At least half of the questions readers send me go something like this…

“I’ve been struggling to find a product for weeks now. Can you help me? How do you find products that make you money? Why can’t I find any profitable products!?”

And MY GOD! It’s getting old…

There’s nothing I hate more than seeing a recurring question come up. That means I’ve failed to answer something.

Luckily, I finally nailed the common thread in all the frustration.

This blog post will answer “Why can’t I find a good product to import” once and for all.

I'm Going To End This Once And For All Sparta Leonidas Meme

The Common Problem

After answering several hundred emails along those lines, I think I’ve discovered the common problem would-be importers are having.

They’re all looking for a silver-bullet product that does the work for them.

Let me explain…

Many people are still in the “get-rich-quick” phase of their entrepreneurial careers.

Apply that mentality to importing, and you get people that try to play the arbitrage game.

Arbitrage is simply buying something for less than you are selling it for.

Arbitrage products are goldmines; they have great margins and basically sell themselves…

And you can make money with arbitrage products.

For a while…

Your margin is my opportunity. – Jeff Bezos

It’s only a matter of (increasingly spare) time before a big player uncovers your goldmine, and eats it up for themselves.

This is the sad state of importing today, years after the “wild-west-ecommerce” days of 1995-2005.

Any Hope?

This is surely bad news to anybody in that mindset.

Is there any hope left for small time importers? The kind that are just getting started, with little capital to invest…

Spoiler alert – There is!

But it’s going to require a shift in your mindset and how you think about importing.

What Makes a Product Good?

Sure, you want your product to have healthy margins. Great margins even.

And yea, it would be good if it was easy to ship, reliable, had a factory warranty. Sure, all of that is a plus for any product.

But none of that is going to make your product sell over a competitor who will take slimmer margins.

The Right Questions

Most people waste weeks (if not months) of their time looking for a miracle product that will build their business for them.

They are asking themselves the wrong questions, and looking at things from the wrong angle.

What you need to be thinking about is the other side of the transaction…

How are you going to sell your products?

Why would somebody buy your product over the competitors?

How will you acquire and retain customers in a cost-effective way?

These are the questions you should be thinking about while doing product research.

Bubble-Burster: This Is Business…

Many people seem to have the impression that importing is a quick road to easy riches…

It’s not.

It’s a business, like any other.

There’s a lot of things to worry about when starting a business. But when thinking about what you’re going to sell and how you’re going to sell it, you need to think about competitive advantage.

Competitive Advantage Cheat-sheet

You need some sort of competitive advantage that nobody can steal from you.

This means new importers have to focus on a few things.

Advantage 1  – Your Brand

Building a brand that your target customer loves is a sure-fire way to keep an edge on the competition.

In fact, building a good enough brand will even allow you to charge a premium price.

The examples here are endless…

Practically every “counterfeit” you can buy from China is a company that can charge a premium because their brand is so valuable.

Another example I often use is my friend Kevin Schlenker, who built the Skar Audio brand around his importing activities.

The only thing to make sure of if you take this route is to register your trademark.

Advantage 2 – Your Product

Another place you can provide value in ways nobody else can is the product itself.

I’d encourage any importer to really get to know his target customer, and then try to build in new product features that will make the target customer’s life better.

Small things can go a long way here. For some products, something as small as a color change can make a world of difference.

Sometimes, you’ll have to negotiate with your supplier directly and see what’s possible. You’ll be limited by his capabilities, your budget, and your imagination.

And of course, you could always go all out and create your own product. But I’ll save that for another blog post ๐Ÿ™‚

Advantage 3 – Your Marketing

Simply put, if you can build an audience and a sales funnel; you can pretty much sell whatever you want.

Example – I was just talking the other day with somebody who built a lead-machine for the baby niche.

Before he had anything to sell, or any desire to make money off of it, he just decided to build a few websites and try to get “hot baby leads” (as he calls them).

Now he is out shopping for baby products, knowing that he can sell anything he chooses.

He hasn’t decided if he will start his own brand, begin drop shipping, or get into affiliate marketing. But no matter what he chooses, I’m confident he’ll make money ๐Ÿ™‚

Advantage 4 – Your Capital

This won’t apply for many people reading this article.

It actually applies more to the guys you want to avoid in importing. Or beat!

It’s definitely possible to spend your way to the top in importing.

Somebody with deep pockets can quickly negotiate the best prices with the best suppliers. They can also afford to set up a more efficient distribution system.

Luckily, they’re easily defeated with the other competitive advantages (usually).

Advantage 5 – Your Contacts

Your network of contacts can also be a big competitive advantage.

This applies everywhere in business, but perhaps even more in importing. Personal relationships play a huge role in Asian (especially Chinese) culture.

If a Chinese factory owner likes you, you get the friend discount and best quality.

If they don’t like you, you get scammed.

It’s just the way it is…

The relationships you don’t think of are often the ones with the most potential.

Do you have a friend who was put in charge of buying 250 pool chairs? I’d look into pool chairs…

Does your Dad work at a company that uses a limitless supply of zip-ties and box cutters? Try to find out what they’re paying and pitch them otherwise.

Relationships like this can be solid gold.

It’s Tough Work

Any way you spin it, importing is a tough gig.

It’s a lot of fun, and has tons of potential.

But it’s far from a “get-rich-quick” solution.

I hope this guide helps to clarify what really makes a product profitable.

If you have any questions or want to be an awesome person, leave a comment below.

I’ll be sure to respond!

Additional Resources:

The Ultimate Guide to Learn How to Sell on Amazon


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!

189 comments add your comment

  1. Great post to make a person aware of the import services. The issues to find a good product is very common for import business and many factors affect a product value like margin, reliability, warranty. Also, you have shared some of the competitive advantage points for which I completely agree. Thanks for the information.

  2. I blog quite often and I truly appreciate yokur information. This article has really peaked my interest.
    I will book mark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week.
    I opted in ffor your Feed as well.

  3. There are a lot of issues in importing goods. Having a good partner in logistics and freight will lessen your fears in handling the products.

  4. If you have any questions or want to be an awesome person, leave a comment below.
    Iโ€™ll be sure to respond!

    Lol. I do not see one response from Will

  5. Thanks for the article. I have a question regarding price. What kind of prices should we look for when importing from China? Thanks!

  6. Hi hope you well I live in South Africa and myself and my wife were looking into importing something from China Germany anywhere do you have any ideas for us for a start

  7. This article is very useful and helpful, I just started my online store and the details I am getting about choosing product and talking to suppliers is just what I need. Such useful advice. I am just curious bto know is there an article on your site about how to send payments to suppliers where you don’t get ripped off? Thanks
    Also I signed up for the webinar Nov 23rd this Monday I am going to miss it I work a full time job but wondering if there will be a replay?

    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Glad to have found you. I am enjoying your posts and wealth of info. I was all excited until I read this one. I guess because I want it to be easy! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  9. Looking forward to your webinar tomorrow night, one question, when I tried to join ALIBABA,it said you have to have a reg. company, is there a way around that?

  10. What is the next step in figuring out importing fees if you’ve selected a product you want to import? I already know how much it costs to buy and sell on Amazon/eBay, just wondering what are the best next steps.


  11. Hey Will !
    Awesome posts, been readin ya for the past few days, and I’m about to make the leap of faith ๐Ÿ™‚
    Question about shipping: when you order goods, would you consider letting the supplier handle the shipping, or should I definitely undertake that process myself? If so, how does it work? They give me their address > I order the shipping service?
    Thanks and looking forward to hearin from ya!

    • Depends on your size of shipment, there are a couple of options
      1. Airfreight-You will need to book with a forwarding agent in China to handle your shipment, then have someone in US to clear your shipment (someone like me ๐Ÿ™‚
      2. Express (UPS/DHL/Fedex) – Your supplier should be able to handle it for you, or you can try to find an agent who might offer a cheaper price.
      3. Ocean freight – This option is normally for importers who order more items that can save them money on shipping, same with airfreight, an agent in China will book for you, a broker here will clear imports for you and arrange delivery if you need.
      I am a licensed customs broker so I can help arrange all of this if needed.

  12. Hi Will!
    Im 13 and im really into things like dirt bikes and quads and I’ve been wanting to get into motocross but have no money whatsoever. I wanted to start importing to make some cash even though I know it won’t stack up as fast as I thought it would but im worried, I don’t know exactly what to do. I am quite the businessman in my family but not online and I want to start but I don’t have much a clue what to do. A detailed walk through with pictures and examples would help or just a walk through through email or something? Sorry I’m asking a lot it’s just im new so I have a lot of dumb questions. Thank you, jayce

  13. I am still unsure how to customize my products with my suppliers! How do you do this and also when will a blog post come out so we can learn how to design our own products? Sounds awesome! Thanks!

