You’ve found an irresistible product overseas and you are convinced that you have a strong market within which to sell it. Now all you have to do is get it into the country and watch the money come rolling in. Or is it? If you are thinking of starting an import business, however small, there are a few things that you must bear in mind. Ignore these and your new enterprise may not make it past the first few months.
Only deal in top quality products or services
Your product must tap into a current trend, fit in with an emerging trend or create a whole new trend of its own. When you are starting out, the latter is a big gamble. Do you know enough about the market to be able to spot what the next big thing will be? At the beginning, it may be prudent to follow existing trends and to try to satisfy an existing appetite for a product rather than starting your own. Observe the market for a while and learn to predict what it is doing. Work out which technological advances are catching on and in which industries. Then you can start to jump ahead of the game.
Organize your transport chain early on
There is no point shipping your goods into the country if you have no distribution method established. They will be sitting at the port for months and costing you a lot of money. The quicker you can get them on the shelves, the quicker they will sell and the sooner you will get your cashflow up and running.
Get your goods shipped out swiftly with intermodal transportation services so that you can take advantage of container drayage, cross docking warehouses and distribution.
Keep a track of your money
It is easy for costs to run away with you in the import business and you don’t want to leave it too late to find out that you are not making any profits!
Set up a system to accurately record all of your expenditure and your income. In the beginning, this could be as simple as a spreadsheet on your PC. As your business expands you can use some book-keeping software. At the end of each calendar month, add up your income and your outgoings to work out if you have made a profit. If your income is low, you may need to cut back on your outgoings for a while.
Set the right price
A successful import business is all about establishing the right price for your product. If you have a unique product that is the first to arrive in the marketplace, you will be able to get away with charging a higher price. The same is true if your product is of superior quality to anything else that is available at the time. However, if there is a lot of competition from very similar products then you may have to drop your price to remain competitive. If there is high consumer demand and limited supply, you can charge more.