Experiences about how to import from China

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The huge price differences of up to 50% less expensive compared to other markets, are the numbers that attract entrepreneurs to the Chinese market. However, simply because it’s a popular place, doesn’t mean it’s easy to find good business deals. Being so wide, diverse, and attractive can sometimes confuse and overwhelm future investors, as well as groups of people who wish to “take advantage” of inexperienced dreamers who venture blindly into what they consider is a commercial paradise.

The disadvantages of going to China without proper counseling:

-       Loss of time translated into loss of money: the fairs are extensive and immense with thousands of suppliers of different types of merchandise, quality and prices… Five days is not enough to cover them all. So, you need order and guidance! If not, you will never finish seeing what you are interested in.

-       The probability of being deceived by false merchants: How do you know if the supplier you liked is trustworthy? What does the contract say? How much do they mumble in Chinese? Is the cheapest the best? …

As an answer to these disadvantages, the so-called “offices” surge, they are consulting companies specialized in importing from China. They accompany salespeople throughout the entire process: visiting the fairs, contacting the best providers fit for your requirements, checking the merchandise, with profit margins of 10 or 5% depending on the volume.

“Our experience in China began in 2000,” commented the Director of the Sports Brand Yston, “At the time, even finding something similar to Western food was complicated! The market hadn’t opened up like it is today. It was even more complicated to do business with no type of guidance. They were hard times, that included stories of fraud. Everything changes when you can count on an ally or a guide.”

Regarding the experience of working with advisors: they save time and consequently, money. Moreover, they are organized and know how to guide you according to your needs. They have a list of suppliers and know how to evaluate them. They also serve as a bridge accompanying you to fairs and factories. At first, you cover their transportation costs, but once you do business with them, they assume these expenses.

In China, many tend to take advantage of people, especially when the inexperience is obvious. We must not generalize, but it is frequent. The advisers do a follow-up on the negotiation and check the merchandise before delivery. They have knowledge on topics such as: costs, quality, norms and seals, as well as responsible companies with a great track record. Sometimes, the Chinese will lower their prices even “to sell at a loss” simply to win over a client. They will later try to recover the costs either by lowering the quality of the products with cheaper materials or by imposing high post-sale taxes. This is knowledge only acquired through experience. In addition to the consultants, you also have to consider: an excellent translation of the contracts so that everything is clear.

Regarding the brand: YSTON. Before traveling to China, they had already registered the brand. They only designed the logo there. “We quickly ‘secured it,’ in other words: registered it formally – commented the Director – It’s a way of protecting it so that no one can do business with that name. When the Chinese see optimum growth, they may want to keep the brand and sell it on their own.” You must decrease the risks.

Important information:

Chinese business culture:

-       What we know as “Chinese food” in the West is an interpretation created in New York. Their food for westerners is completely different and unknown. It may even be hard to eat.

-       When you ask for a glass of water, they serve it hot.

-       Regarding norms and protocols, it’s important to know that when you give or receive a business card: do it using both hands. It’s a symbol of respect.

-       Punctuality: is very important. They are always on time.

-       They are very courteous and willing to help: when you schedule a visit to the factory, they send you a driver.

-       It may be taken as disrespectful if you don’t accept to drink tea. They traditionally drink a lot of tea and it is a special moment for them.