  14. Hey, Will! Aye buddy I have been a fan of yours for a long time now and come to find out you have affiliation with Orlando! I live in Orlando, thats awesome! Hope all is well with you buddy.

  15. Hi Will,
    Thnks for this blog. Iam from india and planning to start import biz from china. I am doing research for last 3 months to understand this business. Your blog has given me some ideas to start the business.
    I think getting a good party in china is a big reviews are not so got fearful to bring stocks via this website. Is there any other site to buy product.

    • biz? you mean “big” right?
      i though there is so many trusted suplier in alibaba. for “big” deal just seek for supplier that come with trade assurance, you’ll get lower price if you buying things in bulk. what kind of things are you looking for, maybe i could find some reference for you.
      I planed to visit shenzhen in october, i’m about to make preety big deal with one of supplier that i found in alibaba. i need to make sure about their factory’s credibility, product warranty, after sales service, etc.
      trust me once you’ve found the right supplier on alibaba you’ll get best price offer from them.

  16. I love your every post a lot. Very usefull post. I’ll buy you a glass of beer if you are here ๐Ÿ˜€
    Thanks for sharing Will.

  17. Wow, my mind is overloaded with info, but I’m so grateful to come across this site. So… newbie here and I have a few questions 1. in a nutshell if you were to create a business card what would it say? lol. 2. how do you describe your business to your friends? 3. What would you say you would need as an average amount to get started on a shoe-string budget? Thanks to all for your expertise and guidance ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. So I have been just getting into alibaba and dhgate are those a waste of my time . I have found something that is an pretty untapt market . I’ve only found really one company in China that is doing it and in Washington state it would be a huge deal . Because of the legality of marijuana . I just am having a hard time believing it hasn’t been tapped yet . so my product is legit . or that product I’m importing is . and every body that has seen it has to have it . please email me I’m really inexperienced in this and I know I have found something huge .

  19. my brain is swimming in the deepest of the ‘analysis paralysis’ waters right now… FARK!

  20. I have a dump question why i only see the top 100 ranking products on amazon i mean how to find products that have ranking higher than a 100 lets say 1500 i think it will would be much easier for me to find a niche there …

  21. Hi my name is Bilal Hassen. I saw your YouTube video on importing and heard you mention Amazon FBA. You mentioned that utilizing FBA,you can sell products without having to touch your merchandise. My only concern is making sure that the shipment I ordered from China arrived OK. In other words, how can I make sure that my shipment didn’t arrive undamaged and that I received what I ordered BEFORE I have it forwarded to an Amazon fulfillment Center?

  22. Thank you for all the great (and even better free!) info. It was just what I needed to push me in the right direction. In one of your YouTube videos you guys were using a spread sheet to calculate landed costs which was said would be put up for us on your site. Is that available anywhere? I don’t see it and if not I will just make one of my own….

    Thanks again for everything!


  23. Wow….lots of posts on this thread, Will.
    Exactly how old is this post? Lol
    I’m just kidding, some really good content on here Will.
    Anyways, everytime I think I have a new idea, I then Google it only to find out that my awesome idea has already been invented just a few months prior. So my BIG question is…..Can I legally take a known patent and find a manufacturer in China or India and make minor adjustments to it and resell it on Amazon?
    Sourcing is daunting enough, please give me some good news Will!!!
    Thanks man, loving your blog. =)

  24. Hi.
    I have a great patented jewelry organizer. Any size of chains, necklaces, bracelets can be secured without ever being tangled. It has place for every type of jewelry. In case of natural disaster such as fire, flood etc. you can take and live in a matter of seconds. From opening and mixing and matching and closing takes about 30 seconds. Everything is plain view. The question is how the people will learn about this benefit and get it instead of those cheap, bulky furniture so called “Jewelry organizer”

    • I’m starting my own import/export company can you tell me a little more about your product????

  25. Will Mitchell You are awesome

    Read all your post regarding amazon and importing, I think your posts have more value than some courses which claim $XXX-XXXX

    I am from China and I want to sell stuff on amazon (why I found ur great blog) but no idea which product is good.

  26. Will
    Wanted to say Thank you for all the powerful information you have on your website. It is mind boggling for someone new to the market, but it is also Awesome. Thank you again

  27. Hi Will, Thanks for share your thoughts, I think the same way but it is good to confirm that I am right !

  28. Hi,

    Is there a service that help us to re-brand the product? If we order some good from China How to put our own logo to the product? I think some factory there don’t have the service. Can you suggest some website to help us brand our product package?

    Thank you for your help.

  29. What are the steps for getting samples from china? Do you ask for several samples or just one? How do you go about paying for shipping on samples? Is this the same process as if you are ordering bulk? Thank you for your help.

  30. hi will ,

    thanks for all that useful info,
    i would like to start up as importing body building supplement and selling as well, nut in my country there are a few two to shop which are selling the same brand almost 90% of the same item im about to import so how can i compete with them, please comments thanks


  31. Thank you for your information, I find it to be very straight forward and helpful.

  32. hey,you’ve got an amazing site there!
    i am a 16 year old girl who is planning to import first hand copies from china . seeing the demand in india ,i think it could really work out .i am not only restricting my business to hand bags but i will also deal in accessories and stoles etc. what do you think , will this idea of mine work out?i am planning to supply these to online websites like jabong, amazon , flipkart, and snapdeal aswell !

  33. Hey WILL love your articles!

    Anyway, I am looking at ways to market/gain an audience for my product. It has fit all the requisites which you have laid out, such as price and profit margin. However, I have not gain ONE buy in the last two months. At least I just imported a few samples (thanks for the advice on that) I am thinking of whether to quit the idea or perhaps start focusing on selling only through face-to-face contact such as local flea markets, though I was hoping to work primarily through online selling. If you have any suggestions please send them my way. Best. JM

  34. Just wanted to thank you. Your content is so good. I am blown away every time by the quality. I read a lot of books, but your content beats many of them. And they are all selling for 19,99, minimum. I am sure that, you are keeping away a lot of people from frustrating and wasting there time on problems.

    Greetings from Germany

  35. Oh, My god. this blog is so helpful, thank you @Will Mitchell(not sure if remind you).
    I have some would-be importers keep asking the questions exactly you have listed, which is really a collection.
    And of course you have a very clear and rational answers which I can not agree more, but I would like add another point which I think is more important, your INTEREST(of course not only the money), the thing you are willing to do 7days a week without any complain.
    Like for me, I love international trade, so I can work at least 10hours a day. And try to learn how to make it better such as study your blog, you know what, In CHAINA, many websites and blocked includes yours. But I got here finally. This is because of the desire.

  36. Oh, so glad you talked on this topic, thank you very much @Will Mitchell
    I have many would-be importers asking me exactly the questions you have listed, and some ask questions like What other importers import from you? Do you/they make a good money? … …
    Yes, yes. The key points you have also listed. But I am willing to add one more concern which is your INTEREST(of course not money), the thing you are willing to do 7days a week and not complaining.

    • Oh, My god. this blog is so helpful, thank you @Will Mitchell(not sure if remind you).
      I have some would-be importers keep asking the questions exactly you have listed, which is really a collection.
      And of course you have a very clear and rational answers which I can not agree more, but I would like add another point which I think is more important, your INTEREST(of course not only the money), the thing you are willing to do 7days a week without any complain.
      Like for me, I love international trade, so I can work at least 10hours a day. And try to learn how to make it better such as study your blog, you know what, In CHAINA, many websites and blocked includes yours. But I got here finally. This is because of the desire.

  37. So with my father and grandfather already established as italian wine and coffee importers i hope to use their distribution channels and contacts while i find something in italy that my busienss partner and i can try to import. i feel that i am being lazy by just searching online but have no way of getting to italy to start my search. am i missing an avenue for searching for my first product?

  38. Can you elaborate by HOW one generates a “lead-machine” in the baby niche? Doesn’t have to be this particular niche but is this mostly content generation and getting people to sign up for your email list?

