Start Your Own Freight Forwarding Business

This guide intends to give you the overall information that you’ll need to know and understand to start up as a freight forwarder. It’s not intended to be a comprehensive guide.

As with any new import and export business venture, there’s a lot to learn and understand and you’ll be learning and improving your skill set as each week passes in the freight business. At the start, it can feel very overwhelming but this is completely normal. As your business plan develops and you start to understand the costs involved, everything will become clearer.

During my career I have dealt with many, many freight forwarding businesses and even setup as a freight forwarder myself, so learned much about the freight industry, shipping industry, customs clearance and supply chain.

After several years I was offered a good deal to sell my freight forwarding business and as it was a part of my business plan and exit strategy, I sold it.

Start up as a small business and you’ll find if you do things the right way, business grows, you’ll handle different types of freight, you’ll gain more and more knowledge and more control as be able to compete with other freight forwarders.

With that in mind, let’s get started. We’re going to address the following points:

How To Start a Freight Forwarding Business:

  1. Setup Your Business: Limited Company or Self Employed?
  2. Know the Tools of the Trade
  3. Have an Good Knowledge of Export Documentation
  4. Understand Freight Rates
  5. Understand Incoterms 2020
  6. Use Third Parties to Reduce Costs
  7. Understand Export Entries on CHIEF
  8. Be Aware of the Skills Required

Starting Freight Forwarding Businesses – On YouTube

The video below explains the the same content as below for those that prefer video:

Business Setup: Limited Company or Self Employed?

The first step to take is to decide how to structure any new freight forwarding businesses. To be clear, we are not experts in company formation and we can’t offer any advice on this, it’s best to speak to a qualified accountant and discuss your own personal situation.

There are pros and cons to each and we can only give you some of the basics, just to give you a very general idea.

Startup as Self Employed

One of the most important points to be aware of and understand as a self employed individual in freight forwarding, is that being self-employed means that you could be held responsible and personally liable for your company’s debts, so your personal assets are at risk. If you run into problems with your company finances, assess such as your house could be seized in order to cover the debts.

This is of course the worst case scenario but something that’s very important and must be understood and carefully considered.

As a limited company, you have limited liability which protects your personal assets. Your company assets and finances are completely separate from your personal.

You also cannot expense your salary whereas with a limited company you can, meaning any expenses you have as a business, you can offset against profits, reducing your tax liability.

Advantages are that you can pay yourself with minimal paperwork and you don’t have to adhere to the strict rules, upkeep of admin and legal obligations of a limited company.  

If your income is more than £1,000, you’ll need to register with HMRC and fill in a Self Assessment Tax Return each year.

Startup as a Limited Company

As mentioned above, as a limited company, your personal liability is protected from any company debts and company finance.

As your freight forwarding business incurs expenses you can claim these in your yearly accounts which help to offset and reduce profits, meaning your tax bill will hopefully be less.

Having a limited company does however mean you have to adhere to certain laws and strict regulations on how the company is run, file accounts each year and make sure all your admin and paperwork is kept in good order.

Another important point, in either case, if your turnover is more than £85,000 per year, you will need to register for VAT.

We strongly recommend that you discuss your situation with an accountant to understand the advantages and disadvantages to you personally.

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Always Minimise Your Startup Costs

When you start a freight forwarding business, keeping your start up costs as low as possible and knowing the tools of the trade are absolutely key to your success.

Your business idea is one thing, you may dream of plush offices, an expensive ultra-secure warehousing facility, your logo on the side of a fleet of trucks but the reality is such a business with this business models and huge start up costs is very likely to fail.

Remember, a freight forwarder sometimes has to operate on very small margins. You must be able to withstand the freight industry going through tough business cycles, which of course does happen.

We’ll come back to the subject of starting a freight forwarding business using third-parties at the end of this blog so read on.

Know The Important Tools of the Trade

So, let’s imagine you’ve setup your freight forwarding business and received your first lead.

As an example, let’s assume you get a call from a client that wants to move a full container load (FCL) from Mobassa, Kenya to Southampton in the UK and contacts your for a quote.

What do you do next?

Lloyds Loading List

For these cases, thankfully we have Lloyds Loading List. Lloyds Loading List has been around for longer than I have if you can believe that! It used to be a book that listed all the voyages of vessels around the world, their port of origin and port of destination.

Of course now it’s online and you can quickly search and find shipping lines that will sail the route you require. Using our example, from Mombassa to Southampton we see:

We can see that Kestrel Liner Agencies LTD trade this route so we can contact them for a quote.

I believe you can subscribe to Lloyds Loading list and you’ll receive weekly hard copies of their publication, providing you with sailing schedules, and a comprehensive export directory.

A must if you’re serious about starting a freight forwarding business.

Croners Reference Book for Exporters

Aside from knowing the sailing routes for vessels, you’re also going to need to know what documentation is required for cargo. Croners Reference Book is what it was called in my days as a freight forwarder but it’s become Croner-i and like everything else, moved online.

Croner-i will tell you what documentation you’ll need for the cargo you’re moving from the port of origin to the port of destination, which will save you a lot of time indeed.

Croner-i has been very helpful in offering ABTS® readers a free “lite” account which you can setup here. If you decide to subscribe you’ll have access to their full range of data and information which I would certainly consider as part of setting up a freight forwarding business.

A Good Solid Knowledge of Export Documentation

This may be stating the obvious but a very good knowledge and understanding of export documentation and procedure is not just important but it’s vital if you have any chance of starting your own successful freight forwarding business.

We’re not going to get into the details of the documentation here as we have written several other blogs and posted other YouTube videos on various export documentation but please know that at a minimum, you’ll need to know about:

Export Documentation and Procedure

To really gain the practical knowledge and understanding required of export documentation and procedure, we offer an online course teaching you exactly what you need to know. Click here for the full syllabus.

Understand Your Freight Rates

Freight rates isn’t something that is usually thought of as far as specialised knowledge when it comes to starting a freight forwarding business because it’s assumed that when you ask for a freight rate from a shipping line or airline, you’ll get a quote as you would any other type of industry.

Shipping freight is different. When you ask a shipping line for a sea freight rate, they may first ask, “FCL or LCL?”. What they’re asking is are you shipping a “Full Container Load” or “Less than a Container Load“? So in the very first instance, you’ve got to understand this.

Next, they may ask you what are the dimensions of the cargo, if less than a container load. That’s no problem and you give the dimensions as needed.

The reply you’ll get is something similar to, “$59 Weight Measure“. You’ve obviously got to know what to do with this and how to calculate it into a quotation for your client. Your shipping line may well charge you “BAF” and “CAF” too, you must be familiar with this.

It’s beyond the scope again of this blog to delve into the details of freight rates but if you want to know more about these terms and gain a basic understanding of freight rates, check out our video below:

Make Sure You Understand Incoterms 2020

Incoterms 2020 are the cornerstone of shipping and freight forwarders MUST understand these terms. Without understanding what Incoterms 2020 are and how to use them, you’ll fall at the first hurdle. We’ve written an extensive blog on the subject so again, we won’t go into much detail here other than to explain that Incoterms are there to make it absolutely clear to the buyer and seller, where each party’s responsibility lies as far as the place of delivery, costs and risk.

There are 11 Incoterms 2020, think of them as code words for shipping. You NEED to know what they mean and understand how to use them.

One of your first startup costs should be a small investment in Incoterms 2020 which you can by from the International Chamber of Commerce.

For more, check out our blog post on Incoterms 2020 or watch the video below:

Use Third Parties Whenever You Can

Starting your own business is exciting. It’s quite natural to want to have everything perfect, your logo, your brand, the right warehouse, trucks with your shiny new logo on the side. Many people when they start their own venture go down the road of massive outlay, fancy new offices with the latest computers and latest iPhone models.

DO NOT DO THIS! When starting your own business and indeed, at all times, KEEP YOUR COSTS AS LOW AS POSSIBLE.

If your current computer works, you can get email, have an internet connection and can create spreadsheets, keep it as it is. Don’t accumulate extra costs. If your phone makes calls, you can answer emails and texts and do what you need to do, do not upgrade it.

Do not go out and get into a lease agreement for a warehouse, until you need it. Enlisting the aid of third parties. Rent some space in a third party warehouse for a fixed amount each month. Find out of you can expand the space should you need more and when you start to outgrow this, then look to rent your own warehouse, when you have an established client base and cash flow to fund it.

Use third party haulage companies to move cargo locally, before you go and buy your own vehicles. Make sure you have enough demand, cash flow and that you’re profitable, before any large outlay of cash or investment.

Always keep your costs to a minimum. They are the key differences between successful freight forwarders and freight forwarders that fail.

The Two Skills You’re Going To Need

There are two major skills required that you’ll need for starting and running your own successful freight forwarding business.

Negotiating skills and presentation skill.

Negotiating really is a certain type of skill that improves over time and the more you practice. It’s a major part of business in general but running a freight business, you’ll be negotiating with customers, with shipping lines, with airlines, warehouses and trucking companies.

You’ve got to know how to negotiate and understand how to get the best deal possible, which may not actually always be what you’re demanding. There’s more to consider for successful negotiations. Our negotiating skills blog reveals more so check it out.

Presentation skills are needed as you’ll be presenting to companies and need to explain to them in a clear and concise way, why they should entrust their cargo to you.

You’ll need to make sure you have the answers to their questions, understand freight rates, understand exactly what you can offer that company, what makes you unique and why they should work with you.

Present confidently but not arrogantly.

Bringing It All Together

That brings us to the end of this short introduction on how to start your a freight forwarding business. I hope it’s useful and given you enough to think about and research.

I spent many many years in this industry, I started my a freight business many, many years ago, ran it successfully but learned many lessons along the way as if can be a very competitive market, so you have to be able to adapt.

I sold the business in the end and was rewarded financially for my efforts and if you would like to learn the best practices to run your own successful freight forwarding company, definitely consider our Export Documentation and Procedure course, where I teach you the practical lessons that you’ll need to know, not just what to do but also what not to do!

Starting a freight business, shipping freight can be very rewarding and I enjoyed my years in this area of import and export and gave me a great understanding of the whole supply chain.

Take advantage and learn from my mistakes so you don’t suffer the same stress and financial losses that I did. You’ll have less grey hair than I do now at my age! 🙂

Start a freight business with the right knowledge and you’ll have every chance of great success.

How To Get Clients For Your Freight Forwarding Business

Knowing how to get clients for any business is the million dollar question. There’s no quick answer to that, it’s going to take time, energy, some grit and hard work. Below is a YouTube video where I discuss some of the methods that worked for me in my career and I’m sure are still very relevant today.


Export Documentation and Procedure Online Course For £349

ABTS® offer an online Export Documentation and Procedure course that will teach you the practical knowledge you need to to understand and to trade successfully and confidently whilst maximising your profits when trading internationally.

Alan Bracken has over 35 years of commercial experience in logistics. He skips all the theory you’ll never need to know about the supply chain but teaches you the practical side of how to move goods around the world, preempting issued, being proactive, not reactive.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

What Can I Import From India?

The Hottest Products to Import From India in 2022

Below are the hottest Indian imports from India, with large growth potential:

  1. Regional Handicrafts ($1.676 billion in 2021)
  2. Jewelry and Precious Stones ($41.65 billion in 2021)
  3. Organic Supplements and Medicines ($428 million in 2021)
  4. Leather Products ($3.67 billion in 2021)
  5. Homeopathy Medicines ($1.41 million)
  6. Ceramics ($2.93 billion)

You do not need an import licence to import any of these products and clear UK customs.

India’s Exports Have Never Been Better Than In 2021

India’s export performance has never been better than that which we’ve seen in 2021 and offers an excellent location as an export business. In the first 11 months of the year, exports exceeded $354 billion, over $57 billion (or 19.2%) higher than the previous best for the same period, which was achieved in 2019.

Merchandise exports hit $301.38 billion in April-December 2021, marking a 26.49% increase over the same period in 2019 — pre-pandemic.

In December 2021, India exported $37.29 billion of goods, which is an all-time monthly high for the Indian economy.

Demand for jewellery, and gems soared to the highest level in December 2021. The country’s merchandise exports reached $300 billion in April-December, higher by 48.85% year-on-year and 26% against the same period in 2019 pre-pandemic levels, achieving three-fourths of its annual export target of USD 400 billion in the first nine months of 2021-22.

Gems and jewellery, which comprise 8% of India’s total exports, rose by 15.8% year on year.

New Free Trade Agreements UK and EU

India has begun discussions for a possible Free Trade Agreement with the UK, which is seeking to overcome the handicap it could suffer in the post-Brexit phase by rapidly forging close trade links with partner countries. Since it left the European Union less than two years back, the UK has already formalised 40 FTAs with its trade partners. It is showing similar urgency to formalise an FTA with India and therefore, we could well see heightened engagement between the two countries for closer trade relations.

Once an agreement is reached it will be simple for goods to clear customs.

India has also indicated that it would seek to conclude the long-stalled FTA negotiations with the European Union, Australia, Canada and Israel, thus signalling that 2022 could well become the year of FTAs for India.

If you’re looking for some ideas to import from India and sell here’s our 6 hottest ideas for 2022:

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Import Regional Traditional Handicrafts From India

India is known as the largest exporter of traditional handicraft items among all other developing countries.

India exported handicrafts worth over 126 billion Indian rupees ($1.676 billion) in fiscal year 2021. This was a slight decrease compared to 2020 where it stood at approximately 127 billion rupees but still suffering from the pandemic.

The most popular handicrafts are:

  • Indian Home Decoratives
  • Handmade Sarees, other hand made products
  • Furniture, home textiles, and homeware

The top 10 export destinations are the US, the UK, the UAE, Germany, France, Latin American countries (LAC), Italy, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia.

Jewelry and Precious Stones Are Big Business

The Government of India is aiming for $70 billion in jewellery exports in the next five years.

India’s gem and jewellery export performance through 2021 has been far ahead of our expectations this time last year. The world’s biggest jewellery consuming nation, the US, has increased purchases from India this year and India expects achieve the export target of USD 41.65 billion for 2021.

Export of gems and jewelry doubled in the first seven months of the financial year 2021-2022, compared to the same period last year.

From April to October 2021, gems and jewelry exports were worth $23.62 billion, compared to $11.69 billion for the same period in 2020 — a 102.09% rise. In the corresponding period of 2019, the figure was $22.06 billion, according to commerce ministry data.

Organic Supplements and Medicines a Growing Market

The export value of ayurvedic and herbal products amounted to about $428 million from India in fiscal year 2020. There was a consistent increase in the value of these exports from fiscal year 2015 till 2019.

Organic products include original harvested honey, fruit juices, herbs, and Ayurveda products. In large demand throughout the world and western countries specifically, due to the rise of yoga and Ayurveda. Sold at high prices abroad you can have make a healthy profit from exporting these products.

The growing interest in a healthy lifestyle, natural food supplements and alternative medicines affects the demand for natural ingredients in Europe. This creates opportunities for exporters from developing countries.

Leather Products Are Always In Demand

Exports of leather, footwear and leather products touched $3.67 billion during 2020-21 (April to Feb).

This can be broken down into:

  • Footwear – 45.82%
  • Leather Goods & Accessories – 24.84%
  • Finished Leather – 6.55%
  • Leather Garments – 14.61%, and
  • Saddlery & Harness – 4.5%

There is still a vast global market that India can tap into. The size of the global leather goods industry is projected to increase to US$306.1 billion by 2027 from an estimated US$241.3 billion in 2020, growing at an annualised pace of 3.5%.

Import Homeopathy Medicines

Homeopathy, or Homeopathic Medicine, is the practice of medicine that embraces a holistic, natural approach to the treatment of the sick without using any organic chemicals.

The global Homeopathy market was valued at $879.1 million in 2021 and is projected to reach $1392.8 million by 2028.

There are 59 countries and territories, which actively import Homeopathic Medicines from India. The combined value of total export is $1.41 million suggesting that this market is in its infancy in India.

Traditional Ceramics

Ceramics are traded all around the world. The data provided on the export analysis shows that there are almost 195 countries and territories, which actively import Ceramic from India. India is known to create some of the finest ceramics in the world and are in high demand and can be very profitable products to import to other countries.

In fiscal year 2021, the export value of ceramic and glassware products from India amounted to over 225 billion Indian rupees ($2.93 billion). A sudden steep rise in the export value was noted from the previous year.

How To Successfully Import From India

The 4 Steps To Success

If you’re now thinking to get involved in the import export world and importing any of these products into your own country, I highly recommend it! Below is a personal testimonial of my experience, working 35+ years in import export. I’ve met some many great people, enjoyed my travels around the world and the satisfaction of negotiating deals and moving products around the world has been fantastic.

If the ideas above have inspired you, I recommend you take the next three steps.

Step 1: Know How To Source Your Products

Once you’ve decided on some products, you’ll have to source where to buy them. Finding sellers of your products is also half the fun. If you’re in a position to travel and explore, do it! It’s a great opportunity to expand your horizons. Not so easy in these times of a global pandemic but eventually we’ll be able to travel again.

If you can’t travel, there’s always Google, AliBaba and AliExpress. This can be a great place to start. For more ideas and an much more in-depth look into sourcing products, check out our blog in sourcing products internationally.

Another advantage to these products is they’re small enough to get product samples easily, either by travelling to India and bringing them to other countries or by buying online and having the goods shipped.

Once you’ve found your new supplier, you’re going to need an EORI number for products to clear UK customs and a freight forwarder so make sure you know how to set this up.

Step 2: Know How To Finding Buyers

Perhaps the biggest question is inevitably, how do I find buyers for my products?

This is without doubt the most common question that I’m asked. Well, the good news is, there’s more than one way to do this. The bad news is, there’s no “easy” way. It’s all going to take some hard work and perseverance but it can most certainly be done and some good profits are no doubt waiting for you.

For my biggest hints and tips after a lifetime in commercial buying and selling check out our blog post on finding buyers.

Step 3: Make Sure You Understand the Basics

You’re going to need to understand at a minimum, the basics of import and export. Don’t jump in and start buying products, hoping to sell them by crossing your fingers. You’ll lose money, time and cause yourself a lot of stress.

To start, have a read of our blog post, How To Start an Import Export Business. It’s only the bare minimum but it will give you an idea of what you need to start thinking about and you’ll pick up some handy tips that I learned over the year.

Step 4: Import Export Training Courses Online

If you’re still sold on the idea of trading internationally, I can only advise you to educate yourself. It’s going to save you a lot of pain! Our online import export courses are taught with a series of pre-recorded videos so you can start any time, study at your own pace and there’s no deadline to complete.

Our courses teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to know to trade successfully, confidently whilst maximising your profits. Taught by Alan Bracken, with 35+ years of commercial experience in logistics, he skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move your goods around the world.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

Export Documentation and Procedure

Upgraded Online Course Now Available For 2022

Export Documentation and Procedure

Our upgraded “Export Documentation and Procedure” course teaches you practical lessons you need to know to move your goods around the world. Developed by Alan Bracken, with over 35+ years of commercial experience in international trade.

Alan setup and built his own freight forwarder business which he went on to sell, so has extensive commercial experience in logistics with a deep understanding of export documentation.

He explains what can be complicated subjects, in easy-to-understand ways, teaching you to be proactive, no reactive, giving you excellent foundation knowledge of export procedure.

Course cost is just £349, enroll now.


As a foreign buyer, it can be extremely confusing when you want to import goods from a particular country. Knowing what countries require, how things have changed for the UK after leaving the European Union, whether you need an EORI number and whether or not you need an export license are all common questions.

To have a deep understanding of shipping documents, common export documents, export regulations, customs duties and customs declarations, it takes an extensive level of study to understand the entire process so in this blog, we’re just going to introduce the basics of how to export goods and give you as much correct information as we can in plain English.

We’re actually going to address the the following questions as we’re asked these the most often.

Common Export Documents (The Basics):

  1. What is a Bill of Lading?
    1. A Document of Title
    2. Evidence of the Contract of Carriage
    3. Negotiable or Non-Negotiable?
    4. What is Clean and Claused?
  2. What is a Certificates of Origin?
    1. Why is a Certificate of Origin Needed?
  3. What is a Clean Report of Findings?
  4. What is a Letter of Credit?
    1. What is UCP 600?

Common Export Documents – Watch On YouTube

This video explains the the same content as below for those that prefer to learn about common export documents and shipping documents by video:

Required Shipping Documents: Bills of Lading

We’ll start with a bit of trivia in that Bills of Lading are actually the oldest commercial document in the world dating back to the Venetian days. So there’s quite a bit of history in the first document that we’re going to discuss.

So What is a Bill of Lading?

Well, it’s one of the most important shipping documents as it’s a document of title. Whoever’s name is written on it, legally owns the specific goods in question. The owner of the container of goods is of course going to need to prove they own them when they arrive at the port of the destination country in order to collect them.

This is done very simply by showing the port authority that you are the person or you represent the company on the bill of lading.

How is One Created?

Let’s start with an example and assume in this case, you’re the seller of some goods and you need to ship them to a buyer who’s international. He tells your that he wants them shipped under CFR subject to Incoterm 2020.

