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  • #994835
    Simplypots
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    Hello all,

    New to business and taking cautious baby steps while exploring the world around me! I am happy I came across this forum with the opportunity to learn from those more experienced than me.

    After receiving samples from a factory I sourced on Alibaba, I decided to place an order. The quote I have since received has left me with a few questions.

    The total cost of the items is $645 US and shipping is $780 US (to Perth) CBM 0.511. I am wondering how I can negotiate the costs and bring the shipping cost down. Should I be getting quotes from different shipping companies and go from there? The quote doesn’t say what kind of freight is being used.

    Also, the $1000 tax free limit, does that include the shipping cost? Yes, I know, a very amateur question.

    Would appreciate any guidance on the above,

    Thank you,

    Pat

    #1198678
    eatyourveggies
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    Hi Pat,

    No such thing as an amateur question.

    $1,000 tax free isn’t automatic and conditions do apply. I’m not sure how far you’ve looked into the rules about that but thought I’d mention it. It’s $1,000 of product value, not product+shipping value.

    Be VERY careful importing from Alibaba suppliers. As someone who ran a company based in Hong Kong with manufacturing in China and importing from China to Australia… you WILL get ripped off at some point if you simply trust they’re going to behave like an Australian supplier would.

    To get better shipping prices… yah, just shop around. I would imagine that the freight is sea freight, as opposed to air freight but how quickly are you needing / expecting it? Sea freight will take weeks, air freight days.

    #1198679
    Simplypots
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    Thanks, that’s useful. Yes, I suspected there would need to be more work and research on my part! I might ask for the total weight to start with…

    Also, there seems to be a big gap between the quoted prices I have received and what they have listed on Alibaba (for same items) – the quoted prices are higher. Is it a good idea to bring this up during the negotiation process?

    Thanks again!

    #1198680
    eatyourveggies
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    There’s lots to think about but here’s some random pointers that may address your question, and likely a few others that’ll come up along the way:

    – air or sea freight?
    – most “weight” is volumetric weight (the size of the items rather than the “dead” weight)
    – If sea freight, are you filling an entire container? If so, then that’s easier. Otherwise you’re sharing the container (LCL shipment) with other people and it’s a little more complex / expensive
    – Is the seller organising the freight? If it were me, I’d contact freight forwarders myself and get my own quotes.
    – it’s unlikely you’re dealing with manufacturers in China. Almost everyone on Alibaba are trading companies rather than factories
    – there are companies that do due diligence, including visiting the company / factory and reporting back to you who they are, etc.
    – A “gold” supplier on Alibaba helps but China is corrupt… beyond what you can probably imagine. Quality can (is likely to) vary between shipments. They have the most ingenious ways to reduce their costs – ways that you won’t even notice. It’s scarily fascinating.
    – The cost of shipment is not like sending something with Australia Post. There’s the cost of getting to the “dock”, then there’s the cost of getting it from the dock to you, customs fees, and so on.
    – Incorrect paperwork often holds up shipments. Ensure all the paperwork is correct on their end otherwise customs will hold it until it’s all correct

    #1198681
    Simplypots
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    Thanks for the above pointers. Everything helps!

    #1198682
    bb1
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    a_46, post: 234796, member: 60116 wrote:
    Be VERY careful importing from Alibaba suppliers. As someone who ran a company based in Hong Kong with manufacturing in China and importing from China to Australia…… you WILL get ripped off at some point if you simply trust they’re going to behave like an Australian supplier would.

    .

    Just a question, from an interested watcher, so you are saying 100% of Australian suppliers don’t rip you off?

    #1198683
    Johny
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    “Just a question, from an interested watcher, so you are saying 100% of Australian suppliers don’t rip you off?”

    Bert, I am not going to pretend to answer the question for the guy who mentioned it, but I will say it is common for people to buy from factories in China based on how they would do the same thing in Australia.

    It’s not just about “rip offs”. there can be many factors that influence outcomes I get caught out a bit where I have said something will happen by a certain time and for various reasons something is done incorrectly or something happens that means it will not. Not a great deal you can do about it, but it creates all sorts of negative attitudes and can result in problems.

    For me certainly there are cases of being ripped off by Aussie companies, or suffering with incompetence, just as there is in China, but overall, there are more protections in Australia when/if it does happen which should give a little more comfort than when it happens in China.

    You can’t look at a transaction from China the same way you would one from the factory down the road otherwise you will get yourself into trouble at some point.