  39. Hmmmmmm not in my experience. You try “creating a brand” in a niche that is profitable. It is as likely as finding the “silver bullet” product that is going to sell itself. OEM is expensive and very hard to do thousands of miles away over skype. Either take your products to China, India or wherever and stay there whilst it is developed, or look for a homegrown manufacturer. There is no guarantee with a Chinese manufacturer that what you agree on will be what is made and sent to you.
    Again, very few genuine factories/companies actually take paypal or escrow as there are plenty of scammers who order then get charge back. This is not the way to suss out scammers. The truth is the only way is to get your sample.
    To have a chance of success copy something that works and add your own “flavour”. Make sure that change is simple and inexpensive to work out, (how about a large power button on the tablet you sell). Adding your own brand logo will not be too expensive. You will have to order quite a few items though so don’t think success can come on the cheap BECAUSE IT SURELY WONT!!!

  40. Wow nice article, i am from india, i am planning to stat my business with in one month time but the difficulty i am finding is import licence. an import licence is needed to import products from china. so i stated serching for indian suppliers but that cost a little bit more to me.

  41. ive been looking for about a month now and for me i feel that sports nutrition and supplements would be a good way to go, with one particular product i found having a higher protein value than most which is the main thing people purchase the product for so i guess that would be my USP/competitive advantage. Do you think this is a good idea, or should i steer clear of consumables? also i feel that with consumables people are loyal to a particular brand and may not trust the product i would be selling as it is an unknown brand name, is the market too competitive and with too many established brand names do you think?

  42. Dear Will

    I have prepared an online store and really want to have my own business but i do not know which product should i buy and sell it online.
    i am from iran there is little online stores that works perfectly such as and
    my biggest concern is about shipping cost that it is high for cheap products and expensive products needs high investment.
    i find your website useful. Im trying to read your articles but i think you can help me in this regard. can you please advise me?

    Saeid Bahadori

  43. Sorry for being one of the annoying ones with a generic question. I have one sample shipping in now that I got for free & talking to another supplier right now for another sample. And I did its It all on my own, well and your blog helped too.

    Thanks, Brandon

  44. Hello Will,
    When will be the next webinar? I’m attended the webinar last night 4a.m (Malaysia) but fell asleep at the middle of the webinar.

  45. That was great and educating.
    Please kindly show me 1 or 2 geniune companies to import from. How can one import without spending too much.
    Thanks for your responds

  46. Hi Will, interesting piece, thank you.

    Just curious, what kind of numbers are to be expected on a monthly income on the average product, and over what time does it take to come in?



  47. Ok, here is what I don’t get.

    How does the money = time spent shipping, customer service, returns, etc. work out to your benefit when each order is only a small marginal profit? If I’m spending all day boxing and shipping product as well as on my laptop, I might as well have a W2 job with benefits and no risk. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Is the goal a market test to eventually move into a drop ship situation? Or I could see if you selected a product in the higher price zone as well as have a decent margin to not eat up all your time dealing with fulfilling 1000 tiny orders.

    Am I missing something here?

  48. Hello sir,
    You are so intelligent thanks for your ideas. Can you say something about business related to tours and travels. Also am from India. Regards

  49. Hey Will! I was just googling around about importing from China when I found this site and well… It has been 6 hours since then and school starts way too soon for me to be getting enough sleep tonight… ๐Ÿ˜€ I really love the site!
    Since most jobs (even those just for the summer) either require specific educations or lots of working experience since before I thought I might as well do something funnier, and something I can learn a lot from during the summer (and continue with when i’ll start studying at the university this autumn). I have some thoughts about a few products worth trying out and will contact quite a few manufacturers tomorrow. But I have a few questions. First of all, is it worth selling something that is (almost) season specific? If my main focus is to get a certain product to the swedish market and that item is “for” summer, is it still worth going for despite the short summer (like 2 months, thi specific item may be of use for about 4)? I ask this not only to inquire about if you can make money, but also what will be best for ME in order to A: Learn about all this, B: keep business going (I could focus on a few year round products related to the other one) and “make a name”. Making a huge amount of money isnt the most important aspect, but I dont want to work “to much” and get nothing, which I probably wont have to after following your guides. Id love to get an answer ASAP since I am eager to get going. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, I hope my English makes sense, Ive been getting some bad feedback from my teachers lately….

  50. Dude, loved your posts. keep up the good work!
    here is a question, what would you do if you were in a country where ebay and ebay like web sites don’t exist? where online shopping is not as common and you have to sell in a more conventional methods! somewhere like IRAN ? love to hear your thoughts

  51. Hey Will,

    Hope all is well. Great post. I think a lot of this applies to selling any product online. I’ll be sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. Hi Will,

    Me and a mate have been considering starting a importing business in New Zealand. Unfortunately, we do not have a big online sales store, the best we have is a much smaller website called Trademe. If we were to start selling products, we wouldnt know much about where to sell them to, and your advice would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Joel,
      What type of products are you wanting to sell?. is a consumer classifieds site which is probably not the best in the long run as it also sells second hand things. You could however test your product on there. Firstly check the number of people who are searching for your product in NZ on the net. Use google and bing keyword tool. If no one is searching, the internet is not the place to sell. If a lot of people are the internet will help. From the suggested keyword bid price you will also get an idea of the seriousness of the competition for those products.
      Good luck

  53. How do you deal with the frustration of searching for a product and you come across similar products with one priced at $35.00 per piece and the othe at $0.25 per piece. Sometimes both are from the same supplier.

    • If you are using Alibaba suppliers they are lying just to get your response and then will try to switch you to other products or the price will be different, etc!

      • Thanks, I was wondering about the 50 adds for the same products at various prices.
        I guess the Chinese are really masters of spam.
        Is it better to just completely avoid these kinds of suppliers altogether or is it still possible to negotiate a good price from them in you experience? Even if they have like 8 years gold account, with everything verified.

        On an unrelated note: My first comment! ๐Ÿ˜€ You guys at Startupbros are awesome and Im incredibly glad I found this site when I decided to try importing a product. So much info in one place its amazing!

        • I would NOT give up if you think you can sell the products [s] but, I would get samples 1st! If you need REAL assistance/help I’m in Guangzhou! My wife is Chinese and my student/her good friend works for Alibaba here!

  54. Hi,

    I have a silly question: What kind of money is everybody starting with?

    The reason I ask is this: I have the perfect product, it sells constantly on ebay and I already know who made it and got a *great* price from the manufacturer. But my issue is that in order to take advantage of the great quantity price, I’d need to order a 40′ container. I am not doubtful that they will sell and I have already worked out the logistics, but I really wish there was a way to borrow money for your first order while using that order as collateral.
    Does anyone know of anything like this?


    Quantella Owens

  55. Hi Pepe,
    Well there are 2 types of products we sell. One is what I would call the once off, the customer buys something that is not a consumable and that is it. There you will hardly ever get multiple sales. eg a pallet jack. The other types are things that get used all the time such as adhesive tape. Price and ease of purchase are what makes a customer loyal. If its a made to order product they are also more loyal. On average we find each customer will only buy 1.5x with about 10% being loyal for 5 yrs or more.
    If it is an evergreen product such as tape you will always sell it if your price is ok. On the specialist tapes its even better. eg tamper evident transfer tape of which there are various grades. They are needed for air freight and the cheapest one sells best. We do not sell on ebay or amazon as the Fรผhrer does not believe in them for b2b. He is both correct and wrong in this. On a b2c biusiness go for quality. eg in the US there is someone selling hot water bottles on Amazon from Germany for $18-24 each!! and its a best seller; the make is Fashy. It may be slightly seasonal but its life cycle will be long. Not a bad price for 330g of PVC. If you can identify say 20 products like this and source them you will be able to build a reliable money spinner. You will however probably have to invest $5-10,000. Remember Amazon/ebay cost about 12% or more.
    Ultimately it will also make sense to have your own simple webshop as Amazon does compare prices. Customers who have bought from your own shop will be more loyal. Amazon is perhaps now also competing against its own customers on certain products so using them in the end is only building up their business and their knowledge of your business. Intelligent buyers will find a product on amazon and then go to the website of the seller if he has one.
    We find that the loyalest customers are the biggest ones who have complicated accounting packages such as SAP or Dynamics AX. It is such a hassle to put a new supplier into the sytem that once you are there they will quite often not bother to look for another one. This is of course for small purchases that they make up to $1,000 per purchase.
    Looking for new niches will always be a good idea and as an individual you can concentrate more on 1 product than say a big wholesaler can. (We have that problem).

