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[Our Customers] From Idea to Product Launch: The Story Behind TheDrawBag.com

john k founder of drawbag

The life of every product begins on the drawing board. While most products also stay on the drawing board, that is not John had in mind for his product, The DrawBag.

In this customer success story, John explains how he managed the process, from finding the right supplier and making product samples, to design patents and trademarking.

I believe this product will become really big, so don’t forget where you read about it first!

(And btw, you’ll get something extra at the end of this article)

John, please tell us a bit about your background and why you ended up moving to China.

I’m American, and grew up on the east coast of the US. I worked professionally as an artist, actor, and director in NYC and regionally before moving to Sydney, Australia in 2017 where I helmed the Creative Arts department of a large private school for four years.

I then moved to Guangzhou, China to help launch both the Art and Drama programs at two separate international schools here.

While here, I realized I had the great opportunity to try my hand at manufacturing some of my own design ideas.

Classic version

Interior (Classic)

Signature version

Signature version

I was really impressed the first time I saw your product. How did you come up with this concept?

The DrawBag is basically three existing things combined in a new way: a backpack, kraft paper, and writing/drawing utensils. I had seen kraft-paper emerge as a usable material in fashion bags in the months leading up to my conception of the DrawBag, and while out idea-hunting at the Canton Fair early in 2017, I suddenly made the connection between these three existing elements, which to me as an artist seemed an obvious combination worth creating.

My initial design idea was to create a graduation-specific backpack for high school seniors with which to collect signatures and well-wishes from friends in the last week or so of school, but this idea quickly expanded into a bag that was less specific in its application, and more open and inviting to the unique personality and creativity of each owner in how they might design and use it. Continue Reading →

Product Labeling Regulations in the US, EU and Australia

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About to import products from China or elsewhere in Asia? Then you need to ensure that the products are properly labeled.

In this article, we explain what every importer must know about labeling requirements in the EU, US and Australia.

We also explain why you cannot rely on your manufacturer to ensure compliance on your behalf. In fact, most of them don’t even know how products must be labeled in your market.

Keep reading, to ensure that your products are not seized by the customs authorities!

What is ‘Product Labeling Requirements’?

Most countries have legal requirements for how a product shall be labeled. A label can, for example, inform the customer about the following:

  • The manufacturing country
  • If the product meets certain legal safety requirements (i.e., compliance marks)
  • Size, material and other general product information
  • Warning labels and user instructions

Some labeling requirements apply to all, or a wide range of, product categories.

For example, all products in the US must be labelled with the country of origin (i.e., Made in China). In the European Union, many products must be CE marked.

Other labeling requirements apply to specific products. Examples include toys, electronics and textiles – each with their own set of unique labeling requirements.

Notice that labeling requirements are usually just one of many requirements that importers must fulfil to ensure compliance with certain regulations.

In addition, you may need to keep track of the following:

Technical Compliance: This means that the product is manufactured according to certain technical standards, or substance restrictions. The product is therefore able to pass the necessary tests.

Documents Requirements: The Importer is required to create and store a set of documents. Such documents may include circuit diagrams, component lists, design drawings and risk assessments.

It is important to underline that this article does not include information above the two points above. Continue Reading →

Procurement and Purchasing Agents in China: A Complete Guide

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The Procurement Agent is a freelancer, or part of a larger organisation, arranging various aspects of the trade between China and the buyers around the world. There is no set standard for what exactly a Procurement Agent shall do.

For the sake of clarification, I list a few examples below:

  • Supplier Identification & Price Research
  • Sample & Prototype Development
  • Quality Assurance & Quality Inspections
  • Social Compliance Audits
  • Product Compliance Consulting & Product Testing
  • Shipping & Logistics
  • Customs Procedures & VAT

This industry, which has grown very big in Asia in the last few decades, includes everything from rogue agents to major trading houses. The purpose of this article is to explain what a Procurement Agent can be expected to do for your business, and how they differ.

Continue Reading →

Top 10 Wholesale & Dropshipping Websites in China 2018

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Why bother with making custom designed or private label products when you can simply import off-shelf items from one of the many Chinese wholesale websites?

While importing wholesale products is not as straightforward and risk free as you might think, you should still be aware of the top China wholesale and dropshipping websites – and learn how they all differ.

Alibaba.com

Alibaba is known as the world’s largest B2B supplier directory. While a significant number of wholesalers and trading companies are listed on Alibaba.com – it was not created as a wholesale website.

Since it was launched, and until today, Alibaba.com is primarily a manufacturer directory.

That said, they have implemented some wholesale and payment functions.

In the future, it’s likely that Alibaba.com will evolve into a platform that enables transactions for both off-shelf and ‘make to order’ products – directly on the website.

