First I must apologise as it seems that some of my newsletter subscribers did not receive last Friday’s email due to a glitch. So, apologies if you missed this.
Last weekend was ‘Super Sunday’ one of the busiest online shopping days of the year. News reports suggest that this spilled over into what’s been dubbed ‘Mega Monday’ too! So how did ‘Super Sunday’ and ‘Mega Monday’ got for you? From the comments online it seems it was predicted to be a couple of great days for many! This report from Sky News said:
“A combination of pay day for the majority of consumers falling on the last Friday of the month and a weekend spent browsing the shops results in shoppers logging on to buy their gifts online..”.
“All of these factors will result in consumers spending £222,222 per minute, making 4,722 transactions every 60 seconds.”
Wow! That’s a lot of spending going on and I really hope that you were on the receiving end of some of that cash!
Now, last week I talked about product sourcing from UK ‘directories’ and gave you some pointers as to where you should be looking for genuine suppliers in the UK. So, keeping to a theme and following on from this, today I thought I’d give you my views on sourcing products from overseas compared with product sourcing from within the UK.
I know that we are getting very close to Christmas now and so you probably won’t put these tips I give you into practice until the new year – but that’s fine – it’s always good to be prepared and to be able to start a new year on a fresh, positive note. If you do decide to order products from overseas at this stage in the year, bear in mind possible delays due to larger volumes of parcels going here, there and everywhere. You’ll realistically be looking at getting stock delivered after Christmas now if you order internationally, but you’ll be all set for January then so there’s no harm in that!
First up, here’s something very, very important. If I wanted to source branded goods (which I personally don’t as I’d rather stick to unbranded goods!) then I would certainly consider UK suppliers before overseas suppliers, simply to avoid getting into a situation where I was uncertain if I had the genuine article or not. Whilst we are on the subject, it goes without saying that whilst there are many genuine, reliable Chinese suppliers that will always deliver quality goods, there are also lots of scam suppliers who advertise branded goods such as designer sunglasses, handbags and watches amongst other products – but always branded goods. And that is why you have to be very careful. Because even though these branded goods are manufactured in China for their parent companies, the actual distribution of these goods is tightly controlled by each individual parent company, not the manufacturer, and the manufacturers can’t just go round supplying the product to anyone who asks!
As you may already know, I rarely sell branded products and that, amongst others is one of the reasons why.
When it comes to unbranded goods however – which has been the core of my online business – I look overseas almost every time.
I remember receiving an email a little while ago from a lady who had ordered what she thought were genuine UGG Boots (for my male subscribers who may not know – these are designer furry boots) from a Chinese supplier, only to receive them and discover that they were in fact counterfeit goods. They were apparently very good fakes, but never the less they were only copies of the real thing. This lady was in a bit of a panic because quite rightly she felt that she couldn’t knowingly sell them on eBay because they weren’t genuine, but at the same time she didn’t know what on earth she should do with them.
I really felt for this lady, but I’m afraid that by the time she emailed me it was too late because there was absolutely nothing I could do to help her at that point. She had unfortunately already ordered, paid for and received her goods which were now eye-balling her from her spare room making her feel very uncomfortable.
I’ve also had emails on a very similar thread regarding Braun Toothbrush Heads, GHD Hair Straighteners, Apple iPods and Gucci Handbags.
I don’t want you to find yourself in a situation like this so I want to tell you a little bit about sourcing from China which will hopefully dispel some of the myths and confirm some of the truths that you might have heard on your online travels so far.
Firstly, please don’t think that I don’t know exactly how scary it is just thinking about ordering products from a supplier who is based internationally, wherever they are based – be it China, the USA or elsewhere.
I’m certainly not going to try and paint a rosy picture here and try and convince you that it’s so terribly easy to import products from abroad – remember, I’ve been there, done it, been a quivering wreck as I ‘Added to Cart’ and hit the ‘Confirm Payment’ button, panicked when orders haven’t arrived on time, dealt with parcels being held up in customs and not being released for weeks, and all the other stuff that occasionally happens when you run an online business and need to import goods – because that won’t give you a true picture.
Every error you make will teach you something positive
You do need to know that the things I have just mentioned might happen to you. But also they probably won’t! Most international transactions complete with no problems what so ever. Just think, if they didn’t there would be no business being done between the UK and overseas would there! Also, you will find that if a problem does happen to you, you will sort it all out and learn something along the way. Every step that you take, including the few inevitable mistakes that you will make, will actually teach you something positive – please remember that.
So, I know that because of these so called ‘problems’ that might or might not happen, it’s very tempting to want to stick within what you think is your comfort zone and the good old UK suppliers, thinking that nothing can go wrong because we’re all in the same country, right?
Well, you’re not wrong… but you’re also not right if that makes sense, because there are always pros and cons to product sourcing, wherever your goods are originating from. Small businesses, online sellers like you and me and other individuals who run businesses from home – we are all able to profit by sourcing our products from overseas suppliers. And sourcing this way can be very straightforward and not as terrifying as you might think.
I’ve become aware over the years that more and more Chinese suppliers are now putting in place, safe online payment options such as PayPal and Escrow services to give buyers like you and me more confidence to buy and this is partly due to rising competition between the huge number of Chinese manufacturers who all want to do business with us. What they have realised is that they absolutely must offer safe, simple payment methods, better quality goods and a reliable service to stay a step ahead of their own competition. This should give you a little peace of mind if you are considering sourcing from overseas so why don’t you take a look and see what’s out there for you…
You’ll find that you can easily locate thousands of manufacturers through trade magazines, international trade fairs, and business-to-business websites such as www.alibaba.com
Do your research
Of course, you will need to thoroughly research each supplier that you are considering sourcing from, because business to business websites allow any supplier to advertise their goods, so it’s important that you only source from companies on these sites that have been vetted by the site they are advertising on. You can tell which companies have passed the checks because they will have a seal of authentication (which varies from site to site) next to their company details.
If contacting manufacturers terrifies you, you can start off nice and simply by using a wholesale website. There are plenty of these around so to start you off, take a look at the three below just to get an idea of the type of products that you might be able to source from overseas:
Sites like these can work well for you because you can purchase small quantities of goods making it totally affordable for you and importantly very low risk.
I’ve given you some starting points here and you’ve nothing to lose by checking them out so please take time to have a look when you are researching products and suppliers.
Finally, whilst we are on the subject of research, I want to tell you about a website that I’ve been using more and more regularly in the last few weeks. I’ve always used the site and had good results, but Jake and the team from Watchcount www.watchcount.com have really been on the ball since the demise of eBay Pulse and have been working on an updated tool which is now ready as Jake told me earlier this week:
Hi again, Amanda:
Just a heads-up here that our Most Popular eBay Searches tool is now finished and ready for launch. Feel free to share it with others if you like it or find it helpful. Thanks. I’d be curious to know if in your eyes it, combined with our Most Watched search, does or doesn’t live up to what eBay Pulse used to do. Something we just added last week is a subcategory driller, to make it easier to see top-searched terms in deeper subcategories, albeit limited to top-5 or top-10. You’ll see it below search results. Thanks for having a peek, and for any feedback you may be able to share!
So, I wanted to share this with you, as I know you’ll find it extremely helpful and in my opinion I’ve finally found a genuinely useful alternative to eBay Pulse. Here’s the link if you’d like to try it out – and I recommend you do!
Let me know how you get on and I’ll pass your feedback on to Jake.