  56. Hi Will, great contents, thanks for sharing.
    I have a question for you, hope you can reply. In your experience, what would be the average life of your product? I am referring to its “life cycle”. Since you find it, and you start selling it…for how long will you be exploiting that business? I have got the feeling that it would be e relatively short period of time. By the time new sellers take over with lower prices or simply all the possible interested customers are satisfied, you will have to find a new niche and product to work on. Am I right?
    Thanks for your time

  57. Finding good products to import is difficult if the volumes are small. I will give an example. We are a wholesaler in Germany and it is far cheaper for us to buy the cheapest forms of pig skin gloves (which is not our core business) from another importer who imports them from China. (who is a competitior in that field) The reason is simple, he imports 20 containers of that product a year and also guarantees the quality. Quality from China is quite often an issue if you do not have a person or agent there.
    Try to find a big importer where you are and buy from him. It will also save transit times on the goods.
    In b2c the best products are the expensive, branded quality ones. If you are wishing to import from say Germany you will need someone there to arrange things for you in that you will need someone who can buy from the manufacturers there. The same applies to a great degree with Alibaba and tradekey viz a viz China. All the best products will have distributors already so to get an edge you must by-pass them if possible.
    Another example. A certain company makes the best tools spanners and the like in Germany. (probably about the best in the world) A friend of mine wanted a set of them as he is a mechanic and I could get them for about half the price he was quoted.

  58. Hi Will,

    Awesome stuff thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ What do you suggest for me starting up in Indonesia? I will be living here for the next few years and have a lot of spare time . Do I list on Ebay and just ship within Indonesia ? And if I list on Amazon does the order get sent directly to them ? Or me ?


  59. Will

    I am Reading this from Mexico and loving it, once I start I will let you know. take care

    My best


  60. Hi Will,

    Thanks for the great book I have downloaded, it helped a lot.

    Just one question….how does the freight companies on Alibaba operate?
    If I say for example put in an order to one of the companies( obviously the quote will be FOB) does the freight company do all the logistics side of shipping the items for you?The airport i will be receiving the goods will be in Johannesburg in South Africa.


  61. Great article! How exciting to know there are so many guys are interested in starting their own business.

    I am a china supplier run a international trading company for 7 years. I am glad to help should you guys have any question in exporting/importing.


    • Hi Raymond
      I found this thread and came across your comment.
      Do you still have an interest in exporting/importing?
      I am a young Australia entrepetener wanting to make a start in the industry.
      I am seeking out a potential supplier from China for this year to begin business with, it will be a first time in the industry for me and i wan to make sure i establish a connection with someone who knows the industry well and who is
      also a current supplier from china who would be able to help me out
      with leads, information and possibly future negotiations.
      I have many connections with the mining industry here in W/A
      and other large corporations all across Australia.
      Networking to me plays a huge part in the overall success of any
      business and networking could be a major key factor in this industry.
      If you are interested and wish to get back to me with information at all
      that would be greatly appreciated.
      I would love to hear back from you.

      Thanks for taking the time to read this email.
      Mell. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  62. I want yo get into import export business but do not have any support how should I go for it?

  63. Good day all !

    Will, you are one of the most open and friendly fella in this business, do not get me wrong i am sure there are a lot of nice people but they mostly keep all useful information for themselves.

    Now today i will make a “short” comment but i will be back after all festive days and post a longer comment or take you up on emailing you.

    At the moment i am focussing on ebay, i will try amazon after i am less busy with christmas etc.
    From the age of 16 i always had good ideas or ideas how to improve a product, i would sit down for 2 hours and write things down but never went anywhere with it because it was all to scary and i didnt see the end of the tunnel.
    Now, years later i kind of lost that “touch” (growing up takes up to much on my mind maybe)
    About nearly a year ago i bought a few ebay items, paid 5 times to much for it and tried to discover where they came from to sell them myself. this does work but it doesnt bring much money in, thankfully i found a glitch on ebay so i could sell international even when i did not have the required feedback for it yet.
    The last 2 months (after i had a bit more positive feedback) i made 600 dollars with chinese products, where 1/3 is my profit. so 200 dollar profit in 2 months,
    Note that i only sell cheap products so i will not order samples because people are not willing to pay for postage on low cost items in my experience but they dont mind waiting 2 to 5 weeks on china post.
    Yes i do make money, no it is not alot and how much i make seems to be based on luck and the fact that 1 customer paid 20 times more then the item actually cost me.
    so i decided it was time to research!

    After reading 3 of your articles multiple times it starts to slowly get into my brain, i am sure i will still have to read it over more times in order to understand it better but i am getting there !.

    In this article the fact you say that simply changing the color can make a difference made me realise something (after days of all information sinking in).
    I am sitting here typing away with a beautifull christmas tree next to me.
    Looking at the tree i realised that the gold christmas baubles have patterns on it, if they just would have been plain gold baubles i would not have bought them and this made me realise better what you wrote, if you just change a simple thing it can have a (massive) impact.

    Also the fact that you say something along those lines : “you are not buying it”
    On the radio i hear very young kids saying they want a TV for christmas, this might be normal nowadays but when i was younger i got a tv once in my life and not that young.
    I even see 5/6 year old kids walking arround with iphones.
    My point is, i agree with the fact that even if i would not buy it myself, other people might think different and do buy the same item i say no to.

    My last subject for now is undercutting prices and marketing, Daily i get spammed with “need a loan?” adverts with APR going from 50% TO 3100%.
    I am bringing ths up for others and myself because it can be usefull to check out which one is getting the most customers or profit (you already said it, if people want your product bad enough you can charge big prices for it.

    Everything i said has been 1: to thank you Will . 2 : To make others think, like the baubles story and how simple it CAN be, it is in front of our faces and lots of us just dont see it. Ofcourse this is not a guarantee and lots of people will buy plain baubles but i try to give an example to make your product stand out as i didnt realise it due to all the info i read.

    I hope you all like long stories ๐Ÿ˜€ ….

    The main reason i wanted to comment at first was to say : Merry christmas all ๐Ÿ™‚

  64. Thank you for your awesome articles!
    I have a question about what counts as counterfeit. I see a lot of products that are already branded here in the US and I guess the factory that made their product now makes them available for everyone else.

    The example I have in mind, the product I have seen on Amazon has a brand name, lets say “Mango”. They have a tag on the product, that says “Mango”.
    It says on their website that Patent is pending, but I can’t find any patent. The only patent that could apply was from 1989, so it would’ve expired.

    Now, I found the same product, but without the “Mango”-tag on Alibaba. Is that an infringement? I won’t try selling it as a Mango-product, I might make my own brand or just sell it as a no-name.

    Do you have ANY idea? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • To be sure I would suggest checking with the patent office, Im doing that next week for the product I want to import.
      But, you can probably sell those as no-brand with no worries, I am checking the patent office because I want to imprint a name on the product and selling it under that brand because I feel it will sell way better that way.
      Ive seen some people already selling the same product under no-name and I want to do it to stand out from the crowd, to make it easier to market.
      Im guessing the “Manga” product seller is doing the same thing, especially if its about a promotional product.

  65. Thanks, I want to share three things. 1.Some peoples are smart (not many), 2. some people have taste of humor ( even less than first), but it is exceptional to have both. I think it is even more exceptional to give both free, but what an enjoyment! Thank you again

  66. Hi Will, Im enjoying your site and your knowledge regarding the importing business. I currently have a furniture shop and buy from local suppliers who in turn buy from China. Competition is getting bigger and harder to compete with because now everyone is selling furniture made in China. My idea is to sell my house, use the profit of the sale to purchase a container of furniture at a cheaper price than I am currently buying from and move / expand from retail into wholesale. The province where I live is about 350 from the Major City where all the current wholesale furniture operates from. If I wholesale I can supply within my town and province initially without any wholesale competition. I am going out into the trade on Monday and am going to act as though I already have my container, and sell current wardrobes I have in stock at cost until I receive my container where then I will make money. And will already have gained a customer. I know that this is a huge risk but I am confident it can work. What are your thoughts ?

  67. You brought up an interesting opportunity using zip ties. I’ve worked in manufacturing and know that a lot of these companies to source out locally. You have planted a seed in my head.

    • I know a lot of people making money in supplying small-to-medium sized manufacturers – it’s definitely not a bad place to be! Glad I could help, good luck!

    • Glad you like the site Ian, thanks for checking it out. Definitely tough to break free from – but we all get there eventually ๐Ÿ˜€

  68. Will,
    Have you ever used Odesk or Elance to hire people “in country” to help you source products from China, etc in order to get around the high MOQs that most on Alibaba ask for? I figure this might be a good way to better navigate the system since people in country have contacts that you and I don’t have access to.

