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

How to Launch a Premium Leather Accessories Brand: By Helen Berg

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Helen Berg

In manufacturing, you ‘get what you specify’. Even though ‘Made in China’ is generally not synonymous with the same quality as ‘Made in Italy’ or ‘Made in Japan, the country has an exceptional manufacturing base that, when utilized in the right way, can deliver consistently high quality products.

Helen Berg,  the founder Charleston Belt, explains how they manage everything from finding the right manufacturer – to getting the product specifications right.

In addition, Helen explains how they leverage multiple sales channels, including Amazon, Google Shopping and B2B sales, to get their product on the market.

Helen, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before starting your current business

Before starting Charleston Belt I was an executive in a company that provided data analytics services for healthcare claims. Over my career in “Corporate America” the majority of my former employers were large, multi-national corporations where I did extensive international travel and managed employees and contractors across Europe and Asia.

These experiences gave me exposure to global commerce, and the impact that the Internet-fueled digital transformation has had on global commerce. Some of the biggest impacts that I experienced were opportunities for small, entrepreneurial firms to participate in global commerce and the emergence of “micro-multinational” companies.

What made you choose importing leather accessories?

First, a bit about our product – our mission is to design and produce high quality accessories that capture the essence of outdoor living and the richness of our diverse cultural heritage. We are relentless in ensuring we produce quality, timeless styles that coordinate well with casual and dress fashions for men of all ages.

In addition to our own unique designs, we also produce custom products for specialty shops, country clubs, boating clubs etc.

We use a contract-manufacturing model for our product. Our design team does the creation internally, then we outsource the production.

We are based in the U.S., and actually looked extensively at U.S.-based firms in addition to companies outside the U.S. before making the decision to contract the majority of the work outside the U.S. The primary reasons were their ability to handle the entire process and the production cost.

To explain further, many of our products are hand-made. In particular, our needlepoint belts fall into this category. The firms we work with have hundreds of artisans and can produce the quantities we need in a relatively short time frame.

But a bigger advantage to us is their ability to vertically integrate the process, by doing all of the leather work as well.

The firms we evaluated in the U.S. could each do part of the process, but then we would need to ship the goods between the firms to complete the process. That would have extended the production time and the cost by a large margin.

So we developed a rigid supplier qualification process to find firms outside the U.S. that could perform the work to our high quality standards and also at a time frame and cost that met our needs. Continue reading How to Launch a Premium Leather Accessories Brand: By Helen Berg

Importing Medical Devices from China: By Jason Lim of Stendard

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Importing medical devices from China requires full compliance with all applicable safety standards and regulations in the destination market. For many Startups looking to import medical devices, it can hard to even know where to look for information.

So, we decided to ask an expert.

In this Interview, Jason Lim, co-founder of Stendard, explains everything that you must know before importing and selling any product that may be classified as a medical device.

Jason, please introduce yourself and Stendard

I’m Jason Lim, CEO and co-founder of Stendard, a cloud-based platform that help companies generate documents to meet international regulations, such as ISO 13485 and US FDA 21 CFR of the medical device industry.

Having experience working with the local government, technology incubators and innovative companies here, I personally feel there are still a lot of improvements to be done when it comes to the entire compliance ecosystem (both from the industries’ and authorities’ standpoint).

That’s why I started the company together with Vincent Lim, COO of Stendard.

Our aim is to make compliance easily understood for businesses so to encourage standards adoption. This includes the usage of technology to accelerate the speed of document creation and management.

We are also planning to include partners to make the entire training, certification and registration process a breeze, and that’s what we meant by the term “compliance ecosystem”! Continue reading Importing Medical Devices from China: By Jason Lim of Stendard

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

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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 s co-located with our trade shows in Hong Kong. Continue reading The Importers Guide to Global Sources Trade Shows – By Meghla Bhardwaj

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

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

Clothing and Textiles Quality Control: A Complete Guide – By Renaud Anjoran

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clothing quality control

Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast, a quality control agency based in Shenzhen, and a leading expert in quality assurance. Renaud is also a regular contributor to the Chinaimportal Knowledge Base.

In this article, he explains what apparel and textiles importers must know about preventing and managing quality issues.

Keep reading, and learn more about the types of quality issues in the apparel industry – and how they can be avoided.

Based on your experience, what are the most common quality issues, that Buyers of Apparel and Textiles must be aware of?

I would distinguish between three types of quality issues.

First, some quality issues are due to the materials and accessories. For example, the yarn was not dyed in the wrong color, or a zipper does not come from the agreed supplier or brand. They are widespread on many or all garments. I would include non-conform packing materials here.


How to avoid these issues?

a. If you purchase high volumes, have your suppliers work with directed sub-suppliers that your company vets. Prices might go up a bit, but you will usually get it back through fewer issues. Note, this is especially true of packing materials, and not always applicable to fabrics or to the main accessories. Some companies buy the materials and accessories and pay workshops for a CMT job.

b. Have the supplier make a pre-production sample in the bulk materials. Review that sample, as well as fabric swatches (not small ‘lab dips’) for other colors, if any.

c. Send an inspector in the factory to check all the materials and accessories.

Second, some problems are due to the patterns or to the way the fabric was cut. A common temptation for factories is to reduce fabric consumption. It generally takes two forms:

1. Cutting just a bit smaller. As a consequence, finished garments tend to be smaller than requested – sometimes an entire size under expectation, especially if sewing operators don’t respect the ‘sewing allowance’.

2. Positioning the shapes so as to improve efficiency, irrespective of the desired direction of threads. On underwear this can affect fitting, and more generally it can trigger bad visual defects such as twisting or puckering. This is quite common in China.

