A Beginner’s Guide to Importing

As the eCommerce market grows, buying and selling goods online is fast becoming the norm for consumers. With this increase in popularity, businesses are more committed than ever to keeping their costs to a minimum. A top way to stay cost effective is to import goods from China, India or Taiwan. Importing your goods from as far as Asia can be a daunting prospect to a first timer. If you are a business looking to import from Asia for the first time, remember these 8 easy steps for a smooth process:

1. Follow your Market
2. Find your Product
3. Understand your Shipping Terms
4. Get your Quote
5. Track your Shipment
6. Prepare for Customs
7. Pay your Invoice
8. Plan your Delivery

Let’s take a closer look!

1. Follow your Market

When purchasing goods from abroad it is important to research the market you are looking to buy in. Just like purchasing things at home, it is not wise to invest in something you do not know anything about.

You will need to consider the following:

• Is your product in high demand? If so, you will need to ensure that you order enough to last you until you are able to purchase more. Keep in mind that it can take up to 6 weeks for shipments to arrive.
• Are you buying the right quantity? Shipping costs per unit are low when buying bulk but importing too much at once can be costly. Ensure you are being as cost effective as you can when considering quantity.
• Will you ship your goods via sea or air? Fast moving markets could benefit with the convenience and speed of delivery that air freight offers.

2. Find you Product

When sourcing a product, make sure that you know where it’s coming from. Some of the most common ways of sourcing products are through:

• Alibaba and Made in China. These companies are extremely popular with companies.
• Sourcing and inspection agencies. As a first-time importer, you may find it beneficial to use these.
• Visiting factories and trade fairs. This can be a great option if you are unsure of a particular company and want to see how they operate.

3. Understanding your Shipping Terms

It is important companies know what they’re paying for, what transport costs they are responsible for and when you have to pay. Top tips include:

• Try to negotiate importing your shipment on Free on Board (FOB) terms. This generally works out cheaper for the buyer.
• Try to avoid CIF/CFR shipping terms.
• Ensure you know exactly when and how your supplier wants to be paid for the shipment. This could include pay upfront in full or part payments at various points of the journey.
• Research the price of importing your product so that you know whether you are getting a good deal.

4. Get your Quote

Contact a Supreme Freight for a quote and ensure you familiarise yourself with the following costs:

• Duty and VAT. A lot of shipping companies are happy to advise on the duty and VAT costs.
• Insurance. Supreme Freight will quote you to insure your shipment whilst it is in transit. It may not seem essential at the time but is it worth the risk?

5. Track your Shipment

When we say track, we don’t just mean checking the location of your goods. We mean staying on top of your shipment. Before you start the process with a shipping company, ensure you know how long your shipment is going to take to get to you. Production and transit times are good things to know. If your product is going to take 6 weeks to make and then another 6 weeks to ship to you, you’re going to want to know in advance!

Be sure to ask your shipping company for:

• Estimated departure and arrival date into the UK
• Name of the vessel to enable you to track it yourself
• Estimated delivery date for your address

6. Prepare for Customs

When your goods are in transit, you will need to prepare the following for your shipment to clear customs:

• Commercial Invoice from your supplier to present to customs when your shipment arrives.
• A Bill of Lading – This proves that you are the legal owner of the shipment.
• An EORI number – This will vary depending on whether you are a VAT registered business. Most shipping companies will arrange this for you, the most you will need to do in this case is to send the form to HMRC.
• Commodity codes so that HMRC are aware of what the shipment is.

7. Pay your Invoice

Once your goods have arrived into the UK, we would advise settling your invoice as soon as possible as your shipping company would have paid a significant amount in Duty and VAT on your behalf. You will generally receive your invoice between customs receiving your goods and delivery and it is generally paid via bank transfer.

8. Plan your Delivery

When planning for your delivery, consider the following:

• Delivery address – Does the delivery address of your shipment have sufficient storage solutions for your goods? If not, you may need to consider renting a storage space.
• Size and weight of shipment – If your cargo is bulky or heavy you may need a tail-lift delivery or extra man power to help with unloading.
• Time of delivery – Plan ahead and ensure that your goods are delivered at a time when your storage facility is open.
• If you are delivering directly to an Amazon warehouse, you may need your supplier to label the cartons to ensure it can be identified.