Import means bringing goods or services from an outside country to your home country.
Worldwide, importing is a mammoth industry in itself. As per World Bank Data on Import, the United States imported goods worth $ 2248 Billion dollars during the year 2016.
When we talk about import, the one country that comes to our mind is China. Out of the aforesaid $2248 billion dollars of the US imports, China imports accounted for $462 billion dollars (almost 21%).
Researching for profitable products to import from China, buying them & then selling on B2C e-commerce platforms (or on wholesale) is a common strategy being followed by many online sellers. The drop-shipping model is another form of this strategy.
Over the years, China has successfully designated itself as the ultimate global manufacturing hub. So, in this post, we will be talking only about best-selling products that you can import from China.
From the manufacturing point of view, a few advantages enjoyed by China over other countries are:
- Cheap manual labor
- Skilled labor
- Strong government support
- Good capital base
- Adequate reserves of rare earth metals
- Great supply chain ecosystem
I started my business journey with importing products from China. During the course, I learned about various intricacies of international trading like manufacturing, private labeling, import regulations, product quality, certifications etc.
As an importer, I found that shortlisting & selecting products/suppliers is the most difficult part of the importing process.
I prefer using Alibaba for shortlisting & communicating with suppliers. The platform has verified profiles, trust badges & transaction level indicators to ensure that you don’t get scammed.
How do I select products? Well, I follow a checklist. Following the main ingredients of the product selection checklist:
- Convenient to use
- Low cost
- High demand
- High-profit margin
- High sales frequency
Be careful with products like medicines, alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes etc. These are banned products (for import) in most countries.
From the earnings point of view, importing & reselling is a very successful business model. If done correctly, it can help you not only earn a comfortable living but also build your brand.
To help you get started, following is my curated list of cheap & most profitable products to import from China:
BEST & PROFITABLE PRODUCTS TO IMPORT FROM CHINA
1. Garlic Grater & Cutter
Peeling, cutting & grating garlic can be time-consuming & messy. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there is a tool to help you ease the process? This is where this high-value product steps in. Following are the business stats for this product:
Estimated cost price (excluding duty & logistics) = $ 0.30
Estimated retail price = $ 8
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 2500%
2. Printed T-Shirts For Kids
While printed t-shirts are already quite popular, its printed t-shirts for kids that is still an untapped market. Go get it & resell before your competitor does. Following are the business stats for this product:
Estimated cost price (excluding duty) = $ 1.5
Estimated retail price = $ 20
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 1200 %
3. Elastic Jeans Buttons
Sometimes your favorite jeans may not fit your waist. As such, you would want to have a product to solve this problem. Well, you got the new elastic jeans buttons for it. Following are the business stats for this product:
Estimated cost price of a set (excluding duty & logistics) = $ 0.05
Estimated retail price = $ 1.50
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 2900 %
4. Nail Art Stamper
This is an awesome nail polish art designer. Due to its nature, it’s going to be in huge demand among young women. Following are the business stats:
Estimated cost price (excluding duty & logistics) = $ 0.80
Estimated retail price = $ 7
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 775 %
5. Cutlery Set For Kids
From a business perspective, kid products are always one of the cheapest & most profitable. And, this cutlery set for kids is no different. Following are the business stats:
Estimated cost price (excluding duty & logistics) = $ 1.6
Estimated retail price = $ 10
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 500 %
6. Portable USB Desk Lamp
Lighting products enjoy an evergreen demand from household customers. This innovative product ensures lighting without a wire & a switch. To operate this light, all you need to do is plug (into a USB slot) & play. Indeed a perfect product for camping & other outdoor activities. Following are the business stats for this product:
Estimated cost price (excluding duty & logistics) = $ 0.59
Estimated retail price = $ 5
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 900 %
7. 3 in 1 Mini Survival Tool
What all do you need when you are stuck somewhere (like a desert or a forest)? A compass, a thermometer & a whistle? This product has all three of them embedded into one key ring. Following are the business stats for this product:
Estimated cost price (excluding duty & logistics) = $ 1.65
Estimated retail price = $ 10
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 500 %
8. Mobile Phone Holder
Since past few years, mobile phone accessories have been one of the hottest selling categories of products. With the rise in the use of smartphones, sales of accessories have also risen. Mobile phone holder is one such latest mobile phone accessory. It can be mounted on any exterior support. Following are the business stats for this product:
Estimated cost price (excluding duty & logistics) = $ 1
Estimated retail price = $ 15
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 1400 %
9. Universal IR Remote
Can you convert your smartphone into a remote that controls all your electronic devices? Yes, you can do that with this innovative IR remote plug. Simply plug it into your smartphone, download the app & you are good to go. Following are the business stats of this product:
Estimated cost price (excluding duty & logistics) = $ 3
Estimated retail price = $ 12
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 300 %
10. Virtual Reality Glasses Box
Most technology leaders have started to invest in the technology of future called Virtual Reality. There will be a huge demand in future for these VR supported products as VR related content, apps & platform take off. Following are the business stats for this product:
Estimated cost price (excluding duty & logistics) = $ 2.95
Estimated retail price = $ 10
Gross profit margin (excluding duty & logistics) = 200 %
So we have our curated list of most profitable products to import from China completed.