Notice that you don’t actually do business with Alibaba.com. They provide supplier listings only. Continue Reading →

Sea Freight & Shipping from China: A Complete Guide

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Sea freight shipping from China is perceived as a major hassle when importing products. As a professional in procurement, I can state with confidence that sea freight and shipping is not what should keep you up at night.

There are far more complex issues when importing from China. However, Importers still have reason to be concerned about freight related issues.

While the process is straightforward, and part of an established and functional international system, the learning curve can be pretty steep.

Incoterms, FCL, LCL, Bill of Lading. For starters, the terminology can be discouraging just by itself. On top of that, most people in the industry can barely explain, in plain English, how the sea freight process works from A to Z.

Keep reading, and learn how sea freight works when shipping from China. In this article, we cover everything from shipping costs and insurances, to incoterms, FCL and LCL shipping.

sea-freight-shipping

Incoterms

Shipping Incoterms are international standard codes that decides when and where cargo shall be transferred between the supplier and the importer.

For example, FOB (Free on Board) only includes transportation from the factory, to the port of destination (i.e., Hong Kong). In addition, FOB also includes all export procedures, which are required to ensure that the cargo can be legally exported.

However, from the port of destination, you must arrange forwarding to the final destination.

You can, on the other hand, book DAP (Delivered at Place), which includes shipping from the factory in China, to a specified address overseas. Such as your office or warehouse.

When you get a quote from a supplier, you must always specify the incoterm you want. The unit price for FOB Hong Kong is, for example, lower than a unit price based on DAP Los Angeles.

Read this article to learn more about Incoterms

Shipping to an Amazon FBA Center from China

Today, many Importers ship their products directly from the factory in China, to an Amazon FBA warehouse. From there, Amazon manage the storage and distribution of the products.

Amazon is operates according to strict principles, and as a seller, you have now choice but to comply with their rules. This is what you must know about shipping to an Amazon FBA center:

1. The cargo must be labeled according to Amazon’s cargo labeling rules.

2. The cargo shall be palletized, for quick unloading upon arrival. Each side of the pallet must be labeled.

3. The cargo shall be forwarded to the Amazon address, according to DAP or DDP terms.

Notice that Amazon does not manage any shipping or customs clearance procedures. This is entirely up to you as a seller to take care of.

However, you can book DAP or DDP shipping from your freight forwarder Continue Reading →

Manufacturers & Wholesalers in Vietnam: A Complete Guide

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Importing from Vietnamese suppliers has become a serious alternative to China. In recent months, we’ve seen a significant number of clients source products from Vietnamese suppliers.

So significant, in fact, that I am writing this post from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

In this article, I what I’ve learned through customers, and on the ground here in Vietnam, about finding qualified factories in Vietnam, what kind of products you can find and whether they offer lower prices.

In addition, I will also share what every importer should know about MOQ requirements, business visas, shipping options and trade shows in Vietnam.

How to find Vietnam suppliers online using Alibaba

There are multiple supplier directories in Vietnam. Yet, Alibaba.com is the largest online supplier directory for those looking for Vietnam based factories.

Alibaba.com has a dedicated section for Vietnamese suppliers, and they are becoming increasingly prominent when searching for many product types.

Alibaba.com allows users to filter suppliers based on country. Thus, you can decide to limit your sourcing to Vietnamese suppliers only.

Alibaba.com also verifies all Gold Suppliers, including those based in Vietnam. Thus, they provide one of the few reliable sources of supplier data in the country, including the following:

  • Company name
  • Registered address
  • Legal form
  • Registration No.
  • Issuing Authority
  • Date of issue
  • Applicant name
  • Applicant job title

Globalsources.com also have Vietnamese suppliers listed in their directory. However, the number of suppliers is far lower than on Alibaba.

Some of them also attend the Globalsources trade shows in Hong Kong. Continue Reading →

Clothing & Textiles Trade Shows in Asia 2018: A Complete Guide

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You can find hundreds of qualified suppliers, all under one roof, at one of Asia’s clothing and textiles trade shows. In this guide, you get a complete overview of the top trade shows this year in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan (ROC) and Vietnam.

For each clothing and textiles show, we also list the type of apparel, the venue location – and whether or not you need a visa.

Hong Kong S.A.R

HKTDC Hong Kong Fashion Week

The 49th edition of Asia’s leading fashion event, Hong Kong Fashion Week will take place in Hong Kong in January next year.

As Hong Kong offers visa-free entry for short-term visits to the nationals of 170 countries, you can most likely visit the Hong Kong Fashion Week without a visa (based on your nationality).

You can also check the list of countries for visa-free entry and the number of days allowed for each nationality here.

You can find clothing brands, manufacturers, and latest fashion apparel at the event by some of the top manufacturers mostly from Hong Kong and mainland China. Some top exhibitors at the event include:

  • Jacky Mannequin & Hanger Fty
  • Sun Kee Woollen Knitting Factory Ltd
  • C & V Fashion Design
  • Gorgeous Belts & Accessories
  • Junson (HK) Industrial Limited

In total, more than 1,000 companies are expected to display their products at the week-long event.