There are many other potential issues coming from the cutting. They are more common on knit fabrics since they are not always processed adequately (insufficient time to retract, too many layers…). Continue reading Clothing and Textiles Quality Control: A Complete Guide – By Renaud Anjoran

How to Find the Right Products to Sell Online: By Pilar Newman

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E-commerce is not only changing the way we buy products, but also how we sell them. Competition is fierce in the age of Amazon and Alibaba, and sellers must work even harder to make sure that their products don’t drown in the sea of identical private label and unbranded products.

In this interview, Pilar Newman – a leading Amazon and E-commerce expert based in Brooklyn, NYC – explains what you must do to ensure that your products stand out in a crowded marketplace.

She also explains why product selection is not only about data or statistics, and why the lowest price point is not always the key to success.

Before we get started, please introduce yourself to our readers

I’m an 8+ year veteran Amazon seller. I started off doing retail arbitrage as a means to supplement my income. Once I started to make a significant income on the site, I quit my job and took my business to full-time status.

That was 4 years ago. I pride myself on having learned how to sell on Amazon from the school of Trial and Error! This is also what gives me my unique perspective on finding profitable products to sell.

Now, I sell Private Label items across various niches on Amazon using the FBA program. The freedom that the FBA program has given me, allows me time to travel the world and work from my laptop.

Additionally, I’ve spent the last two years doing one-on-one coaching with Amazon Sellers of various levels. This experience led me to put together a comprehensive course for sellers looking to start and excel with selling on Amazon FBA. But before they can go through the course, I have them take my free Product Research Training Videos. Continue reading How to Find the Right Products to Sell Online: By Pilar Newman

How I Started a Wallet Brand: An Interview with the Founder of Axess Wallets

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Axess wallets

Finding the right product and then having it manufactured in Asia, is what we are all about. While we tend to share stories from an insiders perspective, we thought it was about time to let you see things from the eyes of a successful Entrepreneur, selling products made in Asia.

The person in question is Tomas Ericsson, found of Axess, a fashion end wallet brand. In this article, he explains why he picked wallets as his product, the challenges of finding the right manufacturer – and how everything took off after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Tomas, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before you started Axess Walletstomas ericsson

Before starting my e-commerce business I was working as a marketing mana
ger for a Swedish sourcing consultancy firm in Shanghai, helping companies find and vet suppliers in China.

I came to China in 2012 when I was finished with my university studies, and it has been a lot of fun to live and work in Shanghai.

You have lived in China for many years, and worked with product sourcing. How did that help you to start your business?

Shanghai is a very entrepreneurial environment, at least among the expats living here.

Everyone has some kind of business idea, it seems, and in general, people who come here seem to have a more can-do attitude than what is usually encountered back home in Sweden, so that creates a feeling of possibility.

That helped motivate me to go through the steps to build a business. Anything is possible in Shanghai, it seems. Once one has taken the rather big step to actually move here, anything following that doesn’t seem so difficult to imagine or follow through with.

I know Sweden has a big startup-scene and such entrepreneurial spirit exists there as well to some extent, but speaking from a personal experience I did not encounter such an atmosphere where I lived back in Sweden. Continue reading How I Started a Wallet Brand: An Interview with the Founder of Axess Wallets

Declaration of Conformity for EU Importers: By Ferry Vermeulen

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ferry vermuelen

Product compliance is much more than just laboratory testing. European importers, in virtually every industry, are obliged to issue certain documentation – to demonstrate compliance with all applicable product regulations.

Perhaps the most important of all documents is the Declaration of Conformity (DoC).

It’s a rather complex topic, so we decided to ask an expert. His name is Ferry Vermeulen, founder of INSTRKTIV.com.

In this article, Ferry explains what every EU based importer must know about drafting a Declaration of Conformity, and the various other documents you need.

Ferry, tell us a bit about yourself and Instrktiv.com

I am founder and director of business development at INSTRKTIV. After starting my own industrial design agency back in 2006, I co-founded the company Manualise in 2009.

As the CEO from 2009 – 2015, my content strategy brought the company over 15 #1 Google positions on main keywords like ‘creating user manuals’ which led to many international clients, such as Electrolux, AkzoNobel, Schneider Electric and Lid.

In 2016 I founded INSTRKTIV GmbH and moved from Amsterdam to Berlin. INSTRKTIV helps companies and brands to produce their technical documentation.

The company stands for content quality, both in the field of usability and liability: The manual as a legal document, which not only serves the keystone in terms of liability but also promotes safe and proper use, is at the core of this.

It makes me happy to help German and international companies developing appealing and compliant documentation which contribute to a better user experience.

In my ‘Man-Machine-Blog” I give hands on tips & techniques to improve the quality of content and improve the user experience. I cover topics like CE marking, the Declaration of Conformity (Read more) and Simplified Technical English. Continue reading Declaration of Conformity for EU Importers: By Ferry Vermeulen

Electronic Products Quality Control in China: By Renaud Anjoran

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Renaud Anjoran

Renaud Anjoran is a leading quality assurance expert, based in Shenzhen. Renaud, a regular contributor to the ChinaImportal Knowledge Base, is the co-founder of two companies; Sofeast Ltd – a leading quality inspection agency, and China Manufacturing Consultants (CMC) – a company specialized in improving internal manufacturing and quality assurance procedures from top to bottom. In this article, he explains what you must know about Electronic product quality control when buying from China. Keep reading, and learn more about common quality issues, and how these can be prevented.

Based on your experience, what are the most common quality issues, that Buyers of Electronic products must be aware of?

There are a number of aspects that come to mind when it comes to quality issues with electronic products, maybe the most common being poor workmanship. The effect of poor workmanship could be a premature product failure, intermittent faults with the functionality of the product, decreased performance levels, and even making the product dangerous for users to use (with the potential of electrical shock).

Continue reading Electronic Products Quality Control in China: By Renaud Anjoran