To succeed at importing ( & subsequent trading) of products, it’s important that you select the right product & work with the right supplier.
This article actually ends here. However, I decided to add the following FAQs section to address queries I’m getting from my readers. Check the comments section for reference. I also encourage you to comment with your own question so that this article can further be updated.
FAQs RELATING TO CHINA IMPORT
1. How Do I Find New & Trending Products To Import From China?
There’re numerous ways to find the same.
If you’re planning to sell offline or through your own eCommerce portal then follow these steps to find the most popular products to import from China:
Step 1: Go to Alibaba
Step 2: Hover over the search box & click on the same
Step 3: On clicking the search box, Alibaba will auto-suggest you the most popular & trending product keywords. These’re the keywords that’re being searched the most by buyers on Alibaba (on real-time basis). Needless to say, if a product is being searched by many buyers then that means it’s in demand. Go for it.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to sell on eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon, then follow these steps to pick the most popular products to import from China:
Step 1: Head over to the Amazon website (the local Amazon website of your country). If Amazon isn’t available then visit the most popular eCommerce website of your country.
Step 2: Click on the ‘Best Sellers’ link. On Amazon.com, it’s https://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/
Another alternative is to use a product research tool like JungleScout. It’s an awesome app to help you dig the most popular products or niches on Amazon.
2. How To Find If A Product Is Profitable?
Here’s how to estimate the profit of a product imported from China:
Step 1: Visit Alibaba & click on the product that you’re looking to import
Step 2: Look at the price quoted there. Or, shoot a message to the supplier & ask for a price quote. That’s your basic purchase price.
Step 3: Estimate the shipping cost (from China to your country), customs duty, insurance cost, cartage (transport from your’s country’s port to your warehouse) & other taxes applicable in your country. Talk to a freight or shipping agent & they’ll help you to figure out.
So, the total purchase price of your imported product will be: Basic Purchase Price + Other shipping & customs expenses (as shown aforesaid).
Step 4: Go to Amazon or a popular eCommerce website of your country. Search the same product there & note it’s selling price.
Step 5: Calculate profit of that product by substracting the total purchase cost of your product arrived at Step #3 from the selling price arrived at Step #4.
Yes, assessing profitability of a bunch of products can be a tedious process. Therefore, I recommend you to use product research tools like JungleScout. They’ll help you to easily calculate profit & sales volume for any product.
Note: By profitability, I mean the gross profit. To calculate the net profitability, you’ll have to allocate & deduct operational expenses like warehouse rent, employee salaries, etc.
3. Is It Profitable To Import From China?
Profitability depends on the following factors (but not limited to):
- Level of competition
- Supply-demand gap
- Purchasing power of customers
- Mode of import transport (Air, land or sea)
- Incoterms used by the seller (like FOB, CIF, etc)
- Customs & taxes charged by authorities
- Cartage (for movement of goods from port to your warehouse)
- Freight agent’s commission
- Bank charges
- Your country’s location proximity to China
So, profitability depends on a variety of factors. There isn’t a sureshot way to ascertain the same accurately.
