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Accredited Lab Testing Companies in China: An Overview

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As an importer to countries in  the European Union, North America, Middle East or Australia, it is your responsibility to make sure the products you’re importing are in compliance with country’s safety regulations and defined quality standards.

For this, you need to get your products tested and certified by the accredited lab testing companies.

This is why as an importer from China to North America, Europe, Australia or other parts of the world where governments have strict rules and regulations for imported products, the first thing you may want to learn about is how to get your products tested from accredited labs.

You can’t import products to Europe, the United States, Australia and other developed markets – unless they meet the standards and norms defined by these countries.

Importing untested products can not only result in heavy penalties, but also confiscation of imported goods, while some countries can even blacklist your name as an importer who is banned from importing goods in the country.

So if you’re an importer from China or just starting your career as one, it is important to find accredited labs for your products in China that can make sure your products meet all the legal requirements and checks enforced by the country where you’re importing goods. Continue Reading →

The Importers Guide to Global Sources Trade Shows – By Meghla Bhardwaj

Meghla Global Sources

Global Sources started as a media company more than four decades ago, and has now evolved into both a leading supplier directory (2nd largest after Alibaba) and trade show.

This combination makes Global Sources unique, as it acts a hub for both buyers and suppliers – both offline and online.

In this interview, with Meghla Bhardwaj, head of content marketing at Global Sources in Singapore, explains why startups and e-commerce businesses should use their directory – and attend the upcoming trade shows and conferences in Hong Kong.

1. Meghla, please tell us a bit about yourself and how you started working at Global Sources

I’ve been working at Global Sources for about 17 years. I started in the India office where I wrote sourcing-related articles for our magazines, and managed the freelancer network there.

Then I moved to the Philippines office in 2003, where I led a team in Manila and China producing the company’s research reports, China Sourcing Reports. This is when I started traveling to China, touring factories and meeting with suppliers there.

In 2006, I moved to China where all the action was. I lived in Shenzhen for 9 years, where I visited hundreds of factories, worked with suppliers and buyers, and got a good understanding of how the supply chain works, and the issues buyers face when sourcing from China.

More recently, I’ve been working with Amazon and online sellers, trying to understand their pain points, and helping determine how Global Sources can meet their specific needs.

I’ve been organizing Global Sources Summit, a conference for online sellers sourcing from China. The conference is held every April and October and is co-located with our trade shows in Hong Kong. Continue Reading →

Product Safety Standards & Labeling in Canada: A Complete Guide

Canadian Product Regulations

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Consumer product safety standards and labeling laws and regulations are designed to ensure the safety of consumers in Canada. They provides a detailed guideline and safety requirements (and more) to sellers, manufacturers, and dealers who want to import goods to Canada.

To import, manufacture, advertise or sell a product in Canada, you must possess certifications, lab tests, compliance with the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, Consumer Packaging, and Labeling Act, and other regulations based on the type of product you want to import or manufacture.

In this article, I have provided detailed information about the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, also known as CCPSA, what it means for importers, and what is required if you want to import products to Canada.

What is Canada Consumer Product Safety Act?

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act was passed as a law by the government in 2010 and went into effect in 2011 to ensure the safety of Canadian consumers. With proposed changes to the Hazardous Products Act (HPA), it replaced the 40 years old HPA with new regulations and amendments.

According to the act, all consumer products in Canada must be regulated under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA). The law was proposed after the growing consumer complaints about the safety of consumer products in the country.

As the HPA was not amended for the last 40 years, it failed to provide safety and protection against many modern products and gadgets, especially toys. There was a need for a new act with a set of modern regulations and laws to ensure public safety.

Under the new act, manufacturers and importers are now required to obtain safety information in the form of mandatory checks, tests, and certifications (if required by the inspectors from Health Canada), to meet the requirements of Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA).

The CCPSA is designed to prohibit the importers and manufacturers from importing, manufacturing, selling, and even advertising consumer products that are in any way poses danger to safety and health of humans.

The new act along with also Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act prohibits importers and manufacturers to misrepresent a product, misguide or mislead consumers.

Health Canada is responsible to enforce the CCPSA regulations and amendments within the borders of Canada. The inspectors from Health Canada have an authority to inspect any product and ask seller, importer, or manufacturer to provide certificates or test results to ensure compliance with CCPSA. Continue Reading →

How to Pay China Factories By PayPal: 5 Things You Must Know

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Sending money through telegraphic transfer (T/T), or paying by letter of credit (L/C), is slow and relatively complicated.