This means that you as the seller or the shipper, will have to negotiate freight rates with either a freight forwarder or a shipping line directly and once a that’s done, the shipping line will nominate a vessel for your goods to sail on.

At this point, the shipping line will ask, “May I have your bill of lading instructions please?”. So of course, you as the shipper, will have to tell the freight forwarder what you want. So this is just one of many shipping documents that you’ll need to know and understand. The document is then created as per your instructions and it then becomes an instrument of payment.

The freight forwarder will ask for payment in exchange for the Bills of Lading, which of course you need for customs clearance.

It’s a Contract of Carriage

When shipping goods, many contracts are and shipping documents are created. For example, there can be a contract for insurance, a contract of sale, a contract with a local haulage company, a clearing agent to clear the goods through the customs authority or a contract for a letter of credit to name a few. Many contracts can be created within this one transaction or sale and export documents need to be produced.

One of those contracts is with a shipping line to ship the goods form one port to another. A bill of lading doubles up as the “contract of carriage” as the terms and condition of carriage will be on the it as well. Should there be any disputes with your freight forwarders, those terms and conditions will become a big part of resolving that issue.

Without getting into the details, these terms and conditions are usually standardised, meaning shipping lines more or less all use the same terms and conditions and they are usually based on the “Hague Visby” rules. You can research that if you want to know more.

They Can Be Negotiable

A bill of lading can be sold to a third party. For example, you’ve you’ve bought a tanker of crude oil and it sets sail to a refinery in your destination country but as it’s sailing, you get a call from an oil broker that wants to buy your tanker. You can sell it to them while it’s still on the water by transferring the bill of lading.

Another example of a negotiable bill of lading is through the use of a bank loan to pay for the goods. Let’s assume in this example, you’ve agreed a lone with your bank in order to pay for the goods. Your bank may insist that the bill of lading is made out to them, so if for some reason you don’t pay your loan back, they already own the goods and can auction them off. It reduces their risk and they already have all the financial information in order.

How do you make it negotiable? Very simply, to make it negotiable just add “To the order of:”. For example, “To the order of: Barclays Bank”.

When the goods arrive and the loan repayment is made to the bank, the bank then writes on it, “To the order of: Mr John Smith” or your name/company.

BEWARE: CLAUSED

A bill of lading should always be issued as a “clean“, opposed to a “dirty” one.

What’s clean? It’s one that is NOT “Claused“.

A claused bill of lading in simple terms indicates the container or the goods inside it are damaged. For example, a twenty foot container arrives at the port of discharge and is examined. Containers are examined to make sure there is no damage to the container, as if there was, it suggests that the cargo inside has shifted and there’s a higher chance the goods could be damage.

I remember once this happened to me. I was shipping barrels of liquid potassium permanganate, big forty five gallon drums of it. Before it was put onboard the vessel, the loading crew noticed liquid leaking out of the container.

They opened the container and found one of the drums had burst. If that container would have been shipped in that state, it would have shipped with a clause, “Apparent damage to contents of container, leaking drums”.

This protects the shipping line from issues later, once they arrive in the port of destination and being blamed for the damage which had already occurred before they received the cargo.

So that’s the essence of it. It’s surrendered at port of discharge in order to receive the goods. No bill of lading, no goods.

As you can see, it’s an incredibly important document and should be treated with the upmost respect.

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Export Documentation: Certificate of Origin

We all have birth certificates and/or passports which are identity documents that state where we were born. A certificate of origin is the equivalent of a passport or birth certificate for the cargo. It states where the goods were born and is essential for customs clearance.

Why is a Certificate of Origin Needed?

Quite simply, a certificate of origin is needed in order gain customs clearance in the importing country. This is especially true if your importing goods from a “Preferential Trading” country.

A preferential trading country is a particular country that has an agreement with the importing country of reduced customs duties. For example import duties on a specific imported items from this country will be charged at 2%, instead as the usual 8%.

For example, Turkey has a preferential trade agreement with the European Union and the UK for specific goods. Customs duties for these goods are reduced but to gain customs clearance from the customs authorities, importing countries will require a certificate of origin to verify the export shipments originated in Turkey.

In order to take advantage of this, all countries require a certificate of origin in order to prove that the goods came from this preferential trading country which will allow the customs authorities to perform their customs clearance.

Where Do You Get a Certificate of Origin?

Certificates of Origin is a document issued your local Chamber of Commerce. You can buy a blank one and complete it and as you submit it to your Chamber, they will likely ask you to prove where your goods came from.

This is simple enough to do as showing one of the commercial invoices from the company you bought the goods from is sufficient to show where the goods originated.

This being just one of many shipping documents required but allows your freight forwarder to complete the customs declaration and concentrate on the other shipping documents.

What’s A Clean Report of Findings?

As an importer, it’s of course essential to know that you’ll receive what it is that you’ve paid for. a buyer may need to know this for especially big orders or larger goods such as construction equipment.

A “clean report of findings” can be issued to anyone as an individual or as a company.

There are several internationally known and recognised inspection agencies such as SGS, Cotecna and Bureau Veritas, who act as an independent third party and inspect goods for you before they leave the sellers premises.

As a buyers you can contact one of these inspection agencies and ask them to go to the premises of the seller and give them detailed information on how you want them to inspect your consignment before it leaves.

You can set your own criteria for the inspection, for example, if you were buying a large order of shoes, you may want them inspected to the ISO 9001 standard. Every sixth pair of shoes or a random selection of shoes should be taken and inspected. You get the idea.

These agencies will inspect anything and have experts in every field, from a vet to examine a horse, right through to construction equipment.

If the test is passed the document issued by the inspection agency is a “clean report of findings” and the you as the buyer will know that you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for and to the agreed specifications.

If they don’t pass, the document issued is a “non-negotiable report of findings” is issued and the export shipment won’t be shipped.

The buyer usually pays for this service and as a note, some countries insist that export consignments must include a clean report of findings.

Obviously this isn’t part of the required shipping documents by customs authorities for customs clearance but it’s very valuable to the foreign buyer ensuring that the export transaction with the seller goes smoothly and that the buyer is going to receive the goods to the standard they expect.

Letter of Credit

A letter of credit is a method of payment and can be used as payment for an export shipment. It’s a document where a bank guarantees payment. Sellers like to be paid with them because they’re paid by a bank so it’s a secure, guaranteed payment. When a seller is paid with one, it matters not to the seller if the buyer goes bankrupt and out of business, they’ll still be paid as it’s a bank that will pay them.

It is however and this is a very important and crucial point to note, it’s a CONDITIONAL guarantee. It guarantees that a bank will pay a sum of money, within a time frame, if the stipulated documents in the letter of credit are presented to the bank.

A letter of credit does not “live” forever, it has a time limit, so it’s born and it dies. So another very important point to understand and take note of is that it does expire.

If you have one and it expires on 21st August 2022, on 22nd August, it’s worthless. The bank will pay you between the date it’s issued and the date it expires IF the stipulated documents are correctly submitted.

For example, let’s say you receive a big order of £85,000 from a buyer but you’re not sure the buyer can pay you. You could ask for the terms of payment to be a”Documentary letter of credit”. This would conditionally guarantee your payment if you provide stipulated documents.

For this example, let’s assume you’ve been asked to supply:

  1. One full set of Bills of Lading made out to the order of “The Bank”
  2. Certificate of Origin in duplicate
  3. Insurance Certificate (Clause A)

The paying bank gives you a list of the documents they want to be presented, which on correct presentation, before the expiry date, they’ll pay you as the seller or beneficiary.

To add to this, there is a set of rules that must adhere to which are called UCP 600. This is another level which we won’t touch on in this blog but if you want to know more, please see our video below.

When it comes to letters of credit, precision is key. Present the stipulated documents, within the time frame, subject to the relevant rules in UCP 600.

Where To Learn More?

If you would like to learn more for free, head over to our letters of credit blog post which includes a YouTube video going into more detail.

They are certainly not easy and this is most certainly not enough knowledge for anyone to venture to use them. They are a complex document and I strongly, strongly advise you to understand exactly how they work before attempting to use one.

We have an online course dedicated to letters of credit and exactly how to handle them. See our Letter of Credit course syllabus for full details.


Export Documentation and Procedure Online Course For £349

ABTS® offer an online Export Documentation and Procedure course that will teach you the practical knowledge you need to to understand and to trade successfully and confidently whilst maximising your profits when trading internationally.

Learn how to handle customs authorities, export regulations, shipping documents, import procedures, bonded warehousing and much more.

Alan Bracken has over 35 years of commercial experience in logistics. He skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move goods around the world, preempting issued, being proactive, not reactive.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

What Can I Import From South Africa?

Hottest Products to Import From South Africa in 2022

Below are the hottest products to export from South Africa, with large growth potential:

  1. South African Wine (up 20% in UK exports 2021)
  2. Fruits and Nuts (up 11% in 2021 year-on-year)
  3. Vehicles (up 8% in 2021 year-on-year)
  4. Gems and Precious Metals (up by 30.4% year over year since 2019)
  5. Clothing and Footwear
  6. Rubber

South Africa’s Exports Strong for 2020

South Africa is an ideal gateway to import goods from with many natural resources and emerging markets as well as areas of economic growth. Starting an international trade business here is certainly worth looking at.

The Republic of South Africa shipped US$86.1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2020.

The South African Rand has been trending downwards against GBP since June 2021, making exports even cheaper for the UK and other currencies and a very attractive market to import from.

South Africa’s biggest export products by value in 2020 were platinum, gold, iron, cars and coal which accounted for 37.5% of overall exports sales from South Africa. That percentage suggests a relatively diversified range of exported goods and many opporutnies for international traders around the world.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

If you’re looking for some ideas to import from South Africa and sell, here’s our 6 hottest ideas for 2022:

South African Wine

UK’s South African wine exports leap 20% in 2021

South Africa’s wines are held in very high esteem but South Africa is not taking full advantage of this by exporting more wine to the rest of the world. With a weaker currency, South African wines are comparatively cheaper to those of other countries with stronger currencies.

The UK is the biggest export market for South African wine, accounting for 25% of all exports by value.

South Africa saw an increase in global exports of 12% by value and 22% by volume of total goods.

China, African countries, USA and Canada were among the strong performing export markets for South African wine outside the UK.

The growth South African wines in the USA with imports of packaged wines up 18% over the previous year. South Africa was the only new world country to see positive growth in this period.

Fruits and Nuts

South Africa exported more fruit in 2021 with mandarin exports 30% higher.

Fresh fruit exports from South Africa gew by by double digits in 2021. The country exported more than four million tons of fresh fruit, 11% more than in 2020, when exports grew by 10%. In two years, South African fruit exports have grown from 3.3 to 4 million tons.

A third of South African fruit exports are destined for the EU27. The Netherlands is by far the most important South African fruit buyer. In 2021, that will total more than 900,000 tons. That gives the Netherlands a 22% share of total South African fruit exports.

The United Kingdom is in second place with 440,000 tons. The United Arab Emirates follows with 285,000 tons. Then it is Russia with 282,000 tons and China with 190,000 tons. Many countries buy South African fruit. No less than 45 countries took more than 10,000 tons. And 12 took more than 100,000 tons, including Bangladesh.

Vehicles

One of the key attributes to the growth of this industry in the last 13 years is government’s introduction of the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP) of 1995, boosting economic growth in this sector.

Vehicle exports at 295,268 units in 2021 reflected an increase of total goods 23,980 vehicles or a gain of 8.8% compared with the 271,288 vehicles exported in 2020. For the first half of 2021, vehicle exports were still on par with the record pre-Covid-19 vehicle export performance.

One of the key attributes to the growth of this industry in the last 13 years is government’s introduction of the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP) of 1995, the United Kingdom is one of South Africa’s most lucrative exporting partner

Gems and Precious Metals

South Africa has many natural resources and needless to say there is always a demand for diamonds and gold in western countries in particular and around the globe. The nations with the highest demand are Japan, USA, UK, Hong Kong, Germany, UAE and Belgium.

Gems, precious metals total goods sales hit US$20 billion in 2020 (23.3% of total exports).

Gems and precious metals showed the fastest economic growth among the top 10 export categories, up by 30.4% year over year since 2019 led by greater international sales of platinum and gold.

Whilst gems and precious metals could be a profitable venture, it’s important to understand what import and export control in South Africa there may be, required import permits and customs duty as these are likely controlled goods.

Clothing and Footwear

Top trading partner countries to which South Africa Exports Textiles and Clothing include China, India, US and UK.

However, the US recently extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act to 2025, which saw $2 billion worth of duty-free apparel exports from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to the US, the largest growth potential was exporting within the continent. The US was the biggest market, focus on them along with Europe, where 75% of trade was within the EU and profits high.

Rubber

There is currently a growing realisation of the might that the African region has when it comes to rubber, where most countries still have massive unexploited areas highly conducive for natural rubber.

This is likely to lead to the dawn of a new era of fresh investments without affecting the environment and interests of the local population. Rubber and oil palm plantations are likely to expand in Africa bringing further investment and a great opportunity to export rubber globally.

South African Customs Union

The Southern African Customs Union is a customs union among five countries of Southern Africa: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. This could be used as an advantage as there are much less import and export controls from these countries and likely no import permits required on an array of controlled goods.

How To Import From South Africa

4 Steps To Success

If you’re now thinking to get involved in the import export world, I highly recommend it! Below is my personal testimonial of my experience, working 35+ years in import export. I’ve met some many great people, enjoyed my travels around the world and the satisfaction of negotiating deals and moving products around the world has been fantastic.

If the ideas above have inspired you, I recommend you take the next three steps.

Step 1: Sourcing Your Products

Once you’ve decided on some products, you’ll have to source where to buy them. Finding sellers of your products is also half the fun. If you’re in a position to travel and explore, do it! It’s a great opportunity to expand your horizons. Not so easy in these times of a global pandemic but eventually we’ll be able to travel again.

If you can’t travel, there’s always Google, AliBaba and AliExpress. This can be a great place to start your venture and import goods. For more ideas and an much more in-depth look into sourcing products, check out our blog in sourcing products internationally.

Step 2: Finding Buyers

Perhaps the biggest question is inevitably, how do I find buyers for my products?

This is without doubt the most common question that I’m asked. Well, the good news is, there’s more than one way to do this. The bad news is, there’s no “easy” way. It’s all going to take some hard work and perseverance but it can most certainly be done and some good profits are no doubt waiting for you.

For my biggest hints and tips after a lifetime in commercial buying and selling check out our blog post on finding buyers.

Step 3: Understand the Basics

You’re going to need to understand at a minimum, the basics of import and export control, customs duty and perhaps import permits. Don’t jump in and start buying products, hoping to sell them by crossing your fingers. You’ll lose money, time and cause yourself a lot of stress.

To start, have a read of our blog post, How To Start an Import Export Business. It’s only the bare minimum but it will give you an idea of what you need to start thinking about and you’ll pick up some handy tips that I learned over the year.

Step 4: Import Export Training Courses Online

If you’re still sold on the idea of international trade, I can only advise you to educate yourself. It’s going to save you a lot of pain! Our online import export courses are taught with a series of pre-recorded videos so you can start any time, study at your own pace and there’s no deadline to complete.

Our courses teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to know to trade successfully, confidently whilst maximising your profits. Taught by Alan Bracken, with 35+ years of commercial experience in logistics, he skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move your goods around the world.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

What Can I Import From Egypt?

Hottest Products to Import From Egypt in 2022

Below are the hottest products to export from Egypt, with large growth potential:

  1. Cotton (industry expected to grow 14% in 2021)
  2. Jewelry (worth $887 million during the first 10 months of 2021)
  3. Plastics (exports jumped 43% in 2021 despite pandemic)
  4. Fruits (food sector up 18% between January and November 2021, $3.8 billion)
  5. Ceramics (exports hit $92 million in the first nine months of 2021)
  6. Essential Oils, Perfumes and Cosmetics

A slew of positive export data has been released for 2021, showing huge demand for Egyptian products worldwide. A Egyptian-British trade agreement signed following Brexit has been significant for both countries so there are some excellent opportunities for a foreign importer.

Egyptian Exports Reach Their Highest Level Ever in 2021

Egyptian non-oil exports total imports reached US$32.128 billion for the first time ever in 2021, compared to $25.427 billion in 2020, a difference of $6.701 billion, a very significant increase of 26%.

Egyptian exports in 2021 to the European Union was $9.153 billion, compared to $5.881 billion during in 2020 – another significant increase of 56%.

Exports to the US reached $2.446 billion compared to $1.618 billion, yet another significant increase of 51%.

Egypt’s exports to the UK increased 46.2% year-on-year in 2021, with exports registered at $1.079 billion last year, compared to $738 million in 2020, taking advantage of the Egyptian-British trade agreement, signed by the two countries following Brexit.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

If you’re looking for some ideas to import from Egypt and sell, here’s our 6 hottest ideas for 2022:

Cotton Products

Egypt is famous for its highest quality cotton around the world. Turkey and India import cotton from Egypt in order to produce high quality products made of 100% Egyptian Cotton for the worldwide demand.

Fabric production includes fine Egyptian cotton fabrics, shirting, fabrics for trousers/shorts, worsted wool fabrics, denim, fleece, jersey, flat/woolen knits, technical fabrics, and more. Apparel production includes active sportswear, outerwear, underwear, suits, socks, infant wear etc. Production of made-ups includes a wide variety of bed, bath, and table linens, kitchen accessories etc.

Perhaps one of the most in-demand products are luxury 100% Egyptian cotton bed sheets and bedware.

Egypt’s cotton exports are expected to grow 14% to 250,000 bales during the fiscal year (FY) 2020/2021 due to lower prices, according to a recent report by the American Department of Agriculture’s Cairo office.

Egyptian Jewelry

Egypt’s gold, jewelry, and precious stones was worth $887 million during the first 10 months of 2021 with Egypt exporting to approximately 37 countries.

Four other countries accounted for 66.8% of the total exports of jewelry and precious stones during the 10 months of 2021, led by Canada, accounting for 54.8% of total exports, valued at $486 million, followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 32.8%, with a value of $291 million.

Australia in third place, with 11.6%, followed by Lebanon in fourth place, with a value of $2 million.

Egypt’s exports of jewels and precious stones to Spain rose to a record $822,000 compared to just $4,000 in the previous year.

Plenty of room in the UK market and worth exploring.

Plastics

Since the revolution in 2011 a number of sectors, especially tourism, have slowed down, however this has not been the case with the plastics industry, which includes finished products.

Egypt’s plasticware exports jumped by 43% in 2021 despite the challenges imposed by the ongoing pandemic. The plasticware industry has become an important part of Egypt’s local manufacturing over the past ten years as a result of relying on plastic materials instead of other items like glass and metals.

Fruits

Food imports to Europe is a golden opportunity for Egyptian food imports and remains one of the most stable markets offering the highest prices.

Egyptian food items sector increased 18% between January and November 2021, recording $3.8 billion.

The European Union came in second at second place with a value of total imports at $587 million, with a growth rate of 31%, representing 16% of total exports. US exports with a value of $205 million, making up 5% percent of the total exports.

Europe needs products that are low in sugar and packaging for European standards should be considered. Europe is more interested in buying food products which are in glass containers and tetra packs.

It’s important to understand import requirements with food and fresh fruits as of course there will be a limited shelf life.

Ceramics

Egypt intends to turn itself into a regional hub for manufacturing and exporting ceramics, in light of the availability of energy sources, raw materials and qualified labor.

Ceramic exports to foreign markets reached around $92 million in the first nine months of 2021. Egypt has a rich history of manufacturing ceramics and it’s expected for this industry to grow significantly.

Essential Oils, Perfumes and Cosmetics

80% of the world’s natural jasmine products, come from Egypt, where specialists in this ancient art extract the aromatic oils from a profusion of flowers, leaves, roots and herbs and export them to perfumers in Paris, London, New York and even Moscow.

Perfumes are a huge export market still to be tapped and the use of essential oils is becoming a very, very popular natural alternative to traditional perfumes.

How To Import From Egypt

4 Steps To Success

If you’re now thinking to get involved in the import export world, I highly recommend it! Below is my personal testimonial of my experience, working 35+ years in import export. I’ve met some many great people, enjoyed my travels around the world and the satisfaction of negotiating deals and moving products around the world has been fantastic.

If the ideas above have inspired you, I recommend you take the next three steps.

Step 1: Sourcing Your Products

Once you’ve decided on some products, you’ll have to source where to buy them, export documentation, import documentation, whether you will need a import license and practical shipper’s knowledge. Finding sellers of your products is also half the fun. If you’re in a position to travel and explore, do it! It’s a great opportunity to expand your horizons. Not so easy in these times of a global pandemic but eventually we’ll be able to travel again.

If you can’t travel, there’s always Google, AliBaba and AliExpress. This can be a great place to start. For more ideas and an much more in-depth look into sourcing products, check out our blog in sourcing products internationally.

