If you’re thinking that importing from China might help your business, you’re probably right. You can get a lot of great deals when importing from China, if you know a few things about the process.

Make a list of the products that you want to import and use a web listing service to find suppliers for those products. You will only need to list the products, and you’ll get supply information and offers. Don’t go with the first suppliers you find. Check if the supplier is doing business with other companies, if they attend trade shows, if they are willing to send you samples of the products and so on. You should also contact them and check whether their response is prompt and professional. Unfortunately, there are a lot of illegitimate suppliers advertising on the internet, so take all the necessary precautions to avoid getting ripped off. A safer way to find Chinese suppliers is to visit trade shows and meet them in person.

Decide whether you want to go for a supplier or a manufacturer. The difference is that manufacturers are easier to work with in terms of product development, while suppliers are better when it comes to the variety of products. A supplier is considered the 3rd party between the manufacturer and the buyer. There are also 4th party suppliers, but you should avoid doing business with them, as you will probably not get very good deals.

Take your time to build a relationship with the Chinese supplier. Though signing a contract and getting the products shipped is your priority, know that in the Chinese culture contracts are just a formality. Chinese businessmen place more importance on how much they can trust you. A strong business relationship will get you better deals and a lot of favors in the future. So start building that relationship from the first phone call you make.

Before placing a large order, order samples of the product. They might not be for free, but you want to make sure you’re getting quality products before you invest a lot of money.

When you negotiate the price with the Chinese supplier, have in mind the additional costs you’ll have to pay in the process. Aside from the price of the products, you’ll need money for the landing cost, which includes transport costs and import duties, and also for storage. The more products you order, the bigger the space you’ll need and the bigger the costs. It’s good to have everything arranged before the order gets sent from China. You should also know that you will probably have to pay 30% in advance for your order. The upfront payment can be negotiated, though it’s unlikely that you will get a lower percentage.