Archive by Author

[Case Study] Launching a Watch Brand on Kickstarter: By Reinder and David from DR.W.

Kickstarter watch

DR.W. signed up for the Starter Package in late 2017. Today, they have successfully developed a new types of watch that can be used as a wristwatch, and a pocketwatch.

Keep reading, and learn how they went from idea, to supplier sourcing and working prototype.

At the time of writing, they are also getting ready for their Kickstarter campaign. One reason is obviously to raise funds, but crowdfunding today is as much about funds, as it is about exposure and proof of concept – before a wider product launch.


Do you want to support DR. W. on Kickstarter?

The Kickstarter campaign is currently active. Visit this page to get your Watch before everyone else.


Reinder and David, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before you started DR.W.

Thank you for the introduction Fredrik and ‘hello’ to all the readers.

We are from the Netherlands where we grew up in the same northern region and went to the same university.

We got to know each other about seven years ago when we both started our first job, a traineeship, for a Dutch multinational.

We both had an interest in watches and found out that we had a shared dream of creating our own watch at some time. Although it took some time we are eventually getting there!

design process

So, why did you choose to launch a watch brand?

So we both had this shared goal to create a special watch at a certain moment since we both like watches. Reinder collected many different watches over time. David, at the other hand, was still looking for that perfect watch that he could not find.

We brainstormed about how our ‘perfect watch’ could look like and how we could make it really special.

Eventually, after a couple of years, we were inspired by a real-life problem that Reinder’s brother faced during work. He works in a hospital and is not allowed to wear wrist watches for hygienic reasons.

Alternative timekeepers (for example pocket watches) are limited in choice and also medics might like to wear a wrist watch outside work. Therefore, we came up with a new watch concept that allows you to switch from a wristwatch to a pocket watch (and reverse) in just a few seconds!

Why do we think our watch is made for everyone? Because it is fashionable and it will fit basically every dress code.

Because it will suit all practical occasions, including hygienic restrictions. Because it is a timepiece representing the history of the watch. And, last but not least, because we believe it looks great! Switch your style in just a few seconds! Continue Reading →

BSCI and Sedex Audits in China: What Importers Must Know

BSCI Sedex audits in China

Importers are facing more pressure from customers to ensure that their products are, at least to a certain extent, ethically produced.

However, actively monitoring working conditions in a country far away, costs millions of dollars. In other words, ensuring social compliance in China is out of reach for any company that’s not on the Fortune 500.

That’s where BSCI and Sedex comes in.

What is BSCI?

Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) is a system meant to make supply chains more transparent and fair.

Importers and manufacturers anywhere in the world can become BSCI members, which requires them to comply with the 11 core BSCI principles:

  • The Rights of Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
  • Fair Remuneration
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Special Protection for Young Workers
  • No Bonded Labour
  • Ethical Business Behaviour
  • Decent Working Hours
  • No Child Labour
  • No Precarious Employment
  • Protection of the Environment

Audits are carried out, by accredited companies such as Intertek, to verify that the supplier complies with these principles.

Each audit rates the supplier in one of the following categories:

  • A (Outstanding)
  • B (Good)
  • C (Acceptable)
  • D (Insufficient)
  • E (Unacceptable)

However, BSCI is not a certification scheme. It’s based on gradual improvements over time. Continue Reading →

Top 7 Fulfillment Centers in China and Hong Kong 2018

HK Fulfillment Centres

A Hong Kong or Mainland China based fulfilment center can help you distribute products directly from the factory to customers all over the world.

In this article, we list the leading China based fulfillment centers, including Floship, Easyship, Exchain, Shipwire and others.

In addition, we also cover the following:

1. Potential tax issues with cross border ecommerce fulfillment

2. When does it make sense to use a fulfillment center in Hong Kong or Mainland China?

3. Should you select a fulfillment center in Hong Kong or Mainland China?

What is a fulfillment center?

Fulfillment center offers ecommerce merchants warehousing (storage) and shipping services, that allow online businesses to operate without owning their own warehouse or physical storage space.

