Importing products from China has gotten a bit easier, thanks to the internet! You are going to find a handful of Chinese suppliers online through their websites and in marketplaces, such as Alibaba and AliExpress.

But, if it is your first time to import products from China, it is easy to commit several mistakes. While this can be a learning process for you, it’s still better to recognize these mistakes ahead to avoid serious problems in the future.

Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes that new importers make:

I. Not Appreciating Cultural Differences

For first-time importers, a common mistake they make is not considering cultural differences. Are you from the US, Germany, or Australia? Have you been to China and meet some of the people there? If you haven’t, then it’s important that you take note of this. For a lot of people, even living in China for more than five years, they still discover some surprising cultural customs.

Not Appreciating Cultural Differences

If you have made business with before, it’s important to know that cultural differences are not only essential to social settings. There are cultural differences as well when conducting businesses.

When you talk to a Chinese sales representative, keep in mind that they likely don’t have the same experiences as you and you don’t share a similar understanding of business relationships. So, make sure to be more encouraging, understanding, and positive when talking to Chinese suppliers. If they cannot fully understand what you are trying to say, be patient and explain it to them in a different and simpler manner.

There is a high chance that the sales rep doesn’t work in the factory area and has not seen your product at all. Take note of this when you have issues with your product. While it most likely takes a lot of time and explaining for them to understand your point, you must be patient and explain your product requirements very clearly. Never forget that they are also humans like you and can get things wrong sometimes.

II. Rushing the Supplier

If it is your first time to import products from China, it can be easy to rush the purchasing process so you can start selling right away. It’s very important to remember that impatience can result in failure, from comprehensive research to making the wrong choice of supplier. 

It’s easy to get tempted when a supplier offers a fast delivery time or agreed to a lower MOQ. If the supplier agrees to these things, you have to consider what they had to do in order to meet these. There’s even a chance that they are not busy with orders, which there might be a very good reason for this.

Informing the supplier that your order is very urgent might also take away their incentive for them to provide you the most ideal price to win your partnership. Determining a great supplier and product, making sure that you have done enough research on the import process, and dealing appropriately with logistics requirements can take a lot of time so make sure to do everything right!

III. Overestimating the Profit

Overestimating the profit is a common mistake many first-time importers make. Working out the actual profit margin is a more complex job to do than most people anticipate. There are a lot of things you need to consider apart from the costs of the products and the expenses of importing these products.


Even if you have already factored all the expected expenses properly, such as import taxes, storage, shipping, seller’s fees, packaging, professional photography and copywriting, domestic courier costs, packing labor, marketing, quality control, business running costs, customer service, there will still be some unexpected expenses that could come up. A great example is random inspections from customs.

It is essential that you also create a contingency plan into your profit margin for the goods that arrive that meet your expectations and custom returns.

IV. Setting Expectations That Are Not Realistic

There may be a difference between what you were expecting and the quality of the product being provided. When importing from China, some factories find a certain quality acceptable and may not meet what you are offering to your customers.

You can minimize this issue by setting realistic expectations and by being very clear from the start about what your requirements and expectations are. Another important move is to create a contingency for quality control into your profit calculations so that you can plan and account for those products that are not quite perfect for your standards.

It’s also important to take note that although you cannot visit the factory firsthand, you can arrange a third-party company to do so. You can find a variety of companies online that do different quality control inspections and audits for all the stages in the production and dispatch processes.

V. Ordering Too Small

 When it’s your first time to import from China, it’s vital that you understand the concept of “economies of scale.” To put it simply, the bigger your order will be, the better the deal you will have. For instance, the number of products you are planning to order can have an effect on the service and quote level your supplier will offer you. You will discover as well that the shipping quantity will have an impact on your logistics costs.

But, take note that ordering more than you can sell or use realistically can put your funds to waste. So, it can be quite a challenge to find that balance. Working on your ideal quantity is a must before ordering so you can maximize your profit margin.

These are the mistakes that you have to do when importing products from China. Learning and avoiding these mistakes can greatly help you in finding the best supplier that offers the best products.


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