It can also be useful to call the Egyptian Embassy or Egyptian Consulate and ask for a list of suppliers for the product your looking for.

Step 2: Finding Buyers

Perhaps the biggest question is inevitably, how do I find buyers for my products?

This is without doubt the most common question that I’m asked. Well, the good news is, there’s more than one way to do this. The bad news is, there’s no “easy” way. It’s all going to take some hard work and perseverance but it can most certainly be done and some good profits are no doubt waiting for you.

For my biggest hints and tips after a lifetime in commercial buying and selling check out our blog post on finding buyers.

Step 3: Understand the Basics

You’re going to need to understand at a minimum, the basics of import and export. Don’t jump in and start buying products, hoping to sell them by crossing your fingers. You’ll lose money, time and cause yourself a lot of stress.

To start, have a read of our blog post, How To Start an Import Export Business. It’s only the bare minimum but it will give you an idea of what you need to start thinking about and you’ll pick up some handy tips that I learned over the year.

Step 4: Import Export Training Courses Online

If you’re still sold on the idea of international trade, I can only advise you to educate yourself. Our online import export courses are taught with a series of pre-recorded videos so you can start any time, study at your own pace and there’s no deadline to complete.

Our courses teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to know to trade successfully, confidently whilst maximising your profits. Taught by Alan Bracken, with 35+ years of commercial experience in logistics, he skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move your goods around the world.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

Free Croner-i Trade Lite Account

Back in March 2021, I published YouTube video, going into some detail on “How To Start Your Own Freight Forwarding Business“, which I’ve posted above as you can see.

For those of you that watch it, you’ll know that I talk about Croner’s Reference Book for Exporters and what a great resource it was for me in my commercial days.

It had been many, many years since I used the book so as I searched for links to the book for several students to buy, I discovered the book has stopped being published.  Obviously this goes to show my age!

I contacted Croners and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that several years ago, Croner’s moved from printed book form to online and now all information is available via their website.

Free “Trade Lite” Account For ABTS® Training Students

ABTS® Training has now partnered with Croner-i to offer a free “Trade Lite” account to all our users, which I certainly recommend checking out.

Click Here To Sign Up For Your Free Croner-i Trade Account.

Free access to:

  • Information on import export markets
  • Upcoming trade events
  • Toolkits
  • Ready-to-use ‘How To’ guides
  • News, feature articles and weekly email alerts

Sign Up Now

Product Ideas to Import and Sell in 2021

Occasionally we’re contacted by manufacturers and sellers from around the word, showcasing their products. Some of these certainly look interesting and like they have some great potential. With the right agent, perhaps there could be some excellent opportunity for strong sales and great profits to be made.

We’ll add products that we believe may have some potential to this page so you can research them and decide for yourself if they might be your cup of tea.

You’ll need to make sure your negotiation skills are ready for the job, so be sure you know how to enter into your negotiations.

DISCLAIMER: We have no interest, financial or otherwise in the products listed. We do not have any product knowledge other than the descriptions below, nor any affiliation. Research products for your own purposes.

If you would like more information on any of these products, please contact us and we will provide contact details.

Eco-Friendly Grass Drinking Straws from Vietnam

A Vietnamese supplier of eco-friendly products (both disposable and re-usable) such as drinking grass straws and tableware from coconut shells/woods.

Grass straws are great alternative to single use plastic and are:

  • 100% natural (no preservatives, chemicals, dyes, pesticides, etc…)
  • Single-use
  • Bio-degradable
  • Do not go going soggy and keeps shape well and can last for the whole day in both hot and cold drinks
  • Vegan and Gluten free
  • Easy to drink from

With plastic straws causing some many problems in our oceans and environment, public attitude is changing. Grass straws combined with other, eco-friendly products to form a strong range of products. Perhaps you can source eco-friendly products, such as eco-friendly coffee cups and something to replace plastic cutlery?

Next step will be to find buyers so try approaching restaurants, cafe’s, coffee shops and wholesalers. Make sure you have your pricing and minimum orders figured out.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

A Light Bulb Making You Invisible to Mosquitoes

A German company has invented a lightbulb that makes people invisible to mosquitoes and other insects.  

  • New, patented technology
  • Highly efficient and proven protection against widespread and disease-carrying insects
  • Prevention of insect-borne diseases
  • Product without toxicity, chemical contamination and environmental pollution

Ah the Summer! Heat, the garden, a beautiful holiday home, the pool, barbecues and…mosquitos! Many mosquitoes! Few things destroy a wonderful summer evening as quickly as a swarm of mosquitoes.

You’ve tried spray repellents, baits, Citronella candles, Tiki torches, and maybe even yellow lightbulbs. The expected effect has not materialized yet.

Could an ordinary light bulb solve your mosquito problems?

New technology creates a light frequency within a sphere of “action” at which insects lose their ability to find their target. Most Insects navigate by sun – or moon light, so the light that they can see attracts them. This product works on the principle that everything that is in the area of influence make it invisible to mosquitoes and other insects. Since they are not attracted to this special light, the effect is similar to that of conventional insect repellents, without however killing the insects or repelling them with the use of chemical substances.

Note: ABTS® Training has not seen nor tested the product but could be an interesting product that could be sold to hardware and DIY stores.

For more information contact us and we an provide contact details of the manufacturer.

Import Export Training Courses Online

Ready to break into international trade and become an agent for any of these products? I can only advise you to educate yourself. It’s going to save you a lot of pain! Our online import export courses are taught with a series of pre-recorded videos so you can start any time, study at your own pace and there’s no deadline to complete.

Our courses teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to know to trade successfully, confidently whilst maximising your profits. Taught by Alan Bracken, with 35+ years of commercial experience in logistics, he skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move your goods around the world.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

What Can Import From Nigeria?

Hottest Products to Import From Nigeria for 2022

Below are the hottest products to export from Nigeria, with huge growth potential:

  1. Locally Made Weaves (worth over $6 billion a year)
  2. Textiles and Garments (generated £32 billion in 2021)
  3. Ginger, Honey, Garlic and Nuts ($358 million to Asia and EU in 2021)
  4. Cosmetics and Soaps
  5. Palm Kernal Oil
  6. Cocoa

Imports from Nigeria offer an excellent opportunity for international traders for 2022 and beyond, with the UK market still relatively untapped. The trade growth for Nigeria is increasing which could offer some excellent deals if you can get your negotiation skills up to scratch.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

If you’re looking for some ideas to import from Nigeria and sell here’s our 6 hottest ideas for 2022:

Import Locally Made Weaves From Nigeria

According to some estimates, Africa’s dry hair market, this being the market for weaves, wigs and hair extensions, is right now worth over $6 billion a year and growing.  Western countries, particularly the US and UK are in high demand of weaves and will pay top dollar for real human hair.

Import Textiles and Garments

This industry already generates nearly $32 billion in export revenue from Nigeria. Nigeria’s textiles can enjoy duty free passage into United States where it has the largest market in the world because of the unique designs, ethnic African designs and excellent quality.

Import Cosmetics and Soaps

Nigeria is growing in this industry but it’s still a market in its infancy.  Soaps and other toiletries and laundries are already being exported but waiting for further investment. Nigerian cosmetics can be exported to other African countries where they are badly needed. Neighboring countries travel thousands of kilometers to buy in large quantities to sell in their countries for solid profits.

Import Ginger, Honey, Garlic and Nuts

In 2021, Asia was Nigeria’s main trade partner of agricultural products exports. As of the second quarter of 2021, the export value of agricultural products to Asia amounted to 108 billion Naira ($263 million). Europe was the second largest destination region of agricultural products, whose exports from Nigeria added up to approximately 39 billion Naira ($95 million).

Ginger is one of the most traded spices in the world and Nigeria has an abundance. Starting a Trans-Sahara or Trans-Atlantic trade with these products will be profitable. Garlic is also on top of the list that are very exportable from Nigeria.

Import Palm Kernel Oil

Palm Kernel oil is the oil extracted from the pulp of the palm fruit which is different from palm oil. Palm Kernel Oil is used for the manufacturing of various cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and confectioneries. The uses of this oil is broad and the mineral contents are rich in protein. 

Import Cocoa From Nigeria

This is the source of most chocolates. The fruits of Cocoa is used for the production of various skin care products, health products, and pharmaceutical products. Demand for Cocoa is very high in both America and UK and cocoa farming is abundant in Nigeria.

How To Import From Nigeria

4 Steps To Success

If you’re now thinking to get involved in the import export world, I highly recommend it! Below is a personal testimonial of my experience, working 35+ years in import export. I’ve met some many great people, enjoyed my travels around the world and the satisfaction of negotiating deals and moving products around the world has been fantastic.

If the ideas above have inspired you, I recommend you take the next three steps.

Step 1: Sourcing Your Products

Once you’ve decided on some products, you’ll have to source where to buy them. Finding sellers of your products is also half the fun. If you’re in a position to travel and explore, do it! It’s a great opportunity to expand your horizons. Not so easy in these times of a global pandemic but eventually we’ll be able to travel again.

If you can’t travel, there’s always Google, AliBaba and AliExpress. This can be a great place to start. For more ideas and an much more in-depth look into sourcing products, check out our blog in sourcing products internationally.

Step 2: Finding Buyers

Perhaps the biggest question is inevitably, how do I find buyers for my products?

This is without doubt the most common question that I’m asked. Well, the good news is, there’s more than one way to do this. The bad news is, there’s no “easy” way. It’s all going to take some hard work and perseverance but it can most certainly be done and some good profits are no doubt waiting for you.

For my biggest hints and tips after a lifetime in commercial buying and selling check out our blog post on finding buyers.

Step 3: Understand the Basics

You’re going to need to understand at a minimum, the basics of import and export. Don’t jump in and start buying products, hoping to sell them by crossing your fingers. You’ll lose money, time and cause yourself a lot of stress.

To start, have a read of our blog post, How To Start an Import Export Business. It’s only the bare minimum but it will give you an idea of what you need to start thinking about and you’ll pick up some handy tips that I learned over the year.

Step 4: Import Export Training Courses Online

If you’re still sold on the idea of international trade, I can only advise you to educate yourself. It’s going to save you a lot of pain! Our online import export courses are taught with a series of pre-recorded videos so you can start any time, study at your own pace and there’s no deadline to complete.

Our courses teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to know to trade successfully, confidently whilst maximising your profits. Taught by Alan Bracken, with 35+ years of commercial experience in logistics, he skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move your goods around the world.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

Photo by Ima Enoch on Unsplash

What Can I Import From Turkey?

Hottest Products to Import From Turkey for 2022

Below are the hottest products to export from Turkey, with large growth potential:

  1. Knitwear and Fashion Apparel ($16.676 billion in 2021, 23% increase)
  2. Jewelry ($21.51 billion in 2021, 33.7% increase)
  3. Turkish Carpets ($2.605 billion in 2020, 2.8% increase)
  4. Turkish Furniture ($4.28 billion in 2021, 23.9% increase)
  5. Turkish Ceramics ($1.2 billion in 2021)
  6. Turkish Suits

When considering what countries to import products from, imports from Turkey should be definitely considered. Turkey has a preferential trading agreement with the EU offering some great advantages as far as the EU Turkey customs union, making trade in 2022 is look increasingly strong for Turkeys’ exports.

What I’ve Personally Imported From Turkey

In the following video Alan Bracken talks about the advantages of importing from Turkey. He touches on his personal experiences doing business in Turkey as well as some of the best items to import that Turkey has to offer:

  1. Preferential Trading with Turkey
  2. Fruits and Vegetables
  3. Importing Clothes From Turkey
  4. Catering and Hospitality
  5. Leather Goods

Turkey’s Exports Leapt to Record of Nearly $225.4B in 2021

Turkey’s exports leapt to record of nearly $225.4B in 2021. Right now is the time to take advantage of this breakout in business confidence coming from Turkey. Turkey is hot!

Foreign sales surged by 32.9% year-over-year in 2021, forcing a welcome upward revision in the export target for 2022 to $250 billion. Exports have grown more than sixfold compared to only $36 billion some 19 years ago.

The pandemic hurt trade with Ankara’s biggest partners but Turkey’s exports have not only recoeved by seen all-time highs in 11 out of the last 12 months.

By October 2021, the country’s share in global exports had surpassed 1%, another first for Turkey, that marked a more than sixfold rise over the past two decades.

The number of firms carrying out exports hit 101,386 as of end-2021, compared to just 33,523 back in 2002. Last year alone, over 32,000 new firms joined the list.

Record Sales to Germany, U.S., U.K.

Exports to the European Union, where almost half of Turkey’s exports go, surged 33% year-over-year to $93.1 billion, enabling Turkey to post a surplus of around $7.7 billion in trade with the bloc.

Sales to the U.S. were up 44.6% year-over-year, or $4.54 billion, the data showed.

Exports to the U.K. surged 22% in the first year after Ankara and London signed a post-Brexit free trade agreement in December 2020 to support a trade partnership worth over $25 billion.

Now’s the time to get onboard with further growth forecast for Turkeys’ exports. Selling products to an EU country or in the UK can offer a high profit margin as product quality is superior for many products, as seen below and maintain a high selling price.

If you’re looking for some ideas to import from Turkey and sell here’s our 6 hottest ideas for 2022:

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Import Knitwear and Fashion Apparel from Turkey

Apparel exports from Turkey increased by 23.02% year-on-year in the first eleven months of 2021, according to the data from the Turkish Statistical Institute and the country’s ministry of trade. In January-November 2021, Turkey exported apparel worth $16.676 billion, compared to exports of $13.555 billion during the corresponding period of 2020.

Turkish footwear exports surged 22.9% year-over-year in 2021, exceeding $1 billion for the first time.

Import Jewelry From Turkey

Exports from Turkey increased 33.7% from a year earlier to an all-time high of $21.51 billion in November 2021. The main export partner was Germany, followed by the UK, the US, Iraq and Italy.

Turkish jewellery exports rose sharply in 2021, year-on-year . Driven by surging demand in U.S. and Middle Eastern markets, the value of the total of Turkish gold and silver jewellery, gemstone and diamond exports, excluding bullion, was estimated to be up 180% in 2021, compared with 2020.

The U.S. is set to leapfrog other destinations such as Dubai and become the number 1 export destination for the Turkish jewellery and gemstone sector in value terms in 2021 after a very successful performance by Turkish exporters at the JCK show in Las Vegas this year.

Import Carpets from Turkey

The World’s Interest In The Turkish Carpet Is Increasing. $2.605 billion were exported in 2020 with an increase of 2.8% in the carpet sector, an increase in the carpet sector year on year of over 10 percent. The carpet sector is a sector where Turkey are pioneers in the world.

Turkey has an ambitious target of $5 billion per year by growing the scale and this can be an incredibly profitable product and worth considering for any importer.

Import Ceramics From Turkey

On the country’s ceramic industry, he said Turkey’s ceramic exports last year totaled around $1.2 billion.

Turkey has one of the oldest and fastest-growing ceramic manufacturing industries in the world. The ceramic tile manufacturing industry is one of the most developed sectors in Turkey. ​The country has emerged as one of the top ten ceramic tile manufacturers in the world. The industry in the country is eighth in the world and third in Europe. Demand for Turkish ceramics is at its highest in the US, UK and Germany.

Import Furniture From Turkey

Turkish furniture exports reach $4.28 billion in 2021, increasing by 23.9%.

Turkey exported mostly to the United States, Germany, England, Iraq and Israel in the furniture sector in 2021. In this period, the most exported products were bedsteads and cradles for children, armchairs, chairs, wooden furniture for dining and living rooms, metal furniture and sofas that could be turned into beds.

Import Suits From Turkey

Turkish clothing exports, especially to EU markets, will continue increasing because high Chinese salaries are making China less price-competitive and Turkish apparel has a much better quality image than Chinese apparel. Another factor is the gradual depreciation of the Turkish lira is giving Turkish exporters an advantage on price.

How To Import From Turkey

4 Steps To Success

If you’re now thinking to get involved in the import export world, I highly recommend it! Below is a personal testimonial of my experience, working 35+ years in import export. I’ve met some many great people, enjoyed my travels around the world and the satisfaction of negotiating deals and moving products around the world has been fantastic.

If the ideas above have inspired you, I recommend you take the next three steps.

Step 1: Sourcing Your Products

Once you’ve decided on some products, you’ll have to source where to buy them. Finding sellers of your products is also half the fun. If you’re in a position to travel and explore, do it! It’s a great opportunity to expand your horizons. Not so easy in these times of a global pandemic but eventually we’ll be able to travel again.

If you can’t travel, there’s always Google, AliBaba and AliExpress. This can be a great place to start. For more ideas and an much more in-depth look into sourcing products, check out our blog in sourcing products internationally.

Step 2: Finding Buyers

Perhaps the biggest question is inevitably, how do I find buyers for my products?

This is without doubt the most common question that I’m asked. Well, the good news is, there’s more than one way to do this. The bad news is, there’s no “easy” way. It’s all going to take some hard work and perseverance but it can most certainly be done and some good profits are no doubt waiting for you.

For my biggest hints and tips after a lifetime in commercial buying and selling check out our blog post on finding buyers.

Step 3: Understand the Basics

You’re going to need to understand at a minimum, the basics of import and export. Don’t jump in and start buying products, hoping to sell them by crossing your fingers. You’ll lose money, time and cause yourself a lot of stress.

To start, have a read of our blog post, How To Start an Import Export Business. It’s only the bare minimum but it will give you an idea of what you need to start thinking about and you’ll pick up some handy tips that I learned over the year.

Step 4: Import Export Training Courses Online

If you’re still sold on the idea of international trade, I can only advise you to educate yourself. It’s going to save you a lot of pain! Our online import export courses are taught with a series of pre-recorded videos so you can start any time, study at your own pace and there’s no deadline to complete.

Our courses teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to know to trade successfully, confidently whilst maximising your profits. Taught by Alan Bracken, with 35+ years of commercial experience in logistics, he skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move your goods around the world.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

Photo by Svetlana Gumerova on Unsplash

Incoterms Explained – Think Codewords

Incoterms Meaning

Incoterms are a pre-defined set of three letter codes created by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) which were established so there would be clear international commercial terms, as far as where costs and risks lie within each party (the buyer or the seller) when making an agreement in moving goods from the source to the destination, hopefully reducing issues within a supply chain.

Think of Incoterms as code words that are used within international trade that make it 100% clear where the buyers and sellers responsibilities lie, as far as the place of delivery, the division of cost and where the risk transfers to the buyer.

Incoterms Explaination With Examples

Our Incoterms 2020 explained video on YouTube uses examples and explains what Incoterms are and why we use them in logistics:

Quick History of Incoterms

Incoterms were very first created in 1923 but over the years they have been updated and amended. So far, they’ve been updated 9 times since 1923 and we’re now using Incoterms 2020.

Incoterms is an acronym:

  • IN stands for International
  • CO stands for Commercial
  • TERMS are obviously terms
  • 2020 denotes the year of latest revision

Why Do We Need To Use Incoterms 2020?

When we buy something from eBay, we expect the seller to receive our money and send us the product that we’ve paid for to our named destination (usually our home address). If we don’t receive this product, we can contact the seller and address the problem or should that fail,  contact either our credit card company and/or eBay and they will act on our behalf and settle the dispute.

Obviously in buying something on eBay the process is pretty simple but the seller may say once they put the product in the post and have the proof of postage, it’s no longer their problem.

If the package is lost in between, it could be the fault of the post office or maybe it was delivered to a neighbor.  There are variables that come into play and if something goes wrong, the responsibility of the buyer and seller is not so clear. However, on this small scale it’s usually reasonably easy to resolve.

Incoterms, or these “code words” were developed to clear up any issues on exactly who is responsible (the buyer or seller) for each part of the logistics process and make sure that there cannot be any misunderstandings.  The prime purpose in developing Incoterms is to identify where the buyer and where the sellers’ responsibilities lie under three main areas:

  1. The place of delivery from the seller to the buyer.
  2. The transfer of risk from the seller to the buyer.
  3. The division of costs between the seller and buyer.

Essentially it stops any confusion for what the buyer and seller pays for.

You may have heard of a few of them already such as:

EXW – Ex Works
FOB – Free Onboard
CIP – Carriage and Insurance Paid
DAP – Delivered at Place
DDP – Delivered Duty Paid

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How Many Incoterms Are There?

There are 11 Incoterms that are divided into 4 categories.  There are the new Incoterms for 2020 in use on the international logistics stage today.

The following apply to any modes of transport:

  1. EXW – Ex Works
  2. FCA – Free Carrier
  3. CPT – Carriage Paid To
  4. CIP – Carriage and Insurance Paid To
  5. DPU – Delivered at Place Unloaded
  6. DAP – Delivered at place
  7. DDP – Delivered Duty Paid

For sea and inland waterway transport:

  1. FAS – Free Alongside Shipping
  2. FOB – Free on Board
  3. CFR – Cost and Freight
  4. CIF – Cost, Insurance and Freight

Which Incoterm Should I Use?

