How to start a successful import business using the Internet
By Nowshade Kabir
The Internet has opened up a whole new era of
business opportunities. Falling trade barriers combining with easy
access to trade information thanks to the Internet have created
dramatic possibilities and sparked the growth of global online trade
in virtually every area.
Many companies are taking advantage of
electronic media quite aggressively by making new contacts, tapping into new
markets and reducing costs with the help of online
Whether you are starting a new import business or planning
to expand your existing business, you too can use the Internet as your
primary channel for getting information, sourcing products or services,
finding suppliers and doing your marketing.
Before the Internet era,
finding a viable product for importing was not an easy job! Trade shows and
traveling to foreign lands were the two best options available for getting
hands on information on a product and its supplier. Today,
required information on any conceivable product from virtually any
market is available at your finger tips.
Finding a product
you know what you are planning to import, a substantial work is already done!
Otherwise, your first step is to choose a feasible product or service to
import. Whether you are planning to import a general merchandize or an
industry-specific product, do your homework right.
Catalog repositories, B2B exchanges, electronic trade boards, trade journals
and virtual trade shows to find a product. If you know the manufacturing
country from where the product is possible to source, check out the country
specific portals and exchanges. Here is a list of high quality
electronic trade boards:
For China made products:
Sourcing from India: www.trade-india.com
Products from Europe: www.europages.com
South Korea: www.ec21.com
For other country-specific or industry-specific
B2B exchanges check out this list: http://dmoz.org/Business/E-Commerce/Marketplaces/
criteria for choosing a product for importing should include:
knowledge of the product you intend to import and its industry. Your
possibility of success increases considerably if you know the product
Access to required quantity of this product. If you spend
time and effort in developing a local market for a product and unable to
deliver, you will loose business and reputation.
Quality of the product.
This is a crucial aspect for developing a market for any product. Quality of
the product should be consistent with market requirement.
margin. As import incurs many expenses that are specific to this type of
business only, prior to import anything, you should carefully calculate all
required expenses and see that you still make handsome profits. You can check
out the sites of your prospective competitors and make a price comparison to
get initial idea on your products present market price.
Once you know – what you are planning to import – your next
step is to find a reliable supplier for this product.
B2B exchanges can be a good help in getting suppliers of
the products you are planning to import.
The possible steps, you have
to take to find a supplier from a B2B exchange, are listed below. As an
example www.rusbiz.com is used.
- Register your company. Often this
service is free! - Go to "Advanced Search" - Write your product name in
the relevant box - Select required criteria and click on "Search" - You
will find a list of companies. - Check out each of them until you find a
Chamber of Commerce
Another option is to contact
Chambers of Commerce to find a supplier. A Chamber of Commerce is an
association of companies that protects and promotes business interests of its
If other methods did not bring any fruitful result, you
can consider posting classified ads in a range of trade boards. There are
many trade boards available on the Internet. While posting trade leads make
sure that you specify your requirement precisely. A well-written ad will
bring much better result. Post your trade leads frequently until you find a
good supplier for your product.
Once you found a supplier that suits
you, check him out thoroughly. Your supplier should meet the following
The supplier company must carry the product for a substantial
period of time.
It should have experience in export – preferably to
It should have readily available export
It should be a reputable company in its country.
the company meets the above criteria get Dun and Bradstreet report of the
company to verify its financial background.
Before even thinking about importing a product or service,
you should know exactly who your customers are and how you are going to
sell your products to them. Although, there are numerous ways of selling a
product, selling through the Internet is gaining ground fast.
through your own website
Considering the growth of e-commerce, today, any
consumer-oriented product is viable to sell through the Internet. Your
success will largely depend on your ability to market your website
appropriately. Your website should have the following qualities among
others: appealing design, well described product specification with
clear pictures, great content, fast connection, easy-to-use shopping
cart and a good merchant account.
As a drop ship
distributor, you carry the inventory and your joint venture partners make the
sales. Once a product is sold you get the payment from your partner but ship
out the product directly to the end customer.
Selling through resellers with expertise in your field
lowers marketing and selling costs. If you sell products through a
number of distributors and each of these distributors use
diversified marketing method, your sales potential get multiplied
without spending extra on marketing.
E-marketplace is a business community, where you can expect to see a large
number of buyers and sellers. For a seller it is a low cost, highly
functional and easy-to-use sales channel. Benefits of selling products
through emarketplace also include:
- Low customer acquisition
- Improve customer service
- Efficient information sharing
Reduce supply chain cost
Entrepreneurs who want to get
serious about importing have to acquire substantial knowledge of the process.
Many of the information needed to carry out an import export business
is available on the Internet. Anybody with enough enthusiasm to learn can
easily find them and use to build a profitable and interesting business.
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Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of
Rusbiz.com. A Ph. D. in Information Technology, he has wide experience in
Business Consulting, International Trade and Web Marketing. Rusbiz is a
Global B2B Emarketplace with solutions to start and run online
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