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The Yiwu Wholesale Market is the largest in the world. Here, you’ll find thousands of Wholesaler offering all sorts of products at rock bottom prices.
Sounds fantastic? Well, not so fast.
In this article, I will explain the 13 things that every buyer must know before visiting the Yiwu Wholesale Markets, in Zhejiang province.
Keep reading, and learn how to get there, visa requirements and how to find the right agent.
You will also learn how to make payments the right way, coordinate shipments – and how to deal with disputes.
1. What is the Yiwu Wholesale Market?
There are in fact many wholesale markets in Yiwu city. Yiwu International Trade City is, however, the largest market – and often referred to when talking about the Yiwu Wholesale Market.
Unlike the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, or the Yiwu Fair, the Yiwu International Trade City is permanent, and open the whole year, apart from national holidays.
The Yiwu Wholesale Market is gigantic, and mainly catering to buyers from India, Africa and the Middle East.
Many ecommerce businesses also procure products from Yiwu wholesalers.
It’s famous for really low prices. Then again, you get what you pay for.
2. Why Yiwu makes sense for small buyers
Yiwu is famous for its traders and they are in general quite friendly towards small buyers. If you want to find “off shelf” products ready to purchase in fairly small quantities from China, then this is the place.
While Yiwu is not a one stop solution for every product (I’ll get to that in a bit), it can be perfect as a destination to purchase products such as watches, accessories, textiles and bags.
An Yiwu based supplier can also act as a complement to your existing suppliers in China. Many small businesses, especially e-commerce companies, are in dire need of filler products to not make their stores empty. That’s one example of when Yiwu might be well worth a visit.
3. How to get to the Yiwu International Trade City
There are no international flights heading to Yiwu. The easiest way to get here is by flying to Shanghai and then take the high speed train.
It takes roughly 2.5 hours and the train tickets can be purchased at the Hongqiao railway station.
While in Yiwu, there are a number of hotels in various price ranges. Go to Motel 168 if you’re on a low budget.
If you want something more upscale, then you might want to consider the Crowne Plaza or the Tian Heng International Hotel.
Getting around in Yiwu is quite easy. There are taxis, but don’t expect them to understand a single word of English or any other language than Chinese.
If you’ve hired an Yiwu agent, it’s customary that they pick you up and drive you around to visit various wholesalers.
4. Do I need a visa to visit Yiwu?
Yiwu is located in Mainland China, where most nationalities need a visa. The only two cities that don’t require visas are Hong Kong S.A.R (90 days) and Shenzhen (5 days).
You can either apply for a business visa or tourist visa at your local Chinese embassy or consulate.
It’s very easy to obtain a visa, but requires that you plan ahead.
5. Do I need to find an agent?
It’s one thing to find a supplier with interesting products. It’s a completely different thing to negotiate prices, settle the payment and ship the products back home.
This is when an Yiwu agent might make sense. An Yiwu agent acts as your purchasing manager and accompanies you while visiting suppliers.
After you’ve made a product selection and decided the quantity of your purchase, the Yiwu agent coordinates the procurement process and makes sure that all the cargo is collected in one single shipment.
This is especially important when buying from multiple suppliers since several small shipments can cost a lot more than one large shipment.
Apart from that, an Yiwu agent should also ensure that the wholesalers provide you with the right products and in the right quantity. This is not as obvious as it might seem to certain Chinese wholesalers.
Most Yiwu agents work on a commission rate. This means that they charge a percentage based on the order value. This usually ranges from 2 to 8%, depending on your order value. For natural reasons, the commission as a percentage is smaller the more you buy.
Now, keep in mind that that the agent’s role is only to negotiate the price and administer the order terms. It’s up to you to verify that the products match your quality requirements, safety standards and labeling requirements in your market.
6. Are Yiwu Wholesalers manufacturers or traders?
Most Wholesalers are not manufacturers, but trading companies that cooperate with factories in Zhejiang and Jiangsu province.
That may not be an issue, but remember that they may not have the products in stock, but must first place an order with the manufacturer.
