Hi Dale, thanks for your questions.
Products can enter China in a few ways depending on the the type of product and most economical way to ship it to the Chinese consumer.
Option 1 would be to ship it directly to the consumer via couriers such as DHL, Fedex, EMS, UPS or any other similar type of service from your country. The service would need to have full tracking so that location of the shipment can be tracked at any time during the shipment. This would be maybe suitable for items of low weight and size but high value.
Option 2 - you can move stock in bulk to say to a Hong Kong warehouse that provides 3PL services as well as courier services to mainland china. Hong Kong is a free trading zone so there is no import duty on bulk moved stock. There may be duties and taxes only when the good enter China.
Option 3 would be to bulk move stock to a bonded warehouse located in mainland China. There are quite a few bonded warehouses in China that provide 3pl services as well as arranging courier deliveries in China. Goods that enter bonded warehouses in China dont need to pay import duty as they are classified as not officially passed through China customs. As the items are sent individually to Chinese consumers, then the import duty/taxes are then applied.
Our platform that we intent to develop will be similar to a Amazon type of interface where you can add your listing descriptions (in english) add product photos, and other item particulars as well as the shipping method you will use, selling price in Chinese RMB. If using Option 1, then the only thing we need to provide is the translation of the product description into Chinese language and also the customer service to customers. Option 2 and 3 would involve third party warehousing and logistics providers who can arrange the pick of the item, book and arrange the delivery and provide the tracking number back to you for update. We have an associate company in Hong Kong that has warehouse facilities and also can provide the delivery service into mainland China. The service would have web based inventory control and order management. Our selling platform could also interface with this provider so that orders can be sent to the warehouse for despatch and tracking numbers updated on each order automatically.
As for fees, we have not finalized this but it would be commission based on products sold ~8-12% (which includes all payment processing fees) . Apart from this would be additional items like translating of the product listing and the Chinese phone/livechat customer service support that we would provide. At this stage we are unsure if a fixed monthly fee would cover it or these would be optional extras.
As for minimums , if you are shipping under option 1, then you can ship one at a time. There is really no minimum weight or size. I suppose it just needs to be something that you can make money on after to take in account the shipping cost and fees involved.
Under option 2 or 3, I suggest the most cost effective way is to have a product volume at least 10 cubic meters (CBM) or about half a 20' container, as a rough guide. As you would have to take in account, sea freight, import charges, HK or China storage fees etc.
The brands that we would not sell would be Chinese brands or products that have been made in China by Chinese companies. Some brands that are made in China but the whole production process is managed by a foreign company would allowed (eg.some technology products like Apple, Samsung) Also those brands need to be genuine brands and you are either the owner of that brand or authorized to sell that brand. This is important as Chinese consumers are well aware of the many fake brands out there , especially as most of them actually come from China. The Chinese consumer is prepared to pay more but the product needs to be genuine.
All the well known brands are well received by the Chinese market. The type of product categories that Chinese consumers are currently buying range from health related, vitamins , supplements, luxury goods, clothing, wines, milk powders and baby formulas, baby related products, cosmetics, beauty products, technology related products (cameras, computers, phones) etc. The product range is really quite wide. Products that are unique to countries outside of China would be sought after, particularly if they go through high levels of quality control, the factory is heavily regulated, the materials used in the product are of high quality.
Tariffs can vary as some countries have free trade agreements with China so it depends on the country of origin and also the actual product type. Early this year, the Chinese government has reduced imported tariffs on imported goods in an effort to stimulate internal demand. Main reason is that Chinese shoppers load up on foreign goods when they are travelling overseas and bring them back with them. Local shops in China selling the same foreign goods are 20% higher in price and miss out on those sales. The Chinese government hopes the reduction in import duty will get those shoppers to buy those foreign goods from the local Chinese resellers. Some articles about that are here:
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On the duty side, a summary of China import duty is here:
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you can also use the calculator to work out what it would be for different types of products. Products with a value of 50 RMB (~8 USD ) are import duty free, but it depends on the sending country as there are preferential rates and exemptions that apply.
Anyhow, I hope the information is useful and thanks for the feedback.