Guide for Importers of Electronic Equipment from China

Despite the growing prices and labor costs, China will remain the most important electronic equipment manufacturing base. A large, qualified workforce and a well-working supply chain determine that for the following years, most smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets will be manufactured between Guangzhou and Shenzhen. But what should the importer keep in mind if he is about to start importing? In our opinion, the whole process should be divided into several phases.

How to import electronic equipment from China?

PHASE 1 – Cost evaluation and Planning

From the very beginning, the importer should carefully evaluate his plan and investing capabilities. What does the target customer needs? What can the Chinese factories deliver? First, there is no need to import brand electronics because the prices will most likely be very similar to Western prices or even higher. Most of these brand products are deliberately fake, and fake merchandise will most likely be seized by customs.

Another important step is a cost evaluation. Laptops, cellphones, and tablets imported from China are exempted from duty in the EU; as for the other countries, the regulations should be checked. In most cases, Value Added Tax is applied, and the tax rate varies depending on the country. Pay special attention to import duties, especially when the product is new on the market (for example, a smartwatch). Sometimes the Chinese supplier will be able to provide you with the HS code of the product.

It can be said that in the most popular categories of electronic device trade, the market is saturated. It may be hard to persuade customers to buy the no-so-good generic cellphone or mediocre tablet because they already overflow the market. If you are aiming for big success, think of something new and creative like GoPro.

PHASE 2 – Finding a Supplier

There are two main directions to which Western customers turn to Alibaba and Made-in-China. Those B2B platforms serve major transactions. It is always the best option to establish a close relationship with your supplier, and even if you buy only 100 to 200 pieces, you should buy them directly from the supplier. Choosing a trading company means higher costs and greater risks.

What kind of risks should be considered? For example, the customer should pay special attention to the device specs. For instance, a surprisingly cheap cellphone has a 12MP front camera and 8GB of internal memory. On paper only. Remember that you cannot get something extra for the price of something ordinary.

Of course, in certain cases, a trading company is still a better choice. Especially when the producer is not willing to manufacture the ordered number of pieces – in this case, we can order them from the trading company.

No matter how many units you source, verify the supplier independently.

PHASE 3 – Logistics

How to choose the most proper way of delivery? There are several logistics solutions suitable for the transport of electronic equipment. Air transport is expensive but fast and reliable. Sea transport takes more time and is suitable for bigger orders (like full container load). Most seek the help from international shipping companies, such as DHL or UPS, there is also a national post operator, China Post, which offers both air and sea delivery and competitive prices. The time of delivery and shipping fee depends on the target country, and the differences may be quite huge. The distance doesn’t matter: sometimes it is more expensive to ship your goods to neighboring Mongolia than to remote New Zealand.

As far as small amounts of goods are concerned, organizing the whole shipping process is a piece of cake, things get hectic when your delivery quantity is bigger. Soon enough, you will realize that you cannot earn much on a small order, but getting a bigger order is far more risky and complicated. So, after all, which option is better? The decision is up to you.

PHASE 4 – Solving problems

In case something goes wrong, you still have some chance to solve your problem. Remember that Made-in-China and Alibaba are not online shops; they serve as a platform to enable communication between buyers and suppliers, so they cannot be held responsible for the product’s shortcomings. Some suppliers offer the option of unconditional returns, so even if the product is working properly, you can still send it back. If you are not satisfied with the solutions suggested by the supplier, you can always complain to the b2b platform, but as far as we know, this rarely works. People in charge of those web pages are dealing with thousands of complaints daily and are not really interested in strictly enforcing their own rules (it may have tremendous consequences for their business because suppliers may be discouraged from using their services).

To sum up

In the nearest future, Chinese brands such as ZTE and Huawei will gain the reputation of reliable, international brands, as it already happened with Lenovo (which is, frankly speaking, not always associated with China because it bases on the IBM know-how and patents). But apart from those big companies, thousands of smaller ones are operating, and the products they offer are not necessarily inferior in terms of quality. The rule is simple: you get what you pay for. If you manage to successfully import some electronic equipment from China, find wholesalers in your country, and provide functioning after-sale service for your clients, you can achieve major success.