My very first profitable business was importing products from China and selling them online – mainly through Amazon & eBay. I started out with counterfeits at 12-years old, and by the time I was 17 I had built multiple different e-commerce brands into an empire I was proud of.

I was incredibly confused when I was first getting started. I had hundreds of questions racing around my head:

  • What product should I sell first?
  • How do I know which products will sell (and which won’t)?
  • How do I find a trustworthy supplier and negotiate with them?
  • How can I avoid scams and low-quality products?
  • Just how the hell do I get started?!

When you’re trying to start a new business from scratch, you’ll find your mind running in circles unless you have a clear direction to run into…

So my goal is to make this the definitive A-Z guide to starting an importing & e-commerce business from scratch. It’s what I would do, step-by-step, if I was starting from zero.

I’ll give you every step of the process, and also give some insights on the ‘why’ behind my strategy. I’ll also be adding to this over time (as I get questions from readers), so be sure to bookmark this for future reference.

Finally – I encourage you to follow this guide step-by-step, and to avoid jumping around. Importing products from China and selling them online is an incredibly simple business model – it’s only when you do things out of order that it becomes confusing & complex.

So without further ado – here’s the story of my rise & fall in the importing/e-commerce industry, and how you can launch this business for yourself 🙂

Basic Overview: Your Roadmap

Leaonidas this is confusing

First things first, let’s wrap our heads around the concept…

This is a simple business model that’s easy to overthink. There are lots of moving parts that can feel risky or confusing. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

“Everything is simple until you make it complicated”

Understand that starting this business, like starting any business, will require taking some risks. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to end up with $1,000 worth of iPhone knockoffs in your garage (or $1,000 worth of nothing at all)…

That being said – if you’re careful, have a solid roadmap (this article), and a bit of hustle – you can build a profitable business for yourself with a relatively small amount of time/work.

E-Commerce Empire Roadmap

It’s important to understand your battle plan before going off to war…

ecommerce-empire-success-roadmap

Here’s the basic game plan:

  1. Find a good product – You’ll need to brainstorm, research, and select a product(s) to import & sell. Most people find this step frustrating and overwhelming (with good reason), but luckily I have some tools that will help make this easy.
  2. Find a good supplier – Once you’ve decided on a product, you’ll need to source that product from a great supplier. It can take some digging to find them, but there’s ways to ensure you avoid the scams & increase your odds at finding an awesome supplier.
  3. Sell some samples – You’ll want to place a small sample order to test & validate your product (I’ll show you how I do it). This is part of the ‘secret sauce’ that most new entrepreneurs miss.
  4. Scale it up – Once you’ve validated your product, you can feel safe bulking up your order quantity & making changes to differentiate your products. We’ll even talk about private label branding & expanding your product line 🙂

Here’s the BIG pitfalls to avoid (all explained in more detail below):

  • Don’t buy in bulk from a factory until you have their samples in your hands and LOVE them.
  • Don’t let any supplier convince you they can’t ship small sample orders, they are just trying to squeeze you.
  • Don’t pay with any other method but Trade Assurance or PayPal for the first 3-months with your supplier. This eliminates a ton of risk.
  • Don’t buy from a company that won’t accept Trade Assurance or PayPal. What it really means is that they were shut down due to complaints.
  • Don’t buy counterfeit crap. Not that there isn’t money to be made, it’s just a bad business to build (and illegal).
  • Don’t buy a lot of inventory in the beginning. I started off buying 5-10 units at a time until I built up the money to reinvest into inventory.
  • Don’t give these suppliers your personal email. The email will be effectively nuked and unusable for years, trust me…

Well, I hope that gets you in the right mindset. Let’s get into the beef of it. BEEF.

GET THIS CHEATSHEET FOR FIGURING OUT PRODUCT WINNERS

Step 1 – Find a Good Product to Import & Sell

Finding a great product is typically the first & last place new entrepreneurs get stuck. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to get lost in the abyss of product research…

Luckily, this is also where I can help you the most 🙂

I’ll show you how this works in a moment, but first let me tell you how I discovered this method…

My First Successful Product

When I got started, I went straight for counterfeits (purses, wallets, shoes, workout guides, etc). I made a KILLING selling these through eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and in-person – but quickly decided to get away from them. I didn’t want to build a business on a questionable legal foundation, and you shouldn’t either.

I gave away these counterfeit businesses to two different friends. One friend had a ton of success selling workout guides via Craigslist in NYC and delivering them by foot. The other friend one was not so lucky. He was hounded by lawyers and even private investigators, until he was eventually sued into bankruptcy (and had to give up all his fancy toys that counterfeits paid for).

And that’s why you should avoid counterfeit products. Like dealing drugs – I’m not saying it won’t make you money, because it will. I’m saying you shouldn’t do it because selling counterfeits is not a business – it’s a limited-time hustle. So don’t do counterfeits…

Going ‘Legit’

Since I was already selling products online successfully, I figured it would be easy to switch from counterfeits to legit products. However, I found out finding legitimate products to sell is a much different game. I had quite a few failures before I began to figure things out.

Here’s some of the bad products I’ve imported (and why they were bad):

  • Patio Furniture – Numbers looked incredible on these – I could buy them WAY cheaper than they sold for. I bought & sold 10 units, shipped them to the customer, but 2 units were damaged in shipping. All profit (and then some) was eaten up dealing with returns.
    • Lesson learned: Avoid heavy & oversize products that are expensive to ship.
  • Toothbrushes – Again, the numbers looked great – I could buy these WAY cheaper than their sell price. I bought 25 and people simply would not buy them. When’s the last time you bought a toothbrush from a non-major brand?
    • Lesson Learned: Avoid commoditized markets with high levels of big-brand loyalty.
  • ‘Yes We Cannabis’ Shirts – Obama was running for office (Yes We Can), and marijuana legalization was a big topic – so I figured, how could I fail with these? Didn’t even test them, just bought 1,000 units (because I am smart like that). Sold 200 units, then ran out of necessary cash to continue marketing.
    • Lesson Learned: Scale up slowly to keep inventory risk low & retain cash for marketing/customer acquisition

I could go on all day about my early setbacks, but that’s not what you want to hear about 🙂

Giving Up & The Big Breakthrough

After hundreds of overwhelming hours spent researching & selecting duds, I was ripping my hair out. I was trying so hard to find the PERFECT product – one that would solve all of my problems. But all I was doing was losing money.

In a moment of desperation, I was about ready to call it quits. I was going over everything I had done, and all I knew was that it wasn’t working. After many hours of thought, I decided that I would give it one more shot. I knew that the business model worked, and that I was clearly doing something wrong. So I decided to switch it up…

Up until that point, I had tried to find products in the way that most people do. I was simply looking for products that I could buy for much less than they were selling for online. But clearly, that was not working for me.

What I realized is that sourcing products is not the tough part. The tough part is finding products that you can sell consistently. So I decided to flip the entire concept on it’s head, and instead try to focus on what people were buying. Instead of simply looking for cheap products from China, I was now searching for demand in the marketplace that I could sell into – and then worrying about sourcing the product later.

Simply put – it worked…

The first product that I worked for me were Motivational Pillows, which were cheap to ship & easy to make variations. From there, I was on a roll. I sold all sorts of random products, from Competitive Samurai Swords to LED Lightbulbs – and I was making good money with all of them.

Finding Your First ‘Beachhead’ Product

You’ll probably sell a collection of random products for a while, until you eventually stumble over what I call a ‘beachhead product’…

I use the term ‘beachhead’ as a reference to D-Day during World War II. When the Allies invaded the beaches of Normandy, they secured a foothold in Europe and then expanded throughout Europe.

That’s exactly what we want to do with our beachhead product – gain a foothold in our niche and expand out into a full product line/brand from there.

For me, my first beachhead product was a specific airsoft gun. I stumbled over the product and sold a few, as they seemed to be popular. Immediately after selling these airsoft guns, I had customers emailing me asking for more. They wanted BB’s, they wanted masks, they wanted vests – they wanted to give me money for all sorts of things. So I happily obliged 🙂

Airsoft quickly became my bread & butter. I eventually stopped selling most other products to focus specifically on my airsoft business, which was selling 15-30 airsoft guns daily right off the bat.

m82p-airsoft-gun-rifle-aeg
My First ‘Beachhead’ Product

As I sold more, my relationship with my supplier kept developing and my prices kept getting cheaper. I was easily undercutting all my competition with a great product, and still coming away with a clean $10-30 profit per unit. And best of all, I didn’t even have to touch the product – my supplier even handled all shipping & returns.

I had finally done it – and it all snowballed very quickly. Hundreds of hours of frustration finally worked, and it worked fast.

That’s Great – But What About Me?

Now that you know my not-so-smooth journey, let’s talk about how you can find good products for yourself…

Finding great products to import & sell really comes down to these 3-steps:

BRAINSTORM > RESEARCH > SELECT

So let’s get started…

Step 1a: Brainstorming Products

Your goal is to find a dream supplier for ANY product you are making money on, because then you can focus on growing the sales of your business rather than on customer service and shipping.

It isn’t easy, but if you follow my advice below you will greatly increase your odds of finding a great supplier and product.

Where and how to find suppliers

Your best friend in the importing business is AliBaba. I have used it for every single product I have ever imported. I use it for my own businesses, I use it for clients, and I know a ton of people that use it. It is an awesome resource.

Don’t fall into the traps of Doba, WorldWideBrand, Volusion, or whatever other scam solutions are out there to find suppliers. I made the mistake of trying all of these when I first got started, and just ended up wasting hundreds of dollars for little to no value. Just stay away from these, trust me.

With AliBaba, you will be looking at only Gold members. I don’t care how awesome of a deal you get from a non-gold member, or how many factory certifications they have, you DON’T buy from non-gold members. Just following this rule will help you to avoid 98% of the scams and bad suppliers. Any other certifications or whatever are just icing on the cake.

You really want to find a supplier that will do cheap samples, offers PayPal payments (even at an increased rate, use PayPal), and seems to respond to your communications quickly and effectively.

Open up AliBaba for now, as you will be jumping back to it frequently while researching product to know if you can make a profit. If you need more clarity, we wrote a detailed post to guide you with buying from Alibaba and avoid scams.

Where and how to find products

There are a few limits on what kinds of items you want to sell –

  • It needs to be small and light – Trust me on this, you don’t want to deal with the headaches that come with shipping furniture or kitchen appliances around the world. You want something that is going to be cheap to ship around, because shipping is going to eat your profit margins alive.
  • It needs to be a simple item – What I mean by this is you want something that is simple to manufacture and has a relatively high margin of error. Most of these factories are not going to have the highest quality standards in the world, so the greater the margin of error you can put up with while keeping your customers happy the better. Competitive katana swords did not have a great margin for error before customers started noticing, as they were vigorously slicing sh*t with them all day (slicing rolled up Tatami Mats to be specific).
  • Keep it in the $10-200 range – In my experience, it becomes very capital intensive and much riskier if you are selling items any higher than this. Higher ticket items are usually harder to ship, require higher quality control, and really magnify your mistakes when first starting out in importing. I have yet to find success outside of that price range, so I cant suggest you take any chances in it, but of course use your own judgement.
  • Don’t sell what you buy – Devan made a great point when I was speaking with him that you can’t sell items that you buy. Most of us buy electronics, clothes, food, and other essentials. I can tell you right now that you are not going to compete in any of those markets. You really have to niche down in this and find a nice little nook for you to sit in.
  • Don’t go seasonal – You want to find items that have a consistent base of buyers. I am sure there is a bunch of money to be made in selling Christmas stuff and winter clothes from Asia, but it is going to be extremely seasonal, and you are probably going to end up with a ton of worthless inventory.

Other than that, you are really free to explore whatever comes to mind.

