Finding the Best Products to Import from China

2021-10-14

A great product is at the heart of a successful business, and this holds true for Amazon sellers and ecommerce retailers. The good news is that Chinese factories can make most products you can envision selling online. Question is, what is the best product to import from China. And if you're interested in introducing a new product to your target market, can China's factories fulfil your custom manufacturing needs? Take a look.

A famous Chinese proverb goes: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. China's industrial revolution began forty years ago, and in that time, it has consolidated power that is likely to remain despite the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. There's no better time than now to capitalize on the country's manufacturing prowess to start selling on Amazon, another online marketplace or your brand website.

China's exports are cheaper. The country's integrated supply chains and agile production set-ups allow you to react quickly to consumers' demands. The adoption of robotic automation has the potential to further increase production efficiency and match the automated production facilities in the United States. The question isn't 'how can I make money buying from China', rather, how best can I improve my profits by sourcing from China. And the answer lies in the type product you want to mass produce or buy wholesale in the country at a low cost.

Let's start by understanding the products that are most commonly made by Chinese factories for sale overseas.

What are the popular products imported from China?

China is an important trading partner for the USA, UK and China. In the second quarter of 2020, the UK imported £11.0 billion worth of goods from China, more than from any other trading partner. China accounted for the largest proportion of UK imports of goods.

Despite the US-China trade war that began under ex-President Donald Trump, US imports from China totalled more than US$457 billion during 2020.

In 2020, China was the EU's third largest partner of exports of goods (10.5%) and the largest partner for EU imports of goods (22.4%).

Products from several categories originate from Chinese factories. Popular categories include:

  • Household electronics

  • Mobile phones and accessories

  • Electrical machinery and equipment

  • Toys

  • Kitchen utensils

  • Jewellery

  • Automative spare parts

  • Furniture

  • Office products

  • Beauty and personal care

  • Home gym

  • Clothing, athleisure and accessories

  • Home appliances

  • Artificial flowers

  • Cleaning products

When creating a list of China-made products, check if the particular product is available in your home country. On some China supplier directories, including Alibab, you can see availability by country for each product.

There are many profitable products to import from China. To estimate a product's profit potential, consider not only its availability in your home country, but also the total costs of goods sold, which includes shipment and custom duties cost. The import duty rates differ across various products.

Most if not all consumer products that an inventor or seller conceives can be made in China

Even 20 years ago, you wouldn't have counted China among the world's innovative countries. That status belonged to USA, UK, Sweden, Japan and Switzerland. What the country excelled in, however, was making parts and products that were copies of existing components and products at a fraction of the cost elsewhere. Thanks to the large domestic market, local industries got the chance to test their products and improve them continuously. They introduced improved production methods and processes, getting better by learning, doing and growing.

Today, China's manufacturing ability has improved to the point where factories can make any product that you can supply the design blueprint or samples for. One of the country's key expertise lies in injection moulding, a popular process for making identical parts at scale. Some of the common items made using injection moulding are car interiors, electrical switches, toys, computers, medical tools, bottle caps and jewel boxes.

Chinese expertise in injection moulding

China's injection molding market is the largest in the world. The country is the world's biggest producer and exporter of injection molds and plastics. Commonly produced plastic products in China include plastic casing and coatings, plastic insulators, plastic molds and injection molds products, general purpose commodity plastics, and other customised plastic parts.

China is a popular destination for working with mold makers and plastic factories for two main reasons. One is the low cost compared to western countries. The other is the proximity and intricate linking of factories to their supply chain, ensuring immediate access to stocks of manufacturing component, injection mold materials, plastic resins, general-purpose alloys and engineered polyblends.

China's numerous plastic suppliers provide custom-made plastic parts for both large-scale and small volume orders. In comparison, factories in the west cater to innovative and expensive products. Chinese factories are also able to scale production quickly to increase production volume in accordance with consumer demand.