Sellers, or ecommerce merchants can directly send their inventory to the fulfillment center from where it is shipped to their customers.

Most fulfillment centers are integrated with ecommerce marketplaces and platforms like Amazon (which also operate their own fulfilment centers, Shopify, and eBay, making it easier for merchants to manage inventory and delivery products. Continue Reading →

Shipping Lithium Batteries From China: UN 38.3, Packaging & Labels

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Importing standalone lithium batteries, or Li-ion powered electronic devices, from China?

Then you might be aware of the strict and complicated safety regulations, covering labeling, export packaging and documentation.

However, you might still struggle to understand how you should go about to actually follow these regulations when importing li-ion batteries and electronics from China.

In this article, we cover the following:

  • What types of lithium batteries and devices are regulated?
  • UN 38.3 and other safety standards
  • Export packaging requirements
  • Documentation requirements
  • Lab testing requirements
  • Shipping lithium batteries by sea
  • Shipping lithium batteries to Amazon

Notice that IATA and air couriers update these regulations on a yearly basis.

However, you can safely assume that it’s not going to get any easier to transport lithium batteries and devices in the future. Continue Reading →

How to Write a User Manual When Importing Products to the EU: By Tom van de Wiel

tom manualise

Product manuals, or user guides, are not just ‘nice to have’. At least if you are importing and selling in the European Union.

They are absolutely essential to many product categories, as product manuals are mandatory.

I am aware of several cases, when the customs authorities have seized shipments, simply because the product was not bundled with a manual.

So, we decided to ask an expert, Tom van de Wiel, CEO of Manualise.

In this interview, with one of Europe’s leading experts in this area, you will learn the following:

  • What kind of products require a manual?
  • In which cases is a product manual not required?
  • What information must be included in the manual?
  • What can happen if I don’t have a manual?

Continue Reading →

How to Find the Best Clothing Suppliers on Alibaba.com in 8 Steps

Suggestion: Watch the 10 minutes video tutorial before reading this article

With thousands of suppliers to choose from, sourcing clothing and textiles on Alibaba.com can be overwhelming.

Unless you have manual, that breaks down the process in actionable steps:

1. Find the right keyword and use the ‘Supplier search’ function

2. Review the supplier page

3. How to read the TrustPass profile

4. Review product pages

5. Select suppliers, submit techpack and request quotations

6. Order product samples from 4+ suppliers

7. Place your order with Alibaba Trade Assurance

8. How to book a sea or air shipment

1. Find the right keyword and use the ‘Supplier search’ function

Using the right product keyword is the key to success when sourcing products on Alibaba.com. All suppliers have their own product focus, and we need to be sure we only identify those that are relevant.

A few examples follow below:

  • Bamboo rayon t-shirt
  • Polyester yarn
  • Organic cotton baby clothes

Don’t go too specific, you won’t find matching suppliers.

Supplier search

Once you’ve found the right keyword, you must switch from product search, to supplier search. After all, we are here to find qualified factories, not product listings.

By now you should see a list of suppliers. I just searched “Organic cotton baby clothes” and got 832 options to choose from.

Obviously, that’s too many suppliers to process.

How to filter suppliers

The left column on Alibaba.com gives you many options for further filtering suppliers.

When sourcing clothing and textiles on Alibaba.com, I suggest that you only focus on ‘Mgnt Certification’ which enables you to filter suppliers based on the following:

  • ISO 9001
  • BSCI
  • ISO 14001
  • SA 8000
  • IS 13485

I primarily filter clothing suppliers based on BSCI, and in some cases, ISO 14001. These suppliers also tend to perform better in terms of quality and compliance.

fabric printing

2. Review the supplier page

BSCI, which is a social compliance protocol used in the clothing and textile industry, filtered the number of suppliers down to only 20. That’s easier to manage than 832 suppliers.

This is about as far as we can get, using the search function.

Now it’s time to open the supplier page, and make an assessment based on the information we find on their company page.