What I would do is go onto a few sites and browse around –

  • Alibaba – You should have this open already, but I often look around AliBaba to see what items are being promoted and check around the sites below to see what kind of margins I could get. For instance, right now there is a 4 year Gold company (online now!) selling LED Light Bulbs for $2.65/unit. Even better, they do Escrow, and have onsite inspections from Alibaba. I can quickly go over to Amazon and see these same bulbs selling for $9.50 – 11.99, a VERY healthy margin! And that’s just the first thing I looked at! There is a niche right there.
  • eBay – Check out the completed listings on eBay to see what kind of prices you can consistently sell items for. I often use eBay auction descriptions also to gain some knowledge on a product if I see it is the exact same. Prices are the main thing here though, you get a really reliable indicator of demand. You have to click on the side bar menu to get to completed listings, here is a picture.
    Completed ebay listing for imported products
  • Amazon – I go to this page and check out all of the different tabs for “Movers & Shakers” and whatnot. I click around the categories and drill down to find things I think may not have a lot of importers in already. Again, typically weird items, like LED bulbs, skateboard parts, and katanas do well, so I try to find weird things that catch my eye and compare them against stuff on Alibaba.
  • Other toolsmySimon Top SearchesShopzilla Top Searches, Kaboodle Hot Picks

Just keep looking through the market data on those sites and comparing it against what you can get from Alibaba. It may take some time, but eventually you will naturally learn what works and you will start finding great product opportunities left and right. If you really have issues finding a product, comment below or email me and I will see if I can help [will at startupbros dot com]

Eventually you’ll find some opportunities that you want to move forward with. The next step is to start talking to suppliers and getting your hands on some samples. Don’t worry, they all speak english (kind of)…

 Indentify & Mail Key Suppliers

Now that we have a product, we can start sorting through suppliers and contacting the ones that look promising.

All I would do is –

  1. Search for LED light bulb in Alibaba with the correct filters – You should have already been doing this before to check your product costs in the previous steps. At this point though, we want to switch to searching for “Suppliers” rather than “Products”, as seen in the picture below. I typically start with filtering by “Gold Supplier” and adding “Onsite Checked”, “Assessed Supplier”, and “Escrow” in that order until I am down to 20-30 suppliers. If there are still a ton, that is fine. Just try to find some way to narrow it down to the very best and take the 20-30 top ones.
    Searching for products on Alibaba
  2. Contact the good ones – Now that you have a list of the prime suppliers for your product, you want to contact them and get some additional information. I usually just ask about their MOQ (Minumum Order Quantity), payment and shipping policies, sample policy, and a price list or product spec sheet. They usually have all of this on hand. IMPORTANT – Don’t use your personal email for this stuff, as it will be spammed into oblivion for years! Asia is not quite as serious about their emails as we are 🙂
  3. Converse, get a feel for things – Now see who messages you back and how serious it seems they are taking your business. Keep in mind that they are competing for your business at this point, and have no idea if you are looking to put in a $100 order or a $10,000 order. Their customer service at this point is a good indicator of where it will be in the future. Don’t be afraid to haggle and engaging in some price warring, they are much more used to that in China. It isn’t uncommon to see an item start at $200 and be sold for $20 in a Chinese tourist market. I could write a whole post on price negotiation, but the main thing with this is you have to low-ball your first counter offer to anchor the price possibility window at a lower level. You should get by fine with that.
  4. Samples! – Ah, finally….the fun part! Now we get to put in some small orders to get samples shipped directly to us. I usually get samples from 2-5 suppliers I am considering, but never just one. SERIOUSLY go over these samples when you get them. Also take note of shipping times, costs, damage, etc. Put the items through some stress, check every last nook and cranny of them. Think about how customers will be using them and push the item harder. You need something that is going to stand up if you are going to put your name behind it, so find something to be proud about selling.

*Note on Minimum Order Quantities* – I had a lot of people mention to me that the MOQ posted by many Alibaba manufacturers is extremely high, so I figured I would paste my response here –

The minimum order they list is generally not concrete, and is most of the time their average or desired order size. There is no way to know for sure without messaging the suppliers directly, which is why I go for 15-30 initially.

In my experience, Chinese factories will go through many hoops to work with you on order sizes, unless they are a MASSIVE factory that only ships via sea. If they use normal air shipping at all, they shouldn’t mind sending out even a single item via air (which is what they do with samples anyways).

Again, with some items it will be different than other. For instance I looked into selling LED lighting that attaches to the sides of buildings, and the margins looked great, but the MOQ ended up being somewhere around $5,000 of lights due to the purpose of the item (to run down entire high rise buildings). I skipped over that one.

Another option is AliExpress.com, Alibaba’s site for smaller orders. You will generally get better prices for the same amount on Alibaba if you are willing to put in the effort to communicate with suppliers, but AliExpress is always an option. So we wrote an article you can use if you choose to buy products on Aliexpress.

After all of this, you should have at least one solid supplier for a product you know will sell. Guess what’s next…

Step 2 – Selling Your Product Through Existing Sales Channels

At this point, you are going to have to make a decision about your inventory. If it were me, I would invest the couple hundred bucks and buy 5-10 pieces of my product to get started. You can certainly buy one at a time to start and that will work, it will just be a slower start.

I guess now is a good time to mention that I have not found drop shipping to be a viable option for somebody just starting out with a new supplier. The only times I have ever had successful drop ship relationships with suppliers is after a long and prosperous history, at which point they work with me to get their American distributors to drop ship. More on that later, but I thought I would mention it as you don’t want to do that just starting out, it almost always ends with unhappy customers and banned accounts.

Anyways, you need to get a few pieces of inventory and start selling them.

I only suggest using TWO of these THREE sales channels when first starting out – Amazon, eBay, Craigslist

Notice I did not say spam your friends on Facebook and every forum you can find about it. That is a ton of work and will produce very little result for you. Not once have a I tried to sell things to my Facebook friends, I barely even tell them what I am working on unless asked.

It is relatively easy to set up shop on all of these – I would just look at what the top sellers of your products are doing and then try to improve upon that. Most of the time, the copy text used in eBay and Amazon ads is free domain from the manufacturer, so you can get a lot from other sellers and simple Google searches.

Within a day or two after getting your product up, you should begin making sales. This is when things start to get really exciting. Just ship out your products at the closest post office and wait to see what happens. Make sure you ship as soon as you can and pack everything well obviously, but I am assuming you guys know how to ship things so I won’t go into much detail. Make sure you ship immediately, and make sure you pack it up well. I would also suggest throwing in a thank you note with a website or some way to turn these guys into recurring revenue (see below for more on this).

You should know pretty quickly if you are making money and what the problem areas are.

Within a month it should be painfully apparent if you need to find a new product or if you should scale up your current product.

If you can’t make a profit with your product on those sales channels, then I don’t think it is worth it to put any more effort into that specific product, and I would look for another product to sell.

Given that you are finding success with your product and have no deadly hiccups (lucky those don’t exist…), let’s move on to scaling this baby up.

Step 3 – SCALE!

After I had my airsoft guns up on eBay and Amazon, all I had to do was keep track of inventory and shipping.  Being 15 at this time, I was ecstatic.

I slowly started to add more products to eBay and Amazon, started sending out promotional materials with my shipments, began advertising, and started a brand name behind my online business. My 20 order per day average quickly swelled to 30, 40, 50 sales per day.

Keep in mind that NONE of this would be possible if I didn’t find an awesome supplier in the first place. If you’re reading REALLY closely you’ll notice that I was 15 now, and it took a full 2 years of many mistakes and marginal success before I got to this point. Hopefully from reading this article, you can skip most of those mistakes and get right to the success.

I didn’t really know what I was doing and was kind of just throwing money at things and seeing what works. It was an awesome learning experience for me, and I learned a ton about what works and what doesn’t work in marketing and growing online sales.

Here is the stuff that I did to scale up my sales that will probably work for you –

  • Advertising with Amazon and eBay – I always made a solid return with these advertising programs, specifically Amazon.
  • Listing yourself on other sales channels – I eventually made an eCommerce store so that my products could be listen through the primitive versions of Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, and every other shopping venue I could find online. If I could put my items up and sell through them, I did. And each new channel gave me a little bit of growth for free.
  • Brand yourself – The days of branding yourself as “GreatAirsoftCompany.com” are long gone. You have to find a good brand name that resonates with the crowd you are selling to, and it will exponentially reward you over time. You can read this post to see how I decide on brand names.
  • Aim for recurring revenue – I started seeing solid growth from including coupons and promotional materials in each shipment. Eventually, I set up an email and SMS subscription that would send them deals and updates on airsoft items. I also set up a monthly subscription for airsoft pellets, which I couldn’t sell on eBay due to very small margins. The key here is to focus on siphoning off buyers from the pre-existing sales channels into your own lists and databases. That way, you can market to them for free on demand, rather than having no way to contact them after their first order.

And the stuff that didn’t work

  • PPC Advertising – Advertising outside of where I was selling never worked for me very well on this, however I was also very young and didn’t know much about running PPC campaigns. If you are already good with PPC, then try it. If not, I wouldnt even try until you have some money to lose.
  • Social Media – Just isnt going to work for importing. MAYBE you can find a way to do this if you are a really, really good social media marketer, but 99% of people are not going to get any sales from social media with this.
  • Pretty much anything I didn’t mention above – If I didn’t mention it above, I didn’t make enough money with it to remember it. I would stick to just the things I know work, which are littered all over this article.

If you are unsure about a marketing method you are thinking about trying, just comment below or email me and I will tell you what I know about them…

Keep in mind that the only money I was putting into this was reinvested earnings. You can certainly spend out of pocket to grow faster, but my goal in this post is keeping your risks low while still growing, and bootstrapping (funding your growth from internal operating revenue)  is the best way I know to do that.

If you follow this tutorial, you will eventually be where I was – making a solid 50 orders a day. At this point shipping and inventory are going to really start taking a toll on you and your time. You’ll want to work on moving in one of two directions –

  1. Negotiate better terms with your supplier – Once my supplier knows I am a valuable contact who will make him solid, easy money day in and day out, I am his golden boy. Now you can start to negotiate prices and shipping terms. I usually try to get some price cuts, but my main thing is getting the factory to drop ship (generally through a US office or distributor). If the factory can ship to my customers for me and handle returns, my business is next to automated. This is where I got with the airsoft stuff, and I loved it. A true “4 Hour Workweek“.
  2. Start outsourcing the processes – If you cant get your factory to drop ship to customers for you, you are going to want to get rid of that aspect of your business somehow. You will be making enough money by now to hire somebody to do the shipping for you locally. Try to get somebody local (a friend or family member) to start, as it is much easier, safer, and cheaper to manage a friend than an employee. Hire a VA to send the orders to your friend, keep your listings running smoothly, respond to customers immediately, and order inventory.

If you get past this point, it is really up to you where to take it. I preferred to keep it at this level (automated cash flow), but you could certainly grow this as large as you wanted to. There is no real limit on how much money an importing business can make, and you have built a solid foundation to build off of.

New Post* The Ultimate Guide to Sell on Amazon in 2019

The Fall of My Empire

At this point, there was very little that could go wrong. Short of some horrible unforeseen event taking place, I had a steady stream of automated income coming in – one of the first ones I had ever built.

Then there was a horrible unforeseen event…

I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but the Chinese ports suddenly stopped shipping airsoft guns out. For over 3 months, I couldn’t get any airsoft guns out of China.

I know it was more than 3 months, because that is when I was forced to throw in the towel.

I searched around for a replacement supplier from anywhere I could, but the prices had just skyrocketed. On top of that, I had a bunch of orders I couldn’t fill and angry customers…

With many new projects sprouting up, and being only 16 at the time, I refunded everybody and moved on…
I did make enough money to invest elsewhere, most of which was lost on other ventures. I learned more than I did in my entire schooling career with this business, and I hope I communicated everything well enough to expedite your learning curve.

The only thing to do now, if you haven’t been this entire time already, is TAKE ACTION! If this strategy intrigues you, get out there and at least try to put this stuff into action. Make it happen!

Please comment below if you have any problems, questions, or suggestions with any part of this – I will be responding to everything immediately for the next couple of days.

Good luck, and talk to you below!

Note – I have since written a follow up to this post called “Step-by-Step Guide on How To Find A Profitable Product To Sell”

Author

Avatar for Will Mitchell
Will Mitchell

Will Mitchell is a serial entrepreneur and Founder of StartupBros. You can learn more about him at the Startupbros about page. If you have any questions or comments for him, just send an email or leave a comment!

2,121 comments add your comment

  1. Hi Will. Thank you for the informative article. The sample prices for products seems to be quite high. I have a product idea that would sell for approx 10-12 dollars. The supplier is looking for 20 dollars per sample plus 55 dollars for shipping. Would you offer less than 10 dollars for the sample in this scenario?

