How to Manage Order Follow-ups in China: By Asiaction

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order management

Once you’ve placed an order and wired the upfront deposit payment you’ve got two choices. You can either sit back and hope that the supplier will get your product right, or you can actively manage the process to defect early-stage quality issues – before it’s too late.

Doing so doesn’t require that you spend 2 months in a sleeping bag on the factory floor. In fact, you can manage order follow-ups from your phone or computer.

In this article, Gaël Tauvel, co-founder of Asiaction in Guangzhou, explains how to manage order follow-ups to ensure that the number of defective units is kept to a minimum.

This is covered

  • How often should importers follow up with their supplier?
  • What kind of information (e.g. photos and videos) should the supplier provide?
  • Order follow-ups when buying custom-designed VS private label products
  • How to resolve early-stage quality issues and defects

Continue reading How to Manage Order Follow-ups in China: By Asiaction

ASTM Standards When Manufacturing in Asia: By Maegan Burkhart

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ASTM standards

ASTM standards reflect industry-standard best practices in the United States and internationally, covering both product quality and safety. While most ASTM standards are voluntary, some are referenced by mandatory product regulations – including CPSIA.

In this article, Maegan Burkhart of InTouch Quality in Shenzhen, explains what every importer must know about ASTM standards:

  • Which product categories are covered by ASTM standards?
  • How do I know which ASTM standard apply to my product?
  • How do I know if an ASTM standard is mandatory or voluntary?
  • How to design a product according to an ASTM standard
  • How to verify if a product is compliant with a certain ASTM standard

Continue reading ASTM Standards When Manufacturing in Asia: By Maegan Burkhart

The Importers Guide to EN Standards: By Ferry Vermeulen

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european standards

Understanding EN standards, or harmonised standards, is an integral part of ensuring compliance when selling products in the European Union. In this article, Ferry Vermeulen of INSTRKTIV explains what an EN standard is, and what you must know to make sure that your products are fully compliant.

1. What is an EN standard?

EN standards are standards that have been developed by a standardisation institute, mandated by the European Commission and are in order to comply with one or more mandatory essential requirements from a specific European directive.

Products that meet the requirements of harmonised standards [applicable in all EU member states] benefit from a presumption of conformity with the corresponding essential requirements.

Generally speaking, harmonised standards contain the following content:

Scope – Describes the field of application of the standard.

Normative reference – Lists the standards that have been used and which are essential for the correct application of the standard.

Terms and definitions – Describes used terms and definitions.

Requirements – Gives detailed requirements on how to meet the more general product requirements from the related directive.

Warnings, markings, and instructions – Describes how to properly instruct users about product risks and inform them about important product characteristics?

Test methods – Describes how to test if a product meets the requirements and how to document this for the technical file.

2. Where can I find EN standards online?

Whereas directives are mandatory and can be freely accessed via the website of the European Commission, standards are voluntary and need to be purchased.

You can find them for example via the ISO, IEC, DIN or BS website. Continue reading The Importers Guide to EN Standards: By Ferry Vermeulen

EU VAT Registration for American and Asian Importers: A Complete Guide

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Matthias Oldiges

Businesses in the US and Asia importing or selling products to the European Union must get their act together when it comes to Value Added Tax (VAT). Yet, understanding how to register and pay VAT, as a non-European company, is complicated.

As such, we decided to ask one of the Europes leading VAT experts, Dr. Matthias Oldiges – Managing Associate at KMLZ (Küffner, Maunz, Langer and Zugmaier) in Munich.

These topics are covered:

1. VAT when selling cross-border (B2C) to customers in the European Union as a non-EU company

2. VAT when importing into the European Union (i.e., Amazon FBA) as a non-EU company

3. VAT threshold in different EU states

4. How to get VAT registered as a non-EU company

5. How to pay VAT as a non-EU company

Matthias, how did you end up working for KMLZ?

You can know something about everything or know a lot about something. KMLZ decided on the latter and concentrated on VAT law, customs law and criminal law. I wrote my doctoral thesis on a VAT legal topic.

This ultimately led me to KMLZ, where I have now been working as a lawyer (Managing Associate) for almost six years. We advise our clients on VAT and customs law related matters within Europe, as well as worldwide.

Our strong network of experienced and leading VAT experts, in all Member States of the European Union and beyond, enables us to provide our clients with international advice at the highest levels. Continue reading EU VAT Registration for American and Asian Importers: A Complete Guide

How to Start a US Company to Import & Sell on Amazon.com

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John Gordon

It’s increasingly common that ecommerce companies in Europe and the Asia Pacific not only want to sell cross border to the US – but also sell within the country.

By incorporating in the United States, you can import and locally distribute products, for example via an Amazon fulfillment center (FBA) – even if you are based overseas.

In this article, John Gordon, founder of USA Corporate Services, explains what foreign ecommerce companies must know about the following:

  • LLC or Inc?
  • EIN Numbers
  • Incorporation fees
  • Required documentation
  • How to open a business bank account
  • Yearly maintenance costs
  • US taxes (and penalties) for non-resident foreigners

John, please introduce yourself and USA Corporate Services Inc

I’m John Gordon. I started the business now known as USA Corporate Services two years after graduating college. I was working in a low-paid job for a boss I didn’t get along with, and didn’t want to work for another boss ever again.

That was 35 years ago, and although it took several years to really get going, it’s a pleasure to still be here.

Twelve years ago I signed up for the Global Executive MBA program at Columbia Business School and London Business School. This was a very eye-opening experience that taught me more ways to give value to our customers.

Since that time, we have leveraged our knowledge and experience to focus on helping foreign firms and entrepreneurs set up businesses in the US. Continue reading How to Start a US Company to Import & Sell on Amazon.com

Patent Search When Importing Products from Asia: By John Goodhue

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john goodhue patent lawyer

Picture that you’ve found an interesting product on Alibaba.com, or at the Canton Fair – only to find out the hard way that the product is actually infringing on an existing patent.