    If so, how has that worked out…any tips for us? What were the typical arrangements with the Odesk person – percentage of order, fixed amount per product sourced, or ??


    • I’ve never tried it Steve, but it sounds like it could work. If you can get a partner in China, you’ll do much better in the negotiation and quality control phases. It could be a percentage of the order, but that sounds like a bad idea if you’re just starting and planning on scaling up. I’d guess there are even companies out there doing this for Americans, I don’t think you’d have to give away a percentage, probably fixed amount per job.

      • Hey Will and contributors,

        I would like to make a comment about having a partner in China to help with negotiations, QC issues, shipping etc. Have a partner who is located in China and speaks both Chinese/English can be of great benefit! The Chinese like to establish a friendship, get to know each other type of business relationship! As an outsider/foreigner it is almost impossible to get the best price/friendly price from a supplier 1st off! We westerners like fast food and doing business fast but, many Chinese set around eating/drinking tea, Moutai and other spirits pryor to almost ALL business deals! I would just like the community to know I’m available in Guangdong China if anyone needs basic assistance. This is a GREAT community and as a successful import/export business man I can help!

  69. This is one of the best website i’ve came across for wantrepreneurs like me. I am from Malaysia, btw. I have started to test the water with alibaba, amazon, e-bays and the likes recently. And from what little i have experienced, i can see a lot of what you have put up are very real world details which i encountered the same! Scammers from Alibabas (thanks for the tips to deal only with GoldSuppliers!). Learning to spot them is very educational. I have people who tries to sell me stuff at half the cost of market price, some who tries to simply quote me (one fella quote me USD 59 for shipping, i told him/her i would not consider anything above USD 30 and he/she amend the quote in a few minutes and then try to con me in other aspect like hiking paypal charges etc..). When i saw this people who keep changing their deals because i complains, i ran away…can’t trust em….and yeah, it’s vital you check their website domain…some fella have their websites created the day before they send me an e-mail!!!! I have also learnt to check on Paypal account (when was they created). These are some steps to avoid being conned (hopefully!!!!).

    So far, i made two sample imports from the same supplier and make a bit of money (about 30%), which isn’t too bad for a first timer! The next thing is marketing and dealing with customers. Marketing is important…trying to be different is also important….i make some good customer by focusing on a specific area of my products, i just sell the same products with different focus, it works to a degree, but it’s also limiting in a sense, spending too much time to build relation with potential customers….but it does give the people impression i am an “expert” in my area (which i am, actually…not to boast, but to share). Selling something you know well in has an advantage. One customer even wants to buy the product i am testing on hand eventhough i have not decide to sell it! But i feel for long term, not a good idea….

    I also find getting hard to find goods is a good way too to make some extra cash. My recent example, saw this AngryBirds telepods. I wanted to get one for my son…i found out it’s not available in Malaysia (not even Toys R us carries them here!). Since i am paying through my nose for shipping, i just bought a few extras and sell them locally…i daresay i am only one of the few person in Malaysia who has this product! Well, unfortunately for me, respond not too good…a lot of people don’t even know what is an Angry Birds Telepods! (this falls back to educating consumers…to be first guy in the market means you have to educate the people…pros-you own the market for a while (b4 someone else does), cons-you have to try hard to make people understand what you are selling). Fortunaely for me…i can sell it at 100% to 200% profit margin. I just sold 2 and made back my cost….on top of my son getting his for free and giving away one to his friend at a birthday party…lol

    This is not a long term solution to have a constant sellable products, but it’s a good way to supplement whatever you have in your other pipelines.

    My biggest problem now is still the age old…”Finding Hot product to sell”! I have paid good money to attend internet marketing courses etc years ago but never made anything out of it. And frankly, i still don’t know how! Now, all i do is test product i think have potential…if somebody selling it reasonably active, then there should be market for it.

    All this is a cycle of learning–>DOING—>absorbing—>learning—>DOING…..I believe the DOING part is most important…previously, i was too engaged in learning….there’s too much info until i was lost and dares not go in any direction. Now i don’t care. I JUST DO.

    I have just registered a 12months account with….not sure if it’s worth the money or not….but if i don’t bang my head, i will never learn.

    Yoda was right. ..DO OR DO NOT. There is no try.


    May the Force be with you guys/gals.

    • Good to hear from you TK, hope you have been well. Thanks a lot for your kind words – glad you liked the site ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s awesome that you’re taking action, just keep that up and you can’t fail!

      There are definitely a lot of scammers out there. Gold suppliers are the bare minimum, you should always protect yourself as much as possible! Generally, you’ll want to avoid anybody that even tries to scam you on little things like that. If you can find an honest factory, you’re golden ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, you also have to make sure you know your stuff, so you know the difference between scamming and negotiating ๐Ÿ˜€

      A 30% ROI is definitely good for your first time importing! Congratulations on that ๐Ÿ˜€ You’re right there, most of your money will be made after the first sale – if you know how to get it. Customer retention is the new lead generation – if you can retain them you have a real business. Differentiation is also important, marketing, all of that good stuff. This whole entrepreneurship gig never ends huh ๐Ÿ˜›

      Like you said, importing is a good side-business until you decide to really scale things up. You were lucky enough to hit some money on your first try, so you have the luxury of playing around and experimenting with some new products. That’s always a great position to be in! Once you have one good, sustainable product that is bringing in some cash flow, you can start to expand out. And then like you said again, eventually you just pick one and start to differentiate and develop your own brand/sales system.

      Taking action is where all the magic happens. I’m telling you, I honestly think you could just keep taking action and never have any problems. It’s almost like the universe gives you the information you need when you need it, and anything else is distracting. Of course, I say that after reading about a billion blog posts/books ๐Ÿ˜›

      Thanks a lot for the great comment, these are the comments I dream about! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Dear TK — what a great post! Very inspiring. I see myself in almost every line you wrote, particularly the one about spending all your time learning and not doing. That’s my downfall, too. My 14 year old son told me the other day that the reason I won’t be successful at this is because I research EVERY SINGLE THING beyond the bounds of normal human behavior. Which is really just an excuse for not actually DOING anything!

      Wise fellow, that Yoda.

      • Thanks for your comments. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think many of us are in that situation of over-analyzing. I think it’s the fear in us that made us go into over analyzing, the fear of failure, the fear of losing your money. It’s natural.I have a friend, who’s also very over detail….wants to draft a business plan, asked tons of technical question when starting an e-commerce site etc…in the end, all to nought.

        Now, i just wants to keep it simple when starting. “BUY LOW, SELL HIGH”=WINRAR.
        We also have to be prepared for loss (some of the latest stuff i ordered is no good, have to absorb the cost, no point sending back to supplier because the shipping cost would be more than the product cost.). So i guess i learnt how to prepare myself mentally for loss…not every deal you make money…

        I remember one guy who i brought my XBOX for repairs, his staff didn’t give the correct information to me and in the end, he absorb the cost to fix my machine. He said “In doing business, it’s either you make money or lose money”. Simple words, now it rings even truer for me. He is an honest businessman. Much later, when i want to buy a PSP, i went back to buy from him. Because i felt he deserves my business and i feels obliged to buy from him! Keeping customers happy and your reputation clean and spanky is certainly something we should all do.

        Btw, just made another small import just now. This time paying using the Escrow service since the supplier don’t accept paypal. So i learnt another new thing(Escrow) today. ๐Ÿ™‚ Wish me luck that i don’t receive a box of rocks or something worse…lol.

  70. Hi there,

    I just been through your article and it seems to be interesting but would you please tell me where did you keep your goods when you first started your business (I mean when you import random stuff). Im based in UAE with many regulation rules but I wish to start my own business. Additionally if you can advise where can I learn more about the Marketing tools you have mentioned in your great article.

    Thanks and Regards,

    • Thanks for reading Tarek! When I first started, I kept everything in my house. As I grew, I kept it in friends houses/other areas of the house, and eventually started dropshipping (so my supplier was holding it).

      Good luck to you, I wouldn’t want to deal with those regulations!

  71. Good Day?
    I am a young Namibian woman and it is my greatest dream to have my own clothing store one day but i would like to start with the platform of importing from China can you give me more info on that?

    • Awesome to hear that Elizabeth, best of luck to you on your journey! We have quite a bit of importing advice on the site, just click around and see ๐Ÿ™‚

  72. Hi Will, i read your ‘Rise and Fall post’ and i most say that you really put every thing for we to follow. thanks man but i do need a favour from you Will. Could you pls help me with website for car sales and i mean good site where i could buy cars at cheap rate, if possible Will the process to import them. Pls do shoot me a mail. Thanks and hope to hear from you.