  2. Will, appreciate all the info. I had a business flipping products on ebay and amazon fueled by the supply chain issues during the pandemic. I sent you an email on making another go at e-commerce. Look forward to your thoughts. Cheers mate 🍻

  3. can i ask, what products can i not sell from Aliexpress? like beauty products, etc ?? or does it not matter 🙂

  4. Thank you

    Me and my girlfriend have been thinking about doing this for a while because I’m sick of physical labour and would love to do something that makes extra money or even turn into a full-time thing.

    Like you said finding that product that works for me that someone hasn’t already got is the hard thing.

    We just want to spend about $500 for now and buy a few things to try it out and get them sent here in NZ and then resend to a customer.

    Your write up was very easy to understand even for me lol, it was much appreciated.

    We thought about make up because that is a constant seller and is light weight but I guess we will search Ali and have a good look, it’s exciting but man, there’s a long way to go.

    Cheers Mike

  5. Hi Will

    Great blog.
    A bunch of us here in South Africa are planning to start-up a business just like this and your blog has given us great inside info. We are planning to launch our own e-eCommerce platform (just because we got a guy or two in our group knowing stuff about this) for selling to the customers.

    The Rand Dollar exchange rate and import duties might be our biggest stumbling block to overcome.

    Thanks, Stefan

    • Hey Stefan, thank you so much for reaching out and reading the article! What you’re starting sounds awesome. It sounds like you have some smart people working with you. I wish you all nothing but the best. If you run into anything you think I can help with please come back and send me a message!

  6. So in all, how much could be the minimum capital? Per considering small size products and a MOQ of 5-15.

    • Hey Fred, so if you’re in the United States. Let’s say for an order of 15 at $6 USD per product you’re looking at $90 USD for the order, no import taxes on orders less than $800 USD. Then opening an Amazon account is $40 per month. And you want to spend some money on PPC ads like $50 to test the sales of the product. You can spend $180 on your first order and potentially still make a small profit assuming you can sell for 3x cost which is the minimum you should sell a product for.

  7. Hey Mitchell,
    A great article and it has really motivated me and given me a clear direction for starting my own business.

    I have few questions and it would be great if you can answer them:

    1. I have identified some products which do not fall under niche category but definitely are innovative products which are solving customer problems and not available in the market. Would you recommend to start with these products?
    2. How should i calculate the selling cost of the product? like how much margin should i add and how to factor customs cost, import taxes etc.?
    3. While selling on Amazon, were you registered as an individual or a registered company?
    I have plans to expand the distribution business to offline stores also and might have to register as a company. How should i go about it?

    Thank you so much.
    Regards,

    Shantanu

    • Hey Shantanu, thank you so much for reading the article and for reaching out. I would love to answer your questions! Just a friendly reminder that if you run into any more questions or need any help at all don’t hesitate in sending me an email to will@startupbros(dot)com. I love hearing from readers!

      A lot of your questions I answer in my huge Amazon article: https://startupbros.com/how-to-sell-on-amazon-fba/
      In there you’ll find answers to calculating costs, how to find products and everything about listing your products.

      But to answer your questions, I’ll start in order…
      1. In general you never want to start selling a product that has no history of selling because it’s new. Something I was considering reading your question was if it’s possible to sell something that’s similar or in the same area of product that has a history of selling. Then once you prove the market works you can add your new product to the catologue. Does that make sense?

      2. at a minimum you want to sell your products 3x cost. Usually when you sell for 3x cost there’s enough for a profit.

      3. You can start as an individual seller. On Amazon it doesn’t matter if you’re a registered company or not. You can be an individual seller with a brand name on your products. What you might want to register is your brand with Amazon, so no one else can sell products with your brand name, once you’re making sales but don’t let it stop you from starting. If you create your own website and start selling in physical stores what you can do is create an LLC with your brand name.

      I hope this all makes sense. If you have any more questions at all please don’t hesitate to respond back or send me an email with all your questions.

  8. Hey Will,
    I can’t thank you enough for this, you helped me gather all the info I need within almost just one link. With that being said, I just have a question about Taxes. Being a US resident who has an income is supposed to pay taxes, I have indeed gone through the comments and read that you mentioned “any order that is below $800 doesn’t get taxed”, but I’ am talking here about my profit, my income. don’t I need to have my own Corporation? and I’m hoping one day I will be buying bulk purchases that are going to pass $800. So, what I’m saying is, do I need a corporation im only buying and selling samples in the beginning? and would I be able to get it later when I start making big purchases? should i just get it now? or am I not even going to need it? thanks in advance.

    • Because you are a US resident, you are able to start a business as an individual. There is no need to start a corporation or anything. You can focus on starting small and making sales. Once you make enough money in sales you can incorporate as an LLC. But let’s say that you make $1000 in a year, as an individual you can report it as part of your income when you file taxes. Any money you make is part of your income for the year. There is no need to create a corporation.

  9. Hi Will I’d like to know if you have any research on how to do this in the Nigerian market where I am currently looking starting. I’d be glad to read from you

    • Hey benedict, product research is the same no matter where you are in the world. Is there any major factories or products that are unique to your country that you know American buyers would be interested in?

  10. Hi, Will

    Thank you for your valuable information.
    I am currently selling on ebay.
    Some advanced sellers said that the competition on ebay nowadays is too difficult, too saturated and there is no point to sell on ebay low-cost products (commodities), some sellers sell only furniture, tools to make a decent profit?

    What do you think?
    Is there a point to sell commodities or to sell furniture, tools, home & garden, to make a decent profit?

    I am looking forward to your response, Will.

    Have a great day ahead!

    Best Regards,
    Chris

    • Hey Chris we don’t recommend selling on ebay because the prices are lower there. But the important thing is not the price of the product you sell but the margin of the product. If you can buy something for $8 and sell it for $16 then it might be worth it to sell it on eBay.

      Furniture and larger items have less competition than smaller items but it might not be easy for you to import. You want to find products that you can import profitably without much headaches. Does that make sense?

  11. Hello Will instead of dropshipping I can buy inventory and just send from my home?

    • Yes, you absolutely can. We wrote an article about that called How to sell on Amazon 🙂 You can buy inventory, send it to your house and sell it online.

  12. Hi Will,
    Thanks a lot for your detailed guideline.
    I’ve been importing from Asia for 20 years. I want to share some lessons I drawed from previous failures.

    About supplier sourcing, buying from non-gold members is not enough. For most of the products I purchased, I still met all kinds of problems even I purchased from gold suppliers. Sometimes the sizes are completely wrong, sometimes the colors are not what I ordered, sometimes the product became all rusty or with numerous untrimmed threads, scratches, poor painting, etc. It’s therefore very important to send a third-party inspection company to help you verify everything before paying the balance to your suppleirs. Be alert! Thre are even some pitfalls when you are choosing a third-party inspection company. My suggestions are:
    1. Not to use a freelance or part-time agent.
    2. Not to use small inspection companies or the one who offers you unreasonably low price.
    3. Not to use the one without all of the necessary certification.
    The reason is that it’s quite possible for these inspectors to receive money from the factory under the table and not report you the major defect.
    Use an organised professional one who offers you reasonable price. (Btw, the reasonable price is around 270-280 USD/man-day).

    About the payment, paying only by paypal is not the best solution. Once the supplier turns out to be a scam, it still takes a lot of time and energy to get the money back. The best way is to verify the supplier before placing an order.

    About the samples – I’m sure some of you have the same experiences. Sometimes the production lot is completely different from the samples you received. My suggestion is to make a pp sample before production. Besides, write all of your comments and details about the sample in the contract and ask your manufacturer to sign and stamp.

    About the MOQ. I came acroos many situations that the MOQ is at least 1000 or sometimes even 3000. The truth is, if the product you want to buy is their standard product, it’s ok to purchase at a low quantity. But if the manufacturer needs to make a new model for the product, the MOQ is usually high and model fee must be paid.

  13. I found your article to be quite informative. I have a couple of questions about Alibaba. How do you know if a seller is a Gold Member? There are 5 things listed under the sellers name. I would think the first one is how many years they have been in business. What are the other 4?

    • So we have an article titled “Is Alibaba Safe” You should check it out because we go over so much there about Alibaba. So to answer your question if you look at any listing on Alibaba, then focus on the right hand side you can see “Gold Supplier, Onsite Check and Trade Assurance” All those are the most important things to look for on an Alibaba listing.

    • Hey Parth, the only country you need to worry about paying taxes for is your own. You wouldn’t owe taxes to a country you don’t live in. Only your own.

  14. I used to import shoes from china and sell them on eBay. They hardest thing was finding and trusting a supplier. This is a great article and a very useful guide.

  15. Hi Will
    Excellent piece you have wrote very honest and free from any bull!
    I have a product I mind but cannot seem to be able to find anyone on Alibaba who is able or willing to supply it – perhaps it’s something I’m doing wrong , the product isn’t super complicated so I’m not sure what the problem is . Perhaps I could email you a photo of the product.. I was thinking maybe the product is patented or something.

    Brian

    • Hey Brian thanks for the great comment! We’re happy you liked the article 🙂

      Email us bros@startupbros(dot)com and we can help you out.

  16. I’m really impressed by this article. I thank you for the effort you put into making this a public knowledge, this would have cost the reader but you made it free all the same… Thanks!

    My name is Fortune and i have been so interested in imports especially from China or Vietnam but the the thing i don’t live in the US where Ebay and Amazon serve as a huge platform to promote what i intend to be selling

    Could you guide me on how to be able to sell my goods locally in my country and still make good profit?

    I will be expecting your reply and many thanks in advance. My email again is [email protected]

  17. What kind of margins are you looking for? Is there a minimum profit you are targeting? For example is a product that you can buy for 20 and sell for 40 worth doing? Do you aim slightly higher ticket? How would you compare that to a product you can buy for 5 and sell for 20?

    Thanks

  18. Everything I have found I would like to sell has a name that loiks like a brand. Am I able to sell that here in America under my business name then?

    • Hey Colleen, yes you absolutely can 🙂 Create your own brand and create a better listing than the competitors. If you have any other questions let us know!

  19. Hi Will, first of all thanks a lot for the article. Very interesting! At one point you are mentioning “If the factory can ship to my customers for me and handle returns, my business is next to automated.” Please could you elaborate it further? Thanks a lot!

    • Hey Luigi, Yea I can expand on that! It’s possible to have your supplier properly package and ship your products either directly to your customer, a fulfillment warehouse or Amazon warehouses. From there the fulfillment warehouse or Amazon would send your products to the customer and handle the customer service. There are companies like fbainspection.com that can work as the middlemen between your supplier and the warehouses. They’re the ones that will pick up your products and prepare them to go into inventory. Is there something more specific I can help you with?

  20. Good Morning Will!
    What a smarty pants you must be, starting out as early as you did and making your way thru to financial freedom early in life. I am so happy for you! I found you thru James Altuchers book Side Hustle Bible, and I am also making my way thru your blog articles. Question: If money is very tight would the trip to China with you and your team in April ’19 be overwhelmingly worth the price of admission into the business of importing? I think being in the company of those who think differently/larger than I, and the individual help from your team the answer would be a resounding yes!
    Thank You,
    H.

  21. Great tutorial. Need advice with importing goods for a weddings and events business. Can you provide advice for that, reliable suppliers and shipping as well?

  22. Hey will what’s your opinion on selling adult toys at least it’s not seasonal haha

    • Hey John, so it’s perfectly okay to sell adult toys. The only problem is that you can’t sell them outright. There are some requirements you need to meet before given permission to sell.

      Here they are:
      Received at least 50 orders on Amazon.
      Registered for more than 90 days on Amazon.

      So, you will need to begin selling other products (outside this category) first, until you meet these two requirements, you will not be able to submit an application. Hope this helps 🙂

  23. Hello Will.. I read your article and this is really very inspiring and encouraging to start a new b2b business.
    I am Abhishek and from India 🇮🇳.
    I set up my mind to import goods from chaina at cheap price and sell it over India at a good profit margin.
    My product would be kids toys.
    The reason why I chosen this product is because in this toy business 95% of toys imported from chaina.
    Indian manufacturers are not that much capable and smart to manufacture toys.

    I need ur sincere advice that is this would be the right ✔ business to start and how much profit margin I can book.

    I really appreciate your valuable comments.

