leave as scheduled, and there may also be customs delays. So, plan and prepare accordingly.
Also, there will be a delay in the time it takes for your goods to travel from the factory to the port, and in most cases, it takes 1 to 2 days. Afterward, Customs Declaration will detain your product at the port for an additional 1 to 2 days as well.
Most of the time, there’s only one route frequency per week and if your cargo is not completed by this particular day, then it has to wait for the next week.
- Find a good freight forwarder partner
Logistics is an essential and valuable factor of modern enterprise. Included in the shipping costs are the direct and indirect transportation expenses of the goods from the factory (or wherever they’re produced) to their destination.
Working with the right logistics partner could be the difference maker in your business because it will guarantee continuous cash flow through smooth operations and sustainable costs.
Choose the wrong logistics provider and you’ll have gross wastage and ever-rising costs in your hands. So lack of proper logistics could place your company’s reputation and bottom line at stake.
Track Your Cargo
Shipping cargo across seas often takes an inordinate amount of time. For instance, shipping goods from China to the West Coast of the USA can take a minimum of 14 days, and up to 30 days to reach the East Coast.
In the meantime, you should be checking your freight documents, including packing list, commercial invoice and bill of lading. It’s also a good idea to have a contingency plan in case something happens while your products are still en route and you should know how to get it cleared at your respective customs office.
Get Your Shipment
Arrange for your customs agent to clear your cargo once it gets to customs so that you can pick it up as soon as possible after arrival.