What Is Mini Importation Business?
As the name implies, a mini-importation business is a simple type of business where someone buys a product from overseas at a cheap price and re-sells it at a higher price for profit. This business is mostly done online.
At the moment, most people deal with Chinese companies because they tend to have varieties of products that can be gotten at a relatively low price.
Usually, a lot of people see mini-importation business as a small scale business. But, on the contrary, you can also import a large number of products depending on your capital.
Hence, a mini-importation business is for people with low capital and also for people who have a huge capital to invest. You can decide to start with as low as $20 or as high as $1million.
What You Need To Begin Your Mini Importation Business
Actually, all you need to start a mini-importation business are things you already have or can get at just the tap of your finger.
In no particular order, here’s a list of all you will need to begin
- A personal computer (PC) or mobile phone
- Reliable internet connection (It can be a modem, Wifi, Mifi, etc)
- Valid address where your products can be delivered to.
- Valid e-mail address
- Start-up capital
How is money made in the Mini Importation Business?
You simply buy something (for example Mobile phones, shoes, accessories, etc) at a low price and sell them at a higher price to make a profit.
The profit you make in this business is exclusively dependent on the kinds of products you ordered and their price ranges.
To increase the size of the profit you can make, there are basically two options.
You can either find a way to buy your products at a lower price or look for customers who will buy them at a higher price.
Whatever happens, always ensure that you buy at a cheaper price and sell it at a higher price to make reasonable profits.
The thing is before now importing from overseas was difficult because most of the manufacturers have what is called Minimum Order Quantity.
It is the minimum quantity of products a supplier will sell to you in order to make a worthwhile profit.
Which was why they preferred to sell their goods in large volumes. Since you can only afford a few hundred products, most of the big overseas suppliers won’t want to do business with you.
For example, a businessman who owns a small business venture but sells imported goods cannot import goods directly from overseas because of the number of products he will order.
Because of this, the big guys with fat accounts can afford to act as the middlemen thereby buying at a very cheaper rate over there and coming to double the price for you which will make your profits so little.
Why You Should Consider A Mini-Importation Business
- Being an importer can serve as a side hustle for you while you maintain your full-time job.
- If you choose the right product and select the right market, you can cover your one year salary with just one successful import (depending on what you earn anyways).
- You can get cheaper products than your counterpart if you have good negotiation skills. Even if you consider the products cheap, you don’t
necessarily have to pay that exact amount. You can go further by bargaining prices with the suppliers and in the long run, improve your profitability.
- Some importers tend to reach their financial goals on time because the more you venture into the business, the more exposed you will become to several opportunities in the mini importation business.
Things you should be aware of before we get started…
Our case study for this article will be on products manufactured in China because of reasons soon to be disclosed to you.
Although we shall also talk about products from the US and Europe, the tips in this article reveal more about buying products from Chinese manufacturers and suppliers.
The most likely question on your mind right now would be like: why China?
I’ll tell you why.
It no longer news that 80% of the world’s products today are being manufactured in the Asian continent particularly China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Ranging from Cars, Phones, Laptops, Toys, computers, home appliances, kitchen utensils, etc are made in China.
You can even verify this by taking an inventory of all the things around you right now. It will amaze you to see that consciously or unconsciously out of every 10 products or items in your house 7 is made in China.
For example, sitting here while typing these lines…. My laptop is an HP Notebook made in China, my mobile phone is made in China (originally, made for the Chinese citizens so I had to remove the OS that came with it in order to be able to use it effectively here), my wristwatch is made in China and even my tablet is also made in China.
Apart from food products, China is the number one source of all the hot-selling and fast-moving consumer products you know.
China is one of the cheapest manufacturers in the world because of its low labor and production costs. As a result, many of the big brands that you know such as Apple, HP, Techno, infinix, etc., make their products through factories and contractors based in China.
Countries like the US and various European countries ensure that products coming from China to these countries do not compromise in terms of quality because they set very strict standards which the Chinese usually adhere to.
Well, you may want to ask why I am telling you all this… it is on record that we Africans believe that China is the home for inferior or low-quality products.