It’s beyond the scope of this blog to go into detail and explain each Incoterm as it would take quite some time but as you’ve probably guessed, which Incoterm(s) you should be using depends on  various circumstances. Not least, your customer may ask you to deliver under a preferred set of Incoterms, so it’s wise to be well informed on what all 11 Incoterms mean and how to use them.

In my experience, the majority of companies that I deal with, tell me that they try to trade under EXW as its ‘Easy” and requires the minimum involvement in the logistics of delivering the goods to their overseas customer.

Two Very Different Incoterm Examples

Using the following two examples, you can see there are two very different ways to achieve the same thing, namely getting a delivery of your goods to your customer.

Scenario One: Using The Incoterm EXW

Here’s an example of what’s needed if you as a seller were to export under the Incoterm EXW (Ex Works):

  1. Place of Delivery: The sellers warehouse door
  2. Risk Passes: At the sellers warehouse door
  3. Cost: Cost of production plus profit (or the price on the invoice)
  4. Export packing (if required)

As you can see, by using EXW, you have very little work to do other than preparing the goods, boxing them up and have the shipment waiting at the named place (usually your warehouse door) ready for collection.

Delivery EXW is great if you can agree on that with your customer but what if they request any trade terms of delivery? This is where you’ll need to know and understand Incoterms rules.

Scenario Two: Using The Incoterm CFR

Now let’s say that you’ve negotiated and landed a large order, that’s a profitable deal with a new customer and they’re potentially going to make many more orders in the future.

They don’t want to organise the logistics of collecting their order from your warehouse but instead want you to organise the delivery to them.  They ask you to complete the order under the Incoterm CFR and expect in this case, you, the seller delivers the goods.  This very much changes the work involved from the sellers point standpoint:

  1. Place of Delivery:  On board the vessel at named port (or inland waterway transport vessel)
  2. Transfer of Risk:  When goods are placed on board the vessel
  3. Division of cost:  Cost of production plus profit (or the price on the invoice)
  • Export packing if required
  • Export Entry Declared to HMRC
  • Weight Certificate
  • Transport to dock of Export
  • Terminal Handling Charges
  • Security check if required

Contrary to EXW, by trading under CFR there is much more work to do in preparing the order for export and transferring the shipment to the dock in order to be transported, not to mention you as the seller are extending your risk because you’re not “off the hook” until the goods are on the vessel.

There may also be a cost implication as you’ll have to cover modes of transport from your warehouse to the dock and the various documentation as listed above.

As a seller, EXW is preferable of course but there will be times where a buyer asks you for something different, so be prepared.  In this case you would need to know that trading under CFR will require the following:

  • You as the  seller should have a basic knowledge of the export procedure
  • Obtain Export Licence IF required
  • Arrange transport to port of loading
  • Make an export entry to HMRC
  • Register for EORI status
  • Obtain freight quotation from Freight Forwarder or direct from shipping line
  • Issue Bills of Lading Instructions
  • Arrange for Bills of Lading to be forwarded to the seller according to the method payment involved in the contract between seller and buyer

There’s much to understand in exporting your orders around the world and if you really want to grow to a global scale, you must have an excellent grasp of export procedure.

Incoterms Infographic

Before we dive too far into Incoterms, review our infographic below which illustrates where the obligation and risk passes from the seller to the buyer.

Incoterms 2020 Infographic
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To embed this Incoterms infographic, copy and paste the code below:

Trade Terms: Contract of Carriage and Insurance

Incoterms also address such matters as:

  • Contract of carriage and insurance
  • Licences, authorisations, security clearance and other formalities
  • Checking of packaging and markings
  • Delivery document

Depending on the Incoterm used, it’s either the seller or buyers’ responsibility to undertake the contract of carriage and insurance. This is also very important.

By quoting a particular Incoterm the responsibility for delivery of the freight and its insurance, falls either upon the seller or the buyer, which is why it’s so extremely important to understand the Incoterm you’re trading under.  If you misunderstand this, you may have to pay for transport of these costs when you’re not expecting to.

For example, under “EXW subject to Incoterms 2020” it is the responsibility of the buyer to arrange carriage and Insurance (should they want insurance).

However, under “CIF subject to Incoterms 2020” it flips to the sellers’ responsibility to arrange freight delivery and insurance.

Three letters can have a massive impact on a deal, costs and profit margins and must be understood.

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Perhaps most importantly, make sure to pick up a copy of Incoterms 2020 from the International Chamber of Commerce and study this as it’s certainly time well spent!

Conclusion

Incoterms 2020 are the foundation of importing and exporting and you must make sure you understand all the costs that that the buyer bears as well as the seller’s responsibility. Without understanding the risks involved you are far more likely to get involved in a deal that could go badly.

Understand what insurance cover you need, whether it’s minimum cover or if you need more comprehensive protection. Know what responsibilites the seller bears and the buyer assumes.

On top that, make sure you understand what import duties you’ll have to pay and what documentation you’ll require for customs clearance but we’ll save that for another blog.

Import Export Training Course Online

If you’re looking to break into international trade as a career or setting up your own business, ABTS® Training offers online import export courses, taught with a series of pre-recorded videos. Study at your own pace, no deadline to finish and lifetime access to your course.

Our courses teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to know to trade successfully, confidently whilst maximising your profits. Taught by Alan Bracken, with 35+ years of commercial experience in logistics, he skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move your goods around the world.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

Import From China

The most common idea associated with international trade is to find profitable products to import goods from China and make your profit selling at home. Load up a container, hand it over to your freight forwarder and sell on Amazon or Ebay. There are many individuals who have setup companies and are successfully importing from China wholesale and making a good profit.

There’s obviously nothing at all wrong with this business model but I’m suggesting now that you start thinking about disrupting this trend and turn it around by exporting luxury products to China. My prediction is that this will be where the biggest profits will come from over the next 20 years and in this blog, I’ll explain why.

Cheap Products To Import From China

Everyone is looking for cheap goods with high profit margins to import from China. The problem in today’s environment is that selling Chinese goods of low quality, cheap products has become a false economy and consumers are now wise to this. Over the years many consumers have bought cheap products, imported from a cheap Chinese supplier, only to find they break or fail quickly and have to be replaced with a better quality product further down the line. In China, it’s the same thinking and the population is now starting to look to order high end, quality products coupled with excellent customer service and fast delivery.

Now is the time to change your thinking and turn from importing from China to UK and instead think about China trade deals but exporting to China and the massive market that there is.

The Population Of China

So let’s start with some basic numbers. How many people are in China and what’s the size of the economy? After all, one of the most important factors in our market research is the size of the market that we’re going to sell to.

The population of China is staggering at 1.371 billion people and is the world’s most populous nation.

Population of China
© Copyright Data360.org

China has over 160 cities that have a population of over 1 million people. 53 cities in China have a population greater than two million people. Compare this for a moment with the US, who have just 10 cities with more than 1 million and the UK has just the one, London.

China’s biggest city is Guangzhou with a population of 44,294,245 (as of 2019). New York is America’s biggest city with a population of just 8,500,000 which is slightly bigger than London at 8,136,000.

Two of China’s most well-known cities include, Shanghai which has a population of 22,685,000 and Beijing, weighing in at 20,390,000.

To see the staggering growth of Shanghai from farmland to a modern city in just 20 years, watch this 20 second video:

This gives you an idea of the sheer size and scale of the population in China and any potential market to export goods to. You only need to find a niche range of products which even if you sold to just .01% of the Chinese population, you would have sold to 1,371,000 customers.

The future is quite literally mind-blowing as some estimates state that by 2025 China will have 221 cities with a population of at least 1 million. No other country and compare to this as far a market size.

Pay attention to these numbers, they are hugely significant. You should no longer be looking to import from China but to export to it.

China’s Economy

In economic terms, China’s economy ranks second, behind the USA (measured in nominal GDP in US Dollars). Without doubt China is gaining on the US economy with some claiming that it’s already overtaken the US as the world’s number one economy. Whether or not it’s number one or number two right now, really doesn’t matter for the argument of importing goods to China, it will become number one in the not too distant future.

GDP growth outstrips the US at 6.3% for 2019 compared to 2.5%. It’s just a matter of time before China takes the top spot.

Largest Economies
© Copyright Focus-Economics.com

In 1978, China started a programme of economic reforms, at that time ranking ninth (GDP). China as we know became the manufacturing hub of the world and 35 years later, jumped to the current position of number two on the word economic stage.

China’s Middle Class

Here’s the biggest reason why you don’t want to import from China but export to it.

Over the last 20 years or so, China’s middle class has been flourishing. In 1999 China’s middle class was 2% of its population (29 million people) but that has now increased to 39% or over 400 million people. With a US middle class of just 120 million, the growing middle class is significant and not to be ignored. The Chinese government defines middle class incomes between the range of 60,000 to 500,000 yuan per annum ($7,250 to $62,500) and with living costs lower in China, even the bottom end salaries enjoy a good standard of living.

© Copyright Medium.com

Perhaps a case in point, car sales in China have grown for 26 straight years, with 28 million new cars sold in 2018. To give an idea for reference, US consumers bought 17 million cars in 2018 and in the European Union, 15.5 million cars were sold.

Millennials

An important feature of China’s emerging middle class that’s apparent is age. This upcoming middle class is young in comparison to other developed markets around the world. For example, in the US, income generally reaches its optimal point between the age range of 45 to 54. This is due to the need for higher education coupled with both professional and personal life experience.

In China, higher paying jobs generally require higher levels of education, which the older generation weren’t able to obtain, so the government has made a substantial push for higher education for the young, which will bring the wealthiest consumer to an age range of 25 to 44.

It’s estimated that this emerging middle class won’t meet it’s expected spending potential for approximately 20 years, so there’s time to research, put together a business plan and make headway into China now.

China And The Internet

Unsurprisingly, mobile and internet usage as exploded in the last 15 years. In 2006, just 10.5% of the population had access to the internet. This rose to a massive 54% by 2017, which believe it or not, is more than the entire population of Europe. This has brought about an equal increase in ecommerce and online shopping, with China responsible for 42% of the global market in 2017. While there is a big opportunity for online business in China, there’s a lot of competition so make sure you understand the basics of getting online before you take the plunge.

Internet Usage Asia
© Copyright Inquirer.net

Looking at performance results of companies that have successfully marketed themselves in China, the winners have gained access to customers through digital and influencer marketing, as you may expect, attracting millennials.

WeChat is a huge marketing tool that must be utilised to identify and target customers for both online and offline sales. One very well known cosmetic brand uses WeChat to book facial treatments and another to access coupons and manage membership cards. Both innovative ways to use this social platform and take advantage of its user base.

China And International Travel

The Chinese are travelling internationally like never before. Yearly spending by Chinese tourists has grown by an astounding 1,380% – rocketing from $10 billion in 2000 to over $260 billion in 2016. To give you an idea of just how massive this is, over approximately the same period, US tourists spent $160 billion, an increase of 175% and their EU counterparts spent $388 billion, up 172%.

In 2018, Chinese tourists totaled 149.72 million, with some of the most popular destinations being Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, America and Italy. The China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) predicts that overseas trips by Chinese citizens will massively increase from last year’s figure of 145 million to more than 400 million by 2030.

Chinese Tourism
© Copyright WeForum.org

This is significant because as Chinese tourists travel to other countries and experience higher end, more luxurious products and services, they experience that difference in quality. Taste for different, quality food and drink is opened and on their return home, they find they want the same quality of product or taste and are willing to pay. Filling the gap in these markets is a potential gold mine.

In addition, a higher proportion of travels are the younger generation as they are beginning to earn higher salaries as mentioned. This is a big market to cater for when they return home.

It’s worth noting that Chinese luxury shoppers, spending abroad are now responsible for 33% of the global market.

The Luxury Goods Market

China’s domestic luxury goods market has grown at a very comfortable rate of 20% in both 2017 and 2018, which have been driven by millennial’s and women. Interestingly and an important fact to take note of, millennial’s contributed to almost all of the incremental growth of China’s luxury market over the past year.

This young consumer population are well informed about luxury products and embrace trends, valuing whats cool and new on the market. Millennial women spend more on luxury than men, proven by more than 25% growth in cosmetics in 2018, while watches grew by less than 10%.

A UBS survey found that 71% of millennials have a positive outlook on their finances with 81% expecting their income to increase.

Perhaps in response to this growing demand of luxury goods, the Chinese government has reduced import VAT duties on luxury items coupled with brands narrowing the price gap with overseas markets, which has raised the purchases of luxury goods in China from 23% in 2015 to 27% in 2018 and is anticipated to increase to 50% by 2025. This means that Chinese consumers no longer have to travel outside of China and Hong Kong to make their luxury purchases.

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Areas of Growth

China is a nation of savers, unlike the west, where we tend to be comfortable with taking loans and credit. Some 70% of China’s millennials own their own homes, which is double those of US millennials. Chinese households will save anywhere from 25% – 40% of their income which is one of the highest national saving rates in the world. While these households will continue to save, as incomes rise, so will expenditure.

As income rises, families tend to by more impulse products and small luxury items which is already happening in China. Housing and health are two areas that are fast-growing. Chinese are spending more on home ownership which will fuel the construction and furniture market. This may be an area to think about as an easier way to break into China. Freight forwarding won’t be a problem and with smaller home furnishings, drop shipping may be an option for smaller order quantity. Consider both air and sea freight depending on what you’re exporting.

Health is important to Chinese culture and with an aging population, spending will likely increase in this sector. Research will be needed to enter this market as naturopathy and diet as a form of healthcare is important to Chinese, however there are opportunities.

Jack Ma is Big on China

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba.com is as optimistic and upbeat as you can be on China in spite of a slow down in economic growth.

He sees the slow down in pace as good for China saying it’s healthy to slow down and even if growth slowed to 5%, China would still be one of the fastest growing economies. It’s impossible for China to continually grow at 10% per year. He compares how the government needs to act like an experienced driver, knowing when to drive slowly and when to drive fast. Slowing is sometimes needed.

Quality and Individuality

Jack Ma believes the focus for China should now be on quality, not quantity. This is what the people want. Young people want products that are unique to them, not what’s produced en mass and sold at the cheapest price. Now is a time where consumers want the one of a kind t-shirt, that’s of a better quality and this generation isn’t as worried about the cost. The days of mass production at low cost are ending.

Business leaders and entrepreneurs are optimistic, they always are or they wouldn’t be in business and China’s outlook is very positive. The Chinese government has grown the economy with a policy of investment in infrastructure and exporting. It’s been successful with it’s policy but when it comes to domestic consumption, this is something the government is not good at. This is the job of entrepreneurs and marketers.

China Importer Of The World

In the next 10 to 20 years, China is going to shift from exporting to importing and domestic consumption and move from infrastructure investment to infrastructure operations. This is not an opportunity for only China but an opportunity for the world.

Chinese consumers are curious, they want new things, to explore new tastes. To illustrate this point, Jack Ma had a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister and was told they would like to sell Canadian lobsters to China. Jack Ma took the necessary steps and on the first day of being sold on Alibaba, 100,000 lobsters were sold. 100,000 lobsters in a single day. This increased to 150 tons over the year.

China will become the largest importer of the world and Jack Ma believes the only way this is going to happen is by use of the internet. There are 10 million people selling on Alibaba and more than 100 million regularly shop on the site. The internet and ecommerce is the key to importing success in China and without harnessing the power of the internet, it’s impossible.

Consider there are 1.4 billion people born globally after the 1980’s. This is the internet generation who live, breathe and sleep the internet. Everything they do is posted online, the information they get is all online, this generation do not read traditional newspapers.

The scope of domestic consumption in China is the biggest in the world. Being a part of it isn’t rocket science. Research, source, export and sell high quality products in China using the internet. This generation has everything at their disposal to do it, it just takes effort, time, some hard work and some investment. The risk could be well worth the reward.

Jack Ma says not to listen to the people that say “it will never work”. 15 years ago, many people told him that Alibaba could never work, “it’s too hard”. Now the company is valued at $500 billion. It took Walmart in the US over 60 years to reach the same value. It will work, if you do.

Luxury Spirits

Let’s look at just one luxury market in China that’s certainly gathering pace, spirits and alcohol. There’s a definite rise of social drinking culture which together with an increase in disposable income, again, younger consumers are driving this market. GlobalData, a recognized leader in business intelligence and analytics reports that the market is expected to reach over $450 billion by 2021 from $205 billion in 2016.

In 2016, the Chinese spirits market had 32.8% of global volume and 52.3% of the Asia-Pacific region with it projected to reach 46.9% and 66.2% respectively by 2021.

In line with the numbers already stated, China’s younger consumers who drink on social occasions along with the increasing numbers of female drinkers will play a key role in the years to come for the Chinese spirits market. Per capita spirits consumption was pegged at 7.3 liters in 2016, nearly a full liter over the global average of 6.4 liters and 6.2 liters in the Asia-Pacific region. China’s per capita spirits consumption is set to rise to 14.4 liters by 2021.

Specialty Spirits were worth $193.3 billion in 2016 and forecast to grow at 15.1% per year, dominating the overall spirits market right the way to 2021.

Conclusion

Why import from China when Chinese consumers want luxury goods from abroad and the potential market size is the biggest in the world?

China’s growth is phenomenal and as the middle class swells there will be opportunity to export to China like never before. Buck the trend and follow the numbers, the old import from China business model has had it’s day. Selling products to millions can be achieved by selling to just a .01% of the population.

Like anything worth doing in this world, it won’t be easy, there will be obstacles such as finding a good air freight carrier or freight forwarder, knowing what your shipping costs and import duty will be and understanding shipping terms. Familiarising yourself with customs clearance in China and a start by going to trade shows and making contact with suppliers.

If you’re looking at selling your own products, as a word of warning it’s worth considering protecting your intellectual property. Copyright claims in China can be an issue so familiarise yourself with this.

If you invest some time in research, educating yourself in exporting, source a range of products, the rewards are potentially bigger than anything we have seen before.

We’ve had a student that did exactly this and disrupted the trend after realising there was a bigger market to export wine to China, than import from China. She now has a successful company exporting to China and I suspect she will go from strength to strength.

Sources:

You Tube
Global Data
CSIS
Market Realist
McKinsey
The Guardian
World Atlas
Travel China Guide
Telegraph
Bain
Bloomberg
Focus Economics
Medium
Inquirer
Quora
We Forum
We Forum
Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Import Export Business – 15 Top Tips and 12 Startup Ideas

The story of Lord Alan Sugar is a great one, from selling radio aerials for cars and other electrical goods out of a van, to a market stall, to multimillionaire. Starting an import export business really isn’t rocket science and can be hugely rewarding and make you financially successful but of course, is going to take time, dedication and some all fashioned hard work.

Start an import export business is challenging and will take some study and research but the rewards are great.  Here’s what we’re going to cover so you know what to think about as you start your import export business venture:

  1. Product Testing: Is Your Product Hot Or Not?
  2. Find The Best Products For The Lowest Price
  3. Get Samples From Suppliers
  4. Safety In Numbers: A Range of Products Earn Bigger Profits
  5. Understand Agencies
  6. Learn How To Negotiation: The Art of The Deal
  7. Learn How To Find Buyers!
  8. Understand Incoterms 2020: Code Words for Logistics
  9. Find A Freight Forwarder
  10. Understand Marine Insurance: For When Disaster Strikes!
  11. Remember Your Terms and Conditions
  12. Setup Your Company The Right Way For You
  13. Write Your Business Plan
  14. Keep the Tax Man Happy!
  15. Build Your Own Website

Start Your Own Your Own Import And Export Business

Some reports state that around 70% of us are unhappy in our job. This being true, it’s always possible to change career, take the plunge and start up your own international trading business.

It’s scary but for those that do and are willing to take the time to learn a new business, do their research, create a business and marketing plan and have the guts to take action, it’s well worth it. Nothing’s easy in this world but once a few sales start to come in, it’s a very rewarding feeling seeing something come to life that you’ve built.

Starting an import business or any business for that matter, is exciting and hugely rewarding. The sweat, hard work and hours that you put into your own company, benefit you directly, rather than your boss or manager, you reap all the rewards. Making all the decisions and being accountable only to yourself will give you a feeling of freedom and the rewards are many.

Securing your own financial future, earning the respect and admiration of colleagues, friends and family as someone who took the risk and went out and built their own company is a satisfying feeling. Working the hours that you want to work is a huge advantage over having to work endless hours for someone else.

Let’s get to the point and tell you how to set up your own company, how to trade on the International stage successfully and point out some of the most common pitfalls, so that you can setup and trade successfully and most importantly, profitably from day one.

For some inspiration, here’s a story of how one of our students did exactly that and is now exporting Spanish wine to China.

Minimum Investment For Import Export Business

Other than knowing how to start an import export business, the next question is inevitably, how much will it cost? There’s no single answer to that question, it depends on many factors. Obviously if you’re importing high end luxury cars from Italy, you are going to need a significant amount of capital behind you, much more than if you were to import grapes from France for example.

So it’s not so much, “how much do I need” as much as what’s in your business plan and how will you fund it?

Is Your Product Hot or Not?