7. How do I make sure I get the right quality?
As always when importing products from China, you need be very clear when you communicate your quality requirements.
As mentioned in this podcast by Global from Asia, Yiwu wholesalers can match any target price – but will adjust the quality accordingly.
As such, you should be cautious when price haggling, as the supplier may accept your target price, but use cheap and low quality materials and components without telling you.
8. How do I know that the products are not fake?
For obvious reasons, you cannot buy brand name products from an Yiwu Wholesaler. International brands would never work with such vendors, and any brand name products you may find are not authentic.
That said, the Yiwu Wholesale Market is not a fake goods market.
While some shady transactions might take place in this huge complex, selling fakes is not encouraged or allowed.
But, intellectual property goes beyond brand names and logos.
What if the product is similar in design, compared to another, more well known, product?
Take the Converse looking shoes in the article image for example.
Is that allowed?
Well, it depends.
Brand copy each other all the time. Further, generic designs cannot be patented or protected. What can be protected is the following:
a. Artwork and patterns
b. New and unique designs
c. New and unique functionality / technology
An assessment must be made on a case to case basis, but make sure to avoid product designs that look very similar to those of established brands.
9. Can I trust that the suppliers know how to comply with safety standards and regulations in my country?
As said, most Yiwu Wholesalers export their products to buyers in India, Africa and the Middle East.
Hence, they have little to no incentive to develop a deep understanding for product regulations and safety standards in developed market, such as the US, EU or Australia.
The truth is that most suppliers are not even aware of overseas product regulations, and many products cannot even pass lab testing.
If you are based in Europe, North America or Australia, you should not buy products in the following categories from the Yiwu markets:
- Toys & Children’s Products
- Medical Devices
Keep in mind that the wholesalers will not warn you about possible regulatory issues. You will only find out once it’s too late.
Importing non-compliant products is illegal, and you will be held liable if somebody is injured by the product, or if property is damaged.
Further, the customs in your country can seize and destroy the shipment, if it’s deemed to violate local product safety standards or labeling requirements.
You have been warned.
10. How do I pay the wholesalers in Yiwu?
If you buy directly from the Wholesaler, you can wire the money to their bank account. You should at all times refuse to pay in cash, or to private bank accounts.
Only pay to business bank accounts whose beneficiary name is matching that of the wholesalers.
It’s critical that the payment can be traced to the correct seller.
If you on the other hand work with a Buying Agent, you will pay them, rather than each individual Wholesaler.
The same rules apply here. Only pay directly to their company account.
Keep in mind that you should not pay the supplier in full until you have inspected the finished products.
Many Yiwu wholesalers aren’t even proper wholesalers. Instead, they take orders from foreign buyers back to their factories, and deliver them a month or two later.
At this point, you might already be out of the country.
You must always, without exception, get your products quality inspected before paying your supplier in full.
11. What can I do if I get into a dispute with the wholesaler?
That depends on whether you hold the money or not.
If you have already paid the wholesaler in full, and you find quality issues, you will have a very hard time getting your money back – or even replacement products.
However, if you find quality issues before you have made the final payment
12. How do I coordinate the shipment?
You can either use a commission agent to manage the shipment for you, or work directly with a freight forwarder.
It’s up to you to confirm the following:
b. Forwarder warehouse address
c. Forwarder contact details
d. Customs value
13. Can I ship goods from multiple wholesalers in one container?
Indeed. You can either ask your Yiwu agent to coordinate this for you, or make sure that you buy according to FOB (Free on Board) terms from each supplier.
You should then instruct each one to order transportation to your freight forwarders local office in Shanghai.
From here, they can pack all the goods in one container, and delivery it according to DAP (Delivered at Place) or DDP (Delivery Duty Paid) terms.
14. Do I need a translator to talk to the Wholesalers?
Yes, most suppliers at the Yiwu Wholesale Market don’t command more than very basic English. You will save plenty of time if you have translator buy your side, when asking about prices, quality options and order terms.
There are many translation and interpretation companies located in Yiwu, so you should not have a hard time finding one.
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