    Thanks
    -Abhishek.

  24. What about importing from China to US, what kind of paperwork and preparations are needed? With and without the tariffs in place by Trump administration.

    • Hey GT, thanks for reading 🙂 If you are importing from China to the US with Alibaba or another supplier directory you don’t have to worry about paperwork. They have a network of importers that make sure everything gets to the right place. Anything under $800 USD is not taxed coming into the US. If there is any paperwork for you to sign the person delivering the package to your house will have you sign it then. You are the one placing the orders but not the one who is actually importing.

  25. Great article! But I’m shocked you didn’t elaborate more on shipping!
    I’m in the process of shipping my products from China and the estimate I got was almost $1000 USD for one carton that’s only 24 kg!! The MOQ is 3 cartons, so this is $3000 USD right off the bat…I’ll be spending this on a venture unknown, and this seems like a massive risk. I understand any business can be risky, but $3000? Wow.

  26. One of the greatest things that holds constant throughout this entire piece, is the fact that you just kept spending and trying, spending and experimenting over and over again. SO, many people are afraid to let go of those dollars, that will eventually make them a fortune!
    Awesome post!

  27. Hey fantastic article any hints on or any more ideas of what to sell and how to look out for a good idea I’m going to fly out to turkey to a warehouse

  28. Hi I’m from Australia and the idea of getting products from China to the US or UK for Amazon is a little daunting but even tho Amazon is here now I would think the US and UK markets are so much bigger it would be smarter to start there- thoughts? You also didn’t mention the Amazon packing and shipping service – did you not use that? C Cheers Lynne

  29. Sir
    Thank you for your advice. I am a new starter and want to do trading of chines product for India. But want to know how much is the investment in the beginning as I am short of money,. I have to arrange for the same. From whom we should buy and how we pay for the same. What product should we buy?
    Is there any registration for the same?
    Is there any licence required?
    Do the product come direct to my address?

    regards
    Sunil Chari

  30. Hi Will,
    This story was very motivational. I’ve been looking to start my own buying and selling business and I’ve searched everywhere for information on how to get started but no luck. Its been months and I still didn’t know where to start. Just when I was about to give up I came across this article and man, I’m so glad I did. I know so much more then I did before. I have been struggling to decide what products I wish to sell and I’ve decided to start of with Sports Equipment such as Boxing Gloves, Focus Pads etc. I’m doing things a little differently from you. I’m planning to get my goods from my home country Pakistan instead of China, and sell them here in the UK via eBay and Amazon. I have family in Pakistan who find suppliers, buy the goods and ship them to me. I’m trying to get as much information as possible before I start and your article helped me alot. You’ve even covered the things I didn’t think about which is good. I would as you for one favour if you don’t mind. How do I track my expenses such as how much I paid suppliers, shipping into the UK, selling to customers, shipping to customers, eBay/PayPal fees, Profits made etc. How do you do yours , would you have a template you could maybe share with me. I would be so grateful. It’s mainly because I have to pay Taxes and it’ll be easier for work out everything.
    Thanks Will.

  31. Hey. I’d like to start selling some specific product, like the way Lilly Ghalichi is selling her lashes, I want to sell something under my name and brand and need to find the right supplier and packaging and everything. What do you think and do you have any tip?

  32. Hi there thanks for this. I was wondering what are your thoughts on attending tradeshows/expo to meet suppliers in china ? And do you have any recommendations of good ones to attend?

  33. Once you’ve got your product do you put your own label on it? Or simply onforward what your purchasing?

    • Hey Nikki. Depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. You can choose to test the product out first and try to sell it without a label and once you prove that the product will sell you can invest in creating a brand and placing a label on the product.

  34. Great article! I have no idea how to handle the shipping aspect. I’ve found products that will sell that I will also brand, but I travel and don’t have a home base. I need to find a distributor I guess but have no idea how to go about that. Any articles written about that? Thanks!

  35. Sir,
    Really nice story of yours is motivational to starting up aspirants.
    I have narrowed down suppliers for buying toys. They are responding with price. But how to calculate my overall cost price.
    Shipping cost + customs cost.
    Will I get direct to home delivery?
    How much should I pay to customs?
    Can I clear goods from port directly or will the product come to my address or should I go through forwarding and clearing agent?
    How much will be their costs?
    Initially I’m planning to go with samples of around 10 to 20 pieces..
    Should I register as company then start importing?
    Do I need to get import licence?
    I have not yet started Any business.
    Pls guide me.
    Thanks

  36. Hi Will I live in South Africa and we are not as much connected to the internet like in the US, what channels can you recommend i use. Also I am still struggling with find a well profitable product, please do assist me, in choose the best product and setting up my e-commerce. Thank you hopping to hear from soon.

  37. Hey, my bf has a successful local business. He is applying for a TM for services there and one for his online biz of product sales. While some of the items are original (as in the art on the screen printed tees), some of the goods are generic unbranded items from China. He doesn’t want to spend any more $ than he has to and these items don’t really make much sense to register since they’re so widely avail anyway. What are your thoughts on this?
    Thanks!

  38. Helpful article. this will surely be useful to those who are starting the eCommerce business.

  39. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I have learned so much.

    Thanks again

  40. Heya, my bf is selling products online under a TM biz name. He is about to register his name federally, but wants to know if he has to include all classes of goods in the TM registration. He gets most of his stuff as generics from China. Not sure if he even can register these or why he would, since they’re everywhere. It’s all cat themed, which is huge right now. It works with the local biz, which is doing really well and is also set up for services registration. We just don’t wanna get caught registering generic goods that shouldn’t be considered, but at the same time don’t want to be in a spot where we should have taken that protective measure.

  41. Awesome post, just wanted to know that how they sent samples ? They sent it via Fedex or DHL ? Or they sent it as FOB ?

  42. You were 16?! So, did your parents help you get all this set up? I mean you couldn’t have even had a credit card to buy samples through paypal! How much did your parents teach you or help you? We are looking for 21st century income solutions for our teenagers right now (and for ourselves) and Amazon FBA is what we keep coming back to but the time investment to learn enough to not lose our shirt is agonizing.

  43. Hi Will,
    Great information and very generous to supply it.
    My question is how does drop shipping work with Allibaba. Do you buy a bulk order and they keep it at their wherehous and how do they take the order from us?
    I may not be so clear with my question, so if you think it would be easier to email a simple break down on how drop shipping works.
    Thank you very much.

    • Alibaba will not provide drop shipping service, it is a wholesale website, qty requested is big.

      • This is not strictly true, Alibaba is just a platform for suppliers to sell on. Dropshipping depends on the individual suppliers and your relationships with them as stated above by Will.

  44. Hi Will Mitchell, I am intrigued and all I can say is that this is the most detailed article I’ve seen. Please send me an e-mail to know that you have read this message. I am new into this business and would like to know more. Thank you!

  45. Great article Will. I’m curious as to why social media advertising didn’t work for you or why you don’t recommend it. Can you elaborate on that?

    • At the time social media advertising wasn’t as robust as it is now. But I think there are a lot more things that can move the needle forward that isn’t advertising. People tend to think you can just throw up a random product and the ads are all that matter. I didn’t want to downplay social media but I do want people to focus on the product research, the potential customer and product quality. Hope that makes sense!

  46. Hi Will, I am very new to this field and I am so lucky to find your valuable article to read before I actually starting my business. It’s really help me alot. I didn’t know where to start? What to do next? But now I know. So thank you for sharing your experience with us.

    One thing I would like to ask you. I would like to buy baby unisex clothes from Alibaba.com, do you think it’s a good idea to start with?

    Your advice would be highly appreciated.

    Kind regards,
    Sobia Grigoras

    • Hey Sobia, I’ll be completely honest with you. Anything you’re passionate about or interested in is a good place to start. From there you can test hundreds of ideas but you have to be interested in first. Baby clothes is always going to be needed so it’s a big enough market for anyone. 🙂

  47. Hi Will.

    I’m still an amateur trying to find my feet. I want to buy human hair extensions from China. I initially thought of flying to China from South Africa to buy them in bulk. I thought I would be avoiding the scams of importing. I’ve learnt a lot from this article. Please help!

    Thank you

  48. Hi Will,

    I was wondering if negotiations should be done before or after the samples are requested/received?

    Thanks!

    • Hi,
      I would negotiate after the samples.
      Why are going to waste time if samples don’t fit you…..

  49. Hey , I am from India and have read your story and having the same diffuculty of finding a product as i want to source from China and start in India through ecommerce. I am already selling in India by my 3 instagram portals with 33k 28k 15k followers but want to find a product that i can source from china and sell here in INDIA

    • Hi Rishabh,

      You can try to source the products from alibaba/1688/taobao etc.

  50. Hello , I’ve read your blog and it’s amazing and very insightful. I feel like it’s missing one important point. shipping the items. I’ve looked into getting samples but they are charging me ridiculously for the items to be shipped to me. one supplier asked if I have my own. so would you recommend that? I have found products just need help with the shipping part of it all.

  51. Very helpful!
    Can you advise about customs, handling and shipping in general (before being able to drop ship).
    Thanks!

  52. hello just read your article and using it to my knowledge. btw thank you so much i have learn so much more then any youtube video i seen. my question was, so if i buy a product online and ship it to my country and i sell it in amazon. Do i give the product whatever name i want or does the company from alibaba supplier have copyright and i have to put it as they have it.

  53. If you guys take a closer look, he actually mentioned avoiding ordering big stuff to dodge hefty taxes. Smaller items and samples are super easy to pick up at the post office. They don’t usually tack on big taxes, but you just tack it onto the item cost. That way, you can nail the right selling price. Don’t forget to do a quick price check with similar items like he suggested.

  54. What about customs Handling fees? I’m in South Africa and heard it can be quite annoying.

  55. How were you importing stuff into US without paying Import Duty/Tax ? Did you use an agent to import ? All this is not covered.

  56. If a manufacturer only accepts T/ T as payment method, what does that mean, is it safe, and why don’t they accept Other methods?

  57. I would like to import things from China to Kenya but am not sure which products to start with. Your help is highly appreciated

  58. When Buying with Alibaba.com into UK have taxes ect to pay . Do you know if still make items profitable

  59. All these look and, maybe, are so promising BUT how could you help someone living in a country other than the US ? Because the laws are very different from country to country…

  60. Hi Will, Amazing article! Quick question…You suggested against using Social Media for marketing, but what do you think about using Social Media Influencers to promote your products?

  61. Whyyyyy do all of these articles make it sound so easy? “Ah, ok, I’ll just go find a product to sell! Dr. Ben reached $1,000,000 in revenue essentially selling potato chips!” I know it’s not going to be easy, and I never expected that it would be, but I’ve been banging my head against my keyboard for a week now trying to find ONE thing that looks like it’s worth a damn to sell, and I feel like I’ve just been wasting my time. Where’s the disconnect? It seems like everything I look at already has 234634 different versions from 0764309 different vendors on amazon.

  62. I have janitorial supply company I want to know how can I purchase the item directly from China to sale at a cheaper price in the US. I sale paper towels, toilet tissue, dispenser and chemical, vacuum and etc….

  63. I love plant and I’m in a group of plant lovers of almost 50k members so I want to venture on a ceramic and resin pot ang garden supplies. The price fr China supplier is so good but I’m afraid of the shipping cost and tax here In The Philippines. I am hesitant to start with 500 products but I really wanted those product. I want to start with around 100 at first so I can check the easiest n cheapest way of getting them. Besides LCL or by sea what other means do you suggest if for bulk order? I am an avid client of eBay and they send it thru ems with very little tax but I am not sure if the supplier can send them that way too. Thanks in advance

  64. Very informative. I have chosen a supplier from China and we’ve bargained already. But the problem is the custom here in the Philippines. The supplier can send to the Phil and I need an agency to release it for me for some taxes like import tax n clearance etc. And that’s the main problem since I do not have idea on the cost. Pls enlighten me. Thanks.

  65. In regards to shipping, should I always go with the fastest shipping method from Alibaba? I really don’t want to wait a month before I receive my order with the cheapest option.

  66. Hi, I’m Joseph from Italy and I need information about drop shipping. Many people and companies promote that buying from China and reselling is a good way to make money but no-one explains that if you want to sell regularly you may pay taxes and customs duty (here in Italy). Is it the same in USA? Is there a country where you can avoid this kind of taxes?