However, if you keep your costs under control by ticking the right boxes, rest assured that your products will generate profit.
4. What’s The Cheapest Mode Of Shipping Products From China?
Sea is the cheapest mode of transport from China. Followed by land & air.
However, please note that shipping via sea is only feasible for a bulk order. Why?. Because it takes approximately 15 to 25 business days for a sea consignment to reach it’s destination (China to USA).
On the other hand, air is the costliest mode of transport but faster than sea & land. Some of the popular air freight providers include FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc. If your consignment weighs less than 1000 lbs, then the air mode will the cheapest & the fastest option.
Also, keep in mind that shipping via land is only possible to countries sharing un-interrupted link to China border. (Like India, Russia, Europe, etc.)
5. How Do I Ship From China To USA?
You don’t need to ship. The sellers, in general, will take care of the shipping part.
Here’s how it works.
The sellers have tie-ups with reputed shipping agents. They(sellers) commit a certain volume of bulk shipments & in turn get cheaper rates from the shipping agents. So, it’s a win-win for both the seller & the shipping agents.
The best part?. You win. The sellers pass on the benefit of the cheaper rates to their customers. So, talk to the seller & check if they can handle the shipping for you. Chances are high that they’ll say yes. And, you’ll find that the quoted rate will be significantly cheaper than what you got from the shipping company by approaching directly.
Pro tip: If you’re using Alibaba to source your products, the process becomes much easier. At the checkout itself, you can choose the preferred mode of transport or shipping company. After that, all you’ve to do it sit back & relax. In fact, most of the Alibaba affiliated shipping companies will also handle customs for you.
6. How Much Does It Cost To Ship From China?
It largely depends on your mode of transport.
For heavy goods or consignments, the sea mode will the cheapest. Followed by land & air modes.
In the sea mode, shipping cost is calculated based on containers capacity, usage & volume. Containers are nothing but large boxes generally of sizes like 20 or 40 feet to store & keep the products safe while importing via sea routes. A container can either be LCL(Less than container load) or FCL(Full container load).
LCL means you’ll be sharing the container with other importers. Opt for LCL if your consignment isn’t huge to occupy the complete container.
Whereas, FCL means you’ll be occupying the complete container. Opt for FCL for huge cargos. The best part?. They’re cheaper than LCL(if you calculate cost unit-wise). The cost of a 20′ FCL(from China to USA) is around $ 4000.
The air freight costs around $ 3 per lb. There’re various categories of Air freights. The express ones cost more. And, the standard ones including China mail cost less.
Remember, shipping cost also includes transport from the port to your warehouse + insurance + taxes. If you’re using Alibaba, then the shipping price shown during checkout will also include insurance, freight & other charges.
7. How Much Time Does It Take For A Seller To Dispatch An Order?
It depends on the following factors:
- The volume of your order
- Custom requirements (like custom packing)
- Special quality requirements
- Product research, if any
- Stock availability
- Seasonality & festivals in China
- Order backlog with the seller, etc
If you’re buying through Alibaba, then the lead time will mentioned on the product page itself. Generally, I’ve found those to be reliable.
8. How Much Time Does It Take For A Shipped Order To Reach It’s Destination?
It primarily depends on the mode of transport.
Air freight generally takes around 8 to 10 days to reach USA. Whereas the ocean freight can take around 15 to 25 business days.
Here’s how a shipped order travels:
Factory or seller warehouse > Seller’s port > Seller’s custom clearance > Buyer’s port > Buyer’s custom clearance > Buyer’s port to buyer’s warehouse.
9. Who’re Custom Brokers? How Can They Help?
Custom brokers are professionals who can get your cargo cleared by customs. So, basically, they’re the link between you & the custom authorities.
They handle all the custom clearing formalities & deal with the authorities whenever required. Your duty is to help them with requisite documents.
If you’re buying through Alibaba then the shipping company itself will take care of the customs as well.
10. How Much Is Customs From China To US?
It depends on the value of your cargo & the category of your products.
Cargo valued at less than $ 800 is FREE of customs duty. That means you don’t need to pay anything if the consolidated value of your products is less than $ 800.
On the other hand, if the value of the cargo is more than $ 800, you’ll have to pay customs duty at rate prescribed by the customs authority. These rates vary from one product category to another.
