Importing goods is a viable option for many companies.
Whether you're starting a new business or looking to source different products for an existing one, importing goods is a viable option for many companies.
For those who are new to international sourcing, the process can seem daunting, but it doesn't need to be. Today, thanks to the internet and the many online tools available, purchasing from an international wholesaler has become simple, quick and efficient.
So businesses of all sizes and backgrounds can now carry out business decisions on a multi-national scale.
Why choose to import goods?
In the UK, imported merchandise makes up a significant part of our economy. In many cases, with products like electronics and clothing this is simply because certain goods are not made here.
Other products must be sourced from overseas because consumers want items that originate from a specific place. For example, customers may want hand-knotted rugs from the Middle East or vodka from Russia.
Another reason for importing is price. Factors such as currency valuation and raw material costs mean it is often much more cost-effective to make products abroad and bring them to the UK.
For business owners, the lower cost of goods can lead to better profits and give a leading edge on competitors in terms of winning customers and boosting sales.
Tips for importing goods from global suppliers
Once you have decided to source from overseas suppliers, there are some important issues to consider:
Cultural and language barriers
Cultural and language differences can sometimes cause problems when dealing with international manufacturers or exporters. While you may feel that it is their responsibility to deal with these differences, there is the chance that they will be thinking the same thing about you.
To ensure the relationship is productive, take a proactive approach to understanding the region’s customs and business practices. Look into things such as working hours, time differences and when the country observes national holidays - that way, you can plan around office and factory closures.
It may also help to learn about the way business communications are carried out to avoid any surprises. For example, some cultures are known for their direct - even blunt - approach, while others spend much more time on small talk before getting down to work.
Keeping things legal
As an importer, remember that it's your responsibility to know the import and export laws and make sure your paperwork is in order.
Maintaining careful records is crucial and will help you ensure that customs duties, VAT and excise are all paid properly.
If you have difficulty doing this yourself due to time constraints or lack of knowledge, it might a good idea to employ an expert to help you. Outsourcing these tasks can be very cost effective and will free your time up to handle other aspects of your business.
Confirm that the seller is legitimate
Finally, and possibly most importantly, you should do everything that you can to verify that the supplier is both authentic and accountable.
Unfortunately there are many unscrupulous people out there so before you send money to a supplier, take precautions to ensure that they are a genuine business.
Reverse phone number look-ups can be useful, enabling you to see if the number provided matches the address that you've been given. Mobile numbers can be dubious, due to their disposable nature, so it's recommended that you only work with companies that can provide a landline number. Free email addresses could also be a sign of questionable business practices.
You may also want to ask the company for references such as bank information and business certificates and you could also try contacting your home embassy in that country, as they should be able to advise you on which companies are legitimate and which may be fraudulent.
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