The wrong beneficiary name, or even address, can delay the payment for weeks, and there is no effective way to request a refund in case you get scammed by a supplier.

So, why aren’t more importers using payment services such as PayPal, that can send money instantly to suppliers – while also offering the chance of getting the money back if the products are not matching the specifications?

Keep reading, and learn why many suppliers refuse to accept PayPal payments, and what you can do to change their mind.

1. Most suppliers only accept PayPal payments when ordering product samples

PayPal is available to both businesses and individuals in both Mainland China and Hong Kong. Opening an account only takes minutes, and is as easy as anywhere else on the planet.

Yet, many Chinese suppliers, both factories and trading companies, don’t accept payments via PayPal.

Why is that?

First, it’s a matter of old habits.

Most suppliers are accustomed to the established payment methods, such as telegraphic transfer and letter of credit – while they are quick to dismiss newer payment methods.

The suppliers that do accept PayPal payments tend to restrict it to sample invoice payments only. As such, most suppliers don’t accept PayPal payments for larger orders. Continue Reading →

Do Sales Contracts Work When Importing from China?

Supplier Sales Contract

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Most quality issues are the result of misunderstandings. A Sales contract, can prevent those misunderstandings from occurring in the first place.

In my opinion, the sales contract is the most important mechanism of the entire importing and product development process.

But do Chinese suppliers really care about sales contracts – and how do you make them follow the terms?

And, can you draft a contract on your own?

These, and many other, questions, will be answered in this comprehensive guide on sales contracts for startups and other small businesses importing products from China.

1. Make sure to include these terms in your sales contract

Term Comment
Manufacturer The manufacturer name, business license number and address must be defined. This entity is ultimately responsible.
Seller Many suppliers use companies in Hong Kong to receive the payment. This company shall be defined as the seller.
Product Specifications List all product specifications and attachments. Don’t leave any product information out of the sales contract. If it’s not in the contract, you cannot demand a remake from the supplier.
Defect list Write a definition of defective product (i.e., mold or scratches), and an accepted defect rate.
Compliance Requirements List all applicable product safety standards and regulations, to which the product must be compliant.
Penalties Define penalties that apply if the supplier fail to pass the quality inspection and/or compliance testing.
Product Packaging Specify the product packaging design, dimensions and materials
Export Packaging Specify the export packaging type, dimensions and materials (i.e., freight pallets).
Quality Control / Testing Terms Write the quality inspection and lab testing terms
Payment Terms Normally, the buyer pay a 30% deposit, and ties the remaining 70% to the quality control and lab test result.
Shipping Terms Define mode of transportation, incoterms and more
Bank Account Details List all account details of the seller
Late Delivery Clause Penalties for delayed production

2. Communicate your design and quality requirements to avoid misunderstandings

Continue Reading →

How to Utilize Freelancers for Your Ecommerce Business: By Mike Michelini

Asian Freelancer

Managing RFQ procedures and day to day communication with your supplier, can be very time consuming. Especially when you consider the time zones. Before, the only option would be to hire a procurement agent, and adapt to their procedures (and perhaps even use their suppliers).

Or, setup your own office in Asia – which is not a realistic prospect for startups and small businesses.

But things have changed. Today, you can go on Upwork.com or Freelancer.com, and tap into a huge pool of freelancers, that you can pay by the hour or on a per project basis.

A Freelancer, that will likely be based in Asia, can keep up to date with your supplier, coordinate shipments – and even negotiate prices, while you spend your time doing something else (rather than calling your suppliers at 10 PM).

In this article, the Shenzhen based founder of Global From Asia (www.globalfromasia.com) shares his best advice for hiring and managing Freelancers, and how they can free up hours of work, every week.

How have you been using remote workers in your businesses?

I have been using remote workers on my team even before I read the Four Hour Work Week in 2007. It started with customer service for my e-commerce business when I hired “military spouses” who wanted to work online as their spouse (normally husband) was traveling often for work so they couldn’t get a “normal job”.

I was blown away (this is 2006) that I could have a work at home professional customer service rep help me at all hours of the day or night. These were “moms” based in USA (Kansas and Texas – Michelle and Janet – you rock) who really were moms of my business.

The hardest part about working with remote workers is the setup of tools and systems – which is a ton of upfront work.

Once you get a good flow with you and your remote team, it is like working next to them.

I have used remote workers for almost every part of my various businesses now for over 10 years – starting with customer service to graphic design, video production, web design, app development, community management, marketing – basically every kind of role except meeting clients face to face (waiting for the teleport technology to develop more for this).