    #1198684
    bb1
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    Johny, post: 234901, member: 34822 wrote:
    For me certainly there are cases of being ripped off by Aussie companies, or suffering with incompetence, just as there is in China, but overall, there are more protections in Australia when/if it does happen which should give a little more comfort than when it happens in China.

    .

    Brian, Yeah I think my question was more because it gave the impression that people didn’t get ripped off in Australia, and as we all know it does happen. And yes there are protections here, but the sad thing about a lot of the protections here is they don’t kick in until you have being ripped off, so you have done your dough anyhow. I just find it a bit rich for people to say that because you are dealing with China you will be ripped off. Its like any place, there are the good and the bad, and you still need to do your due diligence if the factory is next door to you or 1000’s of K’s away.

    #1198685
    Johny
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    “I just find it a bit rich for people to say that because you are dealing with China you will be ripped off.”

    You get no argument from me there.

    “Its like any place, there are the good and the bad, and you still need to do your due diligence if the factory is next door to you or 1000’s of K’s away.”

    I think what happens is that we only ever hear all the bad stories and rarely the good. Simple truth is that there are thousands of successful transactions being completed every day, but when was the last time someone highlighted that as opposed to a problem?

    If I look at those that have been truly ripped off, it is often their own fault. Eg, they tried to buy branded stuff and received nothing, or they paid peanuts for something where they expected high quality.

    I must admit though that I don’t know anyone who has been sourcing for a reasonable length of time, and including sourcing a range of products (not just one or a few suppliers) that hasn’t been done over, myself included.

    By far the biggest issue I , and many of those who I know in this game, have, is not so much in getting ripped off, but in getting a deal to run smoothly, without time delays, quality issues etc. I don’t necessarily regard that as “rip offs”, rather a need to be constantly keeping track of what is going on with a view to minimizing these things, because you won’t get rid of them completely.

    Ironically, I also find that it is not uncommon for people to do less due diligence on their supplier thousands of km away,than they would closer to home. I always assume that is in large part due to perceived problems with communication, because that is also another area I find problems. One would think dealing with someone whose first language isn’t English would mean the need for more and clearer communication, but often I see less.

    #1198686
    Simplypots
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    L-M-F, post: 234872, member: 80117 wrote:
    I have imported thousands of dollars worth of products from suppliers on Alibaba. It is not about which platform the products are sourced from, it is more about due diligence

    For me the essential steps for importing are:

    1. Get a sample made. That will give you a first indication of communication with supplier, speed, and quality. However I wouldn’t rely on the sample quality as you could have a great sample and poor production

    2. Only ever make 30% – 50% deposit. If you are not sure and first time dealing with supplier, maybe use Alibaba Trade insurance and make payment via their platform

    3. Inspections! For a large expensive order you should do 2 inspections, one half way through production and one pre-shipment.

    These are only some small important points.

    Regarding the $1000 tax free, what usually happens is that supplier declare less than value of shipment. Be careful with that as sometimes customs will request to see proof of your payment to supplier. Don’t forget also to ask for Certificate of Origin as with the free trade agreement you could be saving yourself a few dollars.

    In regards to freight when doing sea freight you need to keep in mind there will be a all load of additional charges upon arrival at port.

    Happy to discuss and help where-ever possible

    Thank you very much for this. I have already trialed the samples and have placed an order with them. I am in the process of negotiating their quote. This order being the first one, is only a small one of around 100kg under $1000 (garden products). Organising inspections at this stage is not a viable option for me.

    The challenge at the moment is how I should be assessing/responding to their latest quotation. They are charging $50US for “wooden frame” (part of the packaging). Is this normal? I am organising the freight myself.

    Also, I ordered a second lot of samples with my order and I have been charged. These are only 5 small items. Wasn’t sure if I should be negotiating this….

    Would appreciate any advice on the above.

    #1198687
    managewp
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    I have been regularly importing a range of equipment from China over the last 3 years and have found that you must develop a relationship with the supplier if you want to reduce the possibility of being treated badly. I highly recommend meeting them if you can.

    Some items have been through AliBaba and I have later found out that they were through a selling agent and were not the same item as advertised quite often coming from Malaysia. I tried to rectify these and was told next order it would be right. I didn’t deal with them again.

    I have found that samples will be at best at cost + shipping. Don’t expect the samples to be as high quality as production (I know that seems counterproductive) as they see it as proof of concept rather than quality.