You’ve thought long and hard about the products you want to either import and sell or what products you’re producing for export.  If you’re looking for some inspiration for ideas, we’ve got ides from six countries below to get you thinking.

Many are eager to jump right in, buy stock and start selling, however before you dive head first into your import export business and spend your hard earned money on stock, it’s vital to test the water and find out if others are as enthusiastic about your product as you.

You may think that the product you want to sell will be successful and you’ll make a healthy profit from it but in reality this may not be true. We’ve all seen Dragon’s Den where budding inventors and entrepreneurs think they have the most revolutionary idea or product but the wise Dragon’s don’t see it and shoot it straight down! Just because you like a product it doesn’t mean that the public will like it and part with their hard earned cash to buy it.

There are many ways to find opinions on your ideas and products. Sometimes you have to be a little creative in how you approach it but its time well invested. Start with friends and family and ask for honest opinions. Discuss pricing and ask your friends if they would pay for your product. Hold a focus group in your local neighborhood, give your product to the focus group and ask for their thoughts and feedback.

Find the Best Products for the Lowest Price

When it comes to selecting and sourcing products, my advice is, it’s best to perhaps pick an industry that you are familiar with so there’s less of a learning curve, if you’re into mobile phone technology and already know and understand a lot in this field, it can be a good idea to follow this road.

You’ll already understand the products that you’re looking at and probably know pricing already so these are a few advantages to sticking to what you know.

It’s extremely important to know where to buy your products from. This is one of the pillars of foundation of your import export business and will dictate if your business is profitable or not.

A common complaint we hear from many entrepreneurs is “I know what I want to import and sell but I don’t know where to get it from”. Where can you source products from with such a huge amount of suppliers in a global market place?

You must understand how to source your product from the right supplier with the right terms and price. Many traders rely on Internet suppliers like as Alibaba and other such companies. These companies a certainly worth looking at there’s no harm in this but you’re limiting your search.

There is a great myth among buyers in that you get the best price, product and terms from China. This is not always the case! China is not actually the centre of global trade. Sourcing from companies in Preferential Trading Countries (PTC) can be a much easier and cheaper way to go.

We’ve written a more detailed blog with where we discuss some ideas on sourcing internationally.

Get Samples From Suppliers

Facing buyers will be a key part of any trading that you do and following some simple guidelines will make the process easier, give you more confidence and give you a much higher conversion rate. Buyers will want to see samples of the goods they intend to buy and samples come in all shapes and sizes.

Some are easy to obtain from supplier such as clothing, toys and watches. Others are bulky, such as construction and capital equipment. Most producers will give a limited number of samples free of charge to a serious buyer or at a nominal cost.

It’s important to make sure you know how the products work when you receive these samples, as you will have to make presentations and demo the product to potential buyers so familiarise yourself with all aspects of the product. This is where your market research and focus groups will come in very handy as you will be able to take all the feedback and questions you received and be ready for the same, preparing your pitch to cover these.

Make contact with companies and see what they can offer you and at what prices.  If you’re able to take a trip and go and visit manufacturers or factories, this is always time and money well spent and shows you’re serious.

You’ll also have the added advantage of seeing the product yourself, check the quality of the materials and the workmanship.  Nothing really beats physically seeing it as photos and video really can’t show this.

A Range of Products Earns Bigger Profits

Now that you have sourced your product, got your samples, conducted your research which is proving positive, you may feel ready to dive in, start your import export business and start approaching buyers and retailers, asking them to place orders.

Before taking that jump, it’s very wise not to become complacent and make sure you vary your product range. This offers several advantages.

Concentrating on selling just one product will limit you. You should ideally have a complimentary range of products.

Appointments to buyers/retailers must result in a sale. If you show your potential buyer only one item, for example, an electric kettle and they do not want to place an order, your visit was a waste of your time. However if you then show the buyer your complementary range you have a better chance of securing an order.  If they are not interested in your kettle, they may be interested in your unique coffee maker, toaster and waffle maker.  You get the point, remember, there’s always safety in numbers!

By offering a product range, even if your buyer likes the main product you wanted to market, they may also like other products within your range, so a purchase order that would have been for just one product, could turn into an order for several products. This increases profits for you and in the worst case, if the buyer did not like the first product you had in mind, they may like another in the range and still place an order. Don’t limit yourself but keep as many options as you can on the table.

Understanding Agencies

Generally speaking, setting up as an export and import agent can be the way to go if you’re looking for minimal financial commitment as it requires less financial exposure, so this is something to definitely consider.

Many businesses are set up as agencies. There are two main types of agencies available and it’s extremely important you understand both. Both have their benefits and can offer you advantages depending on your personal situation and what you want to achieve. There are traditional agents and brokers. There is a lot to understand when dealing with agencies which is a little beyond the scope of this blog but we have a blog post that goes into much more detail on how to become an import export agent.

The Art Of The Deal

Negotiation is one of the highlights of being an entrepreneur and being “the boss”. This is where you can set the terms of your business and drive a hard bargain. Negotiating is a key part of any business from the trader at your local market stall, to multi-billion pound companies the world over.

Hone your negotiating skills, be confident and a little charming and you can walk away with the deal you want. We’ve seen on Dragons Den how the dragons and the entrepreneurs will negotiate back and forth, sometimes quite intensely until the deal is done with both sides feeling great about the agreement. As an entrepreneur this is a great feeling, securing the deal you want and giving you more confidence going into the next deal.

At every junction of your import export business, you’re going to have to negotiate. Once you’ve sourced your products, you’ll have to negotiate the price, the quantities, the samples and it won’t end there. When you approach buyers, you’ll have to negotiate the terms of the sale, the retail price, the wholesale price, minimum order, delivery time, exclusivity and the list can go on. Contract terms will also need to be negotiated.

Import export negotiation techniques

Buyers and Sellers seldom agree on terms and conditions of the contract on the first attempt. There are usually periods when both parties have to negotiate to reach an agreement. Before you enter into negotiations, you must develop an negotiating strategy. Here’s a few negotiation techniques to get you started.

Negotiating becomes easier the more you do it. You’ll start to get an idea of how far you can push and what the other party will be willing to give up. As you do more and more deals with the same parties, you will be able to negotiate better deals and likely more quickly as an element of trust will be built. As the other party gains trust in you by paying your bills on time and living up to your word, you may be able to negotiate even better deals going forward as you remove their “hassle factor”.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

How To Find Buyers

Finding buyers for your products is obviously key to any import export business. There are several ways to find these buyers and I bet we have some suggestions for you that you haven’t thought of.

There’s quite a lot that we can talk about here so we’ve created a separate blog with some suggestions on how to find buyers for your exports.

Incoterms 2020

This is where you can really take hold of your import export business and show your import export knowledge. Terms of delivery is fundamental to any business trading internationally and once you’re familiar with these you will be in a much stronger position to negotiate and trade.

It’s absolutely vital that you are aware of these terms of delivery and understand them. By understanding these terms, you’re protecting your goods and covering your risk. Get this right and you’re half way to building your import export business empire.  Get this wrong, you’re going to lose money!

There are eleven different terms of delivery:
EXW-FCA-CPT-CIP-DPU-DAP-DDP-FAS-FOB-CFR-CIF. These are referred to as
Incoterms 2020.  Check out our blog post covering “Incoterms: Think Codewords For Logistics” for more understanding.

These terms determine the buyer and sellers’ obligation and using these terms will clear up any confusion and stop any issues before any disagreement arises.

Freight Forwarders

One other big part of the business of import and export is know how to use a freight forwarder.  Eventually, you’re going to need to use one, you’ll outgrow the post office, the bigger your shipment size of your import and exports, so it’s worth understand how they can help you and what to be aware of.  We’ve written an in depth blog on what freight forwarders do and how they can help you.

The blog also includes some tips of what to be aware of and how you can protect yourself from being over charged.  Most freight forwarders are there to help importers exporters and run an honest game but as with everything, there’s always one or two bad eggs, so it’s worth being aware.

Marine Insurance

Needless to say, insurance of your goods is a must. Without this, the money that you’ve paid for you goods, should anything go wrong, is unprotected and will hit your cash flow and profits hard. Accidents happen and it’s a risk not worth taking and something that can easily be covered by insuring each shipment.

Marine Insurance gives cover from the sellers warehouse to the buyers warehouse, therefore it offers “Multi Modality” cover. As with all insurances there is small print and conditions that you must be aware of. Without understanding these, your shipment may not be covered, even though you have paid your premium. Taking the time to really understand insurance of your goods is vital to running a successful import export business.

Those Pesky Contract Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions of trade are possibly the most fundamental part of business. Without terms and conditions agreed upon, there will never be a contract signed or an order placed.

Understanding the terms that your business associates want you to trade under and just as importantly, the terms that you will operate your business under, is massively important.

Before you start trading, it is essential you have your terms and conditions in place as a buyer and a seller. These terms and conditions will form part of your contracts and you must make sure these terms cover some basic issues.

It is very important that your terms and conditions fit the goods of the contract. For an example, if you are dealing in electrical goods, the goods must conform to International standards for that product.

In the case of food, the food must conform to import customs regulations and the food itself must conform to national hygiene standards, packing standards and shelf-life.

It’s advisable to write your terms and conditions of trade with the help of a lawyer so you can be sure they will stand any legal challenge.

There is much to cover with terms and conditions which is beyond the scope of this blog but our Online International Trade course will cover this in more depth.

Setting Up Your Company

Now you’re ready for the final step to take control of you future and become your own boss. Being an entrepreneur is exciting, negotiating and closing the deal is a rush and gives a great sense of achievement.

Hard work and perseverance is a must but watching your business grow, increasing profits and securing your own financial future is massively rewarding.

The final step is to decide how your company should be setup. There are two options, setting up as self employed or as a Limited Company.

Many trade successfully using both types of setup but you must decide what’s best for you. Consulting an accountant and explaining your current situation, can be wise before you decide. An experienced accountant will help you make an informed decision and advise you which financial records you need to keep. Most accountants will give you one hour of their time for a reasonable cost.

Keep the Tax Man Happy!

VAT is a big part of running a business and it’s extremely important to understand this as an entrepreneur and business person. If you expect your annual turnover to be £81,000.00 or more, you must register for VAT. One of the advantages of being registered is that you can reclaim the VAT you pay on goods you bought for your business but NOT on personal purchases.

An accountant will identify what you can claim for or go on line to the HMRC VAT website.

If you anticipate trading with a turnover less than £81,000.00 you may register for voluntary VAT and reclaim VAT on goods you bought for your business.

Import Export Business Plan

As with anything in life, it’s important to plan. If you don’t make a plan an just make it up as you go along, you’re far more likely to fail. Make a plan and write it down.

The best way I’ve found to write a business plan is to work backwards. I find it easier to start by answering the question, “What is my goal?” If you want to have an online shop selling the latest range of tech gadgets and toy, work backwards from there.

You’ll need a website, so plan this, look at costs, find coders and designers as we showed you how to in our guide.

You’ll need suppliers, so find the best suppliers using the tips we mentioned above, research, make contact, start to build a network, start talking to people.

You’ll need to know about freight forwarders and Incoterms 2020, so enroll in a training course so that you’ll be familiar with these terms and how now to lose your shirt when you stating trading on an international level.

You’ll need buyers. We all need buyers or there’s no business. So use our guide as a starting point and experiment with what you have.

There’s more that you’re going to need to think about and include but this is to get you started. Work backwards and analyse what you’ll need to achieve your goal your dream. There’s no reason why you can’t achieve, just work hard, stay focused, be persistent and don’t take no for an answer!

Build Your Own Website

Once you’ve sourced your products and established your product range, consider how you’re going to sell your products.  Check our blog post with some ideas and suggestions to finding buyers but also consider using the web and setting up you’re own website to export globally.

Your own website has several advantages as you can cut out the middle man from any direct sales and also acts as a shop window for your company for any new suppliers you’ll contact making you serious and professional.

These days it doesn’t have to cost a fortune but we go into much more detail in our blog post on how to export globally.

Be Your Own Boss – Get The Right Training

There’s more to learn to fully run your own import export company but this should give you some good ground work. Once you’ve thought about these points and written down your ideas and made notes after doing your homework, you’ll be in a much stronger position to get going.

It’s hard work but the challenge is rewarding once you start the get the first coupe of deals done. You’ll grow in confidence and be able to streamline each part of your supply chain as well as learn the best avenues for selling your products.Many people start their businesses without being aware and unfortunately, will fold within the first 24 months suffering the loss of all the money they invested. It’s so important to understand your risks when importing and exporting, so we’ve make sure to review our quick guide on the nine most common mistakes when exporting so you’re not a victim of any of them.

In order to really understand all aspects of trading globally, check out our online International Trade course. It’s a “to the point”, all-in-one course that teaches you exactly how to import and export in the real-world. No logistical theory, just streamlined content taught with a series of entertaining animated videos, validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

People Always Ask…

The following four questions are the most common that people always ask:

Is an import export business profitable?

The short answer is yes. There are fantastic, niche products all over the world that can very profitable if you’re willing to do the market research, course suppliers and understand the import process.

As far as whether your business will be profitable, it’s going to depend on how much time you dedicate to building the business and gaining the correct practical knowledge that you’re going to need to become a successful importer.

See below for a video were I tell you the 5 biggest money deals I had for some inspiration.

Which business is best for Import Export?

The business or industry that you have an interest in with products you enjoy leaning about and understand.

I recommend you stay within your area of interest and understanding or ‘circle of competence’. If you love tech gadgets, look at mobile phone accessories, portable hard drives, USB sticks and the latest tech. You’ll understand what you’re looking at and learning about these products won’t be difficult for you and you’ll enjoy exploring new products.

If you have no interest in cars, mechanics and engines but go into this, just because you think it’s profitable, you will have a harder time understanding the product and you won’t enjoy learning about the industry.

How much does it cost to start an import export business?

You’re going to need to cover your basic costs first. Mobile phone, computer, car or transport to visit buyers and these essentials. After that, it’s dependent on whether you will trade as an import export agent or general importer. As a commission agent, you need much less capital as you are not buying goods, just acting as a middle-person.

As a general importer or stockist agent you’ll need much more capital as you’re buying the products and selling them on, in which case you need enough funds to pay for and ship your first order.

How can I start a small import export business from home?

Identify what product or range of products you want to sell or represent. Find suppliers or manufacturers of these products and get samples. Select a supplier based on quality and cost then start to research buyers. Choose between wholesalers and retailers or a mix of both. Make a list and make contact with each to arrange a meeting and present your products.

My 5 Biggest Money Deals

Now you’ve digested all of that, I’ll address a question I’ve been asked by many, as they consider getting into the import export business, what were my five biggest “earners”. So to answer that question, I have added a video on YouTube and discuss some of the details of my five biggest deals:

  1. Supplying And Constructing a Leisure Centre in Libya
  2. Importing Raisins from Turkey to major UK supermarkets
  3. Acting as a Stockist Agent For Door Security Alarms From Hong Kong
  4. Supplying Baby Cot Covers From Italy To Major UK Outlets Including Harrods of London
  5. A Contract To Supply And Ship A Variety Of Second Hand Construction Equipment To UAE

Import Export Business Ideas and Opportunities

As with any small business venture, sometimes we need help getting ideas together as a kick start to moving things to the next level. In setting up export businesses, the first question is always, “What can I import and sell?”. Finding a niche or a gap in the market takes some time and research but there’s generally a market out there for everything.

There’s literally a world of opportunity within international trade and the best part about it is researching what’s out there to import and sell at home, is the chance to travel and discover amazing products from other cultures and countries. Before you know it you’ll be an international trader running a successful business selling quality products from every country!

Well, let’s take one step at a time, so pack your bags and grab your passport, here’s some ideas to get you thinking from six countries. Once you’ve figured out what you want to sell, check out our guide on how to find buyers for your products.

Import From India

Leather Products

Leather is a prominent industry in India with leather also being one of the most widely traded items in the world, always in huge demand and can be considered ageless. Shoes and coats never go out of fashion and can last for years, so becoming an export merchant for this niche may not be a bad idea. Leather purses, bags, briefcases, belts, wallets, gloves, the list goes on, there is a huge range of products to import.

There are more than 1000 leather exporting companies in India, making it arguably one of the best import export business in India.  Some of the prominent players are Prara Leathers Private Limited, Rahman Industries Limited, Farida Prome Tannery Private Limited, Tata International Limited, Super Tannery Limited and Blue Diamond Leaders.

Jewelry and Precious Stones

India has long been considered to be the hub of the global jewelry market because of its low costs and and highly-skilled labour. India is the world’s largest cutting and polishing centre for diamonds. The gems and jewelry market in India is home to more than 300,000 players, with the majority being small players, so this is a great opportunity to go to India experience the culture, speak to jewelry dealers and see what opportunities are there.

Jewelry is such a huge market in India with a market size of US $41.65 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach US $ 70 billion by 2025, there’s no reason why you can’t take a piece of the pie and start trading in jewelry.

For more ideas, see our “What Can I Import From India” post.

Import From Egypt

Cotton

Egypt is famous for having the highest quality cotton in the world and is always in demand, worldwide. Production using fine Egyptian cotton includes  shirts, fabrics for trousers/shorts, worsted wool fabrics, denim, fleece, jersey, flat/woolen knits and much more. Apparel production includes active sportswear, outerwear, underwear, suits, socks, infant wear etc. Production of arguably the most famous use of Egyptian cotton includes a wide variety of bed sheets and bath towels.

Perfumes and Cosmetics

Egypt was once the prestigious center of the international perfume industry. Perfumes were created and mass-marketed elsewhere in the ancient world but it was Egypt that was most renowned and identified with the international perfume trade.

80% of the world’s natural jasmine products, come from Egypt, where specialists in this ancient art extract the aromatic oils from a profusion of flowers, leaves, roots and herbs and export them to perfumers in Paris, London, New York and even Moscow. Egyptian perfumes is a huge export market with some great opportunities.

For more ideas, see our “What Can I Import From Egypt” post.

Import From Nigeria

Locally Made Weaves

According to some estimates, Africa’s dry human hair export market, this being the market for weaves, wigs and hair extensions, is right now worth over $6 billion a year and growing rapidly. Western countries, particularly the US and UK are in high demand of weaves and will pay top dollar for real human hair.  Incidentally, Thailand is also a great source for real human hair, sold in many of the markets for very reasonable prices.

Ginger, Garlic, Sesame Seeds and Nuts

Nigerian exports of nut related produce including oil seed, oleagic fruits, grain, seed, fruits is massive. Sesame seeds are in much higher demand too being that Sushi restaurants are now so popular.  Ginger is one of the most traded spices in the world and Nigeria has an abundance. Starting a Trans-Sahara or Trans-Atlantic trade with these products will be profitable but take some research and time to find buyers for your exports. Garlic is also on top of the list and is easily exportable from Nigeria.

For more ideas, see our “What Can I Import From Nigeria” post.

If you’re getting a taste for an importing business and serious about import and export, sign up to our free training, ” How to start import export business. “

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

Import From Turkey

Knitwear

Exports from Turkey are exploding with $225.4 billion in 2021, an all time record high, demonstrating the high level of demand for Turkish products.  Turkey is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of knitted fabrics, having the largest share in Turkish industrial production and being one of the first established industries in Turkey.  Turkish knitwear is known to be of the highest quality with worldwide competitive pricing making it an ideal product to import.  The potential for solid profits within this textile is huge.

Carpets

One of the world’s most prominent, long established carpet manufacturers, Turkey is continuously expanding its global market share with increasing exports year-on-year. The Turkish carpet industry is renowned  worldwide due its superior-quality products and advanced technology in production. Turkey holds a 15% world market share in carpet trade and ranks in the number two spot behind China who takes the top spot.

For more ideas, see our “What Can I Import From Turkey” post.

Import From South Africa

Wine

South Africa’s wines are held in very high esteem but South Africa is not taking full advantage of and could export more wine to the rest of the world. With a weaker currency and some export promotion, South African wines are comparatively cheaper to those of other countries with stronger currencies. South Africa is currently the 12th biggest exporter of wine, with wine exports of SA bringing in $661.6 million. However, South Africa’s wine exports was the 2nd cheapest of the top 13 wine exporting countries in the world. This is an export market waiting to be taken advantage of and will likely see comfortable profits.

Gems and Precious Metals

South Africa Exports of Pearls, precious stones and metals hit US$20 billion in 2020. Needless to say there is always a demand for diamonds and gold around the globe. The nations with the highest demand are Japan, USA, UK, Hong Kong, Germany, UAE and Belgium.

For more ideas, see our “What Can I Import From South Africa” post.

Import From Thailand

Mobile Phone Accessories

In every mall, high street and market stall, there are shops selling just mobile phone accessories. From unique looking earphones, crazy and cool phone cases, to selfie sticks and battery packs the appetite for the latest, coolest phone gadget is is enormous, worldwide. Importing these products  is a great opportunity and the cost of these products in Thailand are significantly lower than other countries worldwide, coupled with quality craftsmanship.