    • I have the same question, here in India, customs really suck. Need to pay alot of money for clearance.
      Would like a guide about how all this work.

    • In the USA you don’t get hit with customs unless the item you bought is more than around 800 USD. The only way I have heard of avoiding customs is to ask your supplier to mark down the cost of the item on the packaging. (Essentially, lying to the shipping company.) But that might be dangerous, especially if you you are being sent an abundance of items.

  67. Great stuff man. I will be re-reading this article, but I got most of it. I have an idea for importing and a direct contact. But I want to diversify and not rely on just one supplier….time to ACTUALLY do it and see if it is a success or failure – I’ll learn and evolve either way. many thanks foe the article bro.

  68. About putting coupons/directing costumers to your own web-site…isn’t that against Amazon’s policy?

    Do costumers care about that (do they maybe look at it as some sort of spam)?Or you can freely include in package whatever promotional material you feel like?

    Is breaking that policy serious thing,that could get your account suspended immediately?Or it isn’t such a big crime (you can get away with it here and there)?Your thoughts…

  69. Hi,

    After reading this, I felt it was a very honest and enlightening post. I am from India and I am thinking of importing readymade clothes and selling them online (via Amazon/eBay) as well as through a simple brick and mortar shop. Do you think clothes will sell? You haven’t mentioned the legal hurdles – import/export licenses, other legal regulations, shop licenses etc. Did you face any legal/government problems?

  70. How can I get companies on alibaba to post samples out cheap? A 100g item they charge me £75 and say that’s their cheapest freight, so it’s expensive to receive a a sample from several companies and some have been poor quality
    Thanks
    Jo

  71. its great to read about its worth reading it although I am already into import but lots of thing are eyewash .
    I would appreciate if you could explain more about logistic ,like for part load shipment and for small container load what kind of precaution should be taken care of .

    thanks again for sharing such a wonderful experience

  72. Wow I must say thank you for this great content. I am back after one year to say thank you than you thank you.Your blog has changed my life. Finally started my drop shipping business after i found your site last year January and I can honestly say I have made a good amount of money in this one year. Thank you for all you do here.

  73. Thank you, Will! This was incredibly helpful.
    One question though: why do you believe Facebook is not a good channel to sell stuff? I mean, I bought a lot of stuff that came up in my feed obviously from sponsored campaigns.

    Thx!

  74. Hi, I’m in major need of advice please!
    I’m starting my own business of selling organic play dough. I will be making the dough with homemade, organic ingredients. I’m currently interviewing suppliers on Alibaba looking for the perfect packaging.
    Here’s my question: do you think it’s important to trademark my name? I have a feeling this will be successful with so many parents going the organic route with their kids these days.
    Thank you, I’d appreciate your response. As someone who is just starting out, I’m excited, worried and confused all at once.

  75. This was incredibly insightful and well written. This is something that I started considering a long time ago and I have slowly become obsessed with the idea of an online business such as this. I do have one question, is there any type of licensing or permits you would need to start importing like this? Specifically in Illinois.

    Thanks!

    Mike

  76. Can you sell things that have a patent on them? Can you get in trouble for trying to sell things ? I want to sell something but I’m nervous..

    • Hey Dee, what products are you trying to sell? You are more than able to sell products with patents on them. Things like potato peelers have a patent on them but multiple companies sell them. Now, you can’t sell products under a registered trademark brand that belongs to someone else. The registered trademarks are more important than patents. If only people with the patents could sell products then there wouldn’t be many sellers, brands, and businesses in the market.

  77. I haven’t had luck with this. The shipping cost from China is always so expensive. Combined with ebay/amazon fees and having to pay for additional shipping to customers, I can’t seem to make it work.

    • Good point. Very cool writing, but the topic of amazon/ebay fees is not covered here at all. I briefly looked at Ebay fees, which are as high as 25% of the COST. Still checking this in case I’m missing something, but this is just too much. The only way to make money with these fees is if you’re the original manufacturer of the product.

  78. “And best of all, I didn’t even have to touch the product – my supplier even handled all shipping & returns.”
    -How did your foreign supplier handle this?
    -Was your inventory software linked to your supplier’s local distribution point in the U.S. so that when an order comes in, it is sent directly to the warehouse?
    -This would makes things soooo much easier!

  79. Great article Will, I had a different disaster happen with importing business years ago, back in 2006 importing hot tubs and swimming pools from China, but as soon as the credit crunch hit, currency conversion rates, change of spending habits killed that high end product.

    Ever since I have pivoted and stuck to smaller and more affordable items.

    Keep up the good work!

  80. You should write a book about your adventures as an entrepreneur. You have a vast wealth of knowledge which needs to be shared.

  81. Hey, thanks for advice and tips about starting a business. When i was reading it i felt like my mind is not in the present. I read each word that you time without skipping it. What an amazing journey you have been through.

  82. You did not mentioned import cost, customs, CNF agent cost and other cost related with importing from China

    • Totally agree, seems like no one wants to get into the real issue of imports , they love to go on detail the experience of their business model , what about duty tax, what about the amazon University assimilation, the own product UPC codes ,etc,etc, not easy,,do you guys know that the duty tax for importing polyester garments from china like leggings is 28%, if you buy $1000 dollars of this products you pay $280.00 only on duty tax, not counting shipping cost , wiring money fee, and before that you need to open an LLC with legal obligations on collecting taxes ,also own a computer, cell phone, camera to take pictures , own a car ,open bank account ,quick books program , have an accountant, and I can go on and on,,

      • I think you’re talking about running this as a full time operation. He was doing this as a 16 year old kid. No company, fairly small scale and probably no duty taxes, etc… But yeah, other things always apply, which is why as he said, by the time he ended this, he didn’t really have a whole lot of money to invest into anything else. Like anything else, ideas like this sound great until you start doing the numbers!

  83. Hey do you ever worry about the types of incoterms used between you and your suppliers.
    Does your shipment come directly to your door or you have to pay transportation cost and so on?

  84. I currently live in China and am looking into purchasing (via taobao) a relatively small order (100 units) of a toy that is currently extremely popular in the states. I’ll then send the product to the states and they will sell it using amazon/ebay. Do you have any advice for something like this as it’s brand new for me?

  85. Hi I am not so old either and I am thinking about starting a small amazon buisiness to. This post really inspired me, but what is the minimal starting capital? It’s fine if I can only sell 10-15 products at a time.

  86. Hey Mitchell. I just recently learned that Amazon will be building the 7 or 8 Canadian headquarters right in my backyard, hometown of Calgary…(would this reduce prices for me on shipping or could I start like ‘Ground delivery’ business delivering products to companies that request them…Or wouldn’t they just hire an in house employee to keep costs down? ) With your expertise is the anything u seen in plain site that I could try an earn a profit. I don’t understand the business world to much yet, but I’m slowly learning!!! thanks for your time, it is greatly appreciated!

  87. Hi Will,

    Great info and nicely written. I do have a friend that will live in China for the next two years and come back every month for work. We think to bring back product directly without through him personally. Is this an advantage? Do we need any import permits/docs since we are not dealing with a supplier? Thanks!

  88. Great Article Will! So, so insightful.

    Could you please share more about price negotiation with suppliers.

    Thank you.

  89. Won’t I have to worry about patent infringements if I have something manufactured in china?

    • No Jason. You don’t infringe on any kind of patent by selling products that suppliers make. You would be infringing on copyrights if you try to sell “Brand New iPhones from the manufacturer”. You can’t use someone else’s brand to sell your products. You can sell anything that a manufacturer makes under your own brand or no brand at all. The inventor or the can opener is not the only person that can sell can openers.

  90. I have some questions in regard to buying products in bulk from different distributors.

  91. Hey Will,

    Super informative article. Thank you for sharing all this info. My question is: is it normal for sample shipping cost to be $30-$60? I’m sure this may depend on the actual product but something that doesn’t weigh much. I just want to confirm so I know I’m not getting hustled by someone. Thank you in advance.

    Best,

    K

    • My advise is you just find a good shipping company with offices in your country and China and tell the supplier to send the goods to the same company and you negotiate with the shipping company yourself. Cos most of the time they exaggerate the shipping cost. Am in Zambia and that’s the method I use and it’s cheap

  92. My trip to China Yiwu helped me to explore new suppliers channel and get to touch base with my agent and face to face meeting. Seeing the real operations and how goods get loaded into container is a real eye opener. I am returning in Jan 2018 with my students and gear with a plan then you could source with a purpose, target profits and be it FBA or drop shipping, you need to be guided.

  93. Counterfeits are a TERRIBLE idea. I made thousands of dollars but narrowly escaped a VRBO on Ebay. Never again. Now I actually put in the work and also put some effort into dropshipping, which has actually done a lot more for me than my previous imports. Taobao is pretty good if you do go into the dropshipping world, although I know a lot of people say to avoid it. If done correctly, it can bring in a lot of sales. I do want to move into the import and selling model soon though, the margins are a lot higher because the advertising costs are lower.

  94. I’m selling counterfeit beats by Dre collaborations and making quite a killing on eBay but I’m trying to go legit because I’m constantly having to make new accounts. Having success with my recent account but still I just want to go legit. I got questions on finding a product to sell but for now I’d really like help on how to sell on amazon. It’s so damn complicated for me.

  95. I have to questions…

    1. Are there any suppliers in the US who support drop shipping businesses?
    2. Are online businesses such as drop shipping, required to have a business structure and tax ID number?

  96. As for the time it takes to ship from overseas to customers in the united states, how long would it take for a customer to receive an item ordered? And where would the products be placed once ordered and shipped? Would these products from Alibaba be bought from the supplier, then shipped to your house, then out to the customers?

  97. Hi Mitchel,
    How we can manage the situation like you faced in the case of air soft gun
    when the chines authority banned the shipment.

    Pls reply
    Regards
    Ali

  98. Hi I am new to eat ores etc. I am just about to join Shopify to start a kids clothing store for a specific target as I have struggled to find a product. I noted your comment about drop shipping for newbies and am reconsidering the shoplfy venture but definitely want to get into online selling. I have looked at Google trends and kids clothing was trending ok. Can you provide me with any advise to get me started as I have been looking for a product/s foursome time now and seem tone going around in circles. The more I read the more a clear path becomes muddied.

    Thanks in advance

    Ren

  99. Can you talk a little bit about customs, shipping and the type of paper work required to import from overseas.

  100. Tsitsi- Nice stuff indeed,l have been looking for such inspiring teaching for years now. l am gainfully employed and have been trying to start my own business..l am from Zimbabwe and still very confused on what business to embark on with the economical challenges that is in my country. l still need more of your advise and you can reply on my email.

  101. hi, I was wondering if I was gonna start my own clothing brand could I use this as a guide to get it started or am I better off taking another approach?

  102. Thanks for the article! I will start a e commerce business soon. The article was very informative! So brand names or anything over $200 dollars correct?

  103. Great article.
    I’m thinking of using Amazon FBA and let the Chinese manufacturer ship straight to amazon to avoid shipping myself. From all the research I’ve done it seems that often they have trouble meeting Amazon package requirements. Any advice? Any names of manufacturers you could recommend that do quality control as well? Also do I have to register a business to do this? (I’m from Europe)

  104. Hi, thanks for the article, I have a question, how do you tell if the product is counterfeit? thanks

  105. Hi,

    Thank you very much for article.

    How much the tax and duty will be charged when import from China. How can we find out the percentage of the goods price to be charged?

    Also how about delivery fee from china? Which delivery company you suggest? Or supplier send it without carrier?

    Thank you

    • Awesome story. It looks like your new business of selling mail order business instructions in Nigeria is thriving beyond belief. Who could’ve guessed. You are genius! Had no idea katanas were so popular. Although I am a weary of flipping weapons I have connections in China to ease importing woes and what I think is the ideal product that checks all of your boxes and more. Thanks much for your free top notch advice!

  106. What do u think of making my own activewear brand and find a good supplier to make garments with my logo?

  107. Very interesting reading. How did you manage the tax and commodity codes as heard they are a nightmare and some Chinese supplies mark as a lower value package to avoid this which sounds risky. Regards Nat

  108. Thanks for your inspiring article!
    Currently in China and been doing a boring office work for 8 years. My wife mentioned this week that she wants me to run a trading business and stop working because she met somebody who simply wants to be a silent partner just to get a Chinese visa and even willing to pay half of the Chinese business registration fees and half of the office rent!
    Then I somehow stumbled on your article while on coffee break! This has got to be a sign!