Use this checklist

  • Are they listed as a trading company or manufacturer?
  • Are they specialised in your product category?
  • Do they offer the same types of fabrics?
  • Do they provide factory images?
  • Do they have uploaded test reports? (i.e., REACH)
  • Do they have uploaded factory audit reports?

Gold Suppliers

You can also see the number of years a supplier has been a Gold Supplier.

This is of some interest, but certainly not the main thing I look at.

Alibaba Trade Assurance

It’s a big plus if the supplier is part of the Alibaba Trade Assurance program. I get back to that further down in this guide.

3. How to read the TrustPass profile

Alibaba.com provides verified company information for every Gold Supplier. This information can also be used to assess if the supplier is qualified or not.

When sourcing clothing and textile products on Alibaba.com, the only piece of information that truly matters here is the registered capital.

Look for suppliers that have at least RMB 500,000.

Suppliers with less registered capital are more likely to be traders.

4. Review product pages

Many buyer’s go straight to the product page, and then start reviewing the supplier page and TrustPass profile.

But what’s the point of spending time reviewing product pages, if the supplier is not qualified?

But that’s not the only reason I save the product page for last:

a. Many suppliers don’t provide accurate product listings. In many cases, you just see a few product photos, and a basic spec sheet.

b. Most suppliers only use product listings to ‘demonstrate’ what they can make for you. It doesn’t mean that they actually have the materials in stock, or even a pattern file ready.

c. Hence, product listings don’t really matter. What does matter, however, is the suppliers’ capabilities and main product focus.

There are of course exceptions, but this is the situation for most suppliers.

5. Select suppliers, submit techpack and request quotations

At this stage you should have a shortlist of at least 10 suppliers.

You can get in touch with the supplier, either by clicking on the ‘Contact Supplier’ button or ‘Chat Now’.

Your success from this point and on will depend largely on how you introduce yourself.

Most new customer leads are extremely vague. Hence, the suppliers don’t even bother to respond to many quotation requests.

Use this checklist to maximize the number of successful RFQs:

a. Provide patterns, specification sheets and component images

b. Introduce yourself and your company

c. Clarify that your intention is to get a quote, order samples and then place your first test order.

d. Request the supplier’s Wechat ID.

e. Follow up a few times per week until you’ve received your quotation

You should give your supplier at least 4 to 7 days to provide quotations.

alibaba clothing factory

6. Order product samples from 4+ suppliers

Despite the fact that you’ve already invested significant time in vetting suppliers and requesting quotations, the real test remains.

Making product samples.

This is not a small task. In the textile industry, I’d say that the fail rate is normally around 50%.

To avoid a situation where you have to start all over again, I strongly advise you to buy product samples from at least 4 suppliers.

Assuming that 2 supplier fail, you still have 2 options left.

Prices

Expect to pay around $50 – $200 per sample, excluding delivery fees.

You can either pay via the Alibaba payment gateway, or directly to the supplier.

Lead times

Most suppliers need at least 30 to 40 days to produce the product samples.

Request photos before the supplier ships the samples. That way you can spot quality issues, without having to pay $50 in shipping fees.

7. Place your order with Alibaba Trade Assurance

The Alibaba Trade Assurance protects you in 2 ways:

A. If the goods are not shipped on time (as specified in the digital purchase contract)

B. If the products are not matching the specifications (as stated in the agreement)

However, the coverage only applies if you strictly follow this process:

Step 1: Place order through Trade Assurance

Step 2: Use Alibaba Trade Center (Under My Alibaba) to communicate with the supplier

Step 3: Create Purchase Contract on Alibaba.com

This contract is only valid for the products. Trade Assurance doesn’t cover any warranties, replacements or other services agreed upon between the Alibaba supplier and the buyer.

This should be included in the Purchase Contract:

  • Patterns
  • Seams
  • Tolerances
  • Material specifications
  • Bill of Materials
  • Label Files
  • Compliance Requirements (i.e., REACH)
  • Export Packaging
  • Prints & Artwork
  • Packaging

You must also specify the final delivery date, quality check terms and incoterms.

