In order to make a large profit when selling an item, you need to buy at a low cost so that you can offer a lower price than your competitors. When looking for items to sell, many people turn to drop shipping companies as a way to buy products for cheap. While drop shipping companies do sell items for cheaper than retail value, it is not an effective sales strategy.
To receive good deals on products, one must learn how to import from China because buying true wholesale items directly from the manufacturer in China is the best option. Buying Chinese products wholesale means you can eliminate the middleman, earn a higher profit for yourself and still manage to stay competitive.
UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE DOING
As with any other project you are trying, make sure you have a really clear understanding of what you’re going to be doing before going into it. Like I said above, if you aren’t careful, it is really easy to end up with a hilariously absurd amount of worthless product you will never sell. I still have a box of worthless imported crap I was never able to sell, I should probably throw that out…
What you are trying to do here is this –
- Find a good product – I always hate when this is the first step of something I am reading, but unfortunately it is here too. Luckily, picking niches for this is pretty easy and quick, and doesnt involve pouring through monotonous keyword data.
- Find a good supplier – There are a handful of great suppliers in every niche. It really takes some digging to find them (along with a little luck), but there are some things you can do to make sure you avoid the scams and increase your odds at finding an awesome supplier.
- Sell and build – After you have a good product, and a good supplier, you just have to start selling it. If it were me, I would leverage existing sales channels (eBay, Amazon, etc) to both sell my product, and build up my own recurring customer base. So that is what I am going to focus on.
THINGS NOT TO DO
- Don’t buy in bulk from a factory until you have their samples in your hands and you LOVE them.
- Don’t let any supplier convince you they can’t ship single samples, they are trying to scam you.
- Don’t pay with any other method but PayPal for the first 6 months with your supplier. This eliminates a ton of risk.
- Don’t buy from a company that won’t accept PayPal. What it really means is that they had a PayPal, and it was shut down due to complaints.
- Don’t buy counterfeit crap. Not that there isn’t money to be made there, it is just a bad business to build.
- Don’t buy a lot of inventory in the beginning. I started off buying 1-5 units at a time until I built up the money to reinvest into inventory.
- Don’t give these suppliers your personal email. The email will be effectively nuked and unusable for years, trust me…
WHERE AND HOW TO FIND SUPPLIERS
Your best friend in the importing business is AliBaba. I have used it for every single product I have ever imported. I use it for my own businesses, I use it for clients, and I know a ton of people that use it. It is an awesome resource.
Don’t fall into the traps of Doba, WorldWideBrand, Volusion, or whatever other scam solutions are out there to find suppliers. I made the mistake of trying all of these when I first got started, and just ended up wasting hundreds of dollars for little to no value. Just stay away from these, trust me.
With AliBaba, you will be looking at only Gold members. I don’t care how awesome of a deal you get from a non-gold member, or how many factory certifications they have, you DON’T buy from non-gold members. Just following this rule will help you to avoid 98% of the scams and bad suppliers. Any other certifications or whatever are just icing on the cake.
You really want to find a supplier that will do cheap samples, offers PayPal payments (even at an increased rate, use PayPal), and seems to respond to your communications quickly and effectively.
You can also use AliExpress to buy stuff. which is one popular solution to buy stuff directly from the manufacturer.
Many of the items you would buy from a drop shipping company are being bought wholesale from China. When you use a drop shipping company it’s like you are paying someone else to do the work for you and allowing them to profit off of your purchases. Eliminate the middle man and go to the source directly by buying true wholesale products from China.
HOW TO FIND PRODUCTS
There are a few limits on what kinds of items you want to sell –
- It needs to be small and light – Trust me on this, you don’t want to deal with the headaches that come with shipping furniture or kitchen appliances around the world. You want something that is going to be cheap to ship around, because shipping is going to eat your profit margins alive.
- It needs to be a simple item – What I mean by this is you want something that is simple to manufacture and has a relatively high margin of error. Most of these factories are not going to have the highest quality standards in the world, so the greater the margin of error you can put up with while keeping your customers happy the better. Competitive katana swords did not have a great margin for error before customers started noticing, as they were vigorously slicing sh*t with them all day (slicing rolled up Tatami Mats to be specific).
- Keep it in the $10-200 range – In my experience, it becomes very capital intensive and much riskier if you are selling items any higher than this. Higher ticket items are usually harder to ship, require higher quality control, and really magnify your mistakes when first starting out in importing. I have yet to find success outside of that price range, so I cant suggest you take any chances in it, but of course use your own judgement.
- Don’t sell what you buy – Devan made a great point when I was speaking with him that you can’t sell items that you buy. Most of us buy electronics, clothes, food, and other essentials. I can tell you right now that you are not going to compete in any of those markets. You really have to niche down in this and find a nice little nook for you to sit in.
- Don’t go seasonal – You want to find items that have a consistent base of buyers. I am sure there is a bunch of money to be made in selling Christmas stuff and winter clothes from Asia, but it is going to be extremely seasonal, and you are probably going to end up with a ton of worthless inventory.
Selling Your Product Through Existing Sales Channels
Here is the stuff that I did to scale up my sales that will probably work for you –
- Advertising with Amazon and eBay – I always made a solid return with these advertising programs, specifically Amazon.
- Listing yourself on other sales channels – I eventually made an eCommerce store so that my products could be listen through the primitive versions of Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, and every other shopping venue I could find online. If I could put my items up and sell through them, I did. And each new channel gave me a little bit of growth for free.
- Brand yourself – The days of branding yourself as “GreatAirsoftCompany.com” are long gone. You have to find a good brand name that resonates with the crowd you are selling to, and it will exponentially reward you over time.
- Aim for recurring revenue – I started seeing solid growth from including coupons and promotional materials in each shipment. Eventually, I set up an email and SMS subscription that would send them deals and updates on airsoft items. I also set up a monthly subscription for airsoft pellets, which I couldn’t sell on eBay due to very small margins. The key here is to focus on siphoning off buyers from the pre-existing sales channels into your own lists and databases. That way, you can market to them for free on demand, rather than having no way to contact them after their first order.