Published on Jul 11, 2017
Discover the 5 mistakes new importers make when they are importing products from China.
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First mistake importers make when importing products from China: Assuming that shipping by sea will be the cheapest option
A lot of new importers think they will save money if they ship by sea rather than air. On the surface it seems cheaper as importers usually pay around 60 cents/KG when shipping via sea, compared to the $7/KG when shipping by air courier.
Unfortunately what they don’t realize is that the reason it’s that cheap is because when shipping via sea, you ship via container, and you need to rent an entire container. They are very large and require you to be shipping hundreds of KGs to be making it worth your time.
If you are an Amazon private label seller, you are unlikely to have enough stock being shipped to fill a container by at least 60-70% so it will be cheaper to ship by air.
When shipping by air, you have two options:
1) Air freight
2) Air courier
Air courier is when you have your items shipped door-to-door. It is the easiest but the most expensive per KG (although in smaller quantities it is cheaper).
Air freight is when you have your items flown from one airport to the other. You will need to organize other additional services:
* Having the items delivered to the airport
* A customs broker
* Having the items delivered from the airport to the final location.
There are a lot of fixed fees with this which means it becomes cheaper to use air freight with larger quantities. To figure out which option will be cheaper for you, I recommend using Freightos.
Second mistake importers make when importing products from China: Not using the Metric system
In China, they use the Metric system and not the Imperial system. So be sure to use KGs instead of lbs and CM instead of inches. It’s important to remember that when working with Chinese suppliers that they expect you to work on their terms and their timeframes.
It can be frustrating, but it’s worth it for the cheap Chinese products you import!
Third mistake importers make when importing products from China: Using Less than Container Load for shipping
When shipping by sea, you have two options:
1) FCL which stands for Full Container Load
2) LCL which stands for Less than Container Load
Inexperienced importers fall for the trap of shipping with LCL because they see that the price are extremely cheap. What they don’t realize is that these LCL companies have special deals with the ports to charge you extremely high Destination Service Charges. The LCL companies then make their money in the form of a “rebate” which is essentially commissions/kickbacks.
Destination Service Charges are usually priced per-container and cost between $500-$1000 per container for ports in the USA. But when shipping by LCL you end up paying a high fee per cubic meters. It means that you often end up paying a fee comparable to shipping an entire container.
Don’t fall for this trap: If you can’t break even with FCL, then ship by air.
Fourth mistake importers make when importing products from China: not calculating the correct duties you will need to pay
When you import products from China, you will need to pay duties at the border. If you don’t calculate the correct rate you can get a shock if it comes back as more than you expected.
Duties can be a bit complicated to work out because there are a lot of variables. For example, if you imported woolen jackets, you need to consider which country the wool came from, as some countries (like Israel) have duty-free agreements over wool, which would reduce the duties you had to pay. On the other hand if synthetic fibres were used instead of pure wool, then your duty rates would be higher since there are higher duties applied to synthetic fibres within the USA.
To figure out what your duty rate is, find out what the HTS (Harmonized Tax System) code is for your item. To find this, ask your Chinese supplier as they will most likely know. You can then go through the HTS manual and find what the duty rate is for the HTS code of your products.
Fifth mistake importers make when importing products from China: being afraid to make mistakes
And finally – don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Through making mistakes you learn how to overcome them the next time and make even more money. Mistakes are apart of entrepreneurship. Learn from others – and learn from your own as well!
COMMENTS • 206
Gardening in the Hudson Valley3 months ago
Great information. I just received my first order from India and it went really well. About rule #5, I had paralysis by analysis, eventually, you have to just do it.
Thanks to your videos, I used Alibaba and found a manufacturer with a gold star. Anything I didn’t know he did. Also, it wouldn’t have gone as smoothly if I hadn’t watched your video on doing business in India. Invaluable information. Thank You
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Nick Rowlands3 months ago
I LOVE YOUR FACE. Thank you so much for the great content.
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Nate O’Brien3 months ago
Just wanted to say thanks for another great video! I’ve been watching your video’s for quite some time now and I have really learned a lot! Keep making awesome videos! Your knowledge is very much appreciated! Thanks, Nate
Prana3 months ago
This channel is one of the most useful channels on YouTube…
shaban arif3 months ago
please make a video about paypal limitation due to dropshipping. paypal asks for invoices for verification. i am a dropshipper so we don’t have invoices. please help me about this.
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Matteo Melidoni3 months ago
Great tips, love the work you put in, I am an Amazon Seller and I am documenting my progress, Your videos help me a lot.
Tonya Eli3 months ago
Do you have a training course on private labeling and importing from China
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JDonz3 months ago
Awesome video and THANK YOU for all the videos and info you share. Your one of the only ppl I have seen thus far help without a catch. Can’t thank you enough. I’ve watched soo many videos and yours are def the best. Thanks again
Peter3 months ago
When shipping times say takes 12-20 days from China to US for epacket, and processing time takes 5 days…. so is this 5 days added to the 12-20 days, or included? Thanks!
basshey g3 months ago (edited)
I love this side of you Sarah 😂 I always thought youre a serious girl. Thanks for sharing🙃
writing for world3 months ago
Hi Sarah, You are really a very good teacher and how you explains the subject matter is really very unique. I have learned a lot about online selling methods from your videos. Thanks for sharing such a invaluable information.
James Addison1 month ago (edited)
What you are saying is simply not true. We often ship LCL as it’s usually cheaper than FCL or air freight. My tip would be ask your forwarder for both LCL Ex works (door to door) and air freight quotes and see which is the cheapest, but yes there is the odd occasion where air freight is cheaper, but most of the time is not. If you have over 8 or so pallets then you’ll want to consider FCL. Note you don’t actually need to fill the container to ship FCL but if you don’t fill the container completely then the factory may charge an empty space fee (usually around 100 bucks) .The forwarder will normally include customs charges in the quote so there are no hidden fees. Building a relationship with your forwarders is just as important as building a relationship with your factories. Forwarders generally want to continue to do business with you as it is profitable for them to do so. They are not out to stiff you and generally do not use ‘slimy’ tactics, but they do need to make a living! Find a couple of forwarders so that you can compare quotes, it’ll help to see if one is overcharging, which can happen. If you ship FCL with them often, eventually they’ll offer lower rates. Build relationships with them, it’s not rocket science.
RagingPirate3 months ago
Great video. Well put together.
giggsirish3 months ago
If a product purchased from Alibaba or similar and stocked in Amazon warehouse and later shipped by Amazon to customer develops a fault and causes a fire for example whom is liable? How are incidences like this felt with?
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Sir Pita Lot3 months ago
You’re very beautiful. I love you.
Mike H3 months ago
Your videos are always fantastic. The information and the way you explain it are so clear for me to understand. Enjoyed it a lot. Waiting for the next one. Thank you.
Filip Hodas2 months ago
One valuable tip that helped me tremendously is using shipping marketplace such as It’s like the Expedia of shipping and reduces costs significantly both for air and sea carriers
Jorge Cruz1 month ago
Hello Sara! Thank you so much for your videos! I have a question regarding my shippment, I am about to order 100 units to my supplier but each unit weights 1kg, If I ship by air it would be about 700$ and that would destroy my profit but If i ship by sea I would need to start with a bigger amount and I don’t know if that is a good idea if you are a begineer like me 🙁
I would really appreciate any advice
The Monk Way3 months ago
meysan _3 months ago
I love you Sarah your videos are the best