Step 4: Confirm contract

Step 5: Make payment: Credit Card or Telegraphic Transfer (ONLY use the designated account)

You should also follow up each order with a quality check, before shipment.

The Trade Assurance doesn’t cover refunds or replacements once you have approved the order.

8. How to book a sea or air shipment

Once the goods are quality checked, lab tested and approved, you can go ahead and book the shipment.

You essentially have 3 options:

a. Let the supplier book the shipment (I suggest you avoid this)

b. Book a shipment via Alibaba (This is still under development, but they are expanding their logistics network worldwide)

c. Book a shipment via Freightos.com, Flexport.com or other online platform

Import duties, and other taxes, are paid once the goods arrive in the port of destination.

Do you want to import textile products from China, Vietnam or India?

It can be hard to go from a design drawing to finished product. To help you manage the entire process – from creating a specification, to sampling and quality control – we created a Starter Package for Apparel & Textiles:

a. Manufacturer Lists

b. Product Specification Templates

c. Label Samples (USA & EU)

d. Tutorials, Video Walkthroughs and Task Lists that guide you step-by-step through the entire process

In addition, you can also book quality inspections, lab testing and shipping directly from the platform. Click here to learn more.

The Future of Manufacturing in China: 2018 Edition

future of manufacturing in china

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Are Aliexpress sellers going to take over ecommerce in the whole world?

Are Chinese factories about to finally start acting like professionally managed companies?

Or, are they just about to lose out big time to suppliers in Vietnam and India?

Nobody knows for sure.

But I have a set of opinions to share, about what manufacturing in China looks like today, and what we’ll see in the years ahead.

1. Higher factory prices aren’t that much of a problem

There is no country that can match China, when it comes product availability.

That said, Chinese products are not as cheap as they used to be.

But, it’s still the only realistic manufacturing destination for many products.

Try to get a watch assembled anywhere in the world apart from Shenzhen. Well, other than Switzerland that is.

The same can be applied to electronics and many other industries.

At the same time, inflation is not unique to China.

When manufacturing prices go up here, retail prices climb overseas. Increasing prices are, for the time being, a relatively small issue.

There are still big problems in the China supply chain, but the price is not the main issue if you ask me.

2. Shenzhen is the place to be in 2018 (and next year)

Just a few years ago, many self proclaimed ‘China experts’ claimed that Shenzhen, and the rest of Guangdong province, was down for the counting – mainly as a result of rising labor costs.

They claimed that all manufacturers would pack up and move inland, to Henan, Hunan and Sichuan.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, Shenzhen kept advancing to the point where it’s today the epicenter of manufacturing in Asia.

What makes Shenzhen so unique is the combination of a huge and highly accessible manufacturing base, and the complementary ecosystem of service providers.

You can get almost anything made in Shenzhen. That’s not the case in Shanghai, Yiwu, Xiamen or even Guangzhou.

Watches, Electronics, Sportswear.

You name it. Shenzhen has a supplier for it, or 200.

Then there are the service providers.

The quality assurance companies, including our partners Sofeast and Asiainspection, are based here.

The maker spaces are based here. The Amazon FBA logistics companies are based here.

And, it’s the only city in Mainland China that offers visa on arrival (5 days) to foreign visitors.

All of this makes Shenzhen far more accessible for foreign startups and ecommerce businesses, compared to other cities and provinces in the country.

The fact that Shenzhen is next doors to Hong Kong, and integrated with Dongguan and Guangzhou, also helps a lot.

Shenzhen can absorb price increases, because the ecosystem that exists in the city can’t just be transplanted to any other region in China, or other countries.

Shenzhen is also the place to source suppliers for our customers.

Today, I’d say that more than half of our customers that visit suppliers in China go directly to Shenzhen.

If there ever was a golden age of manufacturing in China, it’s happening right now in Shenzhen.

3. Chinese manufacturers still have a long, long way to go

Manufacturing is difficult. Yet, many Chinese suppliers have a talent for making it more difficult than it has to be.