  109. while i was reading, I felt like i am in a movie. starting,running,rising and collopse… ıt was a inspiring article dude well done 🙂

  110. hi my name is Tegenu Kefene I am from ethiopia i am 22 years old so I want to start my on business to start importing from china so what is you advise?

  111. Hi, thanks for the article, simple question for you, if it is a lucrative business model, why did you not look for a new product to market after the airsoft went down?

    Thanks

  112. Hi,
    This is a real eye opener for me. I want to import and sell – I no longer want to depend on a salary.
    I need a lot of help as my usage of the computer, let alone on line ordering is limited.

    Please contact me on my email address if it is not a problem. I would like to learn from you.

    • It completely depends. Where are the students? What country? There are so many factors that go into when researching a product

  113. Hi. Thanks a lot for your sharing experience! I just want to figure out what I should do for starting: I have some friends in China who can do me a service( is it reasonable?)and I have for the first time 2000$. What is next. Taobao? Alibaba? Fake products with good quality are normal for my native country ( Ukraine). Thank you for you answer)

  114. Nice article, and accurate as well. I had already done exactly this process using a site called Tradekey about 10 years ago, and made a few hundred dollars before deciding it wasn’t really for me (I am gainfully employed and like my job, but I learned so much, and will probably get back into it at some point).

    I was selling shirts, dog carriers, and bitcoins. (Paypal, though, let people reverse bitcoin charges even after you delivered bitcoins, so, selling those on ebay was not a great idea that cost me a couple hundred bucks).

    It was really interesting to see this post follow exactly what I had done, from researching a product to haggling with the distributors to posting and shipping.

    Great article.

  115. I think selling crap from china has had its day get a trade like me you will make a good living.

    • Hi, will. I am right now working in a manufactory and trade company, if you want to get any stuff quotation, I could give you the best price.

  116. Thank you so much, you have inspired me and I have just got what i was looking for years.

  117. Reading your story was really. I was almost demotivated because as a new startup I was confused about how to flow and flourish in this business. I am what to be an Amazon Seller, but no-one to guide. I would be really thankful if there’s someone like you who can guide me in e-commerce

  118. What about licensing issues and patent issues if selling similar products from name brand in the states?

  119. Hi, I loved I. china for a year and met tons of suppliers and shipping agents.
    I am looking to start a company and selling bulk like hospital supplies, school supplies, bulk toys to toy stores etc.
    I assume this would be a different route to take but have tried to find answers and can’t find them anywhere.
    Do you have any suggestions?

  120. Thanks a lot for this guide. I was wondering if all electronics bought on Alibaba must be counterfiet? Is it possible to buy an authentic piece of electronics on that side, e.g. a Huawei phone which is actually a Huawei phone?

    Thanks a lot

  121. This is absolutely great. I have been searching for THE HOW for months. You just gave it to me in clear, simple, decisive language with a willing heart and nothing for you. AMAZING. I now can see more or less how it works. You are a true teacher. That is not a common skill in the business community as I have learned twice now. Thank you!

  122. Hey,

    I’m glad you made these web pages. They are good reads and they are honest which I appreciate. I am thinking of taking on this endeavor and this was all very useful information.

    Thanks

  123. I started importing baby clothes through Alibexpress, but delivery takes 60 days and the quicker options are to expensive. How do I go about getting my product here faster??

  124. Great article, certainly draws some parallels to the struggle I am currently going thru in creating my own strategy for sourcing and selling.
    One major roadblock I am running into is the shipping costs from Chinese suppliers which can eat out any profits I am hoping to make. Any advice on how to get these shipped from overseas at better prices ?

  125. Thanks for the article..
    I have some queries:
    1. I want to know how you handled the listing of the product on Amazon or Ebay.
    2. Also, according to me, we need some license in the beginning to start business. Is it correct?
    3. Usually Alibaba or aliexpress takes huge time(approx >20 days) to deliver the product so it would be huge time to deliver the product to end customer. How to handle this.

    Thanks in advance.

  126. Thank you for the great experiences you have taking me through indeed you are a mentor,with this step i can go a long way to be a successful entrepreneurship.i will keep communicating you as my mentor thank you.

  127. I would like to import items From China to resell in Indian market. I need your help to know how do i get shipment to my doorstep as I don’t have registration for import. I need buying agent who can do all the formalities on my behalf. I have identified few supplier from China who cal ship items to India but I don’t know procedure to released shipment from India..

  128. I would like to import items From China to resell in Indian market. I need your help to know how do i get shipment to my doorstep as I don’t have registration for import. I need buying agent who can do all the formalities on my behalf. I have identified few supplier from China who cal ship items to India but I don’t know procedure to released shipment from India.

  129. Thanks for your article.
    It’s great help me for to find potential and profitable product and sell.

  130. Wow thank you for this awesome read. I’m itching to start my own business but my friends and family doubt my ability. This article helped. Thank you.

  131. Especially interesting & inspiring this article.
    My reason for looking into importing is suffering a “Fall of Empire” similar to yours. Built the life of my dreams on local mail order in South Africa. One heartbeat after expanding out of my parental bedroom (already a jag driving private bank client). Call centre, warehouse, the works -all researched. One heartbeat after opening, SA Post Office went on a strike for over 6 months, came back broke only to steal our 3rd party monies for their own bills for another 6 months. Burning me alive with 0 cash flow but high sales. Just after a mega investment.

    I hope to soon enough blame you for my return to a strong business. But already done a few things wrong on Consignment 1 by the looks. Paid upfront! Let’s see what happens…

  132. Thanks for the information. I am a stay at home mom and I am wanting to find ways to make money while staying at home . I am going to research more and possibly go down this route of ecommerce .

    • Thank you for the experience you have taking through indeed you are a mentor,with this step by step i can follow the instruction and be a successful entrepreneur.o can always communicate you as my mentor

  133. Great stuff mate , retired sold my businesses last year , looking for a new hobby in selling , this is fantastic and sensible.

  134. Nice nice I learned a lot from this , I want to start this bussines here in Ecuador south America , this information will help me alot , thanks a lot for your information .

  135. Best advice for us newbies. Thanks for the great info. I will definitely be frequenting this website

  136. This is a really solid framework for importing goods from China and would help so many young marketers source goods from the Chinese marketplaces. Thanks a lot for taking your time out and coming up with this informative post.

  137. Hey Will,

    I really appreciated reading your blog. But of course I have some questions I am concerning right now. I live in Germany and exchange regulations are pretty tough, especially when you decide to sell your imports on Amazon.

    How did you deal with products you sold to your customers that weren’t working or they didn’t like it after the purchase? Did you offer a free exchange or a free money-back guarantee? What happened with the products that have been sent back to you? Did you keep them or did you send them back to your seller in China?

    Best regards from Germany,
    Dennis

  138. Is it legal to purchase sunglasses from alibaba and sell them on a store like shopify? Can I also have them put a logo or name on the side to brand. I know they ask you for your UPC number? What if the product doesn’t have one? What do I do? I have been highly confused but have the vision and a large clientele to work with. I started with $35 and now have over $200. I would like to keep growing. I’m just worried about legality issues. Do i need a DBA name? Please get back to me if you can!

  139. Thank you very much for this awesome 1-2-3 Guide.

    My question is the following: I am from Germany and costs for delivery are a fixed 3,5€-4€ per Parcel. Those are the cheapest prices available at all distributors. With the 10% cut, which eBay takes for a successful transaction, this leads to relatively high fixed costs.

    Would you mind, telling me how the prices in the states are for delivery and if there is a way of cutting down / optimizing fixed costs. Please take in mind, that buying in bulk is not an option as of right now.

    Thank you in advance and best regards

  140. Hi there thanks a lot for your advice, I just recently joined program called Amazing selling machine with one of my friend’s recommendation I have been watching the videos al most 2 months now. I just got lost and don’t know what to do. I paid about 4000 for that program. I wanted to sell organic beauty products and supplement on amazon but I don’t where can I get the best suppliers and I don’t know if I can make any profit out of it. I don’t even have money at this moment and planning to borrow money from a friend of mine. I’m extremely scared what do you suggest me on this please. Besides that I am looking to import things like persues and clothes from alibaba at the first now you suggest not to. Please give me some advice on this. Is it profitable to sell organic beauty products and supplement? Do you any good organic beauty products including skin care products and hair care products. Thank you

  141. Buying from Alibaba…. read customer reviews. I like to read from people from the US. They are very honest, they will tell you don’t buy from this shop, delivery time etc.

    I am doing good with Aliexpress order by selling to friends, family and social media. I think it will pick up once I start selling on a website as well as ebay, amazon and all. Good luck to you all!!

  142. Hi , I am from India selling only on Amazon right now.
    But still I hav not got the right stuff to be sold.
    Right now I have an inventory of purses…..and no sale.

    Studied a lot on right peoduct for sale in india, but could not find. Can you help me with this ?

  143. Hi,
    I’m trying to find suppliers in Alibaba.
    All the suppliers I’ve contacted have asked me to pay for shipping fees that cost a lot and this way I’m not going to be able to try few different suppliers.
    For example, an item that is $0.35 cost $55.00 to be sent to my house.
    My question is that is this something I can negotiate with them?
    Or are there any suppliers that would send their item with no charges?
    I just wanted to check the quality, and I was trying to minimize the cost for that.

  144. Out of curiosity why did you stop selling the led light bulbs if they were netting you descent size profit margin? In additon, when advertising the bulbs how did you differentiate your led bulbs from other led bulbs that were being advertised?

    Right now my friend and I are trying to look at various products for drop shipping, and are looking at doing some

  145. Very interesting article, I have been ordering wholesale items in trainers and have failed miserably , and lost a lot of money, this article has given me encouragement to try again through Alibaba, but I don’t know what to sell , can anyone help me with good ideas?

    Thanks

  146. Will, you have been such a great inspiration and your blog was just one of the outmost inspiring things I’ve ever read; and I’ve read alot of things online these days. These days you get a lot of “motivational people” doing their best to Inspire others but they don’t always seem raw and real if I may say. You and your team seem like you have been through the hardships and are genuinely attempting to help entrepreneurs like me and everyone on this forum to avoid some of the mistakes made by you.
    Thanks once again for everything and I have been looking into this wth a friend for some time and now we will go into it for sure.
    Blessings from Ontario Canada
    God bless

  147. Hi this is Ajab I am in uk London. I have a friend in China who is there because of my help. I had a Business here that I have lost now he wants to help me out. He is currently supplying Afghanistan, Pakistan and UAE.
    He is pushing me to request anything that I can sell in uk but it all looks so confuseing.
    What do you say?

    Thanks

  148. What an amazing write up.
    I am in Australia and found trying to pick the next big trend is very hard and also quite competitive with online sellers being able to under cut all prices.

    Just enquiring if you have ever had anything manufactured in China as I have an idea that could be very profitable if made cheaply and advertised properly.

    Thanks again for all your information.

  149. Thanks, Will, How did you handle the company and tax registration? I am sure Amazon needs all this compliance before a seller can be registered.

  150. One big area of business is having a new product made in China.
    They always want you to pay big for them to make a prototype for you.
    What do you know about this?

  151. Suppose I’ve identified a niche product in high demand that I can get from China. If I wanted to order a 40 foot shipping container and have it sent to an Amazon warehouse, what shipping charges are associated with a container that size, how do you handle sale tax/nexus, what would Amazon charge me for storage for the container, what happens to the container once it’s empty?

    • ocean freight, local pickup, local delivery, fuel, document handling, terminal charges, customs broker fees, duty and user fees, and bonds/insurance

    • the trucking company knows to bring the empty back to the port or directly to the next loading point once you are done with it

  152. Hey

    When you was 15 you did have already your own company to make AliBaba buyer account?

  153. Holy smokes , thank you so very much for all the info . A huge help for me starting out . Its so funny you know , i have a hair salon business in Queensland and have contacted many local other small businesses that do alot of importing and no one bar one person was happy in offering any advice at all . With myself doing a lot of charity work within my community i was blown away on how selfish people are but you have totally restored my faith . Thank you again very much for your tips , knowledge and fabulous advise . Really appreciate it .
    Tash

  154. Hey Will. Nice post
    . I’d like to get into this for some time now.

    What a out needing a freight fowarder? Do i need one and if so how do i getbone? Also… how do i find out how nuch imoirt tax i’d have to pay?
    I am canadIan living now in brasil. Have friends in both that could do the shipping for me.

