How Much Time Does It Take To Buy From China and Sell on Amazon FBA?

Michael MicheliniEcommerce Series, Podcast0 Comments

How Much Time Does It Take To Buy From China and Sell on Amazon FBA?

A common question, and on this Thanksgiving holiday I thought I’d be solo on the mic and share. I was talking to a consulting client about how much time it would take him to find a product in China and get selling on Amazon FBA in America. I wish, as everything, this could be a simple answer but there is the annoying “it depends”. In today’s E-commerce gladiator episode I go through the thought process of how much time you should budget for it.

And for those Americans out there listening – enjoy your Turkey! And I think basically everyone in the world has Black Friday now?

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Recap of Our Current Amazon FBA Timeframe

    The idea to start this business came in July, then we built the team in August, September searching for product. October is about when we tried to make the purchase from the Yiwu market and then decided to go the traditional manufacturer route instead.

  • Being clear on what product you want manufactured

    What are you trying to buy? Make it dead simple.

  • Doing it from America, overseas, or China?

    Even from Southeast Asia is a challenge with shipments of samples and the back and forth. Mike explains the advantages of being direct in China for the early stages (at least!) or be like Mike and live in China!

  • 3 different types of products you are buying

    We go through wholesale / off the shelf, to PL (private label – not Para Living Inc, ha!), to your own custom design and manufactured product.

  • The phases of product, factory fit and order flow.

    What is involved from the time you find the factory, place the order, get the inspection done, contracts, shipments.

  • Cover different options

    What are some of the choices you have when making a product, making a shipment.

  • Thought process of your own product ordering and flow to Amazon FBA

    Recap of what we discussed and action items for you

Show Sponsors

Please show support of our GFA media sponsors as they make this podcast possible to be free! Cross Border Payments in Asia

Episode Length 17:39

Thanks so much for listening – whether this is on black Friday 2017 (when we release this episode) or it is years later – believe until we have 3D printers at shops across America this painful process of the “dance” with a Chinese factory will exist for e-commerce sellers. I’d love to hear your thoughts and strategies for buying from China and dealing with manufacturers, try commenting below 🙂

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Podcast Transcription

Welcome to the Global from Asia Ecommerce Gladiator Series where you can follow along the progress of setting up a Cross Border Ecommerce business from start to finish. Hear insights of real product research, Amazon FBA, China manufacturing, branding, marketing, and all the blood, sweat, and tears of building a global business from Asia.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by Aureliapay. I use it personally for sending money to my Chinese suppliers from Hong Kong. It’s a cross border payment solution between China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia. So, if I need to make a payment to a Chinese supplier, I just hop online to place the remittance, pay to the Aureliapay Hong Kong based big account and Aureliapay will settle RMB within the same business day. So, check them out online at A U R E L I A P A Y .com or check them on their link at our show notes.