Given the potential consequences, you got to be sure before you order your next ODM product. However, it’s often hard to assess if a products design or function is protected by a patent, and to what extent.

Thus, we decided to ask an expert – John Goodhue, patent attorney at Goodhue, Coleman & Owens, P.C.

John, please introduce yourself and Goodhue, Coleman & Owens, P.C.

My name is John Goodhue, I am a patent attorney at Goodhue, Coleman & Owens, P.C. (“GCO”) in Clive, Iowa USA. GCO is an intellectual property boutique law firm helping clients protect their innovations and providing legal counsel to help avoid infringing the rights of others.

I also have purchased the Chinaimportal Starter Package myself and believe it has a wealth of information.

I also want to make clear that although I am providing valuable legal information, this should not be construed as legal advice.

Legal advice should only be provided to you by an appropriate attorney in the relevant jurisdiction after being apprised of the specific facts of your situation. Continue reading Patent Search When Importing Products from Asia: By John Goodhue

Electrical Safety Standards For US Importers: By Joey Kwok of CMA Testing

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electrical safety

Today, US ecommerce companies and Amazon sellers, import electronics directly from Chinese manufacturers – without even having a basic understanding of product safety requirements and liability.

Electronics are high risk products. Reports of unsafe lithium batteries and chargers are frequent.

A major reason for this is the lack of information on what US electronics importers must do to ensure compliance. Believe it or not, but for many electronic products, there are not even mandatory safety standards.

Hence, many believe that they don’t need to care about compliance when importing power banks, or any widget that comes with an AC adapter.

That is not the case.

If, or when, something goes wrong – you will be liable. If someone is injured, or if property is damaged, you might be looking at millions of dollars in losses. It’s game over.

Instead, Importers and Amazon sellers must rely on ‘voluntary standards’ from UL and ETL, that are ‘de facto’ mandatory. At least for anyone who want to sleep at night.

These things are complex, but absolutely essential.

Luckily, we have worked with Joey Kwok Deputy Manager of CMA Testing in Hong Kong, and a leading expert on US electronic product regulations.

Notice: Be sure to read this one at least two or three times, and feel free to ask questions in the comment section below.

Joey, please tell us a bit about what you do at CMA Testing in Hong Kong

CMA Testing, is a well-known third party assurance body with rapid global expansion, specializes in testing, inspection and certification services.

Our worldwide networks have been spreading out rapidly to Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America.

Our compliance services cover toys, consumer electronics and electrical products, textiles & garments, materials, chemicals, food & food contact articles, furniture, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, environmental and more. Continue reading Electrical Safety Standards For US Importers: By Joey Kwok of CMA Testing

Bribery and Corruption in the Quality Control Industry: By Renaud Anjoran

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quality control bribery

Importers rely on third party quality inspection agents to accurately report defects on every order.

Receiving a batch with a high defect rate can put you out of business. Especially if you’re an Amazon seller, as you must maintain a very low return rate.

Send a shipment to a fulfillment center with a 10% defect rate and it’s game over.

In other words, your business stand and falls based on the accurate reporting of quality issues and defects, from your QC partner.

Now, what if QC partner accepts payments from your supplier – in order to not report quality issues that can potentially shut you down?

That’s a nightmare scenario for everyone importing from China.

But there are things you can do to save your business, before it’s too late.

Renaud, why is bribes a problem in the QC industry?

Many buyers are quite afraid of this, because the inspector does not report all of his findings. As a consequence, a batch of products that presents a serious and widespread quality problem is accepted.

It means the buyer pays entirely for an order, and (in the worst case) might be unable to use or sell the products. A lot of money is lost, and credibility is lost on the market. Materials have been processed and shipped across the ocean but have to be thrown away. It is a huge waste!

To make matters worse, as the buyer, you likely have no leverage over the supplier. Typically, the order has been paid in full at that point. Not many buyers have a strong enough contract and accompanying documentation that allows them to sue the supplier for the loss.

More than 95% of Chinese suppliers actually use the fact that you did a quality inspection before shipment to their defense.

They will say ‘oh, but even your inspector hasn’t found about this issue, so how were we supposed to find it?’. That’s frustrating, to say the least. Continue reading Bribery and Corruption in the Quality Control Industry: By Renaud Anjoran

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

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

How to Improve the Supplier Response Rate on Alibaba.com

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wayne-qulito

If you’ve ever tried to reach out to suppliers on Alibaba.com, you know how hard it can be to make them respond to your request for quotation.

That said, Alibaba suppliers often have good reasons for not responding to inquiries.

In this interview, Wayne Zhang explains what you can do to improve your Alibaba supplier response rate, which communication apps to use and much more.

Wayne, please tell us about yourself and how you got into sourcing

Oh my, unfortunately, I do not think this will be a type of an answer that packs in a lot of “Hollywood” like action, but just a plain simple reality. I used to work for a company that provided similar services to foreign clients from around the globe.

And, truth be told I worked there for a while, right after I graduated from University.

I studied commerce, and one of my foreign languages was English, so it seemed like a great idea at the time, and it was. My responsibilities included finding clients, going through their requests, find products at a price they requested, place an order and make sure the final shipment was sent out. So, I did everything from door to door, sort of speak.

I considered this to be a great start of my career because already back then I saw myself working in this industry for a long time because, in my opinion, it had potential.

I was right.

I learned a lot while working for my first company and it equipped me with a very valuable set of skills that eventually proved to be very advantageous in building my own business. I knew that I want to have my own company one day, so I worked hard, saved money and just went for it. Continue reading How to Improve the Supplier Response Rate on Alibaba.com