Another holiday season is around the corner, it is the annual expanding opportunity for e-commerce business owners that shouldn’t be missed. A lot of entrepreneurs tend to source from China because of the inexpensive, good quality made-in-China products and the world biggest B2B platform Alibaba. But when your supplier is on the other end of the planet, everything seems to be tricky. Here are some tips to help you import from China without being ripped off or scammed.
Protect your intellectual property rights.
When cooperating with manufacturers in China, the priority is to protect your brilliant product and marketing ideas from being stolen. For many times, I saw fake Disney princess dolls on Taobao, the Chinese B2C ecommerce platform, the doll itself looks quite similar to the original one, but the clothes are very poorly made. Because Disney attaches great importance to the protection of their intellectual property rights, they use different manufacturers to make the doll and clothes, then no one can sell identical products.
For small and medium sized ecommerce businesses, this model is worth learning. Although they can’t handle complex strategies like Disney, it is feasible to assemble components from multiple suppliers and ship them together, the inventory management can be centralized as well. The trick is to get a third-party order fulfillment center in China. There is a service called kitting and assembly, it means putting different items in one package and ship it out. This service offers more possibilities for your business, just use your imagination.
– Add catalogue, leaflet, thank-you card in the package to build up a better brand impression.
– Cooperate with multiple manufacturers to prevent marketing and product idea from being copied.
– Send subscription boxes to members or VIPs.
Pay more attention to branding.
Recent years, a lot of Chinese manufacturers start to build their own brand and sell products directly on Amazon instead of just doing OEM. This illustrates the importance of brand value, if you only sell the products, your manufacturer can sell them too, then what’s the meaning of your existence? When it comes to branding, the first word that comes to people’s mind is marketing, in fact there is a service called branding fulfillment that can help to develop brand awareness as well.
Quality control: no broken or poorly made product
Packaging: custom packages with your logo and other brand visual identity elements
Add promotional leaflets: try cross-selling and up sale this holiday season
Improve the item return experience.
One of the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment is bad product return policy. When consumers buy products from other countries, they will be more concerned with the product return, if the policy is unclear, the purchase will be terminated immediately because of the potential risks. So it’s wise to consider the product return process when making order fulfillment plans. But near-customer warehouses are normally more expensive. To solve this problem, it’s recommended to use the order fulfillment service which is capable to provide multiple warehouses, allowing the e-commerce business owners to store bulk goods in the near-source warehouse (e.g. warehouse in China) and use multiple near-customer warehouses just as the return or transit warehouse.
Take control of the logistics budget.
When it comes to global shipping, the logistics fee can be a problem the ecommerce business owners have to face. Logistics fee can be accounted for a large part of the total cost. You have to do your best to cut it if you want to get more profits.
In the storage aspect. Use China local warehouses. Almost every aspect of logistics will generate a cost, so it’s better to stock your goods in the right location. Consider the customer is worldwide, it’s wise to stock the goods somewhere “near source”, because it cuts the shipping fee from the manufacturer to the warehouse. Not only that, China local warehouses also have more cost-effective labor and other supporting services (e.g. 90 days free storage).
In the shipping aspect. As soon as the goods leave the warehouse, you have to deal with a more complex process, but there are still ways to cut the cost. The first one is to get a flexible shipping solution. The word “flexible” means have multiple shipping options, depending on the weight/volume of the products, the location of the buyer and other actual situations. Normally, there are a variety of real-time changing situations occurs in international transportation, because it involves the weather, traffic, policy changes of multiple countries or areas. You need work out more than one combinations to deal with different seasons, product types, shipping destinations, etc, or the shipping aspect may drag your feet during the holiday seasons when you should have the best sales. The other way is to get an expert’s opinion on order fulfillment. When you are choosing your transportation routes or dealing with the customs declaration, it’s better to seek the expert’s help. It can cut a lot of logistic fees.
Make plans early.
Although thanksgiving is in November, Christmas is in December, but it’s better to be prepared early, at least make plans in September and place test orders in October. Placing test orders can test out product quality, make supplier list and find possible shipping solutions. Some order fulfillment centers in China will help you to make fulfillment solutions and recommend some shipping methods base on their expertise. But it’s more secure to list all possible products, suppliers and shipping solutions from China, then test them one by one.