Mike: Happy Thanksgiving. It’s special, it’s me and the mic. Just little Mike on the mic. We’re on episode number 18 of the E-commerce Gladiator series. I was trying to bug my business partners at Paraliving Inc., to jump on and there’s so grinding. Lorenzo just give an update, actually he and I got the latest production sample for the Moka pot for the Sisitano brand. I have high on coffee, too. I have some Colombian coffee. One of my friends is from Spain. She gave me some coffee. So I’m getting back hyped-up on coffee and doing podcast. Life is good, right. As far as Thanksgiving, I know there is not many Americans as much in my life and even for listeners. For those Americans listening, Happy Thanksgiving. Well I’m in a much different world than I was sitting back with my family in America, having Turkey on days like these. I do appreciate the holiday, it’s about being thankful, I have been thankful. I have an amazing wife and kids and family and friends and people like you listening to this very podcast. I do appreciate you guys as well. Whether you are listening to this in the future. Since today’s show I want to kind of answer the question people asked, how long does it take to source a product from China to sell online. I was talking to a guy. We had a consulting session and we’re going through for over an hour about it. And I thought I was kind of give a recap of that conversation. I’m sure I recorded it. But he said it was very, very helpful. So many gives you some of those highlights. I think first when we talked about how long does it take to get a product from trying to sell on Amazon or anywhere, I think the biggest question is how clear are you of what you want, right. We’re 18 shows into this now. And we’ve been talking a lot about which product even sell. So we’ve changed quite a few times with what product. We’re deciding what to sell, we had Greg from Jungle Scout sharing some strategies. Meir sharing some strategies of previous episodes. So I think if you already know what product you want, 100% not just like I want to sell a coffee pot. Because even as we learning on the show, I’m learning a lot about coffee pots now. I’m hyped up on caffeine right now because there’s so much testing involved in a Moka pot. So I want to say first it’s your job whether it’s a product or websites, anything you want to have made for you and you’re not making it yourself is frustrating. ‘Coz I’m not, I’ve kind of Engineer but if you’re not the developer, if you’re not the product engineer, if you’re the “Business guy”, “Business girl”, you have to make it extremely clear for somebody else about who read the directions or the specifications if you want call it. I was talking to this client on a call about it and I said you have to make it so clear that a kid can’t understand it or I was just joking a little bit. But I said some of you doesn’t speak English and understand it pictures or worth a thousand words as they say. So what you want to do is make it as clear as possible at pictures. I used Google docs. I opened up Google doc and then I draw a pictures and so clear. You might think it’s like too clear. And then you, always block in China, you can download it as PDF or download as a word doc and email it around, you might be a little bit careful. But if you know exactly what you want, I’m gonna skip pass of what you want or how you found it. We missed the Christmas rush on this project. I’m disappointed to be honest, we’re trying hard, July was the idea this came up and we recruited the team and I think we have an amazing team and I’m excited about the product and the brand Sisitano and future products. But I’m disappointed of course the short term loss of the Christmas and some listeners were telling me is not just the sample fee,the production fee is up to the cost of the Christmas season, 4th quarter is the biggest season for retail. I’m sitting here on Thanksgiving, tomorrow’s black Friday when the show is gonna be released. And cyber Monday the week after on Monday and we’re not getting any of that action. I was hoping and Meir was hoping that we would make it for Christmas. We could have done it but I think, well there were some issues and I learned that it seemingly true. We need people on, it’s very hard without people on the ground in China. I mean I’m here but I’m not a fan of sourcing to be very honest with you. I’m very happy we actually have add amazing people unto team. Whether they’re business partners or service providers. We have Lorenzo doing an amazing stuff. He’s going like Yiwu, he’s going to Jiujang province from Hangzhou like every week now on Fridays. He’ll be there actually when the show goes live. He’s preparing to go. I was just talking to him. He’s preparing to go with Eno from Insight Quality. And it’s really amazing to have people on the ground here so I was just talking this client on the call about how he could do it. He’s in L.A. Los Angeles, America. I was telling him that’s how I ended up in China ‘coz I was so frustrated trying to tell this factories or even service providers 10 years ago, over 10 years ago now. It’s crazy, that I what I wanted to be make that I had to come out here to do it. So if you’re, I think it’s actually the big disadvantage, I’ll be honest with you if you’re not here in China. Even though you might be in Thailand, I know there’s a lot of digital nomads in Thailand or Vietnam. It’s still disadvantage, I mean I get a sample the next day. We got this mocha pots from the factory the next day. And the shipping was a dollar 50 US. So if I was doing this coffee pots and I was in L.A. I have to pay like 30, 40 bucks and wait maybe a few days and hope nothing will, customs or any shipping issues and then the back and forth. So that is the big challenge you have to add into.I think that’s why a lot of times when you make a new products spent some time maybe living in China or even in Asia. I know it’s hard, I’m a parent now. So I can understand if I have a family in America, that’s will be a big ask. But if you don’t have that ability, I think it’s all about being super, super clear about what you need like I said something like kid can look at the pictures and arrow or somebody can’t speak English can’t read. So once you have that and you, the biggest problem is the back and forth of the samples. There’s already a couple around with this Moka pot and we’ve actually changed suppliers a couple of times now or sources. So that is the hard part and it’s not from investment just like anything in business or in life here you’re investing your time upfront. And as you can count with this show, you follow along with us even with couple of partners here in China and experienced it took us a couple of months to get this done. It was done actually placed the order or hoping to place the order today. Lorenzo is in the factory. Talking to supplier, just making sure, we’ll put some pictures on this post on And you can see some pictures. It actually has our logo on the product, sketch onto it or drilled on to it, that’s so technical. So I was saying a couple of months and this is even a new design really. We’re taking a standard product, we’re in a private label, PL. I don’t know if you know about our company name about Paraliving is PL. You could use for private label. So we’re in a private