The products you can expect on display include:

  • Women Clothing
  • Men’s Wear
  • Footwear
  • Fabrics
  • Pullovers
  • Sweaters
  • Knitwear
  • Party Dresses
  • Casual Wear
  • Embroidery Work
  • Other Apparel Accessories

The Hong Kong Fashion Week is organized by Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC) twice a year, every Fall and Winter. The entry is free, and only for 18 years old and above.

The fair is rated as the leading fashion event in Asia that attracted almost 15,000 buyers from more than 70 countries this year. The last event also attracted more than fifteen hundred exhibitors from 21 countries.

Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Continue Reading →

Quality Control and Inspections in China: A Complete Guide

Quality Testing

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Once your products are paid for in full and shipped, you’re beyond the point of no return. If you were to find quality issues once the goods arrive in your country, it’s game over.

Forget about getting a refund or returning goods to your supplier.

Instead, you need to be sure that your products are matching all technical specifications and quality requirements before you pay the balance.

In this article, I answer the most common questions about the practical aspects of ordering a quality inspections in China.

Keep reading, and learn how much you should pay for an inspection, how to book one online – and why you should not let your supplier do the inspection by themselves.

Why do I need quality inspections when importing from China?

Manufacturing is not an exact science. The question is not if, but how severe the quality issues are.

I have inspected hundreds of orders in person, and this is what I often found:

  • Scratches
  • Dirt
  • Marks
  • Minor cosmetic issues

This is even to be expected. However, there are also more severe quality issues:

  • Loose parts
  • Incorrect labels
  • Incorrect design
  • Incorrect colors
  • Damages

Quality issues are, in a way, as certain as death and taxes. This is not unique to China, but the case when manufacturing in any country.

However, what is unique to China, and most other countries in Asia, is that you cannot return goods if you find quality issues in your own country.

For this reason, quality inspections are a crucial step of the process. You simply cannot skip this part of the process. Continue Reading →

VAT for Ecommerce and Amazon Sellers in the EU: By SimplyVAT

Alex Wyatt

In the European Union, you must pay VAT on both the imported products, and add VAT when selling to customers in various EU member states. Given that there are 28 EU member states, all with their own VAT rates and registration procedures, it can be mind numbing to get a grip on how VAT actually works when importing products from Asia – and selling them in the EU.

So, why not just ask an expert, such as Alex Wyatt at SimplyVAT?

Said and done, we wrote a list of questions that cover all major VAT scenarios:

a. Importing to Country A and selling in Country A

b. Importing to Country A and selling in Country B

c. Company in Country A, importing to Country B and selling to Country C

d. Non-EU companies importing to, and selling in, an EU member state

Alex, please tell us a bit about what you do at SimplyVAT

After starting at SimplyVAT just over a year ago, I now lead the business development team in the UK and China.

SimplyVAT helps e-commerce sellers VAT register and comply in all 28 EU countries and Canada. We provide our clients with a proactive approach to their VAT needs to help their businesses grow internationally, and sustainably.

Say that I am based in the UK, and importing products to the UK. How and when do I pay VAT?

If your company is based in the UK, and you are importing stock and holding products within the UK, there are a few things to take note.

As a UK registered company, you do not have to VAT register until you have reached £85,000 turnover within a 12 month period. During this time, you do not charge VAT on your products nor can you reclaim import VAT. As a UK company, you will still be required to include corporation tax on profits in your margins.

You can also voluntarily VAT register before you have reached £85,000. Once VAT registered, there are two types of VAT you should be aware about:

1. Sales VAT
2. Import VAT Continue Reading →

List of Quality Control and Inspection Companies in China

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Quality control is a mandatory part of the process when importing products from China, regardless of the order volume. Hence, finding the right quality control partner is crucial.

In this guide, you will find some of the leading quality inspection companies, with offices based in China.

We compare them based on capability, pricing and customer focus – to help you choose the right partner for your quality assurance needs in China.

Sofeast (Qualityinspection.org)

Sofeast is a Shenzhen based project management and quality assurance company that offers a wide range of QA services to importers, buying from suppliers in China.

The range of their services includes in-depth factory auditing, quality consulting, and assessment of technical documents.

In addition, the company also provides project management software specifically designed for importers – which makes Sofeast rather unique.

The company is founded in 2006 by Renaud Anjoran, from France, and is well known from his blog – qualityinspection.org.

Sofeast is a full service quality agency, helping all types of business. We have worked with Renaud’s team for several years, with fantastic results. Inspections start from $299, which is slightly lower than many of Sofeast’s competitors.

Our Starter Package customers can request a free quotation from Sofeast, directly via the Dashboard. Continue Reading →