  155. hi buddy,
    i reside in South Africa. I just wanted to know if you did pay a customs tax on products that you purchased from China?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hey, there is always a tax associated with importing.

  156. Very useful tips. How do you handle quality assurance and that products you source meet set standards and what is your stand on sourcing on alibaba?

    • It’s the largest supplier network on the planet

  157. whoah this blog is fantastikc i really like reading
    your articles. Stay up the good work! Yoou already
    know, lots of people are looking round ffor this information, you caan help them greatly.

  158. Hi,I’m from Bulgaria.And i don’t know how to import products from Alibaba to Amazon.Pls,help me!!!

  159. Thanks alot for the insight. I was planning on starting an import of motorcycle spare parts, but then put them in shop and market from the shop. The market wouldnt be online- but rather, i would hire someone to move around looking for markets, but also use promotional means such as SMS. Please advise. This is in kenya

  160. Hi there,author
    Please teach me on how to do marketing and reach customer.
    Need to be helped on this matter.
    Thanks!

  161. How do younimport your items? Are you getting them shipped directly to your home/place of business or are you picking them up from a seaport or the airport?

  162. Hy I need to start a business selling china stuff, how much must I have to start this business.

  163. Sir i am from india ,i never do this bussiness so i have no knowledge , tell me what product should i import and how to sell in india , what are basic requirment for importing units in india as i have no experince thanks

  164. Thanks for any other informative web site.
    The place else may just I get that kind of info written in such
    an ideal means? I’ve a undertaking that I’m simply now operating
    on, and I’ve been at the glance out for such info.

  165. Great information! I just have one question. Instead of having products shipped to home first before shipping out to amazon, is there a way to have products shipped straight from china warehouse to Amazon warehouse?

    • Hey Ted, yes there is. fbaprep.com is the company you are looking for 🙂

  166. Hi,
    Thanks for the great and very honest article.Would it be possible to provide more information on how to use shopzilla and mysimon.
    I have done a research ,but still do not know what these website are for and how we can use them.
    Thanks a lot.

  167. Can you help me for finding out the product, Also amazon charging 40$ per month is too much for the new people.

    • You need to look at what you would be signing up for. If you are going to sell less than 40 items per month then you won’t need to pay the $40 per month. You would pay 1 Dollar per item. It’s great to start that way.

  168. The best and honest advice I have read about this topic. It is just what I am after and I feel you have given me what is needed to get started. Thank you for sharing and may you be rewarded for your kindness and willingness to help others.

    • Glad the article is helping! Get out there and kick some butt!

  169. Hi Will,

    Is there a link to download your Product Research Workbook v6.5? I was able to download another version but it looked different than the one you were using in one of your webinars. Please let me know and thanks in advance 🙂

    Lizzy

    • startupbros.com/workbook

      That link should work 🙂

      • Thanks for the reply! How am I able to use it though? It only allows me to view.

  170. Hi,

    When it comes to UPC codes when adding products to Amazon, I get confused. Does the supplier provide me with the needed UPC codes? If not how do I find out UPC codes? Please assist, also thanks for the great advice.

  171. Hi your message was very inspiring. Thank you very much, I want to buy product from ebay and sell it back to friends and family I am wondering what is the best product to buy. and sell?

  172. Great article!!! Very informative and easy to follow.. its all about the idea and the branding. Cutting costs and maximizing profits!! I’m giving it a shot… Had a friend selling Yoyo’s.. sold company for 2 million.

    • Haha there is no such thing as a bad product! I know people selling awkward medical supplies!

  173. This is an inspiring article, but my question is this, is it online that one can sell? what if one look for a store, stock the products materials after importing and start to supply and selling in retails to customers? because am about making my first move

    • You can absolutely do that! We have had people sell to hospitals 🙂 It might even be quicker and easier selling in person!

  174. A little confused on the selling on Amazon part. After reading I was just looking around seeing exactly how it would work. I saw popcorn makers were hot right now, so i imagined buying like 10 from alibaba (assume they were perfect), I then want to sell them on amazon, and that’s where I’m confused. It’s $40 a month? And every time I want to sell a different product I have to decide on a whole business name and everything even just to try to sell the samples?

    Thanks!

  175. Is there a link for us to see an example of what you would say to a supplier when inquiring about their product?

  176. Hey i love how you inspire people to buy and sell products! you inspired me and i just have a question, I’m from the Philippines and there is no amazon here, how will I now sell my products? Your reply will be greatly appreciated 🙂

  177. Wow..
    The most sincere “how-to-make-money” article I’ve ever seen online. Quite educative and inspiring.

    Thank you Will.

    • Thank you so much for being awesome! Will was pumped to write it 🙂

  178. Hi man. i’m newbie and i have a question that how can i import my goods from alibaba to my amazon warehouse?Thank you

  179. Is just uploading on amazon enough to sell? or do i also invest in marketing? If yes how and where?!

    Thank you

  180. What if i already have a product and a supplier from China.. but of course i wanna test run it.. i’m based out of India… should i upload the product only on amazon India or amazon USA also and see how that goes.. Do you really think just uploading the product on amazon can give me a realistic approach on wether how good or bad the product is ..
    Is just selling on amazon enough?!
    So i buy 15-20 pcs say for example of a piggy bank.. if it sells out quick.. what next…cause most companies take 2 months to fulfill orders..
    How many pcs would you advise i buy next?!

    Does it make sense i have the goods shipped to india first and then to the respective buyers or do i save a lot if i ship it out directly from China?!

    Eagerly awaiting your feedback

    Thanks much

    • Selling on Amazon is more than enough to figure out if a product is good or not 🙂
      If you’re not sure where to start I have something that will be a HUGE help: https://startupbros.com/import-replay

      If you sell out quick it does not take 2 months to fulfill orders. If you use Amazon FBA then you could ship within 48 hours

  181. Actually, when i first saw you on Google, i was sure it was going to be a: want to read more, buy my very cheap E-book… but you actually threw it all in there. Awesome. I recently pulled away from working for money myself, and have money work for me now, and I can honestly say: most of your ideas are absolutely spot on… and others are just absolutely new ideas to me. So thank you so much for your advice and your openness. Keep on keeping on, brother.

  182. Hi there,

    Thought this was a great article. I’m considering buying off alibaba and selling on ebay/amazon. I am unsure how the branding works though. I have seen a few products on alibaba which are already branded by a company. Would I need to continue to sell the product under their brand, or could I re-brand the product myself?

    Also, if i sell the products under the existing brand, will they take a cut of any profits I make?

    Thank you,

    Mark

  183. Hey,

    So you are saying i go on to alibaba..find an interesting product to sell..order samples (15-20 pcs of any one product ) from alibaba that is ofcourse manufactured in china and have them shipped to india..then make an account on amazon india and sell those 15-20 pcs and ship them out myself and see how well or how quickly do they sell.. and then if they do sell almost immediately, continue buying more pcs from alibaba itself or directly get in touch with the supplier, buy from them , have them ship to india and continue the process until i am selling big quantities and the supplier can himself ship out the goods from china to the respective clients..
    I am absolutely nw to this so help me know if i have understood properly?!
    Thank you

  184. Hello Will,

    Amazing entrepreneur spirit you have and after reading your article, I am more than excited to plunge and try my luck on seeing items online via Amazon.

    2 questions for you:
    1) If your supplier drop ships for you, how are you able to conduct quality control over the products shipped to your customers?

    2) When a customer complains; worse sues you, how do you handle it?

    • Hey Javier, if you are going into this with the idea that someone is going to sue you then you already failed. You cannot predict everything that’s going to happen and someone suing you is very unlikely that I wouldn’t even worry about it. If you plan on using Amazon to sell I would not recommend drop shipping. You need a third party company like FBAPrep.com in order to do the inspections for you. You want to avoid customer complaints by providing excellent customer service.

  185. Awesome post full of useful tips!
    I understand outsourcing products from China already being made, but how do you get packaging for the product with your company name/logo on it? And what about when you’re just testing out a product, selling your samples-should it be packaged showcasing your brand, or just simply in a box or envelope?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Dakota, so getting the logo on your product is as easy as asking the supplier to do it and send you a picture of what it looks like. You don’t need custom packaging to start and you don’t need to show your brand to start. prove that there is a market first.

  186. Do you recommend using “Fulfillment by Amazon”. I can’t remember if you mentioned this. Also, if I find a drop shipper, will they ship everything to Amazon for me, or is this redundant? Apparently Amazon handles the customer service if you choose FBA.

    • Hey Josh, so yes you want to use fulfillment by Amazon. Use FBAprep.com to take the products from china to the US and they will prep and send it to FBA for you.

  187. Hey thanks man for sharing. From Africa hahaha. I miss one part. If I sell my products on Amazon, do I ship the products to Amazon warehouse and Amazon ships directly to customers? Also, what do I need for Amazon, eBay and Craigslist to responsible for customers complain if I see on these sites? Thanks again man for helping out.

    • Hey so you are looking for a third party company like fbaprep.com where they would be the ones to take your products from China and prepare them to be sent to Amazon FBA. Customer complaints need to be handled by you first. But you won’t last very long on Amazon with customer complaints they will quickly suspend your account. There are companies that you can look up to handle feedback you get on your listings.

  188. Hey mate, I’m from australia and I’ve literally just went through so muuuch of what you have described!, I think I’ve also nailed a few products that will sell very well, I’ve also noticed instead of me shipping 50 of one item out of China from Alibaba.com , I can ship say 10 items for FREE on AliExpress, and just pop in several orders as I need them, saved so so much on shipping!. I may not have explained this very well but it’s just a little trick I’ve found to work, just negotiate!. I’d be interested in talking to you more and reading your other articles! Thankyou!

  189. So, to get a sample you are basically buying one to sample not getting them to send you a ‘free’ sample per say. Correct?

    • Yea, exactly. Most people hear the word sample and think free but the way we mean it is to say “small order”. I wouldn’t even say 1 but maybe about 5 to 10 so the shipping costs can make a bit more sense.

  190. What a great article… I have spent over month where to start and trying to kick myself to make a step to selling products online. THANK YOU for sharing your experience. I still dont know what i am going to sell but… i definitely know I want to do it!

    • It helps to start with what you know the most about then what you like! Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be in order to start 🙂 You want to wake up excited to sell!

  191. Hello,

    I found your article extremely helpful but I am curious if the importation process was difficult. I read a suggestion to pay a customs broker, did you have to do this? I am still doing my research. Do you have any insight?

    • Hey Victoria, So a lot of people make the importing process more difficult than it actually needs to be. We use a company called FBAprep.com and they are awesome 🙂 Otherwise when you order on Alibaba just use your suppliers shipping account. They will make sure that it gets to your country and if there is any taxes to pay then you will get a bill when the package gets to your front door. You can ask your supplier how much that will be and choose the best supplier that way. There is never a hidden cost if you talk to your supplier and keep an open line of communication.

  192. Loved your article! Very inspiring. Question for you-I currently live in China and am looking for some way to make profit on Amazon. Do you recommend this model or do you have any other recommendations for Chinese who are looking to export? Thanks!

    • You have a better chance than anyone else to do this business model. You can visit the factories and do the Quality checks yourself. You can select the best products and send them to Amazon FBA in the United States! You have an incredible opportunity being in China.

    • That completely depends but the short answer is yes. You always have to pay duty tax. If you talk to your supplier they would tell you how much it is. Just keep an open line of communication.

  193. Love your blog!!! So helpful for someone like me who is just getting into this kind of business. I was wondering what you think about trying to “pilot” sell your samples to see how well they do?

    • Hey! I would love to know what you mean by pilot selling? I recommend that you order your samples and immediately put them up on Amazon! You can sell them quickly in order to figure out demand for your product.

  194. Thank you for this article. Very informative. My question is when starting out were there specific sellers permits or licenses you need in order to begin buying from suppliers overseas and then selling them where you live. I’m am looking to get into this business and i do want to start out on the right foot and have all licenses and permits needed to conduct business legalling.