    • Happy I could help Moses! Unfortunately, I don’t know anywhere where you can import cars. It is probably one of the more difficult items to import, and is commonly the punchline of importing jokes because there are so many barriers to entry. Sorry to write such a discouraging response, best of luck to you!

  73. Hey!
    Loved your “Rise and Fall” article, Thanks so much!
    Question: If I import goods from China, and sell them on Amazon. How and when do I need to pay importing taxes? Also, what happens when I start selling the same product on my own website?
    Have a great day!

    • Glad you liked the post Vlada! You pay duties/customs fees at the point of entry in your country. I don’t think you need to do anything different when you sell on your own website, but the laws could be different in your area…

  74. Hey Bros,

    Great info !

    I’ve seen a number of established wholesale giftware importers go out of business within the last 3 or 4 years. These are small companies (revenues less than 5 million) that have been around for 15 years. What could be causing this ?

    I have two assumptions that might be causing headaches to current importers. First, import companies are facing higher labor costs in China. It’s no longer dirt cheap to produce product; labor costs are going up by 15 to 20 % per year. The second factor is the cost of shipping. Price of fuel has gone up substantially, since the early 2000s. Shipping from China and shipping product across the US has gotten very expensive. Importers in general operate on slim margins and therefore both of these factors could be causing small companies to go out of business.

    It seems to me, unless your are a large company, importing may not be as feasible. Large companies usually have their own factories and have an army of sales people to sell large quantities of product. Economies of scale is one of the keys to succeeding in today’s importing business.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on this matter.

    Thank You,

    • Couldn’t agree with you more Charley, I think you nailed it right on the head. Of course importing is more lucrative as you can pour more money into it, but the same can be said about any business. Every large company was once small, and there will always be ways to get there for good entrepreneurs.

  75. Hi, I read your article and it is an excellent help to everyone. I like to thank you
    I haven’t start up anything yet but I have few questions regarding to duty tax and shipping to customers. For instance: for something worth $20 with let say 4lbs then how much I have pay to send it to customers door!

    • Unfortunately, there’s no way for me to tell what anything would,cost really from what you told me. You can easily look up shipping prices on the website of your shipping company (or compare multiple companies). Duties and customs depends on your country, what you’re importing, and more. Hope this helps.

  76. Hey man, great post! When first ordering samples or when when buying products to test the market, how many should I buy of a product. I can’t really decide on order quantity. I was thinking of just ordering 1-3 items to test the quality, let my friends have a look and get some feedback. But then when I want to start selling, how many should I buy the first time around?

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Thomas, glad you liked it!

      When first orders, 1-3 is a good amount of samples to order, depending on how risky you think the product in question is. The first time around buy as many as you want! It’s kind of up to you, and varies widely person to person.

      Hope this helps!

  77. Boojah! Sick guide, man. The brand is so huge when people are cutting margins. If customers trust / like you, a margin-cutting nincompoop will not hurt so much. Something I gotta keep in mind for the nootropics biz ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Definitely! You can get away with a lot if your customers consider you part of their identity. Tough to do, but definitely tough to beat – and thus a competitive advantage ๐Ÿ™‚

      Is the nootropics business up yet?

  78. Hi Will – your article certainly hit the nail on the head. It is extremely to compete with the big players. But…obviously they too started small at some point. Given the power of internet these days, the online giants are a real killer. So basically I’ve started to rethink strategy and focusing more on exports. a few small trustworthy clients and hopefully business will work out in the future. Cheers. Deep.

    • Awesome, glad you liked the article Deep! Great point, everybody has to start somewhere. Hope your new strategy works out, be sure to keep me updated. Good luck!

  79. I’m an importer for xxx in china many sell by the casesโ€ฆ.I do somethings so unque you must check me out and give me some pointer if you please

    • Thanks for the love Dove ๐Ÿ™‚

      Awesome to hear you’re already up and running – love your business! There’s probably a lot of potential for you there if you can generate demand for your product!

      Good luck,

  80. Hey guy’s your greeeaaaat and Tony would sayโ€ฆOf course your to young to remember those commercials but โ€ฆI was just about to do exactly but not because I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, I get stuff from China from the companies you spoke of and YES Search around it pays thanks for the heads up on encouraging me to sell on Amazon and eBay as well as CL
    Now why am I not paying for your service? Uhmmmm or perhaps I done so via xxxxxxxx needed to make sure I didn’t give away the full name amโ€ฆ.Hey perhaps that’s my new name โ€ฆ.Going to register it NOW as we know some are quick to the draw but not with this chickie, NOT 99% OF THE TIME AT LEAST! AGAIN THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT INFO I WAS JUST THINKING ON HOW AND IF I SHOULD DO SUCH AS THIS AND THIS IS CONFIRMATION โ€ฆif I had a way to send you commission at least 1% I would hesitate NOT! one percent on a million is nothing to heehaw about! lol
    great advice as I have been boarded with emails from china wondering why I wont answer them good thing I have another on unknow to them. If I could give you a big Jamician Kisss well you know the rest!
    PS I get so many get rich quick schemes I can smell their pitsโ€ฆbut yours is truly worth reading every bit of information and segment.

    • Glad you liked the article Dove! Oh, I remember those commercialsโ€ฆbut I donโ€™t know if I can compete with Tony the Great ๐Ÿ™‚

  81. Awesome post! I get what you’re saying every time, but I swear every time I log on here, I learn even more (this is what those business professors in college . I even have my first samples from China coming in so I can test out the market (and the quality of the product); hopefully someday soon I can get out of my crappy 8 – 5 job and build what I want! Please keep the information coming; it has helped me a great deal!

    • Thanks Daniel, glad you liked the post! Great to hear you’re taking action and have samples coming in, hope this first batch turns out well for you! And we have more content coming out soon, maybe that will help escape the 8-5 (much worse than 9-5!)

  82. ok I am not able to type today. Let me rephrase the question. How would a person find businesses that are interested in getting into import & exporting?

  83. Awesome post WIll. I always learn something. Something is wrong w/ your share bar…I wasn’t able to share this post on FB. Quick question…how would a person businesses that were wanting to import? I’m trying to find small & medium sized businesses (between $1 – $50 million in revenue that manufactures high tech hardware or materials.

    • Hey Eric, thanks for letting me know! I’ll have to look into that. Thanks for trying ๐Ÿ˜›

      It’s tough to find businesses that are looking to cut their supply costs. It’s one of those things that they jump on if they see the opportunity, but they’re not really going out of the way looking for it. This probably isn’t very good advice, but I would just ask around my network of contacts and see what I can find. I’ve seen deals be made through friends that work at a company, family who owns a company, etc.

      Hope this helps!

  84. I think importing can potentially be “Get rich quick”, it just can’t be “Get rich easy” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  85. Thanks for the follow up article. I think I have reasonable expectations about how much work is involved in importing and re-selling. However — having trouble deciding how much is a “reasonable” margin. I mean, if I could sell a million items and make a dollar per unit, is it worth the effort of packing, shipping, customer service, etc? Or would that be considered reasonable based on the volume?

    Ebay completed listings are not very helpful to me, unless I’m not looking at the right thing. Plenty of completed listings are of things that didn’t sell. Is that my clue to look elsewhere? But some people sold those items . . . .

    Also, not clear by what you mean about your friend’s “baby lead” websites. Can you give us a link (if that would be self-explanatory)?

    Maybe I need to go back and re-read your prior articles . . . . .

    • No problem Laura, sorry it didn’t answer more of your questions.

      It’s tough to say what a reasonable margin is, but I would try to achieve a 50% margin. The closer you can get, the better.

      eBay’s completed listings will only give you a feel. The only way to actually see the data is to try Terapeak, which is a pretty hardcore product analytics tool. Worth checking out for anybody doing product research.

      I’d love to show the site, but I couldn’t get permission. He was worried that the site and niche would be stolen. But basically, it’s just a very nice blog. Sort of like StartupBros. The concept is that if you can build an audience first, it’s easy to know what to sell and to sell it.

      Hope this helps,

  86. Hi Will;

    My gut tells me that most of the folks who can’t find products are simply too afraid to get out there and try. I just sent off 3 inquiries to several companies, about potential products this morning.
    I have sourced several but I want to start small so I can control everything. We have to approach this like a new business. and we all know it is NOT easy to start a new venture. But as a wise man once said; “If you don’t Quit, you can’t Fail.” Look guys you can always try one of the products will outlined and go from there. I know it seems a bit foreign (pun intended), but sometimes you just have to go ahead and try it.

