How can You Find Products for Your Import Business

How to find goods for your import business? You have six options:

Travel abroad on an import search mission.
Wait for foreign manufacturers to contact you.
Attend trade shows.
Contact foreign embassies' trade development offices.
Contact the Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration.
Track down lead on the internet and in trade publications.

Traveling abroad is, in most people's minds, the most delightful of all these options. It's not always practical in terms of time, money or other commitments you may have, such as your day job or family, but it's not a must, either, so don't fret if you can't manage it.

The big plus is that you can view foreign products in a realistic setting, checking out what sells where, why and for how much. You may know here at home, for example, that Swiss watches and Japanese electronics are top sellers, but so does everybody else. But if you travel in Mexico, for example, you'll see that everybody on every street corner is savoring paletas, frozen Popsicle-type treats made with fresh fruit and cream. If you put this person-on-the-street observation together with your own domestic observation that smoothies--fresh fruit and yogurt frozen drinks--are the rage, you might decide that paletas could be a good import.

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If you're interested in general merchandise, traveling in search of goods can be the best way to garner immediate results. As in domestic exporting, there are many manufacturers out there who've never considered selling their products abroad, even though the market may be extremely profitable. And the most effective way to find these companies is through
field research.

But keep this caveat in mind: Don't limit yourself by looking only at what products you want to import. Consider also what kinds of strategies you'll use to make your profits. Are you more interested in importing products with brand-name identities, or do you lean toward low price and high volume?

If you're going with the low-price/high-volume route, you'll want to focus on countries that are low-cost-goods producers, like China, India, and Mexico. Because these countries usually have emerging economies, your importing mission (indeed your entire trip) may be a little more complicated and require a little more patience. But don't be daunted. This is the stuff of adventure. And if you're not the adventurous type, think about this: The potential profits in these types of ventures are often much greater for the newbie importer than going with the brand-name route.

Trade shows are a terrific way to meet foreign manufacturers, distributors and representatives. Like church-sponsored singles dances, everybody there is in attendance for the purpose of attracting somebody else. So get out there and mingle!

Foreign trade shows or fairs, set up by foreign governments to showcase their own manufacturers, are held to tempt you, the potential importer. You'll have to travel abroad to attend some shows. Others come to you. Call the embassy or consulate of the country you're interested in to find out when and if they have trade shows scheduled and where.

While you're making those calls to consulates and embassies, ask for their trade development office. Many countries and geographic regions sponsor offices where you can find specific information on manufacturers of everything from toothpicks to truck tires to fur coats. Often a single phone call is all it takes to get a long list of suppliers eager to do business with importers. Don't be shy. These people are on the job just to match you with a supplier back home. Let them get to work!

The government's International Trade Administration can also help you locate various trade groups and development agencies that will help you find specific kinds of manufacturers or suppliers.

Like a good bounty hunter, you'll want to explore every avenue. Don't forget the many terrific online trade lead sites. Especially when you want to buy products from China, you can’t miss sites like eGTCP.com (electronic Global Source Credit Platform).

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