    Shipping – I have found that the shipping when organised from China can be significantly cheaper than we can arrange in Australia. In some cases the difference can be 50% cheaper which may be lower costs for the originating end in comparison. All my shipping has been by air so I can’t comment on sea freight.

    The main reason for delays seems to be quantity. If you are not meeting their minimum order quantity you will be treated with a lower priority. Their MOQ can seem quite high for our market being that our market is much smaller. The danger is buying a large quantity of items which is then held in stock way past warranty. Further to that is support and warranty. Be prepared to support and supply warranty off your own back. Sending items back for warranty repair or replacement will generally be at your cost for freight (both ways) and this can be too expensive. Language problems mean documentation will be operational manuals only and detailed instructions will not be available.

    And finally you will need to check the certification requirements in Australia and ensure you comply as a responsible importer – the buck stops with you, not the overseas supplier.

    Sorry for being a bit off topic but thought it might be helpful.

    #1198688
    Simplypots
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    managewp, post: 235160, member: 79463 wrote:
    I have been regularly importing a range of equipment from China over the last 3 years and have found that you must develop a relationship with the supplier if you want to reduce the possibility of being treated badly. I highly recommend meeting them if you can.

    Some items have been through AliBaba and I have later found out that they were through a selling agent and were not the same item as advertised quite often coming from Malaysia. I tried to rectify these and was told next order it would be right. I didn’t deal with them again.

    I have found that samples will be at best at cost + shipping. Don’t expect the samples to be as high quality as production (I know that seems counterproductive) as they see it as proof of concept rather than quality.

    Shipping – I have found that the shipping when organised from China can be significantly cheaper than we can arrange in Australia. In some cases the difference can be 50% cheaper which may be lower costs for the originating end in comparison. All my shipping has been by air so I can’t comment on sea freight.

    The main reason for delays seems to be quantity. If you are not meeting their minimum order quantity you will be treated with a lower priority. Their MOQ can seem quite high for our market being that our market is much smaller. The danger is buying a large quantity of items which is then held in stock way past warranty. Further to that is support and warranty. Be prepared to support and supply warranty off your own back. Sending items back for warranty repair or replacement will generally be at your cost for freight (both ways) and this can be too expensive. Language problems mean documentation will be operational manuals only and detailed instructions will not be available.

    And finally you will need to check the certification requirements in Australia and ensure you comply as a responsible importer – the buck stops with you, not the overseas supplier.

    Sorry for being a bit off topic but thought it might be helpful.

    Yes, very helpful. Good point about sample quality.
    With the freight, I had a quote from the supplier; I wasn’t sure if the price had been marked up so I decided to get a quote from the same freight company they were using here in Australia. It turned out to be much more reasonable.

    I wonder if they are unhappy about me organising my own freight. Should I have negotiated with them instead….

    #1198689
    managewp
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    I would always negotiate if you feel there is a discrepancy in pricing or shipping. If you have a good relationship they should be open to discussion. You don’t have to accept their quote but maybe their price included the wooden frame. How does the cost compare if you include the wooden frame?

    #1198690
    Simplypots
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    managewp, post: 235178, member: 79463 wrote:
    I would always negotiate if you feel there is a discrepancy in pricing or shipping. If you have a good relationship they should be open to discussion. You don’t have to accept their quote but maybe their price included the wooden frame. How does the cost compare if you include the wooden frame?

    Good point. However, there was a big discrepancy between the two quotes even with the cost of the wooden frame included. Having said that, everything is unconfirmed at the moment; there may still be little surprises here and there!

    #1198691
    Simplypots
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    L-M-F, post: 235177, member: 80117 wrote:
    The wooden frame is usually necessary for fragile or bulky items. But if they recommend it generally it is because they feel it is needed.

    Just be careful with wooden frame, you wouldn’t want your shipment to be held by customs in quarantine and be asked to do fumigation! It is expensive to do in Australia. Generally it is ok but I thought I should warn you anyways.

    Samples really depends on suppliers, some charge, some don’t. For the one who charge I generally request that price of sample be refunded when I place my order.

    On another note, if you do not do Inspection then request from manufacturer to send you a picture of first item before production.

    Also do you have freight insurance? If you plan on importing often it may be a good idea to take a yearly freight insurance. It’s about $850. Happy to recommend someone.

    Thank you. I have taken these points on board.

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