While this may be true, I don’t think we should blame the Chinese. After all, China also produces many of the high-quality products in America and Europe.
If our governments could enforce strict quality and safety standards for products coming into Africa, the Chinese would comply as they do for their clients in the USA and Europe.
However, you don’t have to worry about importing low-quality products. In the later part of this article, I’ll share with you the secrets of finding high-quality products and suppliers that meet US and European standards.
Step By Step Guide To Starting A Mini Importation Business
Step 1: Register Your Business
The first thing to do when starting a business is to put a structure to it. In my country Nigeria, you can get your business registered through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Customers trust registered businesses because they know that if anything happens to their money, they can trace you. So, in order to gain your client’s trust, register your business with CAC.
Overtime, aspiring entrepreneurs find it difficult to register their business by themselves. This is why companies like ReDahlia take the stress off them. With just a token, you can get your business registered with them and your certificate will be available within 3-10 working days.
Step 2. Find A Cheap And Reliable Import Portal
Import portals are websites you can get your products from. In other words, this is the portal where your online importation transactions will be
carried out. This first step is crucial to your business because, at this point, you may encounter fake websites that may loot money from you.
There is also a possibility of choosing a website with pricey products. If you buy a high priced product coupled with the shipping cost, it will negatively impact your profit margin.
Therefore, before choosing a website, research about the website, and also check the reviews, feedback score, and rating of the website.
The rating is between 0-100% and 0-5 star reviews. It is always best to go for websites with up to 90% rating and do not have less than 4-star reviews. Some of the popular websites are 1688.com, AliExpress, Alibaba.
The next thing to do is to head straight to the websites and create an account with them. It’s not rigorous to do. Among the three listed websites above, 1688.com has proven to be the cheapest supplier. Hence, many make it their preferred choice. The website is written in Chinese but you can easily translate to English on the site.
Alibaba is also popular because it’s majorly a marketplace for manufacturers and wholesalers. However, they have minimum order quantity (MOQ).
Example of trusted Platform you should shop from:
Aliexpress.com has become the leading destination for small scale importers looking to buy goods at wholesale prices from China.
Aliexpress is one of the subsidiaries of the Alibaba Group which dominates internet-based commerce in China.
In fact, in 2012, Alibaba’s portals handled sales of up to 1.1 trillion Yuan ($170 billion), more than its competitors (eBay and Amazon.com combined). The Alibaba Group is estimated to be worth between $55 billion to more than $120 billion.
The Alibaba Group launched Aliexpress in 2010 as an online retail service made up of mostly small sellers offering products to online buyers. It has more than 20 major product categories and sells to registered users and buyers in more than 220 countries around the world. You can visit its homepage at www.aliexpress.com
DHgate.com is a business-to-business (B2B) e-Commerce website connecting China-based small and medium enterprises with buyers overseas.
The website is a fast trading marketplace where users can order Chinese-manufactured products directly through the site. The company has been in business since 2004 and is backed by investors KPCB, JAFCO and Warburg Pincus.
It offers customer support through online chat, e-mail messages and phone support. The website is primarily in English but is also offered in other popular languages spoken in Africa such as French and Spanish. DHgate offers a wide range of products and you can visit its home page at www.dhgate.com
iPmart.com (started in 2001) is a huge wholesale market that ships products from China, USA and Malaysia. Unlike Aliexpress.com and DHgate.com which have a wide range of products, iPmart.com is focused on electronic gadgets like mobile phones, game consoles and their spare parts and accessories. If you’re interested in technology products, iPmart.com is the place for you. You can visit its homepage at www.ipmart.com
To start shopping and placing your orders on any of these websites, you need to sign up to become a registered member. To sign up or register is usually very easy.
By clicking on the ‘Join Free’ or ‘Register’ link at the top left/right corner of the home page, you will be sent to a registration page to complete a short form. All that is usually required is a Name, valid Email address and Password. If you prefer, you could sign up or register using your Facebook account.
