How to Launch Your First Custom Design Product on Kickstarter: By Ivelin Demirov

Kickstarter Journal

What do you do when you’ve spent months, or even years, developing a new product – only to see it fail? Ask Ivelin Demirov, a Bulgarian-Canadian Industrial Designer, with more than 240 (!) products launches under this belt.

And, he designed them all, including these:

  • Learn Javascript Visually Book
  • Enigmaze Secure Password Journal
  • Clever Kebab
  • Radiance Planner

Ivelin is one of our readers, and in this article, he explains his framework for finding the right product idea, and how you can test it out on Kickstarter – before spending too much time and money on a product concept that will not sit well with the marketplace.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before starting your current business

Ivelin DIn 2001 I was working as a graphic and web designer while doing my master’s degree in Industrial Design Engineering. I was very interested in marketing and online sales at the same time. It felt naturally to combine both worlds and my first product was born “10 fingers typing system”.

It did well enough to spark my interest in developing custom designed products and sell them through different channels.

16 years later, I designed, developed and manufactured over 240 products, successfully funded and delivered 9 Kickstarter projects and was an “American Dreams” guest on HSN TV.

How did you decide which products to launch?

Most of my early products failed because i was going after my gut feeling about the ideas i had. Some did okay. I wanted to know why some product sell well some don’t.

They were all brilliant to me. This first thing i learned is that I need to understand the market very well and the product should Solve a problem.

I came up with a S.E.X. formula which i use to this day.

Every product should: Solve a problem. Elevate status. eXcite.

The Solving a problem criteria is the most important but not always enough. If i had the 3 in a product that i was sourcing or developing, i had a winner.

Now, every time i go for a new product, I follow a passion of mine (guarantees that i know the market) and I check for my S.E.X. formula. Continue Reading →

Importing Gym & Fitness Products from China: A Complete Guide

fitness products

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Are you planning to import gym, health or fitness products? Then keep reading, to learn more about how you can find the right supplier and relevant product regulations.

We also cover trade shows in the fitness space, MOQ requirements and how you can make sure that you get the quality right – regardless of whether you’re importing protein bars or treadmills.

How do I find a qualified Gym & Fitness product manufacturer in China?

There are thousands of suppliers in the gym and fitness space the two largest supplier directories, Alibaba.com and Globalsources.com.

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?

There are a few reasons. But, the main one is that traders cannot ensure comply with overseas product regulations, such as REACH or California Prop 65. I will get back to that in a bit

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. Continue Reading →

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

clothing trade show

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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 →

Importing Pet Products from China: A Complete Guide

Pet Product Supplier

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Are you planning to import pet toys or accessories from China? In this article, you will learn what you must know about pet products manufacturers, applicable regulations and how to find the right supplier on Alibaba.com or Globalsources.com.

This is covered:

  • Pet Products Manufacturers in China
  • How to find suppliers online
  • Product regulations
  • Quality control
  • MOQ Requirement
  • Trade shows

Pet Products Manufacturers in China

As in all industries, Pet Products Suppliers in China are to a varying degree specialized in a certain subcategory. Continue Reading →

How to Deal with Post-Sales Quality Issues: By Renaud Anjoran

after sales quality issues

When quality issues are found during a pre-shipment inspection, there’s still time to correct them before the product enters the market. However, some quality issues only appear after the product’s been used for a few weeks, or even months, by the consumer.

At this stage, your product may still be covered by a warranty – but don’t expect any replacement units or refunds from your supplier.

For example, chargers explode, and glued parts may start falling off. Or the batteries die out long before they’re supposed to.

Such quality issues are not only hard to prevent, but can also ruin your business – especially if you’re selling on Amazon.com.

In this post, Renaud Anjoran at Sofeast in Shenzhen, explains how you can identify and prevent potential after sales quality issues – using a tried and tested framework for Importers.

Can you give us a few examples of typical quality issues that may show weeks or even months after a product is sold?

Let’s first look at electronic product Failures.

Anything electronics-related inherently has a percentage of failure at some point, and this percentage probability depends on the complexity of the product. A simple switching mechanism driven by some logic control would be more robust than something with a printed circuit board involving thousands of components.

Another major factor is the environment in which the product is used. If the product is submersed in water, used in a harsh environment, or under constant vibration, it might stop working much earlier.