    • Hey Crystal

      https://startupbros.com/ecommerce-workshop/
      Check out out next workshop! We cover everything you need to know 🙂 You do not need seller permits or licences to get started. You are just buying products from a website and selling on Amazon totally legal 🙂

  195. Very interesting article, thank you. Can you explain what you mean by illegal. I have a great selling product, I bought it on Alibaba and have found out that it is a copy of a product which has a patent in the US, Europe, China and Japan. There is no patent in my country. So can I sell the copy product under my own brand?

  196. Is it safe to sell branded items in AliExpress? I feel like they are the most legit and easiest ones to find.

  197. Hi Will, hope you’re well. I’ve recently launched an online pet business which imports good from China. I would love to chat to you about how best to grow this business now. Thanks, Tom

  198. Hi Will thank you for writing this. It is a great article and I’m going to read your other ones. You are an inspiration to me to try this. Thanks for wanting to help me and so many other people with your valuable information.

  199. Hi Will,
    Don’t you think this is getting a little saturated? It’s very tough to come up with a product that has little to no competition these days. Almost every product you can think of is sold by numerous competitors, who have been around for a long period of time…

    • No way. Most people on the planet are not even on the internet. Every single day someone new is on the internet and every single day someone gets more money they want to spend. There are millions of potential products to choose from and sometimes you just have to try a few before one sticks.

    • Hey, I will pass on the comment to Will! I know he will be excited that you found the article useful!

  200. hi , thanks for all the valualble tips to start off new bussines ,
    my question is “how to collect the money from the clients.”?
    i barley know about ebay , open account , then to have bank account
    with credit cardholder and paypal , to accept the client transaction
    could you please descripe it in details .
    after i confirm the product is it better have the manufacture ship it to the clients or i order it to post office and i ship it to the clients?
    lebanese but i live in kuwait .
    thanks;..

  201. Thank you for this article. I am new to this, but really want to learn. I am hoping to get a little more training before diving in. I am a little nervous about picking the wrong product as I don’t have a lot of cash to invest. What do you feel is the minimal amount I would need to start?

  202. Hy Will Mitchell,
    It’s great. it’s very useful and attractive tips to Make Money by Importing From China. E-Commerce Empire Roadmap is the best option.
    Thanks for sharing this information

    • Thank you for reaching out and reading the article 🙂

  203. Really cool article :). I am from Cape Town, South Africa. My dad owns a hardware store and I’ve been encouraging him to start purchasing direct from suppliers in China as things are much cheaper.

    I know his competitor is doing it in the bicycle spares space and with great success. The location where the store is trading is lower to middle class people where price is the only factor. Quality is not important for them.

  204. Hi it’s very inspritional for me.i am a mother who wants try buy things maybe from china but don’t have a lot of money.i am blind of technology and internet.can you help me.by giving free tutorial how to import things and being enterpreneur.thank u

  205. Mr. Will Mitchell!
    This is really a cool stuff and a very good effort, i really appreciate. Can I please have your e-mail to disuses in more some extra ordinary ideas.

    Regards
    Muhammad Bilal

  206. hi , I have been on sites looking to what product will be best to resell in my country . I am still doing research on the best product and that when I came across your article and I took every note I could to help.
    I am planning to start slow and see how I go I see so far that the demand of counterfeits are very big back in my country and I tell you it is crazy money .So far I see its Jewelry,shoes,phones,phone accessorizes,beauty products..

    • When the packages come to your door you get a bill and can pay the fees online.

  207. Hello Will !
    I just read this fantastic article ! It was mind blowing hah 😀 . I have one question and I’ll really thankful if you can help me . So I’m living in Central Europe , Hungary . If I buy 500 pieces of scissors and I sell it on eBay one by one , do I have to get the whole pieces or have some way to sell them from China ?
    Sorry for the bad writing I’m trying to be perfect in English .

    • Hey! I would recommend receiving the products before selling them!

  208. Hi! Great help that was, thankyou!! Am I allowed to use images from aliexpress on eBay? I don’t find my own pictures to be anywhere near as good. Thanks

    • Hey Zoe, yes you can. As long as they are not branded photos you can. Also you can ask your supplier for some pictures and they would not mind helping you out normally.

  209. What are key components I should write in my email to get a higher chance of a response

    • Just be completely up front and honest with your emails. Tell them what you are looking for and how much you would like to pay and they are normally receptive to that.

  210. How refreshing, you simply give out a wealth of information freely. I kept waiting for the typical pop up ad for the pitch to buy the info. Thank you

  211. very helpful and encouraging, I was just searching for ideas on how to start my business.

  212. What if you are only selling through Amazon? What if your product doesn’t match a current listing? Do you add a new listing, and if so what will the brand be? Does this mean you start private labeling right away?

  213. What should i expect to pay for shipping for free samples? Each company ive contacted said they would send free samples for $40 shipping. Is this what many of you have ran into? Also, do you give out your phone number when they ask for it?

    • Hey Tony remember samples don’t always mean free. Samples mean a small order. And if you have someone willing to send you samples with a 40 dollar shipping, I think that is a great deal that you should jump on. That is the lowest you should expect shipping to be from a large volume supplier.

  214. I just wanted to say how fascinating this article is. I have been contemplating doing this for over 5 years now but not persued it. After reading this i feel ready to take the next step. Just need to source the right product for the uk market. Any advice or support would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Mark! In what kind of products you are interested in? I have just recently returned from Southeast Asia, spent over 120 days to do research of different markets (Visited 6 countries) and to lookup products what could have sales potential in Europe. Furniture, design elements, fabrics, different ingredients for manufacturing, foods etc. I was concentrating on 2 things – uniqueness or very low purchasing price. My conclusions – it is not easy to get low prices for products who are already being sold in EU, and if you go for new & previously unseen products, you will be taking a risk. Also market can suddenly change, product might not be demanded anymore. Always be sure about your sales channels.

      I am originally from Riga, Latvia. Maybe we can do some trade in future, as sometimes I might need some products made in UK, or some other manufacturers in my region might be willing to reach the new markets. Most of the case you can get a very low purchasing price, when they are expand their sales! Feel free to write me here or send me direct message to – [email protected]

  215. Hi Will. This article was brilliant. Kept it simple and easy to understand. I have read others and was left scratching my head. I love the blow by blow way you have done it. I am a beginner and understood all of what you said. Am looking forward to more…. 🙂 I’m in Australia and would love to brainstorm with other Aussies if you’re out there.

    • Hi Donna , agree great article, also from Australia and also new to this (e-commerce) and see great potential in e-commerce if we have the right structure and sell the right products, Johnny

    • Hi Donna another eager Aussie beginner here too. Would love to brainstorm ideas on building the right e-business model.

      • Hi Donna, yet another Aussie looking at the possibility of starting an e-business as a second income leading into retirement in 10 years or so. If you want another person to brainstorm with let me know.

    • Hi Donna it is a great article.
      I to would love to brainstorm ideas with you to.

    • I’m glad that we can help you out! Don’t be a stranger okay 🙂 Keep in touch!

  216. Great article with terrific advice. I read through the whole thing, expecting to be pitched on something you have to sell me, but I never came across it, just a reference to another site and a radio button advertising a webinar (which I registered for). Very tasteful.

    I might add that your fatal error (which I’m sure you realize) was depending on a single product. That’s like depending on one boss on a J.O.B. You were at the mercy of just one mishap, and it (mis)happened. I will take your advice and fly with it, and I will add new products as the previous ones become successful. You may already be doing that.

    • Hi,

      Loved this article! I have started on this too! Would be amazing if you could advise me on a few things? Would be great if you could get in touch

  217. love you. thanks for all these info. hopefully i can make an income with this. i am already waiting for my first product samples. the shipping is quite expensive thought.example 10 sports bra would cost 29 US dollars for shipping…anyway you are such an inspiration and a huge motivation for me…

    • just so you know 29 dollars us for shipping is not expensive. The idea is to find products that you can have a profit after shipping.

    • Hey Cara, you always have to pay taxes. You are a sole proprietor right now but even as a sole proprietor you should pay taxes.

  218. Hello Will. Thank you for all the info and experiences that you shared with readers. I am absolutely new to the world of business model and having already a few items in mind to import and sell on amazon and EBay. Now my question is that if it happened to you that a manufacturer lowered the quality of the products that you already ordered from them and were satisfied with them?. Thank you so much

    • You are allowed to return bad products and the supplier has to accept the refund. The reason why you make small orders is to confirm quality. Suppliers won’t normally change quality mid shipment.

  219. this is the best article i had read till now about how to choose product to sell on amazon .thanks man. it means a lot to me. i was frustrated too searching for items ,but now u gave me new ideas to work on.

    • Hey Anshul,

      Thank you so much for reaching out. Just keep hustling and take action!

  220. Really helpfull, thanks a lot 🙂

    I’m starting and i do have a problem finding a good niche, any suggestions? thanks man

  221. Wow, what a truly helpful and interesting article (or should I say guide). I have been thinking of getting into this e-commerce business for some time and just had no idea how to actually get started. Thank you for this wondedul guide!

  222. Hi, I’ve never bought and resold items before and I’m wondering if anyone could give advice on buying from the US and shipping To China instead of from. Like, where can I find consumers from beside Amazon, EBay, etc. Thank you!

  223. I want to start importing and selling locally here, in Korea. Any recommendations on products? The market is already full with local re-sellers who have the size and funds advantage, so I need to find something in the “niche’ category.

  224. I was wondering…do you receive the samples at home and dispatch from there, and then use FBA for the 2nd order and all bigger orders after that?

    • Hey Nicos, I think you should always get the smaller orders and send them to your house. Once you confirm that the quality is good then you can begin to use a company like FBAprep.com to take your products from China to the United States.

  225. Hi, Will, how would you settle the payment with Chinese store owner on Alibaba? RMB or US Dollar? Thanks

  226. Did I miss something? Or did he say he lost everything at the end? So why should I follow this plan again?

  227. I have a question, I’ve been looking on the site allibabba and noticed when I request a sample they want anywhere from $25 to $100 just for shipping! Is that normal? We are talking small items here.
    Thanks!

    • I have the same problem. Trying to get them to drop shipping prices is very difficult. Keep in mind that the box they are sending is probably 10+ items, and costs are much higher for oversize and heavy freight. I did some quick rates from international couriers and the estimates go as high as $250. He didn’t do a great job of explaining what to expect for shipping. Costs obviously get more efficient with larger shipments, but you can definitely expect to pay through the nose for your initial sample shipment.

      • i also want to ask this questions, yesterday i paid $29 for shipping, for 10 pieces of joggers. i think it’s too dare..is there any other option that’s cheaper when it comes to shipping?

    • Hey Jessica, yes you have to always pay for shipping. These are large suppliers and it’s expensive to ship small orders. $25 to $100 dollars is perfect for shipping. You shouldn’t expect to pay more or pay less.

  228. You sell counterfeit goods which will get U.S. sellers arrested and they will have to forfeit all their assets to cover the profits. Stop with your bullshit.

  229. This gives me so much inspiration! I just got two questions. What about buying branded products (i’m thinking about smartwatches) and selling them for a cheaper price than the brand does? Is this legal? And what about pictures you use in the information tab? Do you need to ask permission from the brand to use pictures from the product? Thank you!

    • yeah actually you can do that and its legal too.u can buy a samsung phone from a shop at a lower price as compared to a authorised samsung showroom.

    • Hey Lodi, That is technically illegal. You can’t buy something branded with the idea of undercutting the market of branded products. You cannot sell under someone elses brand. But you can buy similar products that do not have a brand and sell them. That is completely legal.

  230. And best of all, I didn’t even have to touch the product – my supplier even handled all shipping & returns… how did you manage this? How your supplier and you knew if there was a new order? How did you dealt with payments?

  231. i always read this article and it helps me a lot. now i have my own online store because of this, my small money turn out to be big and it keeps me going.. i won’t stop till my dream become reality.. thank you

  232. Hi Will. Great article and inspired me to finally take action on something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ve set up my store website, researched some products in the market area I want to specialise in, and I’ve also applied to register as a sole trader with HMRC. I know you’re in the US, and I am in the UK, but I’m assuming the tax returns still have to be done. How did/do you handle your accounting?

  233. im looking for a supplier for the electronics items specially the web cams, where can i find the suppliers from?