As soon as your registration is complete, you can start shopping and adding items to your cart. When you’re ready to order, you will be led to the Payment page. This leads us to the next important step…
More to Read: 25 Proven Ways to Make Money Fast
Things To Consider Before Choosing Products To Import
1. Choose Your Market And Know Their Local Needs
Which country do you want to do business in? What is the population of the country? What are the products selling fast in the country? You should be able to answer these questions when choosing your market. Different countries will have different needs and the products that sell in a particular country may not be lucrative in another country.
You also need to study the climate, geographical position, culture and lifestyle of your target market. It’s also imperative that you get familiar with the products that are selling successfully in the market. You may not get the full information on what you need but knowing a few things about the market will save you from incurring unnecessary costs.
Meanwhile, the demand for certain products may change from time to time and from season to season. Therefore, you need to keep your eye on trends in your industry.
2. Get Familiar With The Local Norms
A crucial part of deciding what product to choose is getting familiar with the formalities involved in the importation process. If there are products that are termed illegal in your local market, you need to be aware of them.
In addition, some of these goods may come with quantity limitations or a certain tax implication that you need to cover to complete the import process. Knowing them beforehand will save you from surprises when you get to the shipment stage.
Meanwhile, it may be difficult to wrap your head around all the required taxes, laws and authorities. This is where the lawyer comes in. You can hire a lawyer to look over the details of your importing process and educate you on the different regulations you need to comply with.
3. Check Reviews On Each Product
Before ordering a product, scroll down to the end of the product you wish to ship and read the reviews of other customers about the product. Also, make sure you go through the product description. Also, check the delivery methods and the seller’s guarantee on the product.
Fast Moving Products In Nigeria To Import
a. Shoes, Bags, Wrist Watches And Clothing
These are some of the basic needs of people everywhere in the world. You cannot go wrong with these products regardless of the competition. There’s a ready market for these products and you will always find customers that will patronise you. You can get these items at a cheap price and resell for profit.
Without mincing words, Nigerians love gadgets. Although some Nigerians no longer trust China phones, there are other gadgets from China they go for.
Here are some of them:
- Bluetooth Speakers
- Smart Bracelet Wireless Headset
- Toilet Led Light
- Wireless Earpod
- Super Bright Led Torch Light
- Warm and Cooling Cup Holder
- Wireless Phone Charger
- Mobile Phone HD Projector Bracket
- Waterproof case for iPhone and Samsung Galaxy
- Flash Drive
- Selfie Stick
- Engrave Pen
- Waterlemon Slicer
c. Body Fitness Products
Obviously, we are in the era where everybody wants to stay fit and slim. Products that will help them achieve their dream bodies is something you can invest in. Here are some examples:
- Waist Trainers
- Slim Tea
- Body Shapers
d. Gift Items
Nigerians love parties. There’s hardly a Saturday without a party going on especially in Lagos. One of the challenges party organisers face is sourcing for the right gift items to give to their attendees.
The good news is, China is one of the countries where you can find cheap and uncommon gift items. You can source for the right gift item, advertise and make your sale. Interestingly, people tend to buy gift items in bulk, so, you can make your money back at once from one buyer.
Step 4: Make Payment
The next step is to pay for the products you ordered. Secured measures have been put in place to help ease payment challenges. Gone are the days when paying to import products involved rigorous long processes.
With the advent of the internet, it’s almost like a walk in the park. Right from your house or office, you can make payments to China, the USA, UK or anywhere in the world. The payment channel to use will depend on your supplier. Some suppliers accept Visa Card or Mastercard, some Paypal or Alipay.
In case you are scared about losing your money or not getting your exact order, it will interest you to know that these websites have measures in place to mitigate against such risks. They call it “Buyers Protection” or “Escrow”. The Escrow is a measure these websites have put in place to protect you.
Here is how it works; once you make a payment, the money doesn’t go directly to the seller’s account, the website holds the money. Once you confirm receipt of your order, the money will then be released to the supplier. In the event the goods delivered is different from what you ordered, there is a “Dispute Form” that you can fill and you’ll be refunded.
There is no business that is risk free but the risk in this business is quite minimal.
What if you get scammed?
Like We said in Step Scams and fraud have been a big issue in internet-based transactions and e-Commerce for a long time.
What if you receive the products and they are fake or not exactly as the supplier described?
