The prospect of importing from China is both exciting and terrifying for many sellers. On one hand there is huge potential for making money from reselling wholesale goods purchased very cheaply. But on the other hand, language and cultural barriers present a number of difficulties to sellers.
The main issue that everyone is worried about is payment: How do I pay? Will my money disappear?, and so on.
The difficulty lies in the fact that most Chinese wholesalers will only accept Western Union and wire transfer payments. These are not secure payment options so they must be treated with caution. However, the main reason why these are the only payments accepted is that they are in fact the only payment methods available to the Chinese. Getting a credit card in China is an extremely difficult task with a lot of government regulations and strict criteria for getting a card.
So then, despite the risks involved with using Western Union and wire transfer, these are the methods you have to use if you want to start importing from China with most suppliers. To minimize this risk, you should start with a fairly small shipment of goods so you are not standing to lose too much money if everything falls apart.
Then, as trust is established, gradually build up your order over time. On the whole, most Chinese suppliers are genuine, hard working people who want to establish a long-term relationship with you. They need your business, so it's unlikely they'll try to deliberately screw you over!
Another big issue for sellers importing from China is communication. It can be extremely daunting trying to negotiate complex business issues when communication is so difficult.
To get around this problem, we always ask a new contact for their MSN or ICQ email address and chat to them online. They tend to be very friendly and enjoy talking to people who speak English as a first language (this helps them improve their communication too), plus it gives you a direct point of contact instantly.
With communication now established, you can proceed to ask questions and get them to send you pictures of stock and so on. Once we've built up a relationship, we then ask them to send me a sample order. For any genuine company, this isn't a problem and it allows us to see the quality of the product first hand. We can then be fairly certain that the company is trustworthy, and that this is the product we wish to import.
One thing we haven't talked about so far is quality. This can be another major concern for sellers who often have difficulty telling whether a brand name product is genuine or not.
In our experience, the vast majority of brand-name goods that come from China are either replicas or fakes. We strongly recommend that you assume that this is the case in the first instance. eBay is currently cracking down heavily on people selling fakes and it is not an area of business we suggest you get into!
Generally, we find that Chinese suppliers are best suited for cheap generic goods (they are manufactured there so you won't find cheaper anywhere else!) that can be sold at higher rates in Western countries. For example, some of the latest trends are pocket bikes, scooters and generic electronic goods. These goods do not have to have a brand name in order to sell well and they can be purchased wholesale at very good prices if you are serious about importing from China.
This should give you a heads up if looking at dealing with wholesale suppliers in China! Remember, always keep an open mind, ask questions and do your research!
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