In the last 10 or so years, Asia, and China in particular, has become a major trading force in the world. What is most interesting to us is that there are a lot of opportunities out there for finding cheap wholesale goods that are able to be sold for a good profit in the West.
So how do you make contacts in Asia?
Finding a good contact is the hardest part. Some people make a trip to Asia for this purpose; however, not all of us have the budget to do this, so the best alternative is to use directories such as the SaleHoo Wholesale Directory.
In general, Asia is best as a source for generic products rather than designer brands. Most wholesalers advertising 'genuine' products will actually be selling copies. If you are looking for genuine designer brands, I recommend you use suppliers in the USA or your home country, where it is easier to verify that you are getting the genuine article.
Then, start building a relationship with the contact by emailing them or chatting via Skype. It's all about establishing a friendly rapport as well as finding the goods.
Ask them to send a sample, and then place a small order. I often ask new contacts to send the sample for free, and pay for the shipping myself. That way it costs us both a little and we share the risk. When you think you have found your product, negotiate the lowest possible price and manufacturing time that you can. Get the company to write a purchase contract and email or fax it to you. Once it arrives, read it carefully and sign it. The simplest and quickest way to get it back is to scan it and then email it back.
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How should you pay?
China has come a long way in the last few years and most Chinese suppliers are now able to accept PayPal and major credit cards. Always try to avoid paying via Western Union or wire transfer, as these methods offer no security to buyers. PayPal and credit card on the other hand, do offer you protection if something goes wrong with the trade.
And how do you go about shipping your newly discovered stock? For sample orders, the easiest way is to open an account with DHL. Once your account is opened, you just have to provide the account to the factory, and they will send you the samples, and you will be billed for shipping to your account.
When you come to order a bulk lot of merchandise, find a shipping company in your local area and compare services and rates and remember that ocean freight is a lot cheaper than air freight!