Difficult and cheap might work.

But difficult and ‘not that cheap anymore’ will definitely not work for much longer.

This is how I think that suppliers should improve in 2018:

a. Standardize your specification sheets and materials and component options. Let your customers know what you can and can’t do.

b. Standardize the ordering process, and use sales contracts instead of Skype or WeChat conversations to keep track of specifications and order terms.

c. Start using proper collaboration tools instead of endless email exchanges (though I understand that’s hard when Google Docs and most other tools are banned in China).

d. Accept that your customers must do quality inspections and lab testing. Don’t argue against this.

e. Learn the basics of product safety standards and labeling requirements in your main markets.

f. Implement proper replacement and after sales service policies. These don’t have to be unconditional, but forcing the buyer to ‘negotiate compensation’ for every defect unit is a dead end.

From the supplier’s perspective, the buyers are still making the same mistakes as always. They don’t educate themselves about the product, or make an effort to understand the basic reality of manufacturing.

I’d even say that most of these issues are not ‘China problems’, but ‘manufacturing problems’.

But at the end of the day, Chinese manufacturers that want to become more competitive must get better at dealing with customers and processes.

4. Vietnam and India are now realistic alternatives to China. For some products.

2017 was the first year that we saw a notable number of customers that are shifting production from China, to Vietnam or India.

Some of our customers don’t even consider China, but go directly for suppliers in Vietnam or India.

There’s been a lot of talk about this, but now it seems like it’s actually happening.

These are the top reasons I keep hearing:

1. Chinese suppliers are notoriously difficult to deal with. Some buyer’s don’t care if prices are higher or lower in other countries. Based on my experience, however, Vietnamese and Indian factories are not necessarily that much easier to deal with.

2. Prices are, in some cases, lower than China.

3. It’s easier to get visas. This matters to both ‘digital nomad’ Amazon sellers and experienced buyer’s, that want to inspect goods on site, and meet new suppliers face to face.

What kind of products can you find in Vietnam and India?

Textiles, furniture, home products and construction materials (i.e., tarpaulins) seem to be the main products imported from Vietnam and India.

It’s also true that these countries cannot, even combined, match China’s industrial scale (and therefore product selection).

But, things move fast these days. Just like Shenzhen a few years ago, I don’t think Vietnam and India should be underestimated.

Saigon will not become another Shenzhen overnight, but a lot can and will happen in the next 10 years.

Chinese suppliers will need to work on everything, from their approach to customers to compliance and quality systems, to stay competitive.

Difficult and cheap might work.

Still difficult and ‘a lot more pricey than Vietnam’ won’t cut it in 2025.

5. Product safety and compliance is still a big problem

We recently executed a supplier screening on behalf a European client.

They had found a supplier based in Beijing that claimed that all their ODM products are ‘CE marked’.

After a basic audit, it turned out that the supplier did not have a single test report, and they refused to provide any of the technical documents required to legally make a product ‘CE compliant’.

In other words, the customer could not legally import their products to the European Union.

As usual, the supplier claimed that the EU don’t actually have any product safety laws (yes, seriously), and that the buyer should just ‘stop worrying and send the money’.

Case closed.

This is, unfortunately, the state of product compliance among suppliers in China.

Not that I think the is much better in Vietnam or India, but China has been a major exporter for over 30 years. It’s about time to catch up.

Factories can’t build respected brands, if their products don’t meet the basic safety standards and documentation requirements in their intended export markets.

Claiming that product safety regulations don’t matter doesn’t help either.

However, the problem is not only the supplier, but also Importers in the US and Europe that completely ignore product safety requirements.

The global trend right now is more product safety regulations, not less.

6. You can now manage the entire importing process online

Create an online purchase contract, wire the money and book quality checks from your laptop. You don’t have to ever visit factories, or even see your products.

This is where things are happening:

a. Alibaba Trade Assurance

The Alibaba Trade Assurance is the first serious attempt to make the order process truly digital. You create a digital purchase contract on Alibaba.com, covering technical specifications and order terms.

