China Business – How to Import from China

As part of my business at, I make it a point to constantly keep in touch with my customers and clients, whether they are Chinese suppliers and manufacturers, or foreign importers and sourcing companies particularly new market entrants and established SME’s. This enables me to continually refine my website to improve the customer service and add new innovations.

As part of this process, I hear many success stories of overseas customers, more than often from the US, who have successfully started a new business through importing product from China or have significantly reduced their costs or increased their product range via this method. I am also often asked about the best ways of starting to import from China and what pitfalls to look out for.

Some of the emails I receive from DHgate customers in the US give me examples of their initial experience in importing from China, and often it was not initially that successful. Usually this is as a result of choosing the wrong supplier, not doing your homework and rushing into product order and underestimating the nature of international trade. I want to share it with you over the next couple of posts some of my thoughts and tips to make sure your experience is successful.

Choose Your Supplier Well

One of the most fundamental errors is to pick a supplier without a thorough review process. Check whether they are the actual manufacturer or merely a wholesaler as you always want to deal directly with the source. Check the supplier’s website to see whether it’s in English which is always a sign that they do business with foreign companies. Ask the supplier for testimonials and references, and then check them up. Use a China-based verification company if the size of the order warrants it, or read customer reviews. For example on, we have a number of verification methods like a 3 tier rating system and a Feedback scores from other buyers.

Don’t Rush; There’s Plenty of Time

Next, don’t rush into anything. Although there is pressure from both sides to get it done as soon as possible, it’s best to give yourself a long lead time to do proper research, complete perfect product specifications and shop around. The product will always be there, and it maybe cheaper next month or with a different supplier.

Don’t Underestimate Time and Costs

Although international delivery these days is very efficient even for smaller product orders, it’s probably wise to always work on the basis that the delivery will be late, so factor it into your plans. Also, it is probable that the landed costs will be higher than quoted or you have estimated. Eager buyers have a tendency to underestimate the time and costs of importing from China.

Don’t Pay Purchase Price Upfront

Never pay the purchase price or a substantial part of it upfront. If you do this, then it will be highly unlikely you will get your money back if there’s a problem with the quality of the products or there’s a severe delay in the shipping. If a supplier demands you do this, it’s probably best to find a new supplier. At, we use an escrow payment system where you don’t pay the supplier until you’ve received your shipment and are fully satisfied with it.

In my next post, I will give some more tips on how to deal with Chinese suppliers and basics on how to import from China especially in relation to understanding cultural differences, maintain product quality and dispute resolution.

This post is filed under The View from China and has the following keyword tags: import, China, suppliers, ecommerce.

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