Shoes

Shoe shoppers love Thailand! There are a gazillion varieties of shoes available in Thailand and at great prices. Importing shoes is a relatively safe investment as demand is stable and profit margins are solid.  Street markets and local retailers are a good place to start when it comes to finding buyers.

Become An Import Export Agent

New Online Course Now Available For 2022

Our new “Start Your Own Import Agency Business” course teaches you practical lessons you need to know as an agent. Developed by Alan Bracken, with over 35+ years of experience in international trade.

Trading as an agent himself for many years, Alan teaches you how to be a successful agent in the real-world. He explains how to control costs and maximise profitability as well as how to choose the best type of agency for you, how to negotiate and sell and move your products.

Course cost is just £399, enroll now.


When looking to become an import export agent, it’s sold to many as a quick way to make money without having to do much work. Link up buyers and sellers, negotiate a deal and get paid, this is how easy some think it is. The reality is somewhat different and I’m going to give you the whole picture. Here’s what we’re going to cover.

How To Become An Import Export Agent:

  1. Find A Product You Want To Represent
  2. Build a Range of Products
  3. Make Sure Your Product Knowledge is 100%
  4. Do Your Competitor Research
  5. Make Sure You’re Aware of Any Safety Regulations
  6. Establish What Territory You Want To Represent (Local, National or International)
  7. Understand Circumvention Clauses
  8. Make Sure You Get Samples
  9. Make Sure You Have Promotional Material
  10. Know What Commission Rate You Want Going Into Negotiations

Become an Import Export Agent – The Basics

The following video explains the basics of how to become a SUCCESSFULL import export agent with down to earth, real-world advice.

Alan Bracken addresses what you need to know if you’re thinking about becoming an export agent by setting realistic expectations. With over 35 years of experience in international trade, Alan gives his advice on what you need to know and consider before diving into setting up an agency:

  1. Should you setup as a limited company or self employed?
  2. How much time will you need to dedicated to your new business?
  3. Identify your start up costs.
  4. Identify your products
  5. The importance of market research
Before we get into our top 10 tips, let me give you a little heads up about the the reality of your new import export business.

Two years ago I was in Dubai  lecturing at a local college and presenting our own import export training course at seminars and to various local trading companies.

I noticed in the hotel lobby, an advertisement for a course entitled “Become a Successful Import Export Agent”.  The title caught my attention and out of professional curiosity I purchased a ticket for $15.00.  The course was a half day course, from 9 am t to 2 PM with a 15 minute coffee break.

There were four very smartly dressed people, presenting the meeting and we were told in rapid succession by all four presenters there was a fortune to be made as an import export agent, with little or no financial investment and minimum knowledge of International trade. We were then told that once we enrolled in the course, we were on our way to success.  As one speaker put it “ The sooner you start the sooner you’ll be rich”.

Each of the four presenters in turn, told us that they were originally working dead end jobs making money for their boss, living the usual rat race, living week to week, hand to mouth.

Import Export Agents Needed

By becoming import export agents, this gave them  the financial freedom and lifestyle independence to do whatever they wanted.  All that was missing was the photos of each of them with a Ferrari.  As you may imagine, this went down very well with most of the paying audience.  Who doesn’t love the idea of making great money with no financial investment, little risk and you don’t have to study!

We were told it was so straight forward, a child could do it. All that was involved was find a buyer and seller, introduce them to each other and “hey presto” we get a big fat commission for little or no work.  For every buyer, there’s a seller and our job is just to match them and then wait for a chunk of money to hit our bank account.  Lovely!

An Import Export Agent Doesn’t Need Money

However…even though there was little to zero financial outlay, virtually no risk to setup our new wonder business there was one small initial outlay that we would have to pay up for.  You’ve probably guessed it, $800 for their course that would teach us the golden secrets of how to get rich quick as an import export agent.

To prove just how simple this process was, we were given a photo copied sheet of paper with a list of names who were apparently “buyers”, of course with all their contact details blanked out, with a corresponding list of sellers and the products they have to sell but again with their contact details omitted.

Once we paid the $800 fee, we would get the full list of names and addresses and even an example letter that we can copy introducing our buyers to our sellers. What an offer, all the work is done for us, we just have to copy a few letters and send them off and we should be in business, ready for our bank accounts to fill up.

I had visions of myself as a dragon on Dragon’s Den, with stacks of cash on my kitchen table as I eat my breakfast each morning, contemplating what I’m going to buy next.

The final clincher was that by paying out our hard earned $800, we would also receive a fabulous “HOT TIPS” guide! Although we were not enlightened as to what any of these hot tips may be.

The audience at this point was not a rush to join up but these four presenters worked their charm for the next couple of hours or so, telling us that it was the best investment they would ever make and if they didn’t do it today, they will miss out forever.

Can An Import Export Agent Be Cut Out?

In an effort to try and shed some light on how this get rich quick scheme may not be quite so easy, I offered a question, “How can I be sure the buyer and seller don’t just cut me out after the first deal and deal directly with one and other?”  In a dismissive tone, the presenter replied, “This very seldom happens, so don’t worry”, then moved on to the next question.  Fantastic, let’s pay the $800 then as it hardly ever happens.

At this point after several hours of being told how easy life as an import export agent is and the riches it will produce, the sentiment of the audience had changed and they were on board. Who doesn’t love the idea of making an “easy buck” as they say.

At 2pm the presenters let us know that this was their last seminar in Dubai for another year so, just for us, they would make a special offer of $600.00 to enroll in this super duper life changing course.  I managed to leave the room soon after 2pm but as I left there was a line of people signing  up for the “special offer”, eagerly anticipating all of the profit they were about to make.

Import Export Agent Training – Realistic Expectations and Honesty

I felt for those people queuing up to make their fortune but first having to spend $600 of their hard earned money.  Not because they’re signing up to the course itself or because being an import export agent can’t bring you excellent profits but because their expectations had been mismanaged.

If you want to become an import export agent, it will take some financial investment, it will take time and effort to build relationships with buyers and sellers, you’ll need to learn to negotiate with them, you’ll have to study and understand the implications of acting as a stockist or commission agent and you absolutely must understand in its totality how to trade on an International level.

You will encounter problems, as you will with any business and you must know how to solve these problems quickly and efficiently. You must know where your risks lie and once you grasp these concepts, then you can run a profitable business as an import export agent with a healthy profit margin.

Spending money on a course that promises you quick riches is probably never going to be a good thing. Sure, spend money on courses and educate yourself but also have realistic expectations.  Any business you setup is going to take some elbow grease, some investment, study and determination.  There is no way to get rich quickly or easily…or we’d all be doing it.

By the way, the correct answer to stopping a buyer and a seller from cutting you out as the commission agent is to include a “circumvention clause” in your contract, which is a fundamental clause in this sort of situation.

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Become An Import Export Agent The Right Way

Firstly, becoming a successful import export agent is what we need to be focused on and for this become a reality, like anything in life, it’s going to take some hard work, time and dedication.  As we all know, any new career or skill that we want to learn is always going to take effort and some form of dedication.  Nothing worth pursuing comes easy or for free.  It’s unfortunately not as simple as working from home for a few hours each evening.

Product knowledge is paramount, hard work and understanding international trade are all key parts of making a success of becoming an import export agent. Honing your negotiation skills, understanding international methods of payments and an understanding of international contract law are very wise.

Two Types of Import Agent

The good news is, there’s always companies looking for import export agents.  Below are the import export agent job description for the two types of role you can opt for. You’ll have to decide which one is appropriate for you with the products that you decide to represent.

Commission Agent

A commission agent introduces a buyer to a seller and receives a commission for sealing the deal and continues to receive a commission for any future sales from that same deal.  As a commission agent you’ll be dealing with buyers who want the product but likely don’t have much knowledge of international trade, which Incoterm to purchase under, best method of payment nor custom clearance procedures.  This is where your knowledge becomes invaluable and you’ll be able to hold their hand through to whole import export process and this is where you earn your import export agent commission with confidence, professionalism and the best possible terms for you.

Stockist Agent

As a stockist agent, you will actually buy the goods or products yourself, keep and store those goods, find buyers yourself and sell them to anyone you want.  You could sell regionally, nationally or internationally.  To become a stockist agent you must have an in depth understanding of international trade and the entire import export process from start to finish.

As an example, we had a student who completed our online course and has begun importing very modern home security cameras with motion detectors that record to the cloud.  These cameras are imported from Hong Kong where they are manufactured and being sold online and to various retail shops throughout the UK.  This young entrepreneur now has a small team of sales reps that pick up stock and sell throughout the UK for him once a month.

10 Golden Tips To Become An Import Export Agent

So, here’s our top 10 tips to becoming a successful import export agent:

Step 1: Search For A Product You Want To Represent

Establishing what you want to sell, finding a supplier, manufacturer or a source of products is obviously where you need to start in order to become  broker for them.

One effective method of sourcing is by contacting the embassy of the country you wish to source from.  For example, if you are sourcing products in China, contact the commercial section of the Chinese Embassy in your country and ask for a list of Chinese manufacturers and suppliers of the product you want to represent.  This is an effective way to source products internationally.

Another effective way to source products is to contact overseas trade fairs and ask for a list of companies exhibiting at the trade fair.  For example, if you were looking to become an agent for children’s clothing, try Google’ing “children’s clothing trade fairs in China”.  You’ll be able to put together a list of dates, locations and contacts.  If possible, visit the trade fairs that you can and get talking to people and start to build a network.

If you can’t attend the trade fairs, contact the organiser and ask for a contact a list of all exhibitors which they are usually more than willing to give you.  Then you have a pretty comprehensive list of manufacturers you can contact and add to your network.

I have personally used the methods over the years and they have thankfully brought me some great results.

Step 2:  A Range of Products

Develop a range of products from either your chosen supplier or consider finding a range products that fit well together, from multiple suppliers. The big advantage to this strategy is when you are in front of a potential client, pitching your main product, it can convince them to buy from you if you can back it up with a range as they may see more opportunity to sell the range, therefore earn more profit.  The other advantage is, should your potential client not be interested in your main product, you may find that they are interested in another in your range.  By having a range of products, you’re increasing your chances of a sale and expanding your sales network.

Step 3:  Product Knowledge

Do you have sufficient knowledge of your product? You’re not necessarily expected to know every single detail about your products and be able to answer every question but you do need to have a good understanding of the product, how it’s manufactured, cost of production, wholesale price, retail price, profit margins etc.

You must be able to pitch your product with confidence and a depth of knowledge. If you then don’t know an answer to a specific question, you can always reply “I’m not 100% sure of the answer, so I’d like to check that and come back to you.”  You can then make sure to get the correct answer and answer the question in a follow up email the next day, maintaining contact and dialogue.

However, this only works if you’re unsure of the odd question or two.  You won’t be able to give this answer for all the questions, or you’ll look completely unqualified and make your products look weak.

Establish what product education and knowledge you’re going to receive.  Training videos, webinars, video calls etc. are all great ways to get yourself up to speed.

Step 4. Research, Research, Research.

Know your market – this is so important.

  • Who else is importing and wholesaling your product(s)?
  • What’s the wholesale price of your competitors?
  • Who’s retailing your product(s)?
  • What is your product(s) retail price?
  • What can you do to make your pitch better or different from your competitors?
  • How can you make your service better that your competitors?

With this basic information, as yourself, “can I compete as a stockist or commission agent on price and delivery?”.

Run your numbers, do the numbers add up and is there a profit margin that you can work with?

Find your niche, find something that you can specialise in, become the leader, the expert, in that area and build a solid foundation from here.

Step 5:  Safety Regulations

This is an important step that many overlook and can be very costly if not considered.  Does your products comply with health and safety regulations in the country that you’re selling?

Imagine finding your products, pitching to clients, negotiating a deal and importing your products to find out they’re not compatible with health and safety regulations, can’t be sold and are held up at customs. This will likely add substantial cost and untold stress and there’s a decent chance that your profits will be wiped out or worse, you’ll make a loss on the deal.

Do not neglect this step, it’s not worth it.

Step 6:  Mark Your Territory

Establish what territory you want to represent, perhaps become a national import agent UK or maybe International. It depends on what your goals are, what capital you have and to a large extent, how big your network is.

If you’re starting out, have limited capital and a small network, just work within your region. As you grow in all aspects you could start to look at a national network.  Take it a step at a time but you may be surprised how fast your network grows.

Step 7: Circumvention Clause

Make sure a circumvention clause is included in your contract, which is a legal means of stopping the buyer or seller excluding you from future sales as the commission agent.

Step 8: Samples

You’ll likely need samples to promote and demo in your pitches and meetings.  It’s much harder to sell if you don’t have a working version of your products to demo.  So, establish if your supplier will provide samples to you free of charge, or at what cost.

Step 9:  Promotion Material

What promotional material, if any, does your supplier have?  Product images that can be emailed to you so you can add them to your website and advertise on Facebook.  Be sure these images are clear, professional and represent the product and your brand well.

Videos are an effective way to show your product if professionally produced so find out if there are any available to you.

Product brochures are good to leave with potential clients after a meeting, with a breakdown of costs, prices and profit margins.

Step 10:  Your Commission

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, what rate of commission will you negotiate? Your commission obviously has to make it worthwhile to you so it’s important that you know all your costs and what your bottom line is.  This is where knowing how to export is so important as if you get this part wrong, it can obliterate your profit margin.


Import Export Training Course For £399

Learn how to become a successful import export agent by enrolling in our brand new course.  Check out the course syllabus, a course that streamlines what you’ll need to know to be successful using practical, real-world knowledge, for just £399.

Our courses teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to know to trade successfully, confidently whilst maximising your profits. Taught by Alan Bracken, with 35+ years of commercial experience in logistics, he skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move your goods around the world.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

Direct Export

Direct export is defined as the process of a supplier selling their products directly to customers or a middle man (such as an import export agent) in a foreign country.  There’s advantages to direct export, such as keeping complete control of your logistics operations and direct communication with your customers, allowing you to offer the level of customer service you want, rather than entrusting this to a third party logistics company.

How To Start A Direct Export Business

Knowing how to start an import export business will save you time, money and stress. Understanding that you must be proactive not reactive and learn the basics of international trade before you start on any new import export venture, knowing where the pitfalls are and what to look out for. Our webinar recording below goes into detail on what you’ll need to know.

How To Direct Export

Knowing how to export or import is important knowledge to have for many businesses for obvious reasons.  If you’re selling products nationally and want to expand, the international market is available to you and the globe is a much smaller place today than it once was, which is where there is an advantage of direct export.  Finding international buyers for your products now, isn’t as difficult with such a connected world. It’s actually possible to find buyers using a laptop, a few well written emails, some key negotiation techniques and importantly, your confidence.

Importing and selling products is an obvious business that many successful entrepreneurs begin with and build sizable companies as their experience and business network grows.  As with anything, the more you do it, the more you learn and the easier it becomes.  We are often asked, what’s out there so here’s 12 ideas from 6 different countries that we researched as far as some ideas for what you can import and sell.

So, the next question to answer becomes how to export, or import? This guide is going to touch on the basics that you’ll need to know. There’s a lot of content to cover if you want to import export as a career but this will get you started.

Direct Exporting Advantages and Disadvantages

As an example, Zappos in its early days entrusted its logistics operations to eLogistics, which took away the hassle of dealing with warehousing, scanning in their products when they arrived, dealing with customer orders, returns and shipping. The advantage was that they were able to focus on the business itself, marketing, growth and the many other things that are involved in running a business.

However as with everything in life, using export intermediaries had its problems. In short, eLogistics were not able to keep up with the level of shipments arriving at the warehouse nor customer orders. Customer service suffered and people became unhappy. Zappos took control themselves and went the route of direct export with their own warehouse and shipping operation using UPS.  For the entire story, I recommend the book, “Delivering Happiness” which will clearly explain direct exporting pros and cons.

How To Export Direct

Even as a small business, learning the information about how to export and create a strategy to direct export to markets worldwide will give you some massive advantages. You’ll have control over your logistics operations which is important for your global market entry strategy.

Methods of Payment

Within international trade there are various methods of payment used.  There’s obviously cold hard cash where banks and wiring transfers work well for “smaller” manageable budgets. However, what happens when contracts become larger, perhaps even into millions of dollars? How can you safeguard being paid and what if you have to buy stock or materials when you’re strapped for cash? The limitations of exporting is more often than not, cash!

One method for this is through the use of letters of credit.  We have already written an in depth blog on this so we won’t repeat it all here but knowing what methods of payments are available to you and how to use them is very important. Letter of credit are one of the pros of exporting.

Other methods of payment are documentary collections or consignment but we will leave these to be discussed at a later date.  One of the most important things to really consider when it comes to payments within international trade is that if you’re exporting products, a sale isn’t a sale until you get paid and for an importer, you haven’t bought the goods until the moment you receive them. Keep that in mind!

Your EORI Number

In the UK if you are going to trade internationally, you’ll need an EORI number.  This is particularly relevant at this time as we are on the verge of leaving the EU, at the time of writing, without a deal.  This means that while trading with the EU, before Brexit was relatively hassle free, it will adversely change and trading with any EU country post Brexit (as it stands) will be like trading with one outside the EU, for example Brazil.

This is a much more complex process and if you want to know more about this, see our recent blog, “How To Prepare Your Business For Brexit“.

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Direct Export Using Freight Forwarders

Eventually you’re going to need to the services of a freight forwarder.  These guys will be the guys that actually move your goods from the source to your destination.  Using the post office is only so good as it only works for smaller packages that you can take to the post office and send. You obviously won’t be able to drive forklift trucks there and leave them with your pallets of amazing products.

There’s always Fedex and UPS but these can get expensive so it’s best to be aware of freight forwarders and how they can help you.  Luckily, we also have a blog on that so we have you covered, “What’s a freight forwarder and how to they help me?“.

Insurance

Insurance is never the most interesting subject and one that we would all like to skip over but it’s super important for direct export.  If your goods don’t arrive at their destination, who’s fault is it? Who has to suffer the financial loss?  How will it all be rectified? Being insured takes care of those issues, accidents happen and things get lost.  Make sure you’re not on the wrong end of that scenario.  As you’ve probably guessed, check out a recent blog on marine insurance to learn some of the details involved in covering yourself.

Pack It And Book It For Direct Export

Simple enough, when you’ve got your order, you’ve packaged up your products safely, got all your documentation together, it’s time to book it with your freight forwarder for direct export.  Always best to get a few quotes as with anything, to make sure you’re paying a fair rate. By this time, you should have already nominated your freight forwarder and it’s time to get it booked in for shipping.

Document It

There’s a lot of documentation that’s required for moving goods internationally using direct export so make sure you know what you need and that it’s all correctly completed and processed. Airway bills, bills of lading, certificates of origin all need to be in order. It’s a little too much to go into detail here but we do offer an online course if you want to sign up and learn more about this important side of learning how to export.

Feel free to print out our handy guide as a reminder to these important 6 steps.

How To Export

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Import And Export Top 10 Tips

Now we’ve got the basics, and they are just the basics, it’s a good idea for us to give you our 10 best tips for importing and exporting so you can become a direct export expert. This comes with years of experience and the pain of sometimes getting things wrong and having to suffer the financial loss of those mistakes so hopefully our top 10 will help you avoid doing the same:

1. The Tariff Book

If you’re importing any products, you must be aware of the tariff book and consult with this before you place any orders.  The tariff book is the bible of international trade and tells you the rate of import duty, if you need a license to import the products you’re buying or if there are any restrictions on quantities that an enter the country. This is very important so don’t neglect to check the tariff book before you place any orders.

2. Get Written Quotations

It may seem obvious but it’s still worth stating, get written quotations from any third party that you’ll be doing business with.  This can be freight forwarders, transport company’s or clearing agents for example.  Once you’ve got a written quotation there can’t be any argument later on about what the cost was or what it was supposed to be.  Make sure you have that written confirmation for a much more stress free direct export process.

3. Do NOT Estimate Costs

Estimating costs is painful lesson to learn in learning how to direct export. There is no place for estimating any costs for the simple reason that at times, you may find yourself working with very small profit margins. Deals can still be worth it and some good profit realised, even if the profit margin isn’t exactly what you want but by estimating the costs and getting it wrong, it can wipe out any profit and even leave you at a loss.  Don’t do it.

Take the time to get quotations, get them in writing as mentioned in the previous point and open a spreadsheet and input all of your actual costs.  From there you can do the numbers and see if the risk to reward is worth it.

4. Use Incoterms For Direct Export

When shipping your goods, it’s vital to use Incoterms 2010. If you’re not familiar with these, check out our blog on, “What are Incoterms and how are they used?” and it will hopefully become clearer to you.

Think of Incoterms as code words used within the shipping industry that let the parties involved know their exact responsibilities. We won’t go into it again, just check out the blog.

5. The Terms and Conditions

None of us really have any interest in reading the terms and conditions and the small print in anything. We’ve all got better things to do but a big lesson in learning how to export is to read the terms and conditions.  In fact, read them and then re-read them.

You do not want to be caught out on something that you weren’t aware of that ends up taking a chunk out of you later. As boring as it is, read the terms and conditions!

