The Seven Deadly Sins of Importing From China

Importing from China never comes easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. The more I learn about this, the more I note our clients’ challenges and success, the more I realize that, despite difficulties, there are a number of ways importers can make their sourcing program run more smoothly. At the same time, there are a number of ways to make importing from China seem impossible. I found that one good way to understand this is to think of them as the 7 Deadly Sins of Importing from China.

Pride: We’ve all come across the type of companies that refuse to admit that they are having issues. I guess in some ways we are all guilty of that. Pride keeps us from a lot of things, including importing from China successfully. No sourcing program is perfect, even if you have put a lot of effort into it. Admitting that some things can be improved is the first step to actually improving it.

Envy: Is the grass really greener on the other side? Do you know someone who is importing from China and appears to be doing it effortlessly? Don’t fool yourself. Yes, it may look easy, simple and perfect, but be sure the other guys put in the work and did some heavy lifting and they achieved results by putting in place good systems, procedures and processes.

Wrath: Many importers have been there. You receive a shipment of poor quality goods and you realize you can’t sell those AND you have no recourse to the factory.  You have basically thrown your money down the drain. To put it lightly, you’re angry. Instead of lashing out, examine what went wrong, and how, and use this experience to learn how to put together a better China sourcing program and make sure this never happens again.

Gluttony: You’ve learned that importing from China can save you 20% and double your margins. So you want to source every single item you sell to to maximize your return on investment. But you’re eyes are bigger than your stomach. It does not always make sense to import everything, even if all the products you target are of China origin.  Focus on the 80/20 rule (i.e. import first the 20% of your products that deliver 80% of your profits). For those who are just beginning a sourcing program in China, it is better to start small and get established with major items before addressing the rest of your products.

Lust: Most factories will do anything to get your business, to impress you, the buyer. And often times, companies importing from China are impressed by promises, eager to place orders and look to receiving their product as quickly as possible. However, lust does not do any one any good. It is better to stay calm, allow time to prepare and test – set up good contracts with the factory, discuss timetables, develop the specifications and expectations of your product, etc. Don’t rush into things too fast.

Sloth: Like I said, importing from China never comes easy. It may look easy when you look at platforms like Alibaba but importing is hard. You have to put the work in. From benchmarking factories to a quality assurance program, being idle won’t pay here. A little hard work in the beginning pays off in the long run when your goal is to have a well-rounded sourcing program that runs like a well-oiled machine and delivers the results you seek.

Greed: Money, money, money… One of the main reasons companies today are importing from China is because it delivers just that – money.  In terms of getting greater market share and improving your bottom line, being able to buy goods that conform to your quality for a lower cost makes sense. But you want to be careful about this.  Are you being greedy or logical?   Make sure you have evaluated all aspects of the equation prior to launching a buying program in China.

Do you agree with my view of the seven deadly sins of China importing?  I would love to hear from you.  Leave us your feedback in the comments below!

By Jocelyn Trigueros

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