One product comes to mind immediately. A time-delayed fault caused worldwide news headlines, for the wrong reasons. I bet you remember the hoverboards whose lithium-ion battery packs overheated and caught fire. 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 →

How to use Hong Kong as a Fulfillment Center: By FloShip

floship interview

These days it’s common that Ecommerce companies don’t start with one target market in mind. Instead, European importers start selling in the US and EU on day one, and vice versa.

For Startups, it’s expensive to ship stock from the manufacturer to several countries – not to mention how complicated it can be to get a grip of taxes and customs procedures in all those countries.

This is why more companies are using Hong Kong as their main fulfillment center. From Hong Kong, a freeport in southern China with no import duties, you can ship products directly to customers in the US, Europe and the Asia Pacific Region.

In this interview with Steve Suh at Floship in Hong Kong, you will learn how your business can save time and money using Hong Kong as a fulfillment center.

Steve Suh, please tell us a bit more about yourself and your work at Floship in Hong Kong

I am Korean-American from Philadelphia. I Embarked on my start-up career in Shanghai, where I got involved with a Sequoia Capital backed start-up called MyLuxBox, a cosmetics subscription box start-up that later got acquired by jumei.com.

After that exit, I joined China’s largest cross-border e-commerce logistics company 4PX, where I gained knowledge on the industry and led me to kick-start Floship, a platform catered to international merchants – whereas 4PX was China merchant focused.

Regarding work at Floship Hong Kong, started in February 2015, went though a couple rounds of funding led by prominent Asia VC’s and angel investors.

To date we’ve raised more than USD 7 million and, as we continue growing and adding new products, for example, we are soon launching a FBA prep service, a China ecommerce B2C inbound channel, global warehouses and a few other projects we are excited about but aren’t ready to disclose yet that will continue to make it easier for online sellers of all sizes to take advantage of marketplaces globally and participate in the world economy in ways never before possible.

Many of our readers want to know if it’s possible to deliver products, one piece at a time, directly from Mainland China or Hong Kong – to their customers all over the world. Is this possible today?

Yes. This is one of Floship’s most popular offerings.

As far as whether or not this model is possible – it is now at a mature state: it has been going on for over 10 years .

Due to the high volume of e-commerce cross border shipments from China and Hong Kong, there are now cost effective and fast shipping options that have opened up to facilitate cross border trade. Continue Reading →

Barcodes for Amazon Sellers & Ecommerce: By Ricky Jones of GS1UK

Ricky Jones GS1UK

Do Amazon sellers and Ecommerce companies really need barcodes, or is it a mere relic that is about to be swept aside? And, if you really need a barcode, how do you get them? These, and many other questions, are answered by Ricky Jones at GS1UK.

In this Q&A, you will learn how Amazon sellers and Ecommerce companies can use barcodes to track and protect their brands, save on logistics costs and cut delivery times.

Ricky, please tell us a bit about yourself and your work at GS1UK

I work in the marketplaces team at GS1 UK. We focus ourselves on our SME members and helping them to trade online.

Before joining the marketplaces team I’ve worked in quite a broad range of marketing roles. I’ve always had more of a digital focus with expertise particularly around SEO and launching websites for international markets. Although, have had the chance to lead much wider marketing projects also – brand development as well as content and communications. Continue Reading →

Swimwear Manufacturers in China: A Complete Guide

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There are hundreds of Swimwear suppliers in Mainland China. But how do you know which one is the right choice for your products?

In this article, you will learn what ecommerce businesses must know about importing swim and beachwear from China – including the following:

  • How to find the right manufacturer?
  • Why you should NOT buy wholesale swimwear
  • How to customize the design
  • How to select the right material
  • Buying private label swimwear
  • MOQ requirements

a. Manufacturers and Wholesalers

In this section, I will cover the different types of products in China, and what you should look for when sourcing suppliers on Alibaba.com and Globalsources.com.

What kind of Swimwear products can I source in China?

Most Swimwear manufacturers in China, specialize in a certain type, or material, of Swimwear. Some suppliers may be focused on making boardshorts, while others primarily make bikinis or wetsuits.

While there are not distinct categories of suppliers in the industry, a few product categories follow below:

  • Bikinis
  • Wetsuits
  • Rash Guards
  • Boardshorts
  • Compression wear
  • Swimming trunks

Some Swimwear suppliers are making related products in the broader sportswear category. For example, many Yoga wear suppliers also make similar compression wear.

Keep in mind that you should look for a supplier that is specialized in your specific type of textiles, rather than looking for one that is offering a broad selection. 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 →