6. Make Your Terms and Conditions Solid!

As boring as it is to read someone else’s terms and conditions, make sure your terms and conditions are solid and fulfill all the conditions that you need.  You can always negotiate the terms with a particular client individually if they aren’t happy and it’s worth it but start off with everything in order and as you need.

If you can afford it, it’s worth consulting a lawyer just to make sure everything is legally water tight.

7. Understand Freight Rates

Understand the rates that you’re paying and shop around.  In our blog discussing freight forwarders, we have an example of a client who was being heavily over charged for a long time by his freight forwarder.  Had he have understood and done a little research he could have saved such a lot of money. Ignorance costs you, no one else.

8. Direct Export Costs

Understand all of the costs involved in sourcing, buying, shipping, duty, how long it will take, marketing and selling. You need to know your costs before you can figure out how much to sell your products for, whether anyone will buy them at that price and what your profit margin will be.  Be precise.

9. Question Invoices

Don’t hesitate to question an invoice if it doesn’t look right. Don’t worry about coming across as rude, you can be polite but make sure you get an explanation if the invoice isn’t correct.  This is where you can always fall back on your written quotation and show that the invoice amount is not in line with the amount you were quoted. If you got your quotation in writing there won’t be any arguments or problems and the invoice will be amended.

10. Don’t Be Blind

Knowing how to export is a fairly complicated process. There’s lots of parts and you must be aware of what you’re doing.  Whatever you do, don’t wing it…it will cost you.

Keep this guide handy to remind you of our top 10 tips for importing and exporting:

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Direct Export Common Mistakes

So in this short journey of learning how to export, we’ve gone through the basics and you’ve got our top 10 best tips for importing and exporting.  There’s much more to learn but this gives you a good foundation to spring board from.

Now it’s a good idea to run through the 9 most common and costly mistakes made by international traders, so you hopefully won’t!

1. Understand Sourcing

If you don’t know how to effectively find products you’re massively limiting your import business.  You must know how to find the products you’re looking for, from price, build quality, working relationship with your supplier, reliability and credibility to name just a few of the aspects that are important.  Knowing how to source goods internationally is huge.

Our blog goes into some ideas on how to do this to give you a head start so check it out. It’s going to be key to a successful importing business.

2.  Not Identifying All Your Costs

Don’t cut corners, don’t guess, don’t estimate. Make sure you have the entire import or export process covered and you know your costs from start to finish, to the last penny. Keep track in a spreadsheet. If you don’t know your costs, you don’t know what you need to sell your goods for and you won’t have a clue what your profit margin is.

Include the products themselves, the shipping costs, the import duty, warehousing, cost for distributing to your customers, VAT and any other cost you can identify.  You will lose money if you don’t do this.

3.  Not Understanding Import Regimes And Correct Tariff Number

If you don’t understand how to correctly import your products, it’s likely to cost you more than you need to. You may end up paying more import duty than you should have for example. Take the necessary steps to ensure you understand the import regime and tariff number.

4.  Not Understanding Air or Sea Freight Structure

Take the time to get to know how freight rates work and get a variety of quotes to make sure the company you want to use is competitive. Our blog on freight forwarders give you some good advice so make sure you check this out.

5. Not Understanding Methods of Payment

Whether you are paying your supplier or you are to be paid, make sure you understand the methods of payments available to you. A sale is not a sale until you’re paid and things can and will go wrong in between. Letters of credit is one such method of payment that all international traders should know how to use.

6. Not Doing Your Homework

We’ve all seen Dragon’s Den where the entrepreneur thinks he’s got a world changing product which is promptly shot down by the dragons after a little digging.  You may think you’ve got a great product that’s going to sell like hot cakes but you need to know others think the same thing and want this product before you part with any cash.

If you don’t do your market research that container load of yo-yo’s that you were sure would be the next big thing may be stuck in your garage and spare bedroom for years to come.

Find your customer base for the products you’re selling and don’t limit that audience.

7.  Not Identifying All Sales Channels

Not finding as many sales channels as you can is a waste.  If you can sell your product directly to retail shops in the high street, wholesale to distributors or online globally, take advantage of all those opportunities.

Get out and make sure to meet people, go to meet ups and conferences and get your products out there.

8.  Not Understanding Terms of Delivery

If you don’t understand the terms of delivery you could be charged for costs that you’re not actually liable for, further reducing any profit margins. Knowing exactly what your responsibilities are is important and can save you hard earned money.

9.  Lack of Negotiation Skills

Negotiation skills are a massive part of international trade and business in general.  You need to hone your skills and make sure that you are able to always get the best deal you possibly can.  If you can crack this, you will very likely make it as a successful international trader and be able to run a very profitable business. Negotiation skills will increase with each deal that you seal and with that, your confidence will also grow.

how to export from the uk

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Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Obviously like any new business or career there’s a lot to learn and as you can see there are pros and cons of direct exporting but one of the best pieces of advice we can give is to be proactive, not reactive.

By being proactive, you will firstly make sure that you have gained the knowledge you need to import or export your products globally and really understand the issues that you’ll face. You’ll take all the necessary steps to have a streamlined import and export process, you’ll have done all your research and homework and your process will be organised, efficient and you will have all your costs to hand. You’ll be able to analyse your risk within the process and foresee any problems or issues and develop any contingency plans to handle  these problems.

By being proactive it will save you a lot of time, stress and ultimately money, keeping your profit margins healthy and your work life relaxed.

Being reactive is usually the exact opposite. Not being fully prepared, not having a good understanding of what you’re doing, estimating costs and when there’s problems and issues, trying to deal with them at the time and figuring out how to handle on the fly. This obviously leads to hugely increased stress levels, valuable time been taking from you and of course, in many cases money being lost or wasted, which is critical, especially when working on on tight profit margins.

There are advantages and disadvantages of import and export and making sure you are aware of exactly what they are will be the difference.

How to Find Buyers For Export

One of the most common questions we’re asked by entrepreneurs thinking about getting involved in importing and exporting is, “how to find buyers for my exports”. There is no single or straight answer to this question, as you can imagine it depends largely on what your exporting and to what country or region. In today’s post we’ll show you 6 ways to find buyers.

6 Ways to Find Buyers:

  1. Test The Market With Retailers Such as Ebay, Amazon and Etsy
  2. Google Search for “Wholesalers of {My Product} UK”
  3. Kompass Wholesale Business Directory
  4. Contact National Embassy’s
  5. Contact Chambers of Commerce
  6. Find and Research Facebook Groups

It’s wise to spend time researching the market online for your export in various countries and areas before you take the leap. Ask questions on forums, Facebook groups and any other ways of getting some opinions from local people. This will be valuable as you can’t beat the feedback from local people who live and work in your target area. Asking about pricing and even product opinion can be very beneficial feedback.

We recently wrote an blog on how to sell globally from your own website so we won’t go into any detail on this avenue in this blog but there are plenty of other ways to find buyers for exports to think about.

YouTube: Finding Buyers and Closing the Deal

In the YouTube video below, Alan Bracken, offers practical advice, finding buyers for export and best tips on how to close the deal, reviewing his 35+ years of experience and hundreds of deals that he’s been involved with.

Do It Yourself

With so many websites now online that allow you to sell your own products, why not consider listing your products? The biggest and most well known are Ebay, Amazon and AliExpress and as they’re international this is a great place to start. Register an account and add your products to these sites and see if you place any orders. If you do, you can be more confident about demand for your product in that country or area.

There are many smaller but well known sites online that specialise in smaller retailers and handmade goods such as Etsy and NotOnTheHighStreet. A small amount of research for your target country I’m sure will reveal others.

Best Practice

If you take this approach, it’s worth spending some time studying the best practices for listing your products so that you can take full advantage. For example, make sure photos of your products are well lit and show enough detail. Take photos from various angles so potential buyers can clearly see all of the product and consider even developing a short promo video. Write a descriptive title and description and answer any of the most common questions about the product so users don’t have to contact you and wait for a reply in order to get the answer to their question. When they’re ready to buy, you want to make sure there are no obstacles in the way and they “Buy Now”.

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Customer Service

Make sure you offer an excellent level of customer service. Answer questions promptly, when you have your confirmed orders, ship your goods quickly and don’t delay. Update the customer with shipping and tracking codes so they can keep track of where the delivery is. Zappos has sold over a billion dollars in shoes and it built this off the back of excellent customer service. There is a lot to learn from Zappos and how they made customer service their priority and in return their customers gave them loyalty.

We All Read The Reviews

In return for great customer service, ask for a favorable review which are obviously important for credibility. This gives your next potential customer confidence, not just in your product but your service. With some good reviews, they may not hesitate to click the “Buy” button.

Bringing It Together For Wholesale Export

Once you’ve sold some products and built up a base of customers and good reviews you can use this to a second advantage. Contacting wholesalers and having a credible track record can be a big advantage. To be able to say that you’re already selling your products in the local market reduces risk to the wholesaler. If you can say that you’ve already sold “X” number of products in their country and you have “X” number of positive reviews that your potential wholesaler can verify, this is a great way to begin a pitch of your products and will no doubt get the attention of both wholesalers and retailers.

This begs the next question of how to find wholesalers and retailers for your products?

Google Search

It may sound obvious but Google as we know is the king of search so start here. For example, if you are exporting rugs or carpets from Turkey, perform a Google search on “rug wholesalers in UK”.

You’ll get plenty of wholesalers that you can contact and see if you can generate any interest in your products. Wholesalers received many emails and calls, being offered products all the time, so try and stand out from the crowd. A well written email, with clear and professional photos of your products is a good start. We will write another blog on the best approach to contacting buyers and wholesalers.

Follow The Kompass

Kompass is an online business to business directory, with more than 20 million companies, in 70 different countries. This is a great business resource and have a good chance of finding buyers for your exports within its listings. The information is not free and you have to buy lists of companies but the contacts are a great place to start.

National Embassy’s

This is more of an old school approach but still relevant. National Embassy’s want to promote trade between their country and the world and are there to help create these links. Contacting the commercial section of a country’s embassy and asking if they can provide you with a list of wholesalers of your export product is well worth doing.

This also works in reverse, if you are looking to source particular products from a country, contacting the embassy of that country is a good idea. For example, some years ago, we had an entrepreneur looking to source pine furniture to import to the UK and sell. He contacted the Cypriot embassy in London, where he was based and asked if they could help. Cyprus has many pine trees and is well known for its furniture so this was an obvious place to source. The embassy was happy to help and promote its exports and give a list of reputable and well established factory wholesalers and our entrepreneur went on to negotiate some great deals and setup a successful business.

Chambers of Commerce

Chambers of Commerce (e.g. British Chamber of Commerce) are another good resource to make contact with, much like national embassy’s. The Chambers want to promote international business and commerce and have close links with many industries and companies in local areas. They can offer advice and help and often support businesses by offering training so are able to certainly push you in the right direction.

ABTS® International Trade Facebook Group

Lastly, ABTS® has recently setup a new Facebook Group free to join, where we hope we will be able to match up buyers and sellers worldwide and answer any questions on international trade as well as any tips and discussion.

Feel free to join our group.

Import Export Training Course Online

If you’re looking to break into international trade as a career or setting up your own business, ABTS® Training offers online import export courses, taught with a series of pre-recorded videos. Study at your own pace, no deadline to finish and lifetime access to your course.

Our courses teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to know to trade successfully, confidently whilst maximising your profits. Taught by Alan Bracken, with 35+ years of commercial experience in logistics, he skips all the theory you’ll never need to know but teaches you the practical side of how to move your goods around the world.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on TrustPilot to see just how our courses have benefited our students.

International Copyright Law

Copyright law is an important part of international trade that must be considered as part of your overall business, if you’re product includes any sort of design. This could be a graphic design printed on a t shirt, to an entirely new product or improvement to a current product.

Either way, you will want to protect your intellectual property so others won’t steal it. We’re all too familiar with the various fake handbags and wallets that are sold in places and copyright theft is unfortunately a problem on the internet.

It’s far too easy for others to right click on your product, trace your t shirt design and start selling your product as a competitor. We’ve recently had a call from a lady where this exact situation happened to her. She had created a unique design for a Christmas sweater, produced these sweaters, selling them on Ali Express and a competitor simply stole the design and made replicas and was selling them for less!

Intellectual Property Rights

Firstly, let’s begin with explaining how intellectual property rights work as there are a few options depending on what you want to protect. These include a patent, a trademark and copyright itself.

Patents

Patents are generally for physically products that are brought to market in order to stop others copying that product. For example, when James Dyson invented the bagless cyclone vacuum or when Apple invented the iPhone, patents were filed before their products were released.

Patents need to be registered with the government and it’s a lengthy and complicated process. You’ll have to explain exactly what your product does and what makes it unique. Make sure you’re able to describe what part of the product you patenting and protecting and why it’s different from anything else already on the market.

Using the example of Dyson, they weren’t patenting the idea of a vacuum itself, obviously this is not unique, they were protecting the idea of a vacuum without a bag and their “cyclone” technology which they claim would mean that there would never be a loss of suction from the vacuum.

If you’re going to launch a physical product to market you must ensure you have a patent to protect yourself. You’ll likely need a patent lawyer to help you with the process which as you can probably guess, won’t come cheap but will be well worth it when you’re product is selling around the world.

International Copyright

Copyright refers to anything that’s creative but not a physical product (like Dyson). This can include:

  • Logos
  • Graphic Designs
  • Artistic Works
  • Photos
  • Books
  • Poems
  • Songs

When it comes to exporting products it’s generally a graphic design that you want to protect, something that’s perhaps printed on on a product or clothing, these are the most common.

Copyright Law

There are various international copyright treaties but in simple, non-legal speak, copyright is an automatic right, once the owner or author of the work has deemed content “finished”. You don’t have to do anything and there is no government copyright office (except for in the United States) where you can register your work.

This law is what’s known as the Berne Convention of which there are 172 member countries around the world that have signed up to this copyright treaty and will honor the agreement.

If you’re interested in more of the legal side, in 1996 there was a special agreement made under the Berne Convention known as the WIPO Copyright Treaty that deals with works in a digital environment.

The advantage to this is obviously that worldwide copyright laws are simple and once you’ve completed your design, you don’t have any legal hassle of needing to register it anywhere. You just need to be able to prove that you finished your work on that date…which is where the problem also lies.

Let’s take for example, the new graphic design you’ve just created for your t shirt on your computer. You save the file and the time and date is recorded. The problem with this is, it’s actually possible to change times and dates on computer files so this isn’t solid proof.

Also, if you ever open, edit and save the file, the new time will be saved, overwriting the original time stamp. These is where it gets a little bit messy.

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Poor Man’s Copyright

There was a time when creatives used to take their work and put it in an envelope and send it in the mail, back to themselves. The date stamp on the envelope would then serve as proof for the work being created at that point in time.

The problem with this, was that you would have to keep these envelopes perhaps forever, if you lost them, you could find yourself in some trouble later. There’s also the added problem that if you had to open the envelope to prove the originality of your work, once the envelope was opened, it couldn’t be used it again. What if there were multiple copyright infringements on your work?

Protect My Work

With the digital age, this process of protecting your work has become easier. A copyright protection service like ProtectMyWork.com makes this quick and all your work is held securely in one place.

Protect My Work was actually setup by designers who found their work being stolen and wanted to help stop this as it’s all too common for creative people.

The system is really easy to use:

  1. Register an account for £33 per year
  2. Find your password in the welcome email and sign in
  3. Click on the “Upload New Work” button
  4. Enter a title for your work
  5. Attach your file(s) and submit

That’s it, you’ll actually receive an email immediately with a unique reference number for the work, which you can add to anywhere you may advertise your product, which acts as a great deterrent.

The following is an example of a global copyright notice you can place on the web or any other relevant places:

© Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved. Protected with ProtectMyWork.com registration number XXXXXXX

Lastly, a nice touch is that you can add up to 5 files in one upload. The reason for this is if your graphic design went through perhaps three or four revisions, you could attach all the versions as well as the final, which would be quite compelling evidence, should you need to ever prove your concept from start to finish.

You can add as much work as you want to your account with Protect My Work, you just buy tokens for £1 each, pay-as-you-go. You get 5 free when you join, so all your work can be held in the same digital vault making international copyright registration pretty easy.

Trademark

Trademark is a different protection again in that it protects your company brand. With trademarks, you can protect a name, a slogan and/or a logo.

Trademarks are filed with each country’s government and as far as names go, there are rules, you can’t register just anything.

In the UK there’s a filing fee of £170 for the first trademark and £50 for subsequent trademarks made in the same application. The time it takes to process is usually around 2 – 3 months.

For full details on how to register a trademark in the UK have a look at the government website. Be aware that trademarks are filed on a per country basis, there isn’t a way that you can file a “global” trademark in one application. That would be far too easy and convenient.

Conclusion

World intellectual property protection is vital if you are going to start trading internationally. The theft of work online is far too easy and it happens far too regularly I’m sorry to say.

Without any global intellectual property organization to speak of, it’s really worth taking the time and making sure to take steps to protect yourself in the ways you can so your hard work isn’t stolen.

Take the time to research international property law in a particular country that you’re going to trade in as there could also be a different copyright act at that international level.

Sourcing Products Internationally

Product Sourcing Definition

The definition of sourcing is very simply, “Finding products to sell for your business.”

Sourcing products around the globe is obviously a very important factor in supply chain management and thankfully a much easier task than in years gone by. Jumping on to Google, makes the sourcing process much easier and quicker and is certainly the first port of call for global sourcing but there are still other avenues that shouldn’t be ignored when learning how to setup your import export business.

YouTube Live Global Sourcing 

International purchasing and global sourcing of products of obviously the starting point of any import export business. In the recorded YouTube Live session below we discuss the difference between buying locally and international purchasing and identify the skill sets needed to be a successful buyer on the global stage.

Sourcing Strategy

As an example, we once helped an importer and retailer of pine furniture who had signed up to our online course as he wanted to learn other methods of sourcing and procurement and increase his options of suppliers and not be limited to his sole supplier in China.

This entrepreneur had seven furniture retail outlets throughout the UK and his business was growing. He felt he was vulnerable having just one supplier and for security needed to look at other options potentially in other parts of the world, building a more strategic sourcing plan. At the same time, he wanted to gain a competitive edge being that all his competitors were purchasing selling the same furniture designs as him, so all he could compete on was price which was squeezing profit margins.

After some consideration and research with his customer base and examination of his inventory compared to his competition, the data showed him that he needed to develop bespoke designed furniture, which he felt would give the needed edge and these designs would be marketed as exclusively his. After listening to his customers and establishing what products and services they wanted, he catered for their needs and desires and went about drawing up a range of furniture.

He approached his Chinese supplier and manufacturer and inquired about producing this range of bespoke pine furniture but they were unable to accommodate this request because of the large cost involved to them in retooling their machinery for a comparatively small order.

Supply Chain Sourcing

With this, we advised on product sourcing alternative manufactures and to look closer to home. On doing some initial research, we suggested Cyprus as a first point to finding new sources as we found it to be a pine furniture manufacturing base and pine wood was in abundance, lowering the price of the raw material.

The next step was of course to find a supplier and manufacturer there, one of the types of sourcing we decided to tap into was contacting the Cypriot embassy in London and ask them if they would be able to recommend any reputable and established companies. They were very helpful and of course, pleased with their sourcing involvement as they’re happy to promote the Cypriot manufacturing industry, in this case, furniture makers and we were pleased to receive credible recommendations.

The Embassy asked if we would like to be introduced to a local sourcing company but actually made several introductions to manufacturers that were fit for purpose and eager to win the contract. Our entrepreneur discussed his needs for his bespoke pine furniture to be manufactured and exported to the UK which were well received and two reputable and established companies submitted quotations, both within the same ball park figure.

Both companies invited our entrepreneur to visit and have a tour of their factories, see firsthand the quality and craftsmanship of the furniture and discuss his final requirements.

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Reactive Sourcing

After reviewing both proposals, further negotiations and being impressed with the manufacturing process of both companies, the order was actually split between the two companies giving our entrepreneur further security in having two reliable manufacturers but also being able to gain an air of competitiveness between them, ensuring that price would remain competitive.

The Chinese supplier was kept and continued to ship furniture and was offered to customers as a lower priced range, keeping this target market but putting our entrepreneur in a position to up-sell the bespoke range when possible.

All Your Eggs

The saying goes, “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” and in this case it was great advice to follow. The result was an increase in customers, sales and profits due to people being unable to buy this range of furniture anywhere else and the retail business has gone from strength to strength.

The Internet is without doubt the easiest and fastest way to find suppliers and manufacturers but there are alternatives. In this case, it was beneficial to make contact with people that we were able to trust in the Embassy and use their knowledge and credibility to find these reputable manufacturers.

Chambers Of Commerce

Another option is to contact the Chamber of Commerce in the country or area that you’re looking to source products from.  Like the embassies, the Chamber of Commerce also wants to promote their businesses and attract foreign trade, so making a contact within the Chamber can be a good move.

