How to start a successful import business using the Internet – Part II
By Nowshade Kabir ©Rusbiz.com
The Internet has opened up a whole new era of business opportunities. Falling
trade barriers combining with easy access to trade information thanks to the Internet
have created dramatic possibilities and sparked the growth of global online trade
in virtually every area.
Many companies are taking advantage of electronic media quite aggressively
by making new contacts, tapping into new markets and reducing costs with the
help of online technologies.
Whether you are starting a new import business or planning to expand your existing
business, you too can use the Internet as your primary channel for getting information,
sourcing products or services, finding suppliers and doing your marketing.
Before the Internet era, finding a viable product for importing was not an
easy job! Trade shows and traveling to foreign lands were the two best options
available for getting hands on information on a product and its supplier. Today,
required information on any conceivable product from virtually any market is
available at your finger tips.
Finding a product
If you know what you are planning to import, a substantial work is already
done! Otherwise, your first step is to choose a feasible product or service
to import. Whether you are planning to import a general merchandize or an industry-specific
product, do your homework right.
Browse through Catalog repositories, B2B exchanges, electronic trade boards,
trade journals and virtual trade shows to find a product. If you know the manufacturing
country from where the product is possible to source, check out the country
specific portals and exchanges. Here is a list of high quality electronic trade
For China made products: www.alibaba.com
Sourcing from India: www.trade-india.com
For Russian Products: www.rusbiz.com
Products from Europe: www.europages.com
From South Korea: www.ec21.com
For other country-specific or industry-specific B2B
exchanges check out this list: http://dmoz.org/Business/E-Commerce/Marketplaces/
Your criteria for choosing a product for importing
- Your prior knowledge of the product you intend
to import and its industry. Your possibility of
success increases considerably if you know the product
- Access to required quantity of this product.
If you spend time and effort in developing a local
market for a product and unable to deliver, you
will loose business and reputation.
- Quality of the product. This is a crucial aspect
for developing a market for any product. Quality
of the product should be consistent with market
- High profit margin. As import incurs many expenses
that are specific to this type of business only,
prior to import anything, you should carefully calculate
all required expenses and see that you still make
handsome profits. You can check out the sites of
your prospective competitors and make a price comparison
to get initial idea on your products present market
Once you know – what you are planning to import – your next step is to find
a reliable supplier for this product.
Emarketplace or B2B exchange
B2B exchanges can be a good help in getting suppliers of the products you are
planning to import.
The possible steps, you have to take to find a supplier from a B2B exchange,
are listed below. As an example www.rusbiz.com is used.
Register your company. Often this service is free!
Go to “Advanced Search”
Write your product name in the relevant box
Select required criteria and click on “Search”
You will find a list of companies.
Check out each of them until you find a suitable one.
Chamber of Commerce
Another option is to contact Chambers of Commerce to find a supplier. A Chamber
of Commerce is an association of companies that protects and promotes business
interests of its members.
For a complete list of Chambers of Commerce from various countries check out
this page: http://www.worldchambers.com/CCII/index1.htm.
If other methods did not bring any fruitful result, you can consider posting
classified ads in a range of trade boards. There are many trade boards available
on the Internet. While posting trade leads make sure that you specify your requirement
precisely. A well-written ad will bring much better result. Post your trade
leads frequently until you find a good supplier for your product.
Once you found a supplier that suits you, check him out thoroughly. Your supplier
should meet the following criteria:
- The supplier company must carry the product for
a substantial period of time.
- It should have experience in export – preferably
to your country.
- It should have readily available export references.
- It should be a reputable company in its country.
If the company meets the above criteria get Dun
and Bradstreet report of the company to verify its financial background.
Selling imported products
Before even thinking about importing a product or service, you should know
exactly who your customers are and how you are going to sell your products to
them. Although, there are numerous ways of selling a product, selling through
the Internet is gaining ground fast.
Selling through your own website
Considering the growth of e-commerce, today, any consumer-oriented product is
viable to sell through the Internet. Your success will largely depend on your
ability to market your website appropriately. Your website should have the following
qualities among others: appealing design, well described product specification
with clear pictures, great content, fast connection, easy-to-use shopping cart
and a good merchant account.
As a drop ship distributor, you carry the inventory and your joint venture partners
make the sales. Once a product is sold you get the payment from your partner
but ship out the product directly to the end customer.
Selling through distributors
Selling through resellers with expertise in your field lowers marketing and
selling costs. If you sell products through a number of distributors and each
of these distributors use diversified marketing method, your sales potential
get multiplied without spending extra on marketing.
An E-marketplace is a business community, where you can expect to see a large
number of buyers and sellers. For a seller it is a low cost, highly functional
and easy-to-use sales channel.
Benefits of selling products through emarketplace also include:
- Low customer acquisition cost
- Improve customer service
- Efficient information sharing method
- Reduce supply chain cost
Entrepreneurs who want to get serious about importing have to acquire substantial
knowledge of the process. Many of the information needed to carry out an import
export business is available on the Internet. Anybody with enough enthusiasm
to learn can easily find them and use to build a profitable and interesting