Ever wondered how much more you could be growing your business if you could only get your importing under control? Well, you’re not alone. Most eCommerce entrepreneurs struggle. 

But, help is at hand. Freightos, QuickBooks Commerce, and sixteen other specialists from each stage of the importing process recently joined forces to write the Experts Guide To Importing From China, your hands-on manual for getting importing under control.

How hands on? Well, the guide’s best value proposition is that it helps you at every step along the way, plus a few expert tips which we will share with you now.

The Experts Guide to Importing from China

Eighteen experts provide advice on everything from product, sourcing, supplier, forwarding, shipping, and fulfillment.


Expert tip 1. Accurately declare shipment value

The first part of the guide covers Product, including topics like product research, safety compliance, and import restrictions. This tip comes from the Importer & Customs Responsibilities chapter, written by INLT’s Andre LaMorgia.

Ethics aside, misdeclaring shipment value is a bad idea. Importers may get away with it a few times because Customs only inspect a fraction of shipments coming through. But, when Customs eventually does catch up, they face:

  • Examination charges and associated costs, dramatically increasing the shipment’s cost
  • Fines for all under-valuations made over the past five years
  • Criminal penalties and bans from further importing (in some instances)

Importing from ChinaExpert tip 2. Smart-search suppliers on Alibaba

After Product, the next stage when importing from China is Sourcing. This tip comes from the Supplier Marketplaces chapter, written by 80/20 Sourcing’s Gary Huang, who methodically goes through the best way to find suppliers on the Alibaba site.

Search queries on Alibaba usually result in a long list of potential suppliers. At that point, some buyers re-run the query to only include gold suppliers. But this status is merely an advertising badge that suppliers buy from Alibaba without pre-approval. To find reliable suppliers, a better approach is find suppliers who have been around for several years (filter for gold suppliers with more than two years standing).

Expert tip 3. Size your bargaining power

Once you’ve shortlisted suppliers, the following chapters cover what happens next (all brought together with a handy checklist). Here’s a tip from Ash Monga, IMEX Sourcing Services, from his Negotiating Strategy chapter.

To work out where you stand relative to the supplier, consider:

  • Order value (their highest priority)
  • Purchase history (a few repeat orders will get you better terms)
  • Scale (large suppliers are less flexible with price and payment terms)
  • Comparison (how your sizes, brands, and credit ratings stack up)
  • Local presence in China (gets you more chance of securing a lower deposit or extended credit)
  • Competition (where there are many suppliers, e.g. furniture, computer accessories, payment terms are more negotiable)

Expert tip 4. Request instant freight quotes

You should request quotes about two weeks before your shipment is ready. This tip comes from the Request For Freight Quote chapter.

Normally, when choosing a forwarder, you should allow a week for forwarders to respond to quote requests. You want to be able to compare several quotes but be sure to request more quotes than you think you’ll need. That’s because some forwarders likely won’t respond to your request.

Alternatively, you can now request a quote just once to instantly receive responses from several forwarders. On the Freightos Marketplace it is simple to select a quote by price, transit time, and forwarder rating.Freightos importing from China

Expert tip 5. Play safe with incoterms

The last stage in the process is the shipment. This tip comes from Shipping Basics chapter.

Incoterms are standardized freight terms used in international sales agreements. Although CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) is a popular incoterm, the guide describes it as a disaster waiting to happen for smaller importers.

The three safest incoterms options are:

  • EXW (Ex Works)
  • FCA (Free To Carrier)
  • FOB (Free On Board), although, even here it is safer to use FCA for less than container loads and air freight

Get your importing from China under control with the help of eighteen experts. The Experts Guide To Importing From China is crammed full with hands-on advice on everything you need to know about product, sourcing, supplier, forwarding, shipping, and fulfillment.

About the author:

John Edmonds is a logistics expert who loves writing about freight (who doesn’t) at Freightos. Most recently, he edited the Experts Guide To Importing From China.

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Freightos is the instant online freight marketplace revolutionizing international freight by providing instant quotes and bookings, shipment management, 24/7 support, and more to smaller importers.


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