Contact and let them know what you’re trying to achieve and ask if they will send you a list of their registered businesses in the sector your looking at.  They will only be too happy to help.

Trade Fairs

Another great way to source products is to go to trade fairs.  Trade fairs happen all over the world and simply Googling trade fairs in your country/city will like bring up results that you won’t have to travel too far.

Check these out and subscribe to ones that are of interest to you so you’ll know when there are more upcoming. They’re usually free to attend and you’ll have a chance to check out some great products and in some interesting niche’s.

Facebook Groups

Facebook is a great tool to find suppliers offering their products. There’s hundreds of groups out there with particular niches that you can search and join. Get chatting to suppliers as well as other importers and exporters.

ABTS® has a group recently setup which all are welcome to join.

Keep Thinking Outside the Box

When starting of growing your business, it’s worth keeping your options open and checking all avenues as well as continuing to ask yourself, how can I keep my edge?

Travel The Globe

So if you’re ready to start looking for products around the world, the best and most fun way to do it is to start travelling! We’ve done this ourselves so have a few tips for you as far as how to make your way around.

Accommodation

AirBNB

AirBNB is a global leader in accommodation and we’ve all heard of it. Very easy to use and you can find some great deals as you’re renting from individuals much of the time, not hotels. We’ve used Airbnb many times without any problems so sign up here.

Agoda

Agoda appears to have cornered the market in South East Asia and offers the cheapest rooms between all the various booking and compare sites. If you’re heading to Asia, it’s certainly worth signing up and installing their app on your phone and signing up for an account. It could save you some good money.

Booking.com

If you’re planning on sourcing in Europe or the America’s, it’s worth comparing prices with Booking.com.  These guys seem to have very reasonable rates so again, install and open an account and keep the app handy.

Getting Around

Ride sharing apps are a clever bit of software and are massive business in the travel sector now for good reason.  They’re easy to use, you get a price before you ride and unlike taxi’s they can’t drive the longest possible route to your destination, raking up time on the meter. If you have a complaint you can file that with the ride sharing company and make a dispute.

Below are the three top ride sharing apps you’ll need to travel the world.

Grab

Grab is the ride sharing app in Asia.  Download the app and create an account. Ride rates are very good and you can even get around on Grab Bike, which puts you on the back of a motorbike, gets you to where you have to quickly with a bit of a thrill!

Uber

Uber is in many countries worldwide and probably the biggest name in ride sharing.  Wherever you’re going, sign up for an account with Uber and download the app. It’s good to compare prices with other ride sharing apps.

Lyft

Lyft is available in the US and Uber’s main competition there.  You won’t need any more than these three ride sharing apps to find your way around the world. Sign up and download Lyft here.

Money

International Transfers

Once you’ve sourced your products and you’re ready to make your first order (and all subsequent orders for that matter), you’ll need to transfer money.  Using your bank for this, will probably come with a hefty fee.  By using Transfer Wise, you’ll save about 85% in fees and get a great exchange rate, adding to your profit margin.

You can register from most countries in the world so wherever you are,  sign up here and start saving on international transfers.

Revolut

Revolut is a fantastic credit card, giving you almost spot rates and low fees.  It’s not a “credit card” as such, you top up your card in your home currency, then convert it to the currency of the country you’re travelling to and use as you would any normal credit card.

You don’t have to worry about going over your limits as you can’t spend more than you have on the card.  It’s a super convenient way to handle your finances on the move.

At the moment it seems to be only available in Europe but keep an eye because they are going global soon.

Sign Up Here and get a free card (they’ll waive the sign up fee for you).

Conclusion

So there you have it, there’s nothing stopping you from getting out into the world and seeing what’s out there, find your niche and getting your own import export business off the ground.

Photo by Pacific Office Interiors on Unsplash

Start Wine-ing And Get Exporting

Importing and exporting doesn’t have to be rocket science. Sometimes a simple idea can kick-off a successful career and doesn’t need to be over complicated.

In November 2017 a young lady, 23 years of age, enrolled on an online import export training course, which she completed and had  confidently learned how to export.

To Or From China?  Research Is Key

This young entrepreneur had been looking at China, as many do, to import goods to sell to Europe and on doing more and more research, came across an idea where she saw a gap in the market.  This gap however, was in the reverse direction, rather than import from China, she believed that exporting to China was more advantageous, in particular, exporting Spanish wine to China.

A simple product, a simple idea and something that can be relatively easily filled. Sometimes we don’t have to find some far out there, brand new product that no one has ever seen.  Keeping an open mind and let your research tell you what’s needed. Then trust your research and your gut feeling!

With alcohol sales increasing significantly year on year and China’s middle class expanding, finer wines are more in demand. Also the explosion of Chinese tourism across the globe means that Chinese are travelling further abroad and finding a taste for quality wine and spirits.

With further research, our entrepreneur selected 3 wine producers in Spain and was grounded in negotiation techniques, therefore able to negotiate a solid and successful contract with them.  The wine supplier as you may imagine, was  only too happy to help her penetrate the Chinese wine market and was very helpful.

Stockist Agents

In China, after talks with several potential stockist agents, she selected one that fit her personal criteria and potential future expansion plans.

The first deal was agreed and signed and the stockists agents terms of delivery were CFR  Chinese Port subject to Incoterms 2010.  Our entrepreneur was familiar with and understood these Incoterms and able to make the necessary arrangements for the delivery.

She promptly contacted a freight forwarder in the UK and negotiated a freight rate for collection from the Spanish wine supplier and delivery to the specified Chinese port.  Her knowledge of Incoterms 2010 and the research she had conducted ensured she accepted a fair price for this delivery therefore maximising her profits.

Method Of Payment

The final part of the contract was to negotiate with her Spanish wine supplier,  a 60 day payment against a Bill of Exchange, availed by her bank and a 30 day bill of exchange, availed with her stockist agent thus enhancing her cash flow, giving plenty of time to receive funds from her stockist agent and make the payment to the Spanish vineyard.

The initial trial order was for 4 pallets of wine by LCL service, with the bills of lading to be produced and forwarded to the stockist agent, together with other commercial documents as a Cash against Documents Transaction.

Bring in a Range

After this successful shipment, the first consignment was sold to one outlet by the selected Chinese stockist agent and a partnership has now been agreed and contracted to jointly finance and purchase a Full Container Load (FCL) of Spanish wine.

With the potential to supply a range of products, negotiations are underway to bring in more related products to maximise this business relationship as joint profit margins.

 Lesson Learned

You can turn a relatively simple idea into reality if you follow some simple rules:

  1. Identify the product(s) you wish to buy or sell through solid research.
  2. Research the market you intend to sell to.
  3. Research and find several suppliers. Just one is risky as if there are any issues or problems, you may find yourself with no stock to sell.
  4. Negotiate commercially and legally sound contracts.

No business and making profit, doesn’t come easy.  Be prepared to put in the hard work, stay focused and keep yourself driven. Once you’ve navigated your first deal and made your first delivery, you’ll continue to learn and it will get a little easier each time.

Above all don’t “wing it” get trained in the practical aspects of importing and exporting or the risks of losing money are significantly higher.

Photo by Terry Vlisidis on Unsplash

Profit From Britain’s Greatest Export For Next To Nothing

Britain is a country of innovation and excellent quality products. There’s so many incredible exports the United Kingdom has to offer that the opportunities are literally endless.

“Can Do”

I’m a big believer in the “can do” mentality. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Walt Disney all started with an idea. They took that idea, believed in it and never stopped running with it. Here’s a reality check, the photo on the left was Jeff Bezos office in 1999 (© Copyright Unknown).

He is now the world’s richest man and he achieved it in less than 20 years.

Britain’s Visiting Tourists Will Spend £26.3 billion In 2018

A friend recently asked me to help him think up a business importing exporting. As I got to thinking, I realised his biggest advantage is where he lives, Oxford. On doing just a small amount of research, the figures show that Britain’s tourism industry is huge and only getting stronger. Here’s a few facts from Visit Britain:

  • 2017 set a record for inbound tourism to the UK in terms of both visits and spend. There were 39.2 million visits to the UK in 2017, up 4.3% on 2016, with these visitors spending £24.5 billion, an 8.7% increase on 2016. The growth in visits was in line with the trend seen over the past five years. The growth in spending was the highest since 2013 and the second highest since 2006; spend per visit rose by 4.3%.
  • Our revised forecast for visits for the calendar year 2018 is for continued growth. We are forecasting 40.9 million visits in 2018, an increase of 4.4% on 2017. Our forecast for spending by visitors in 2018 is £26.3 billion, an increase of 7.1% on 2017.
  • London obviously receives the most visitors but Oxford is already 8th on the list

Visit Britain
© Copyright VisitBritain.org

A very interesting article in The Guardian gave interesting statistics on the amount of Chinese tourists that are now travelling the globe and the UK.

The Back of Your Hand

£26.3 billion is more than enough to go around so why not take your slice? My friend has lived all his life in Oxford and knows it like the back of his hand. His whole network is there so rather than think too far afield I suggested he start at home. Why not create tours of Oxford with your own flare. Sure there’s people doing it already but there’s no market in the world that’s untouched and without competition. He knows Oxford better than anyone and can take visiting tourists not just to the usual sites but his favorite places.

He can try and negotiate deals with local businesses, many of which he already knows, offering his tour groups a discount if brings them.

Home On The Range

One of the points we teach in our free import export training tips is the have a range of products. Always easier to come away with a sale if you offer a range of products opposed to just one. Our Oxford tours idea is no different, which could offer several tours to cater to different audiences:

  • The Pub Crawl: Who doesn’t love a pub crawl. Take your guests on a tour of some of the best local pubs, try some of Britain’s best beers and ale’s!
  • Food Tasting: Tour Oxford’s tea rooms, fish and chip shops, bakery’s, the many places that my friend knows and loves. Ask if they will cater for a group offering smaller portions as a few hours of eating at different places means you can’t eat the usual full size plate.
  • Movie Sets: There’s many movies and series that have been filmed in part in Oxford, running a tour visiting these and giving some local insight is something tourists love to see.
A Captive Audience

Once the tour group is in front of you, there’s a captive audience. Personality will make a difference so interjecting this would make the tour more enjoyable, interact with the group and this builds levels of trust. Building on trust then look to sell products to the group. We all love a souvenir, so negotiating with local businesses that offer fine, perhaps hand made products and these can be offered to the group.

I suggested my friend also makes sure to get the groups contact email and any other details as many tourists will return to a holiday destination. They may want to take another of the tours or hear about newly created ones.

Get their feedback and make changes as that feedback suggests.

Export Britain

Perhaps another piece of the jigsaw is to then get an online ecommerce site and promote this to the same audience and export Britain around the world. See our blog post with practical advice on how to go about getting online and exporting globally, without having to have a huge budget.

Offering tours as well as fine British products online is a double income stream.

You Won’t Know Until You Do It

As you can see, setting up this business really won’t cost a fortune and all you’re doing is taking the knowledge you have and using it to build a business. Take what interests you have and stick to what you know, this is key. Focus on one thing to start with, then grow your business organically.

Once you start to get the audience, you can market to them. The UK has some fantastic products and places to see and millions of people from around the world come here to experience it every day.

Creating your own import export business isn’t rocket science, it just takes a thought and a little imagination.

Photo by Aron Van de Pol on Unsplash

Sell Products Online

Once you know what is selling and how to export, the bigger question becomes, how do you sell products online to an international market?  The Internet is the obvious way to reach a global market and start selling without needing millions in advertising budgets through traditional advertising.  Our simple guide below explains the basics of getting your website online and key points to marketing.

Global Selling

Below is a recording of a webinar where we discuss how to design and develop your website for selling around the world. Various online marketing methods are looked with hints and tips of how to launch your website and marketing strategy.

How To Sell Online

That idea that began in your head, you acted on, you’ve found a way to take it and turn it into a reality. Congratulations indeed, you are part of the minority. For many, taking the risk, working that hard, probably your current job in the day, then getting home and working another shift on your own company is too much for the majority. Putting up your own money to finance your new company, keeping the motivation and drive can be difficult but you’ve not given up, what you’ve achieved is admirable and you’ve proven yourself braver than most.

You’ve achieved so much, you’ve sourced or are manufacturing your products, importing them to your warehouse and now you need to start selling online.

Online Marketplaces

Selling is not rocket science, you have to sell your products at a higher price than you buy them. However, especially in this day and age where competition is fierce, it’s easier said than done. It’s not easy but you already know that coming this far. You’re obviously up for the challenge. Selling globally is something that we can all do these days thanks to the Internet. That idea of making money and taking orders while you sleep is reality, potential customers can find your site any time of the day, enter their credit card details and buy your products.

Buy A Domain

Before you can think about selling any products, a domain name is where it all starts online – www.mysite.com. Registering one is easy enough, go over to Go Daddy, search for your name and register it. Two quick tips:

1. Think about registering a domain name with your main keyword in it can help with rankings. You can register two names, one being your company name and the other more keyword friendly. You can promote your company domain on business cards, letterheads etc. but promote the keyword rich one within Google and online.

Don’t overdo the keywords though, keep it simple as even a small business still has to look professional.

2. The longer you buy the domain for, it could help your ranking in Google. Google ranks websites on many hundreds of points so buying a domain for 10 years won’t get you to the top on it’s own but it’s something that Google does measure.

Google’s logic is simple, if you spend the money to register it for a long period of time, you plan on being around, opposed to someone who is taking it year by year.

Your Ecommerce Website

These days you can build yourself a website with an online store builder. Years ago this used to be an expensive and time consuming project but now it’s really become much more simple.

There are “open source” free ecommerce platforms out there for your new online business which will of course include a shopping cart, the most common being WordPress. You’ll need a little tech knowledge but there are so many free tutorials on Google for WordPress that at every step you’ll be able to fall back on some video help.

Magento is a second step up, more powerful as a ecommerce platform but you’ll need more tech knowledge.

Shopify is an option as somewhere you can setup shop quickly and easily but doesn’t give you all the control you may find you need.

WordPress may well be the best place to start. It used to be that you had to find a designer that would create your design then a coder to implement that design. Now you can simply go to a site like Template Monster and search for WordPress templates. Buy one, grab some hosting and install.

That is a little tricky and will take some time but here’s a quick guide on how to start . Check out Woocommerce as this is what you’ll need to install to actually run the ecomm side of your site but these days with a little study it’s entirely possible to create your own online store.

Selling Products Online

The temptation when building your shiny new website is to put everything you can think of in it. There’s literally thousands of free plugins and features you can add. Best advice, keep your own ecommerce website simple.

The advent of the internet has made us much less patient. If we can’t find what we’re looking for in a few seconds, we hit the back button and bounce off the site. The same will be true of your website; your competition is one click away. Keep things simple, clear, to the point and quick.

Search For It And Make It Snappy

A major part of online ecommerce is including a site search or a product search, especially if your site has many pages and/or products. Allow people to find what they want quickly. Quick being another key point for Google, as something else it looks for in the site speed.

If your site take a long time to load, Google penalises you. “Long” on the internet is measured in seconds. So keep your site light and make sure it loads quickly, especially on mobile as I’m sure you know, most of us access the web through our mobiles more than desktop now.

We’ve become especially impatient with the rise of the internet so make sure that if you really want to sell products online, your site and all pages load quickly.

Credit Card Required

In order to make money, you’re going to have to take money.  So obviously credit card payments are a necessity.

Stripe

The latest and greatest way to do this in our opinion is with a company called Stripe, the best service for online selling sites. Their payment processing is fast, easy to integrate, their customer service is excellent and fees are very reasonable.

The way Stripe make their money is for each transaction they process, they take a small percentage.  Once the transaction is approved and in your Stripe account, they’ll automatically send the money to your bank account however many times per month you set in your Stripe account.

This could be once a month, once a week or even every day if you need that for your cashflow. They offer WordPress plugins to make it even more easy to integrate into your website.

PayPal

The other alternative that’s been around for a long time is PayPal. PayPal isn’t as slick as Stripe and probably needs some updating but for those that have a PayPal account (and there are many that do), this can be a convenient way to pay.

PayPal allow users to enter their card details into their account and when they want to make a payment for a product, if they can pay by PayPal, they simply need to login and select that payment method.

The advantage to the user is that they don’t have to go and get their credit card and enter the details because it’s already setup.

Our advice is to have both available on your website so your customer can choose the most convenient payment method for them.

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Speak Their Language

We all want to sell products online globally to clients worldwide but remember you’re  going to have to speak to them. Translations of the site will be needed.

You can try and sell to Spain in English but your sales will inevitably be stronger if you sell in Spanish. You’ll also have to consider what you’ll do if you have a Spanish customer that has an issue and can only talk in Spanish, a problem if you only speak English.

Customer Service Will Sell Products Online

One of the biggest lessons in knowing how to sell products online, can and should be learned from Zappos. Zappos has sold a billion dollars worth of shoes so if there’s anyone to learn from, it’s these guys. Customer service wins loyalty. When we call a company, we want to speak to a human, we don’t want to dial more numbers to get there, we want a response quickly.

If we have a problem or a complaint, make it right. The best way of keeping customers loyal is to deal with problems and issues, quickly and to fix the problem. We all understand that there are problems in life, it’s how you correct them that can make a disgruntled customer, a happy and forever loyal customer.

Make that happen. Have a read on Forbes about Zappos customer service. This is something that needs to be in place from the very beginning and should not be outsourced.  No one outside of your company is ever going to care as much as you.

Analytics

Install Google Analytics on your site, it’s free. Setup goals and study the data. Without knowing what your audience is looking at on your site, what’s working, what’s not working, you won’t be able to progress. Analytics offers a wealth of information for you to study. Without using this, you’re blind.

Selling products online successfully means analysing data. Where are your users coming from, how long do they stay on the site, what are your most popular pages?  You’ll need to study these metrics and keep refining until you have good conversion rates.

Where’s The Traffic?

After all this, you may find yourself wondering why you’re not getting any traffic or sales. Well, there’s around 645 million websites online today. How are people going to find yours if you don’t tell them about it? Means more work but we already know you’re not scared of that! Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking.

Google Adwords

Getting a high ranking in Google is what we all want but it’s no easy task. It takes time and a lot of work. A quick way to Google is using Adwords. Pay to appear at the top of Google. Yes it means you have to find more funds but it’s a quick way to get off the ground. The other advantage is that it will give you an idea of traffic, whether your site is working well, if you have customers calling you you’ll understand their needs better.

Blogging

WordPress is actually a blogging platform so use it. Create blogs that are interesting and relevant to people. I hope you are finding this blog useful and that you’re benefiting from the information. The next post I write, you will hopefully be interested in and continue to read. Over time, I hope you’ll become a loyal follower and share the information I’m writing about with others that will find it useful. The same applies to whatever you’re doing.

Don’t write blogs where you’re simply trying to get people to buy what you’re selling, drive people to your site with interesting and relevant content, then they may visit your site and look deeper, perhaps taking the plunge and buying something.

For example, if you sell cakes, don’t just try and sell your cakes on your blog. You can write recipes, make a few videos of how to make the best brownies at home, what are some of the best ingredients to use in cakes, what are your favorite cakes, whats the best cake tin…you get the idea. These subjects will be more interesting and if you post them out on social media, may get a lot more interest than, “Please Buy My Great Cakes”.

Be Social

Once you’ve written those great blogs or created a few great videos, send them out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and all the networks. Use hashtags to gain more exposure.

The main thing to remember is not to get bored and give up. Blogging and gaining traffic takes time, you need to think of this as a 12 – 18 month project, it won’t happen over night. Be consistent and you’ll get there.

Sell Products Online With a Piggyback

Another idea is to use sites that allow you to sell but take a commission. This may not work for you if you’re working off tight commissions but in the long term it can still work, so consider it. Sites like Not On The High Street, Etsy and even Amazon and Ebay can really work to springboard some product awareness.

By adding your products to these, you’ll have to pay a commission on sales but you’re products may start to get exposure and any sales, means you’ll have the details of that customer to market to in future. Rather than looking at it as a commission on sales, you could look at it as paying to gain the customer.

Email Lists

Last point is to make sure you’re creating an email list of users. It’s an old form of marketing now but it’s still effective. It’s easier to sell products online to people that have shown an interest in what you’re offering and made an effort for you to keep in touch with them.

Offer something for free on you’re site, a discount, an ebook, a free cake! Get the user to leave their email and you’ll be able to keep them up to date with new products, discounts and other exciting bits and pieces!

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Conclusion

Creating your website, marketing and learning to sell products online is it’s own is a full time job so eventually, once your online business really takes off you may find yourself needing at least one dedicated person to working on this.

Nothing tends to happen quickly when it comes to the web either, there are so many platforms and browsers that to get a website to work on everything can take some fiddling and therefore time.

Make an overall plan for your website and stick to that and get it launched.  You can and will continue to tweak it after that until you find the recipe that works for you.  Perseverance is what will be needed so don’t give up and be ready for the long term game.

I hope this information helps get you off the ground towards finding your global market place and if it did, perhaps share it with others! (See what I did there?!)