First, you want to avoid trading companies, which tend to offer all sorts of products. For example, if you find a supplier claiming to sell foam rollers, treadmills and protein powder, you can be sure you’re dealing with a trading company or wholesaler.
So, why should you stay away from trading companies or wholesaler when importing fitness and health products?
Instead, you should look for suppliers that are specialized. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they must focus on one single product.
For example, a factory can make both yoga mats and foam rollers.
Below follows an overview of common supplier categories:
Dumbbells & Weights
EVA Foam Rollers
Nutrition & Supplements
Yoga Wear / Compression Wear
Yet, within each of these categories, you may find hundreds of suppliers. Searching for ‘Foam Rollers’ on Alibaba.com results in 80,433 products, from 1,640 suppliers.
The same search on Globalsources.com results in 18,438 products, from 1,132 suppliers.
With thousands of suppliers for foam rollers alone, how can you identify those that are qualified and somewhat reliable?
I suggest that you look at the following factors.
Product test reports (i.e., CA Prop 65 or REACH)
Quality management system
CSR (i.e., Sedex or BSCI)
Keep in mind that prices and MOQ requirements specified on Alibaba, and other directories, are often inaccurate. Hence, don’t consider them when selecting supplier.
Product regulations for Gym & Fitness products
As with all products, importers are responsible for ensuring compliance with all safety standards, labeling requirements and document requirements.
Gym Machines (Electronic)
All electronic products must comply with electrical safety regulations. In the EU, this include the Low Voltage Directive, EMC and RoHS.
In the US, importers must comply with FCC Part 15, which regulates radio communication. There are also voluntary UL (Underwriter Laboratories) standards.
Gym Machines (Manual)
There are few regulations in place that apply specifically to gym machines and other equipment. That being said, even in the cases when there are no specific standards in place – it’s still up to the importer to ensure that the product is safe to use.
This is why there are regulations such as the General Product Safety Directive, as regulators cannot implement safety standards for all types of products that enter the market.
As such, it’s crucial to properly test gym equipment, and assess potential hazards, before importing from Asia.
If an imported product injures a user, you will certainly face a forced recall. Gym equipment shall also carry easy to understand user instructions and warning signs.
Such regulations, including 21 CFR in the US and corresponding regulations in Europe, apply to plastics, metals and other materials.
How do I know if a supplier can comply with all relevant standards?
Most suppliers cannot comply with overseas regulations, including those in the fitness, health and gym equipment industry.
One criteria I use when sourcing suppliers on behalf of clients, is to ask them for existing test reports and product certificates.
For example, if I source Yoga Mats suppliers, I will ask for REACH or CA Prop 65 test reports – to verify that they have the capability to make compliant products.
That is of course not a guarantee for your product being fully compliant. But, a supplier with existing compliance documents are far more likely to make a compliant product – compared to one that never did so.
How many units do I need to order?
The MOQ requirement varies between suppliers, and product categories. The MOQ also tends to reflect the cost and complexity of a product – as demonstrated below:
Foam rollers: 500 – 1000 pcs
Threadmills: 5 – 10 pcs
Protein Shakers: 3000 – 5000 pcs
Yoga Mats: 500 – 1000 pcs
Compression Wear: 500 – 1000 pcs
Keep in mind that many suppliers are willing to offer a lower MOQ, at least for the first order, if you use their standard materials and colors.
Co-founder of Asiaimportal (HK) Limited and based in Hong Kong. He has been quoted in and contributed to Bloomberg, SCMP, Alibaba Insights, Globalsources.com, China Chief Executive, Quartz Magazine and more.
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