Then you wire the money to a designated bank account.

Next, it’s up to the supplier to make sure that the products comply with the written technical specifications, and the final shipment date.

If not, Alibaba.com can withhold the payment.

This creates an unprecedented layer of security for small to medium sized businesses importing from China.

In a few years, it would be amazing to the see the Trade Assurance program expanded on a global scale.

Adding trust and transparency in international trade can create far more jobs than any state banquet or free trade agreement ever could.

Trade Assurance is not perfect, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

b. Logistics

Until recently, you had to wait days to get a shipping quotation. And once you’d received it, in the form of a poorly edited excel file, you’d better have a PhD in international trade law to understand the price structure and terminology.

Thanks to companies like Freightos.com*, those days are over.

Now, you can get quotations, book, pay and track your shipment using an online dashboard.

We also see more and more customers using fulfillment centers, rather than managing the final delivery on their own.

Hence, they don’t even see their product, as they have an automated workflow from placing the order with the factory, to final delivery.

*Freightos.com is our shipping partner

c. Quality Control and Lab Testing

Booking quality checks and lab testing online is not new. Our partners Sofeast and Asiainspection launched their online booking platforms years ago.

But it’s becoming the industry standard, as basically every QC agency have online booking platforms these days.

7. Factory to Consumer (F2C) and Cross Border Ecommerce will not take over the world

Are Chinese factories going to take over ecommerce in the rest of the world too? Is this already happening?

Not really.

1. Being a factory owner is not necessarily that much of an advantage anymore. There will always be factories that are willing to make your product.

2. Products and brands are built on ideas. Tooling cannot replace ideas.

3. Going from a ‘make to order’ to ‘let’s build a brand for 3 years with no guarantees that we’ll make a profit’ mindset is a big leap. Most factory bosses are not willing to make this.

Today, many of them are more concerned with their retirement, rather than betting their savings on risky ecommerce projects.

If there is a ‘threat’, it comes from the younger group of Chinese, especially in Shenzhen, rather than old and overworked factory managers.

These people don’t necessarily have any experience with manufacturing. They are just regular people who want to try their luck in ecommerce.

Some of them will end up having pretty good product ideas that will work.

Yes, they have an advantage in being closer to suppliers, but you’re on the other hand closer to the market.

Now, what about Aliexpress and Wish?

B2C marketplaces, such as Aliexpress and Wish are huge these days, including in the West.

The number of packages delivered are counted in the hundreds of millions.

A watch for 3 dollars.

A pair of sunglasses for a euro.

An iPhone charger for less than a tenth of what you’d pay at home.

And, best of all, you don’t even need to pay import duties or other taxes. The customs authorities simply don’t have the resources to tax more than a very small share of the e-packets.

Their secret? They ship directly from China to customers all over the globe.

This makes it harder for Importers to compete. Many consumers actually believe that they are buying the same goods off these websites, as from local ecommerce sellers.

That is of course not the case, but it still results in less sales for Importers.

Well, until now. Something big just happened.

Countries in Europe are now starting to add postal fees, to cover the immense cost of managing the huge inflow of e-packets from China.

PostNord, for example, is now charging a flat rate administrative fee of 9 euros.

All of a sudden, that pair of sunglasses will cost you 10 euros, instead of just 1 euro..

Not that affordable anymore, and that 3 week delivery time doesn’t seem that appealing.

It’s already making a massive impact, as large volumes of parcels are now left unclaimed in warehouses, or shipped back to China.

This benefits Importers, while cross border sellers are not that competitive anymore.

In other words, we are not entering a world of global free cross border trade

In a utopia without import tariffs, different (and lack of) product regulations and tax systems, this model could have worked.

But we don’t live in a utopia.

It was only a matter of time until there would be a crackdown on this practice.

I believe that this is only the beginning. The European Union, the United States and China will do everything they can to keep jobs within their borders. Especially as more jobs are lost to automation.

They will make it all but impossible for the cross border ecommerce model to work.

Instead, they will force companies to first import the goods into the market, pay import duties, VAT and pass compliance checks.

