Ordering, Paying, and Inspecting Product Samples
Episode #5 of the course Fundamentals of importing physical products from China by Damir Serbečić
Hey, it’s Damir!
Today’s lecture is going to be exciting, since it’s time to order product samples.
Sampling is the most important part when dealing with overseas suppliers for the 1st time.
Samples are your only way to touch and feel products before placing larger orders.
That’s why you should NEVER skip this part! This is especially true if you are selling on Amazon. If you end up shipping damaged items or products different than described to Amazon FBA, you might lose your Amazon selling privileges.
Ask for Samples
Once you are sure your potential supplier is not a fraud, simply ask if they can provide you with product samples.
If you are dealing with a manufacturer, then the samples should be available for shipment the same day. In case of a more complex product, samples should be available in a couple of days. If a supplier tells you that samples can be shipped in 10 or 20 days, then you’re probably dealing with a trader.
Here’s the SHOCKING part: Samples are expensive!
Yes, most suppliers offer the 1st few samples for free, but you are responsible for covering the shipping costs.
To avoid looking unprofessional, NEVER use free shipping methods, such as China post or similar. It will take ages to receive samples, and the supplier might think that you won’t have enough funds to place large orders.
Samples are shipped by air express (DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc.) and usually arrive in a few days. But the problem is that air express shipping carriers have minimums that start from about 50$.
Expect to pay about $50-100 per sample shipment from a single supplier.
In case a supplier charges for samples, they usually refund the same amount once you place a larger inventory order.
Samples from Multiple Suppliers
I always advise my students to order and evaluate samples from multiple suppliers. Even though a product seems identical on images, quality can vary drastically.
But what if you want to analyze samples from 4 different suppliers?
Will you need to pay $50-100 per each sample shipment?
But there is a workaround.
On Upwork.com, you can find freelance Chinese sourcing agents who can receive all your samples from multiple suppliers (shipping in China is VERY cheap) and then pack all samples into a single air express shipment.
Although you’ll have to pay for the Chinese sourcing agent services, you’ll still save A LOT of money on a per sample basis.
Most Chinese suppliers accept PayPal; however, don’t be surprised if they ask to get paid through Western Union.
You see, in China, PayPal fees are much higher than in most countries. That’s why some suppliers avoid using PayPal.
As we covered previously, Western Union is a legitimate form of payment method. The problem is when Western Union is the ONLY payment method.
So, if your supplier accepts many different payment methods, but they still require you to pay for samples through Western Union, that shouldn’t necessarily concern you. I’ve paid for samples through Western Union many times. It’s not a dealbreaker but be cautious.
My prefered method of paying for samples is PayPal, which is what most suppliers accept.
Once you have received all the samples, take your time to analyze them.
Take notes and ask questions. Then, based on your business needs, price, product quality, and overall supplier experience, decide with which supplier you’ll continue working.
In the next lecture, you’ll learn how to choose the best shipping method based on your product size and weight.
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