Visit the official customs site: https://hts.usitc.gov/ to check the customs duty rate applicable for your product category.
11. What Is ePacket? Is It Free of Cost?
ePacket facilitates quicker delivery of eCommerce products from China to USA. Legally, it’s an agreement between China mail & Hong kong post. Under that agreement, a seller from China can ship eCommerce products directly to an end-customer in USA.
ePacket deliveries are faster & cheaper than traditional shipping methods. An ePacket shipment takes 10-15 days to reach the US. However, please note that ePacket deliveries are only allowed for small eCommerce packages weighing less than 4.4 lb.
Therefore, as a merchant, you can’t use ePacket delivery method. Nevertheless, it’s a great shipping option for dropshippers.
And, yes, it’s cost depends on the seller. There’re some sellers who offer FREE shipping via ePacket delivery.
12. What’re Incoterms?
Incoterms are world’s most common international trade terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce.The incoterms define & regulate the risk & responsibities of the buyers & the sellers.
Following are the most common incoterms used in international trade:
- EXW (Ex Works)
- FOB (Free on board)
- CIF (Cost, insurance & freight)
EXW means that the seller’s risk, cost & responsibility is limited to it’s factory or warehouse. It’s buyer’s responsibility to pick the goods from the seller’s place, load, unload & clear the same for export/arrange for shipping.
FOB means that the seller risk, cost & responsibility is limited to transporting goods to the port, unloading, clearing export & loading to the shipping vessel. After that, the buyer takes the ownership.
CIF means that the seller risk, cost & responsibility is limited to the goods reaching the port of destination. Thereafter, it’s buyer’s responsibility to unload & clear the goods for import.
Example: If a seller quotes the price of a product as $ 10 FOB per unit that means the said cost includes the loading & unloading at the source port & clearing the same for export.
13. How Do I Import Products From China?
The process is simpler than you think. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Get an import license (if required by your country’s laws)
Step 2: Use product research tools like JungleScout to shortlist profitable & high demand products. Alternatively, you can also manually find these products (refer the questions #1 & #2)
Step 3: Buy the products from trusted wholesale platforms like Alibaba.
Step 4: If not done by the shipping company, you’ll have to clear the import by paying custom duty (if chargeable as per the laws of your country). Hire a customs agent or broker to do the same for you.
14. What’s The Best Website To Buy Wholesale From China?
Here’s the reason why I prefer Alibaba over other websites:
- User-friendliness (Buying on Alibaba is like buying your groceries on Amazon. Alibaba is not just a sourcing website but an eco-system that connects global buyers with sellers, shipping companies, quality inspectors, customs brokers, etc.)
- Large number of verified manufacturers & wholesalers
- Shipping & customs support
- Buyer safety & seller rating badges
- Cheap & best prices
15. Can Anyone Buy On Alibaba?
Yes, anyone can buy on Alibaba. All you need to do is sign up & buy products. Just like you shop on Amazon or any other eCommerce website.
16. Do I Need An Import License To Buy Goods From China?
It strictly depends on the laws of your country.
In the US, you don’t need an import license for major categories of products. Your IRS business registration number or SSN is enough to fulfill customs requirements.
Visit the official site to learn more: https://www.usa.gov/import-export
17. What’re The Various Modes Of Payment On Alibaba?
Alibaba supports the following payment channels:
- Credit card (Visa & Mastercard)
- Western Union Money Transfer
- Pay Later
18. How To Avoid Being Scammed By Chinese Sellers?
I’ve heard many horrifying stories of buyers getting scammed by fraud Chinese sellers.
Therefore, to be on the safer side, follow these best practices while dealing with Chinese sellers:
- Deal only with verified sellers
- Look for buyer safety badges like “Gold Supplier”, “Transaction Level”, “On-time delivery rate”, “Response rate” & “Trade Assurance”
- Only order products using Alibaba’s checkout system
- Pay only using Alibaba’s payment system. Avoid sellers who demand payment via other sources like international wire tranfer or PayPal
- Request for product samples before commiting on a huge order
What do you think of the aforesaid list of most profitable products to import from China? Comment below.