I have a friend who as a senior year student in college decided to start a small business by the side. He started importing wrist Watches, Sunglasses and Perfumes from an online e-commerce website.
He started with a few items and then as the demand increased, He got more items. It was supposed to be a side thing, but it soon grew into a large venture. My friend went full scale into importation soon after he graduated and is still making a healthy income from it today.
Whether you are an entrepreneur in another line of business and seeking to diversify into import or you are a newbie seeking to start with the import business, below are a few tips on how you can crack the code and build a healthy import based business:
1. Determine if you are fit for it
Importation is for the daring and the adventurous and not for the weak minded. It's a business line that demands some faith, great instinct and a great deal of research skills.
Everything from beverages to rocks--and a staggering list of other products that you might never imagine are global merchandise and these products are bought, sold, represented and distributed somewhere in the world. So if you are the kind of person that prefers selling Girl Scout cookies then you may not be the kind of person for this.
My point? Importation is serious business but anybody can do it if they choose to sit up and put in the work.
2. Determine the Availability for the Product
If you are in the U.S, then before you up and fly to Germany to import pharmaceuticals consider this; the US exports about $47.3 billion worth of pharmaceuticals in a year and so there is more than enough at home to go round.
Don't just settle for a product that catches your fancy, check for its availability at home first and if it is available you might consider a retail or supply business instead.
Importing granite in Portugal for instance will be foolhardy because Portugal is among the five top exporters of granite in Europe. The same applies for importing Bananas in Ecuador, which if you were to do in Alaska, would be profitable.
3. Consider Going for Image Goods
Image goods are goods that people buy for their quality, because they have made a name and because it is just classier and more appealing. Sales psychology shows that it is easier to sell certain products to customers if these products are imported even when they are produced at home.
Consider Italian wears and French perfumes. They are generally viewed as classier and more durable. Products like Egyptian cotton have very high quality and are recognized all over the world for it. Scandinavian furniture also falls within this category.
4. Consider Products That Are Cheaper Abroad
Even if a product is available at home and doesn't necessary fall within the category of image products, there may still be a chance of finding a market for it.
You may consider importing products that have a far less cost of production abroad than at home. Korean toys, Taiwanese electronics and Mexican clothing for instance.
These products have a reasonably high quality while also giving you a price advantage. Importing such goods will find you a market willing to pay to get quality goods at lower prices while still leaving you a healthy profit.
5. Travel Abroad and Find New Products
If you don't mind ditching safety for a bit and innovation is your thing; if you are an enthusiastic salesperson; if you are a dynamo at tracking things like invoices and shipping receipts and you love watching new ideas and new products take off; if you love the excitement of encountering different cultures, then this may be the path you need to establish an import based business.
Traveling in search of goods can be the best way to garner immediate results. There are many manufacturers out there who've never considered selling their products in the United States for instance, even though the market may be extremely profitable. The most effective way to find these exciting opportunities is through field research.
6. Surf the net
Thanks to Google and all the search engines, we can now get virtually all the information we need on the internet. You can find out what countries produce what and at what rates they produce and what products have reasonable markets. You can even patronize e-commerce sites for imports of certain products.
7. Find the Best Trade Partners
Generally every country has something to offer, but a little research will reveal what nations your country has good trade partnerships with. The U.S. Census Bureau lists countries like; Canada, Mexico, Japan, China, Germany, United Kingdom, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore as the foremost US trade partners.
While it is safer to trade with such nations, you could still do some research; nations in the Caribbean basin and the old Soviet Union States are increasingly becoming key players as well.
It's a big place and in this business there is room for everyone to make it.
Here's to your success!