    I will give you a head start. Here are some products I have researched and planned to source. I give them to you. don’t worry I know that there are thousands more products out there so we don’t have to compete.
    1. micro needle roller
    2. earplugs
    3. silicon baking mat
    4. magnesium fire started
    5. fogless shower mirror
    6. lipstick cellphone charger

    I know these are not glamorous. And they may not be stuff that you would buy; but check them on alibaba, amazon and Ebay and you will see that folks are selling them and making money.

    I hope this helps some of you get started


    • Hi Bill,

      That’s definitely a big reason people over-analyze product selection, great point! I may go back and add that in somewhere ๐Ÿ˜€

      I couldn’t agree with you more, it’s all about taking action. You almost don’t even have to learn if you’re just in the zone taking action. Or better, you’ll just Google the information you need when you need it, and not get caught analyzing in fear as you said…

      Wow, that’s quite the symbolic show! I agree with you 100%, there’s a limitless supply of products out there if you know how to sell. You giving away your first couple profitable niches should shake up the would-be importers too afraid to take the leap ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for the awesome comment,

    • OK, Bill. Now I feel like a total idiot. I thought I was doing everything Will suggested. I spent the last 3 days looking at Amazon’s movers and shakers, and at Ali Express best sellers. I found NONE of these. There has to be more to searching than just clicking on random items. Where did you start? Step by step, for the obviously internet challenged wanna be importer. Thanks for your input, and for your great suggestions . . . .

      • Laura;
        Thank you for your kind words. Man, where do I start to explain what I do? OK letโ€™s try this.
        We will try to put what, seems to be a daunting task, into something a little easier.

        We will start in the kitchen. (mine) I look around and I see, flexible cutting boards, rubber gloves, disinfectant wipes, and pot holders. We will stop with these 4 for now. I could have done the same kind of inventory in the bathroom- toothbrush holders, brushes, combs, small mirrors etc.

        If you really get stuck. Go visit a 99 cent store and look at all of the things that are there imported from China. Make notes of what you see and then go see if you find them on Amazon or Ebay. Donโ€™t bother looking at Kmart, Walmart, Target of any of the other major big box stores. You will never be able to compete effectively with their buying power. If you have flea markets near you, go visit them.

        The sole purpose is to find items that you may be able to import and sell. Definitely check the vendors who sell imports. They wonโ€™t be hard to find. Again make notes and go check them on Ebay amazon, etsy or any other online seller. Somewhere in here you will find your products. It just takes a little time.

        OK so back to my kitchen. Letโ€™s lookup rubber kitchen gloves. On Amazon we find 400 items listed. Remember we want to be specific about which gloves we source, so I changed the name to โ€˜rubber kitchen glovesโ€™. stay away from name brands, and look for items we might be able to put our own brand on.
        So we find True Blues Medium Blue Ultimate Household Gloves. Sounds like a generic brand to me and there are only 4 sellers, but one of them has 293 customer reviews with a 4.5 rating. This looks like a possibility. The 293 sales and the 4.5 rating means most folks like what they bought. I examine this seller closely, because with 293 sales they are doing something right.
        I will pattern my ad after theirs. I did Not say steal it. I will instead, see how their ad reads and try to make it better so I get the lionโ€™s share of buyers.
        When we look up the same gloves on Ebay we only find 7 items being sold by 4 vendors.
        One of which has sold 39 pairs of gloves at approximately $14 per pair giving them a total of $504 of gross profit. We also check the completed listings and find that several have sold recently. The reason we check completed listings is to see if any products have sold recently. (emphasis on Recent) You will completely ignore products that have not sold. The key here is to write a better description and title. Basically give folks reasons to buy from you instead of the other vendors. It is not that hard to do. As with Amazon, I will use this sellers title and ad and try to make them better.
        So now over to alibaba. We type in the name of the product and we find a few gold sellers. The average price is 2 to 5 dollars per dozen pairs. So there is a very good markup. The next thing to do is to contact a few gold sellers and see about getting samples. This is not really hard to do. Here is an inquiry I sent recently and the vendors response. You can see that they are willing to work with me to get this done. From samples to negotiating a MOQ that I can live with.
        Here is my email using Willโ€™s example.
        I am starting a company and may be needing a large supply of Beyond Men’s Official Ratchet Leather Belt with Simple Plaque Slide Buckle. Could you send me your price list for these Beyond Men’s Official Ratchet Leather Belt with Simple Plaque Slide Buckle, along with any shipping and payment information you can give me. Also, could we work something out regarding a sample being sent to me? Products will be going to California, USA. And what would the MOQ be after the samples?
        Here is the vendorโ€™s response:
        Tom Gao
        Guangzhou Baiyun District Baiyi Leather Factory Gold Member
        China (Mainland)

        Bill,a reply of the Ratchet Belt

        Dear Bill,
        Thanks for your inquiry.The unit price for these kind of ratchet belt is about $5.2.And our MOQ is 200 pcs.But smaller Qty can be negotiable.Shipping just as your choose,ocean shipping or the express
        Payment Terms we accept:Paypal,Escrow,T.T. and Western Union.For more information,you can visit our these can help you.Many thanks.
        Contact Information:
        Email:[email protected]

        These particular belts sell for about $39.00 so another good mark up.
        This is a typical response. Some will go into much more detail, and some will send you free samples, but the basic message is the same.

        So a quick recap.

        1. I make a list of anything I can find in my home that might sell on Amazon or Ebay. I stay away from name brand products. I also check dollar stores, flea markets, Amazon and Ebay for products that I can sell. I am sure that there are many more, but these are the ones I use right now.
        2. Once I find a likely product I go to Amazon and Ebay to see if any are being sold.
        3. If they are being sold and there are not too many vendors I now go to Alibaba to check on vendors and pricing.
        4. Once on alibaba, if I find the product at a good price I send an inquiry email to several vendors and wait for their response.
        5. Once I settle on a vendor, I send for a sample. When it arrives I put it to the test to see if it is good enough to sell. If yes I negotiate my first order. If not, I move on to the next product.

        This is my basic process. I do this with each product I source. Normally I will look up multiple products before I actually contact the folks on alibaba. Just find any product, check it on amazon and Ebay, then look it up on alibaba. That is the whole sequence. Donโ€™t get caught up in the Junk mode. By this I mean donโ€™t look at the stuff you are sourcing as junk. Remember what they say about junk. โ€œOne manโ€™s junk is another manโ€™s Treasure!โ€ You are not looking for products for YOU. You are looking for products to sell. Case in point- would you buy a โ€œHorsehead mask?โ€ Look it up on Amazon and you will see what I mean.

        I did not intend to write a book, but it looks like I am well on my way LOL. I hope this makes sense and that it helps some of you have a better understanding of what we are all trying to do.


        • Awesome information here Bill, thanks a lot for taking the time to lay it out. I’m sure hundreds of people will value from reading it!

          You rock!

        • Hi Will,

          great piece of information you’ve written there! I have just a few small questions.

          Around halfway through you’ll start talking about rubber kitchen gloves (“Letโ€™s lookup rubber kitchen gloves”) and then you’ll start telling that there are 400 items listed (btw. is “items listed” the same as “results”?)

          But yes, you start telling that 400 items is a lot and that we should be specific… so then you say that you change the name to “rubber kitchen gloves.”

          I’ve read and re-read this sentence many times, but I just can’t wrap my head around it, because isn’t that search enquiry exactly the same as the original search? Both times you write “rubber kitchen gloves”.

          Many thanks in advance if you can answer this one for me.


      • Hi laura; well I thought I was responding to your post but it wound up at the bottom of the page. go figure. I hope it helps.

        • Thanks, Bill. I found it, and will send a lengthier reply later. I actually already wrote it but hit “cancel reply” instead of scrolling down to “send comment.” Grrrrr . . . .

        • OK, Bill — here’s the lengthier reply. When I said step by step, boy, did I get what I asked for! VERY helpful, and it gives me quite a bit more confidence so I no longer feel like I’m floundering about.

          I’ve already sent out emails to some suppliers for one of the items you mentioned in your original post, but if that doesn’t work out, I feel I have some direction about how to proceed.

          How many products would you start with (I know you’re starting slow and small, like me)? Not just research, I mean actually selling?