Other factors that make China a manufacturing powerhouse

China has a strong production ecosystem of suppliers, skilled workers, assembly factories and service providers. It is a reason why China is still the preferred destination to make products that require a number of components. Adding value to the integrated supply chain is a robust infrastructure of roads, ports and railways. China's logistics network is considered one of the most efficient in the world. Chinese exports are not burdened by excessive customs procedures, and as such, are the among the fastest in southeast Asia. All these factors together make China import products more attractive than having the same items manufactured elsewhere, including custom products and inventions.

But how good are the products from China? Some factories do churn out low-quality products but often, this is is due to sellers driving the price as low as they can negotiate. In a few cases, communication and cultural gaps can affect how the final product turns out, but is rectifiable with clear communication and instructions, ideally in Chinese. Overall, you can manufacture products to acceptable Western standards in China so long as you choose a factory that actually makes the product you want and therefore also understands the quality and safety standards of your country.

How do you know if there are suppliers for the product you want?

Most Chinese factories achieve economies of scale and make profits by mass producing in-demand items. It doesn't make sense to use a Chinese factory for product that isn't in demand in your target market.

Looking for suppliers that can make your invention or innovative concept a reality? You'll find factories that have the right technical expertise, tools and engineers. Over the years, Chinese factories have set their sights on making innovative, high-tech products and attracted the attention of high-tech companies.

For example, Shenzhen, the world's largest electronics market, is home to telecoms company Huawei, internet giant Tencent, major drone manufacturer DJI, smartphone maker ZTE and robot kit company Makeblock. The factories here cater to large, mid and small volume production. Several start-ups have emerged, offering western sellers more choice when it comes to expertise, innovation and costs.

Most products and manufacturing processes, in particular, injection moulding, can be accessed in China. After you've determined the product you want to sell, find suppliers specializing in it. This is easier if you're not interested in custom manufacturing your product but want to buy large quantities of existing products. You can only customize the graphics and packaging of the items.

  • Browse Alibaba for products, wholesalers and suppliers. You'll get an idea of the MOQs, price and lead times for your product.

  • Also go through other China supplier directories online, such as Made-in-China, Global Sources and DHgate.com. Check if the suppliers accepts custom production orders.

  • Do a Google search for Chinese suppliers based on the manufacturing region which makes your product abundantly.

  • Visit Quora or find relevant online forums where buyers share advice and recommendations.

There are many answers to 'how can I make money buying from China?' Some buyers use extensive market research and use their business contacts to find the right products and suppliers. They usually have some import or trade experience, and are able to get things moving a bit quickly than new buyers selling on Amazon or doing business with Chinese businesses for the first time.

The easiest and most effective way to find a supplier for your product is to go through a China sourcing agent. Maple Sourcing can connect you to a supplier that possesses the manufacturing capability you need and follows good governance practices.

Undecided on what to sell? Here are some tips to guide your decision

Deciding what to sell online is the initial step of any product outsourcing plan. Without correctly determining what to sell, you may fail to make a profit even if you import products for cheap from China.

Identify products that your target market needs

You cannot proceed without knowing who your target customers are and the product they need that you can provide. Smart sellers think like start-ups. They consider people's pain-points, review whether existing products can be enhanced or cheaper, and examine the opportunity to introduce new products to their market which may already be selling well in other countries.

The modern consumer loves to try new things and seeks quality items but is also cost-conscious. If you can provide them good overall value in terms of quality, performance, functionality, durability, price and service, your business is likelty to perform well.

Find products that support long-term business

Some products are always in-demand as they fulfil day to day needs (ex: toaster) or they are required by businesses in large quantities (ex: automotive parts). They will also be competitive but you at least know that demand for them will continue in the distant future at least. Choosing an evergreen niche is a safe tactic. However, as you will be competing against several other sellers offering the same or similar products, you must provide customers with quality products at attractive prices.