What if you pay for the products but they are never shipped and delivered to you?
How can you make sure that you get the EXACT products you paid for without getting scammed?
Good and important questions!
All the websites we have recommended to you in this article have some form of ‘buyer protection’ mechanism built into the payment process.
This mechanism, also known as ‘Escrow’, is the same role the banks have played in the import business and international trade for a long time. The way ‘escrow’ or buyer protection works is simple. Rather than pay the seller directly, Aliexpress, DHgate and iPmart withholds your payment until you receive the products you ordered and confirm that they are not fake/damaged.
The image below is an example of the escrow system operated by DHgate.com. It’s a simple five-step process that ensures that the buyer is never scammed and gets what he/she pays for.
Another Way To Pay For Your Product
The first payment approach earlier discussed is not so common. The easiest route most mini-importers take is the logistics route. There are companies here in Nigeria you can place your order through. With this approach, you will open an account with both your import portal and the logistics website.
Once you select the product you need from the import portal, you will copy the link to the logistics website and place your order through them. The logistics company will in turn track and get your order shipped to their office on your behalf and once it arrives Nigeria, you can go pick your goods from their office. This appears to be an easy approach that has worked for many.
The logistics companies get a commission of the goods ordered. Usually, the charges are reasonable. Your order will arrive within 2-3days, 7days or 14days depending on how fast you want it delivered. The faster the delivery time, the more expensive.
The challenge with logistics companies is that not all logistics companies can help you return your goods if it is different from the order you placed. So, ensure you ask the right questions of what their services entail before using them.
Step 5: Order Delivery
As discussed earlier, if you involve a logistics company, they can either deliver to you using delivery companies or you go to their office to pick up your order.
If you placed the order directly, your product will be delivered to you in two ways:
1. Free Shipping
If you are not in a hurry, you can opt for the free shipping option. Although it is slow, it’ll help you save cost and maximize profit. Most times, it is delivered between 20 to 30 days. You can pick up your order from China Post Air Mail/Parcel or Hong Kong Mail services.
China Post is the official postal service of China. The small parcel and large package of China Post and Hong Kong Post can be tracked if registered. When using free shipping, endeavour to include your phone number, so that you can be contacted when your goods arrive.
Sometimes, you may not be able to track your order but be rest assured that it will be delivered to the nearest China Post. That’s why you need to include your phone number.
2. Premium Delivery
This is faster and more traceable. The deliveries can be done through DHL, FedEx, or EMS and it arrives within 3 – 5 days. One way to reduce cost is to request that some irrelevant packages in your order be removed so as to reduce weight and cost of shipment.
Another Important is:
Advertise Your Product And Start Making Money
No matter how good your product is, if you don’t advertise it, people will not know about it and therefore will not buy it. So, at this point, you will need to make noise about your product. If you’ve carried out step three well, you will not find it difficult to identify your target audience.
Marketing Channels For Your Imported Goods
1. Social Media
Open a business page for your product on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. In recent times, these platforms have been re-designed in ways that help businesses reach their target market.
If you are not familiar with them, open an account first and get familiar with them. Ensure you explore all the options available. From running targetted promotions (Our ‘DIY: A Practical Guide To Running Instagram Ads‘ will guide you) to exploring the stories sections. Post regularly and engage with the audience. Social media marketing success has a lot to do with good visuals and captivating captions.
Another marketing avenue you can explore is building a referral network, by compensating anyone that brings clients to you. It could be in cash, gift or kind. This actually works well because people want to know what’s in it for them before becoming an evangelist of your business.
3. Word Of Mouth
As old fashioned as this may sound, it still works like magic. Make it a habit to tell anyone that comes around you about your business. And, don’t leave anyone out. From families, to friends, neighbours, church or mosque members, social gatherings and the likes
4. Distribution of Flyers And Handbills
Another method is to employ a graphic designer to help you with flyers or handbills. You can share this in banks, corporate organizations or gatherings where your target audience visit regularly.
If you cannot do the sharing yourself, there are companies whose job it is to distribute flyers, posters and the likes. All you need to do is to tell them about your target locations. You can pay them to distribute your marketing materials for you.
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