          Also, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about tariffs, import fees, taxes and the like, would you? (Not income tax — I unfortunately have some knowledge in that area $$$).

          Will – maybe that could be a separate thread, with a shout out to anyone who knows something for their input?

          note to self — hit “post comment,” not “Cancel reply.”

          • Great ideas all over these comments! I just need more time to write them all ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the recommendation

          • How many products would you start with (I know youโ€™re starting slow and small, like me)? Not just research, I mean actually selling?

            Hi Laura;

            Much of this depends on how much time and money you are willing to invest. What i mean by starting slow has more to do with how the market receives my products than it does the number of products.

            Let me explain. What I do with every product is to put it up for sale and try to maximize the number of sales. I am much more interested in finding a few good products to sell than flooding the market with lots of different ones.

            Fewer products means that I can devote more time to promote each product.

            Also if i only start with a few products and I find that they are selling well; I can then use the proceeds to source other products and keep the momentum building.

            My ultimate goal is to build each products’ sales to the point that it becomes feasible to use Amazon FBA to do the fulfillment. at that point I cut out most of my labor and My business can really take off.

            Also, you wouldnโ€™t happen to know anything about tariffs, import fees, taxes and the like, would you? (Not income tax โ€” I unfortunately have some knowledge in that area $$$).

            I never really worry about tariffs and the like. Most suppliers handle this. If you are uncertain just ask them. They are very helpful. Remember they really want to forge a good working relationship with you.

          • Dear Bill — thanks again for another well-thought out and logical response. Since I have no one to bounce ideas off of, it helps tremendously to hear the mental process behind the decisions you’re making.

          • Thanks Bill for all the information, Ive learned so much from this site already and now Im learning invaluable information from comments such as yours.

            I have to ask though about tariffs, import fees and import taxes though. Is the general practice really that suppliers handle this (on your request or just in general).
            As far as Im aware the FOB price means the price you pay for the goods to be loaded onto the ship/airplane and everything after that is payed by the importer. Is that why there are always two prices on Alibaba, one for the price of the product and one for the price with all fees added on?

            Im sorry for my newbie question, English is not my main language.
            In any case Ive spent the last few days studying and calculating how much the product will cost me once it arrives to my door.
            If all/some of that can be taken care of by suppliers I think my idea just got a little bit better. ๐Ÿ™‚

            If anyone is interested in what product Ive ended up deciding on, its the wayfarer 80s retro sunglasses.
            They come from FOB $0,3-$0,7. They pack 500 of them in 1m3 box with 16kg weight, so Im hoping the transport will be cheap.
            Im planning on putting on a cheap custom logo and name and selling them online and in various other places as “party” glasses for 10 euros ($13,5).
            You dont know how much people need disposable sunglasses that get lost or destroyed by drunk people. Also great for the beach when you want to be care free! ๐Ÿ˜‰

            I am sorry for the size of my post though, Ive shortened it twice. :S

          • Hey Beno,

            Sunglasses are GREAT if you can sell them!! They are light, break and get lost a lot! If you have a Gold Supplier he/she CAN help you with shipping and the declaration amt. they state could save you $$$. I like DHL from China to most countries

          • Thanks, I have found multiple gold suppliers (I also always check if they have verified on-site location, escrow, etc.) and some of them organise shipping as well.
            Selling them I am not completely sure yet, but how I would go is imprint a “catchy” name and logo on them, advertise all over the net and sell them online.
            I also have a friend who owns a bar that has afterparties for all the major events in our town and would sell them there and various other places like that.
            I have lots of ideas how to move them once they are there, I am also meeting with a friend who is a professional in designing websites to fill me in on what I need (I taught him math so now he has to teach me this :P).

          • Hi Bill,
            thank you so very much for your easily understood, step-by-step guidelines – I’m very new to this but feel far more confident to give it a go
            You rock Bill

  87. Well Will, I was one of those people that emailed you and spent more hours that need to be remembered searching. Thanks for the good stuff. We appreciate it greatly.


    • Haha no way Josh, it was well worth the time! Like I said, I went through the same thing, I think all entrepreneurs do. Once you can focus on value-adding and differentiation, you’ve leveled up as an entrepreneur ๐Ÿ™‚

      Excited to see where you go next!

  88. I think I found a ton of good products, but the problem is the disparity between MOQ and the number of products I could sell. I found a nice product that I could get cheap if I bought 500-1000, but looking at traffic on Amazon and eBay I would be lucky to sell 1-2/week. Suppliers don’t want to sell me 100 pc. The last thing I want is to get stuck with inventory and to wait 1-2 years to recoup the initial investment. Any ideas on how to find products that sell at a high volume?

    • Thanks for the comment Keenan!

      You could try to find one of the distributors that works with that supplier and go through them. But you may be competing with larger purchasers than you then. It’s important to think about what your business or product will do differently, that will make the target customer look twice and consider you over the competition.

      Hope this helps!

    • Hi Keenan,
      The best way to sell high volume is with promotional products. Find a patented product that lends itself to being a promo product and contact the inventor. I was nickel and diming it until I discovered this market. You can easily sell 10,000 or more at a time and be a middleman.

      • Hi Julie can you please elaborate on how to go about doing this? what is a Patented product that lends itself to being a promo? How can we find products like this.

      • Hello Julie,

        Would you mind elaborating just a little on the idea of “Find a patented product that lends itself to being a promo product and contact the inventor”? I’m very interested in this route, but just a little foggy on the idea. Thank you in advance!

        • Hi Zach,
          You can find promotional products through the Ad Specialty Institute (ASI) or just Google something like “unique promotional products” and contact the inventor directly. Sometimes you can find new inventions on inventor websites or through Inventor’s Digest Magazine. Get them before they become mainstream.

        • Hi Zach,

          First of all I want to say I think you deliver some great value; so in other words – thanks startupbros.
          Zach, what she means, (or at least this is one way of doing it) go to the patent office (you can do this online) and check the individual patents and who the owner is, then you have to research which product it belongs to and check if there is a market on amazon (this is usually done by a patent lawyer this is why so little people do this, because as soon as they here law/lawyer/etc they get scared and think they cant do it) (I assume you could check if you could make sales with a simple lead page strategy). The same can be done (like the patents) with teddies/puppets/toys ect for famous movies; the only problem, and this is the biggest hurdle, you require a license, a license can easily cost + USD 50k (and sometimes even royalty fees). I wanted to export Disney figures, hence I contacted them; they requested 50K a year. The entry prices is pretty high if you dont have sure sales yet. Here come the good news, there are ways around the patents (disney figures not so much), and I’m speaking about legal ways. You just have to know how the patents (law) work.

          • By ways around you mean changing product design at least and components at most that are protected? Assuming so, will you have to hire both lawyer and R&D consultant to make sure product can be changed? Must they estimate the level of product uniqueness required to be attained to make sure it’s no longer seen as one infringing IP of original?

  89. Great post Will.
    You really lay things out well. A lot of this information must be almost second nature to you but I guess it’s all things you’ve learned over time.
    I’m pleased you very clearly noted the mind set of having to work at it and not just “get-rich-quick”. And I’m hoping to put your tips to good use soon.
    Thank you.

    • Thanks for reading Leo, glad you thought it was an easy read! Hope you got some value out of it. I guess one of the benefits of not selling anything is that I don’t have to cover up the ugly parts, like hard work and risk. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • That’s exactly what I mean. You give it to us straight. No curve-balls. The honesty is refreshing.

        • Couldn’t agree with you more Leo, I’m happy I haven’t become “one of them” yet. I think I can hold out for a while, just promise you’ll let me know if I start slipping up! ๐Ÿ™‚

  90. Boring compared to books on religion,latin and ancient history for a kid…i think not:)

    • Haha, maybe you’re right. Latin was my least favorite personally, wish they had Chinese instead! Your kids will probably be more likely to pick up a language they find valuable if you give them the freedom – sounds like some good kids ๐Ÿ™‚

  91. Another out of the park blog post. I love the way you spell it out the information so clearly. My kids are reading your blog instead of school books!

  92. Thanks Will, i know that not easy to make it clear for this topic. I think “time” and “good mindset” (yes, i got it from your article) ‘d help me to find it.

  93. Well…I’ll be rethinking things now, to say the least. Another life changing importing post from you Will, it seems like you are becoming the world expert on small scale importing. I’m glad to have found you guys – keep it up!

    • Haha, I don’t know about life changing! Glad you could get some value out of it anyways though, thanks for the kind words Pieter ๐Ÿ™‚

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