Avoid jumping on trends as products that were once popular aren't so hot anymore

On Amazon, a quick way to determine the profitable products to import from China is to look at the site's 'Best Seller' ranking, 'Trending' section, 'New Releases' and 'Movers and Shakers'. While this is fine, you also want to dig deeper into the competition for these products.

Sure, there is money to be made from products that appear to be in demand, but good timing is key to making a profit. If you can catch trends early, then it's worth exploiting the market for it. But getting in late - when the market for the product is on its way to getting saturated by many sellers - then you may want to explore other options.

Sell something that you can expand into a line of products

A safe approach for new Amazon seller is to launch a single product, review its performance and add new variants. If your initial variant has sold well, then you can use the positive reviews you've received for it to draw attention to subsequent variants. This technique can help you get a firmer hold of your market and open your business up to a new audience. It is also important from the perspective of building a brand before you start investing heavily into your business.

Avoid low value, extremely cheap and fiercely competitive products

It goes without saying but larger sales are difficult in highly competitive product categories. Undercutting other sellers on price is never a good idea for an already cheap product as it will most likely result in quality issues and turn customrs away from your business. Building your Amazon business around a low-value product in a competitive niche is also risky as the threat of better substitutes looms and can take business away from you eventually.

Generally, products for a sustainable business have some value-add

Though Amazon buyers are cost conscious, the marketplace is among the first places where people and businesses research when they're looking to make a purchase. Promising a value-add in some form, such as an additional feature, better battery life, a vast choice of colours, or other attributes that aren't available in similar products, can drive more sales your way. Once you identify what is the best product to import from China, think about how you can enhance the product to make it more attractive to your target market.

Keep a watch on your market

Stay on the pulse of your market to spot opportunities for relatively new parts or cutting-edge machines/gadgets that may attract high demand in the near future. This is easier when you have more time on your hands to focus on product research and business development. You can free up time by having our China sourcing agent handle supplier sourcing, quality inspections and order monitoring for you.

How to make a splash with the products you import from China

Just about anyone can list their product for sale on Amazon and other major online marketplaces. But making a profit requires building a long-term mindset for success.

Offer customers quality

Quality is a huge differentiator particularly in low cost categories. It is important not only to identify profitable products to import from China but also have them made to a quality your market will appreciate. For example, if you're using injection moulding to make your product, ensure that only high-quality injection moulds are used. Provide detailed specifications to the supplier, such as the exact material, texture and finishing requires, tolerances on critical dimensions, number of cavities, and so on.

Choose a supplier with experience catering to sellers in your market. Does the supplier have professional tooling engineers? Is a dedicated account manager assigned to you? Guage their skills to decide if they can indeed make the product to your high quality standards. Again, working with our sourcing agent can help you identify a reliable and capable supplier no matter what your custom manufacturing needs.

Focus on creating a strong brand name 

This is easier when you're not seen as just another seller buying wholesale. Apart from meeting your market's quality expectations, you also want to provide great customer service so that customers don't hesitate to buy from you again. There's not a lot of branding you can do on Amazon, so your product and service will matter a great deal. If you can deliver on both counts, you're sure to get positive ratings and reviews. Note that on Amazon, sellers are banned from requesting reviews as the marketplace sends an email automatically asking buyers for their feedback. As you get positive reviews organically, your brand will become strong, helping your business. 73% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more.

Meet delivery promises consistently

Needless to say, you must deliver products on time, and ideally, every time! This is possible if you partner with a reliable supplier with experience shipping directly overseas. Depending on whether the shipment goes to an Amazon warehouse or a destination from where you will arrange pick-up and delivery at your end, we can help you figure out a reliable and cost-effective solution.

Closing lines

A good understanding of your target market is necessary for success in importing. Invest time and effort, and don't hesitate from seeking external inputs on the profitable products to source from China. After you've zeroed in on a product, our sourcing service can help you find a capable supplier who exceeds your expectations. 

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