They will likely also require that sales taxes are paid based on local revenue.

The borders will not be closed, but I don’t think that the drop shipping and cross border model will exist on the scale it does now. If anything, it’s a historic anomaly.

The other option is that countries integrate their tax systems with each other, in order to make sure that the responsibility of paying import taxes falls on the seller, not the customer.

This is already being tested, as the European Union now allows foreign companies to get VAT registered.

The negative aspect of this development is that ecommerce companies will need to register with the tax authorities in every single market they sell to.

But that is probably the only realistic solution to the future of cross border ecommerce.

Do you want to launch your own private label or custom designed product?

It can be hard to go from a design drawing to finished product. To help you manage the entire process – from creating a specification, to sampling and quality control – we created a Starter Package:

a. Private Label & OEM Product Manufacturer Lists

b. Product Specification Templates

c. Product Label Samples

d. Tutorials, Video Walkthroughs and Task Lists that guide you step-by-step through the entire process

In addition, you can also book quality inspections, lab testing and shipping directly from the platform. Click here to learn more.

Trademark Registration When Importing From China

Trademark

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Trademark registration is in most cases the only way Importers can protect their intellectual property. Without a registered trademark, your brand name and logo can be used by other businesses, both in China and in your own country.

Learn the following in this guide to trademark registration when importing from China:

  • How a trademark can protect your brand on Amazon.com
  • How a trademark can protect your products in China
  • Trademark registration fees and processing time
  • How to register trademarks online in the EU, US and globally (all by yourself)
  • Why you should not use an NDA as a substitute for a trademark registration

What is a trademark?

In the context of ecommerce, a trademark is a recognizable brand name or logo. Registering a trademark is not mandatory as an importer, but it’s one of the most cost effective ways to properly protect your IP.

If you’re importing general consumer goods or private label products, the trademark is also the only IP you have.

Notice that the trademark does not protect your product design or inventions. That requires a patent, that can only be obtained for a new and unique product.

In other words, you can’t patent a watch or t-shirt, but you can get the brand name and logo registered. Continue Reading →

Train Railway Freight from China: A Complete Guide

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Railway freight is quickly becoming a transportation option for European importers. Starting from virtually nothing in 2013, rail freight is now available to many destinations in Europe – including the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy.

It’s branded as the perfect middle way between sea and air freight, and it has massive potential.

Imagine getting your products delivered in less than half the time it takes, compared to sea freight. And, at a cost that is way below what you’d pay for economy air freight.

The good news is that this is already available.

Keep reading, and learn the following:

  1. When does railway freight make sense?
  2. Which cities in China are connected to the railway network?
  3. To which destinations is railway freight available?
  4. How long does it take to deliver goods from China to Europe, by rail?
  5. What is the rail freight cost?
  6. Can I get both LCL and FCL cargo delivered by rail?

Continue Reading →

Earphone and Headphone Manufacturers in China: A Complete Guide

earphone suppliers

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About to import headphones, earphones or other portable audio products from China? In this article, we cover everything startups and other small businesses must know:

  • Product categories
  • How to find the right supplier on Alibaba or Globalsources
  • Buying private label audio products
  • Customizing design
  • Mandatory safety standards and labels
  • MOQ Requirements
  • Trade shows for portable audio products

Product Categories

Earphone and Headphone manufacturers all tend to be specialized in a certain niche.

While they may cover one or more categories, you should only be on the lookout for suppliers that are making your type of earphones or headphones.

A few examples follow below:

  • Wired Earphones
  • Wired Headphones
  • Bluetooth Earphones
  • Bluetooth Headphones
  • Gaming Headphones
  • Surround Sound Headphones
  • Apple MFi Certified Earphones
  • Wired Headsets
  • Wireless Headsets
  • USB Headsets

Most manufacturers are either making wired earphones. These suppliers also often make USB cables and other related products.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bluetooth headphone and earphone manufacturers also tend to manufacture Bluetooth speakers, and other wireless audio products. Continue Reading →