How to Start a Successful Import Business Using the Internet

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The Internet has opened up a whole new era of business

opportunities. Falling trade barriers combining with easy access

to trade information thanks to the Internet have created dramatic

possibilities and sparked the growth of global online trade in

virtually every area.

Many companies are taking advantage of electronic media quite

aggressively by making new contacts, tapping into new markets

and reducing costs with the help of online technologies.

Whether you are starting a new import business or planning to

expand your existing business, you too can use the Internet as

your primary channel for getting information, sourcing products

or services, finding suppliers and doing your marketing.

Before the Internet era, finding a viable product for importing

was not an easy job! Trade shows and traveling to foreign lands

were the two best options available for getting hands on

information on a product and its supplier. Today, required

information on any conceivable product from virtually any market

is available at your finger tips.

Finding a product

If you know what you are planning to import, a substantial work

is already done! Otherwise, your first step is to choose a

feasible product or service to import. Whether you are planning

to import a general merchandize or an industry-specific product,

do your homework right.

Browse through Catalog repositories, B2B exchanges, electronic

trade boards, trade journals and virtual trade shows to find a

product. If you know the manufacturing country from where the

product is possible to source, check out the country specific

portals and exchanges. Here is a list of high quality electronic

trade boards:

For China made products: http://www.alibaba.com

Sourcing from India: http://www.trade-india.com

For Russian Products: http://www.rusbiz.com

Products from Europe: http://www.europages.com

From South Korea: http://www.ec21.com

For other country-specific or industry-specific B2B exchanges

check out this list:

http://dmoz.org/Business/E-Commerce/Marketplaces/

Your criteria for choosing a product for importing should include:

Your prior knowledge of the product you intend to import and its

industry. Your possibility of success increases considerably if

you know the product well.

Access to required quantity of this product. If you spend time

and effort in developing a local market for a product and unable

to deliver, you will loose business and reputation.

Quality of the product. This is a crucial aspect for developing

a market for any product. Quality of the product should be

consistent with market requirement.

High profit margin. As import incurs many expenses that are

specific to this type of business only, prior to import anything,

you should carefully calculate all required expenses and see that

you still make handsome profits. You can check out the sites of

your prospective competitors and make a price comparison to get

initial idea on your products present market price.

Finding supplier

Once you know – what you are planning to import – your next step

is to find a reliable supplier for this product.

Emarketplace or B2B exchange

B2B exchanges can be a good help in getting suppliers of the

products you are planning to import.

The possible steps, you have to take to find a supplier from a

B2B exchange, are listed below. As an example http://www.rusbiz.com is

used.

– Register your company. Often this service is free!

– Go to “Advanced Search”

– Write your product name in the relevant box

– Select required criteria and click on “Search”

– You will find a list of companies.

– Check out each of them until you find a suitable one.

Chamber of Commerce

Another option is to contact Chambers of Commerce to find a supplier.

A Chamber of Commerce is an association of companies that protects

and promotes business interests of its members.

For a complete list of Chambers of Commerce from various countries

check out this page: [http://www.worldchambers.com/CCII/index1.htm].

Trade Leads

If other methods did not bring any fruitful result, you can

consider posting classified ads in a range of trade boards.

There are many trade boards available on the Internet. While

posting trade leads make sure that you specify your requirement

precisely. A well-written ad will bring much better result. Post

your trade leads frequently until you find a good supplier for your

product.

Once you found a supplier that suits you, check him out thoroughly.

Your supplier should meet the following criteria:

The supplier company must carry the product for a substantial period

of time.

It should have experience in export – preferably to your country.

It should have readily available export references.

It should be a reputable company in its country.

If the company meets the above criteria get Dun and Bradstreet

report of the company to verify its financial background.

Selling imported products

Before even thinking about importing a product or service, you

should know exactly who your customers are and how you are going

to sell your products to them. Although, there are numerous ways

of selling a product, selling through the Internet is gaining

ground fast.

Selling through your own website

Considering the growth of e-commerce, today, any consumer-oriented

product is viable to sell through the Internet. Your success will

largely depend on your ability to market your website appropriately.

Your website should have the following qualities among others:

appealing design, well described product specification with clear

pictures, great content, fast connection, easy-to-use shopping cart

and a good merchant account.

Drop ship

As a drop ship distributor, you carry the inventory and your joint

venture partners make the sales. Once a product is sold you get

the payment from your partner but ship out the product directly

to the end customer.

Selling through distributors

Selling through resellers with expertise in your field lowers

marketing and selling costs. If you sell products through a number

of distributors and each of these distributors use diversified

marketing method, your sales potential get multiplied without

spending extra on marketing.

E-marketplace

An E-marketplace is a business community, where you can expect

to see a large number of buyers and sellers. For a seller it is

a low cost, highly functional and easy-to-use sales channel.

Benefits of selling products through emarketplace also include:

– Low customer acquisition cost

– Improve customer service

– Efficient information sharing method

Reduce supply chain cost

Entrepreneurs who want to get serious about importing have to

acquire substantial knowledge of the process. Many of the

information needed to carry out an import export business is

available on the Internet. Anybody with enough enthusiasm to

learn can easily find them and use to build a profitable and

interesting business.

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