Basically, if a task can be repeated, it can be delegated. If it can be delegated, 95% chance it can be done by a remote worker. The trick again is the upfront training and tools, and then the ongoing management. Continue Reading →

UL Certification When Importing from China: A Complete Guide

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UL (Underwriter Laboratories) develops electronics safety standards for the United States, and provide related testing, certification and auditing services.

Unlike the EU, where importers must comply with a set of harmonized electronics safety standards – American electronics importers are free to choose which standards to comply with.

UL standards are developed for specific electronic products, or components, such as cords, batteries and plugs.

Below follows a few examples:

  • UL 1642 – Standard for Lithium Batteries
  • UL 20 – General-Use Snap Switches
  • UL 2595 – General Requirements for Battery-Powered Appliances
  • UL 2089 – Standard for Vehicle Battery Adapters
  • UL 1740 – Standard for Robots and Robotic Equipment
  • UL 879A – Standard for LED Sign and Sign Retrofit Kits

You can buy UL standard catalogs directly from standardscatalog.ul.com. Each standard (more than one may apply to your product) costs from US$400 to 1000.

Assuming you, or your supplier, lack the technical skills to implement a standard in a real life product, you may also need to budget for consulting fees.

That, and much more, is covered in this comprehensive guide for complying with UL standards, when importing electronic products from China. Continue Reading →

Android Device Manufacturers in China: A Complete Guide

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Android OS has come a long way since it was first launched a decade ago. Today, Android is not only powering smartphones and tablets – but everything from Set-Top Boxes and Advertising Displays, to Smart Home and IoT systems.

In this article, we explain what importers must know about Android and technology licensing terms, product compliance requirements – and what you must look for when sourcing Android device manufacturers in China.

Overview of Android Enabled Devices

The Android OS is not just for phones and tablets. The Android OS has evolved since its initial launch, and is now used in the following products:

  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Laptops
  • Smart Watches
  • Set-Top Boxes
  • TV Dongles
  • PoS Systems
  • GPS Navigation Systems
  • Radios
  • Car Entertainment Systems
  • Advertising Displays
  • Smart Home / IoT (Internet of Things) Devices

Continue Reading →

Product Regulations in the United States: A Beginner’s Guide

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About to import products to the United States, or sell on Amazon.com? Then you must stay on top of the whole spectrum of mandatory safety standards, labeling, documentation and lab testing requirements.

It’s a heavy topic, but one you need to know inside out – or face the risk of having your goods seized by the US customs, getting your Amazon account shut down – or worse (yes, it can get a lot worse than that).

In this beginners guide to US safety standards and regulations, you will learn what every importer and ecommerce seller must know – including safety standards (both mandatory and non-mandatory), labeling requirements, document requirements and lab testing requirements.

Why product compliance is so complicated for US importers

In the European Union, there are mandatory directive and EN standards for hundreds of different products. Some complain that the EU is too heavy handed, and force unnecessary regulation on its member states.

There’s some truth to that, but what if there was no set of mandatory safety standards for most products? What if Importers had to make a complex regulatory assessment of their own (for which most are not qualified), rather than relying on a clear product compliance framework?

Enter the United States.

For many products, even electronics, there are no mandatory safety standards or directives. Instead, it’s up the Importer to make an assessment and apply ‘the necessary standards and procedures” to ensure that the imported products are safe.

Instead, product standards are developed by private organizations such as UL, ASTM and ANSI.

This is ideal, if you know how to make that assessment.

But if you’re just starting out, and don’t happen to have a team of lawyers and engineers by your side, it’s a lot more complicated. That, and much more, will be covered in this guide. Continue Reading →

Product Regulations in the European Union: A Beginner’s Guide

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Product regulations, such as safety standards and labeling requirements, are mostly ‘harmonized’ in the European Union.

As such, the same regulations apply in all member states. A product that is compliant in the United Kingdom, is therefore also compliant in Poland and Italy.

The European Union has arguably the most developed set of product regulations, covering essentially every product category from electronics and toys – to textiles and furniture.

In some cases, it’s only a matter of ensuring compliance with simple labeling requirements, while compliance for other products require lab testing and plenty of documentation.

In this article, we explain what startups and ecommerce companies must know, before importing products to the European Union.

European Union (EN) Product Safety Standards

The EU has developed standards that apply to specific products, materials or components. Below follows a few examples:

  • EN 54: Fire detection and fire alarm systems
  • EN 71: Safety of toys
  • EN 166: Personal eye protection. Specifications
  • EN 374: Protective gloves against chemicals and micro-organisms

Continue Reading →