label business. But we didn’t just left our logo honestly. We have worked hard to improve the product. We have read a lot of the feedback from our competitors on Amazon and we’ve improved a lot. You can read Lorenzo supplier report. But some things the heat resistance handle, the threading of the connection between the product and make sure that no water comes out, make sure it’s smooth. So, it’s not just purely slap on our logo on it. But it’s also, isn’t reinventing the wheel. We’re not making a brand new invention. So I’m gonna give you a really rough idea of times, I think there’s 3 different groups. Group 1 is wholesale and you buy it from market which we tried to do earlier with the Yiwu market. That was pretty fast if you noticed. Lorenzo wants the market, we found it, sent some pictures, he liked it. We placed the order and then about a week and a half he came but the quality wasn’t good and they said that’s basically the quality of getting here. They can do the same thing at Hua Qing Bei in Shenzhen here. We also have cool stuff happening here. We do some events there and another tour of Hua Qing Bei in Shenzhen and you could do the same thing. So if you’re getting wholesale or you’re getting products that are off the shelf, of course that’s the fastest you can go to purchasing agent, just sourcing person to buy from the market and you’re not gonna have any make your own. Maybe you could make some packaging, I guess you can re-packaged it. We can have some cardboard boxes made. It has more in China. Take it out from the stocks, image packaging re-package it or you could just keep the same packaging. I’ve done with my previous e-commerce business, too with the packaging. So that’s option 1, that’s gonna be the fastest and then you could ship it by air, by sea. Air I think is about, it could be of course faster but I say a week and half. Maybe with door to door and customs processing and then by sea from China to West Coast couple of weeks. Maybe add 3, maybe 3 weeks for safety and hopefully there’s no issue in customs on importing process. It coul take longer . Just a little disclosure there. And then if you sent to New York or East Coast, you got to go through Panama Canal, YC. So I say at least a month and another week, 5 weeks from China. So that ‘s your shipping times. Just kind of give you the idea here. So you could go as fast as couple of weeks from China to your US warehouse.If you’re buying wholesale markets. Pretty interesting inventory. No customization and then selling on Amazon or your e-commerce site. So then step 2 or option 2, I would say would be what we’re doing the PL, Paraliving Style and that would be slap on a logo but not just slap on the logo, we’re making custom packaging, branding. We are also modifying the product a bit to make it improve from the competition. To make it better, which I think is very important, right. Listen to your market. Listen to your user. Or you gonna have your own user but we have the ability of course like all of you to read what people say on the internet or Amazon, on forums. Our own friends, our own use or even small improvements. But that of course made us, we’re able to get 500 pieces order. Of course they would prefer a thousand. But that’s still is decent amount of order value. And then you got do it production sample. We even do a couple a round of production samples. Samples back and forth. Make sure it’s exactly what we want and then we place the order. Make sure the contract sell with Eno from Insight Quality would be helping out with that. Thank you and Andy Church. Thank you so much for that. And then once we make the orders, we’re gonna probably 10 days I would say. And of course you got to make sure it’s not late, you gotta put some penalties if they’re late. And then you put the money down 30%, 70% were lease which is standard. TT transfer or some kind of transfer, getting the money back to bank account in China. And then they send it probably by sea and then you’re gonna add another month. Maybe a month, if in West Coast less than a month. So you’re talking there almost 2 months, right. Whatever you’re ordering will hopefully be faster but you know basically a couple of weeks for the production and 2 to 3 weeks for the shipping. So maybe a month and a half. Hopefully you don’t run stock in Amazon you have to wait a month and half so you got to keep top of your production time and make sure you’re always in stock. So that’s the 2nd option. We’re trying to think the most common and then the third is the kick starter or the brave souls that want to make their own unique creative and made the product the super duper toilet brush that will automatically be a robot that will scrape the porcelains for you to speak and span automatically. That was tricky I mean there’s crowdfunding campaigns which we might do. Lorenzo is so excited we might make some innovative new coffee product for Sisitano and launch that. But basically the idea here is you make something that is not yet in the market and you need to try to create a market for it. So it’s very much more challenging ‘coz the factory, prior to pick for molds and we’ve talked about our way earlier on another podcast but we haven’t talk about that in this e-commerce gladiator series. But you gotta put some money down for molds which is gonna be upfront investment. You got to put money down for the production. Hopefully you’ve got enough from crowd funding or friends, family in full to fund this. And this one probably gonna take you I will say half year. I’ve done my own idea of electrophor. LED pulls bar for the bar products industry. That took me like half and a year seriously between finding the factory. The molds that we have 3D printed, samples, that was a long process and I would say half a year to be safe unless you know exactly what you want. You have the CAD design, if you have LED design. If you have order rather PCV designs. You gotta make your molds, that’s a huge process. And then of course there’s a normal production and the shipping and all of that. So those were the 3 different ways. Somebody asked me how long does it take to buy from China, there’s this the wholesale stuff off the shelf, that can take maybe a few weeks, I guess from beginning to end, if you know exactly what you want. And then there’s a PL, Paraliving Style, private label, I’m joking there. The private label which probably is couple of months if you know, that is from exactly you know what you want. And hopefully we just near down to few factories. So probably couple of months and then of course you have your own innovative design, were you gonna make a CAD, you got to make the PCV, you got to get the mold. You got to make the production, I would say half a year. I hope that’s helpful. I know it’s year-end, everybody starts to thinking about new projects, new initiatives. I hope 2017 has been amazing year for you. I’ve done quite a bit here and thank you for listening and we got few more shows for before 18 and let’s just keep on rocking. Thank you so much. Have a great day, happy holidays. Cheers.

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Tags: amazon, asia, business, career, china, e-commerce, ecommerce, entrepreneur, guide, import export, legal, tips, warehousing

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