Can I still buy overseas if I’m not a huge company?  YES! but…

As an importer/sourcing agent/trading company, you can imagine we have many different types and sizes of companies that want to work with us and have their product/idea sourced from Asia. There are many different factors to consider that prevent a small(er) company from being able to do this and I want to bring these to the forefront.

First off, what is a small company?

small business owner

small business owner

For our use here, small would be under five retail location stores, inventors or manufacturers under $5 million in sales.

1. Size/Qty. The first challenge is size (qty) of the product you are sourcing. Most factories in Asia (that are worth using) won’t produce any orders less than a container to start. This isn’t saying they will never do this, but it depends on the season and how busy they are at the time.

2. Deposits Fees. Deposits are the second challenge to consider. If you are new to a factory they will always ask for some sort of deposit before they will start to produce your products. After the relationship has been built with them, sometimes they will waive that, but it’s not guaranteed. The actual deposit will depend on the product and factory.

3. Mold charges. This is another tricky challenge to overcome for some inventors or small manufacturers that are making a completely new or revised product. This mold charge will depend on the product that you are creating, complexity and materials needed. Mold charges can range from $500 to thousands of dollars. Depending on the factory, we are sometimes able to negotiate that the mold charge will be refunded back to you after you have placed your first order.

4.Lead Time. Lead time is crucial if you are offering the product to a certain buying season. A small order will always be produced after a large one. So if you have large orders in front of you at the factory and you are in peak season, lead times will always be longer than off-peak season purchasing. Lead times usually run around 30-35 days in off-peak season and 45-55 days during peak season.

5. Samples. Before anyone buys product for the first time they are going to want to see samples of their finished product. This is smart and one should always request a picture first. After reviewing the photo and the product looks correct, you should proceed to get a sample. The sample charge for most factories is the full price of the product and then the shipping from their factory to your store/office. Again, with some factories we can get the shipping charge reimbursed back to you after your first order has been placed. The sample charge of the product is not usually reimbursed. People are usually surprised how much it costs for a sample to be shipped via FedEx, UPS or DHL. For example, some furniture pieces that we have aired over from China can cost around $500. This cost is expensive, but worth the investment to see a finished sample, before you spend thousands of dollars on the actual order.

Do you have warehousing available? Do you have a solid sales plan? Do you know who will be buying your products? What is your target price? How many pieces can we sell this season?

The five points above don’t include everything and there may be other challenges that arise in your specific situation, but these will get the big hurdles out of the way first. If you consider the five points and the questions above you can realistically decide if buying from overseas will work for you.

Getting your product overseas can save thousands of dollars, can really boost your margin and turn a dream or idea into a reality.

To find out if you’re ready for importing call us at 765-497-3668 or email at for more information.