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“In my decades of sourcing product from Asia, and contrary to popular belief, I have never been ripped off,” says owner, Ian Berger. “Australians have a good reputation in Asia and wise manufacturers know a track record of production quality and reliability builds US-dollar-paying business, over time.” Berger visits suppliers often and recommends the same to other importers. “Whereas India is going ahead of China in terms of state of the art manufacturing equipment, their infrastructure needs to catch up. From time of order to getting our goods on board a ship from the factory near Delhi takes 12 days. In China the same distance is covered in 12 hours! We hope the proposed PPPs [Private Public Partnerships] that have been floated come off in the Indian transport area.”
On-Line Retailer and ‘Savvy Importer’ “I turned my passion as a shopaholic into a business,” says Jo Munro, an experienced buyer of goods from China. She is author of “The Savvy Shopaholic” and “The Savvy Importer,” which is about to be published. Munro imports from China to both
Australia and the US where she has multiple on-line business selling via E-Bay. Her specialties are garden items and implements – like pink greenhouses – yes, they sell very well. Munro leads dozens of Australians on “master importer,” educational, shopping and importer trips to Hong Kong and China. Her favourite destination is the massive China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) held in Guangzhou. It has exhibition space of over a million square meters, 55,000 stands, over 22,000 of the best Chinese exhibitors – who pay to exhibit, and 100,000 visitors. “My top tip would be to understand how the Chinese system operates and use a ‘Relationship Management’ approach: what I do, is tell factories from day one that I am looking for a long term relationship; I will want to go and see their factory first hand; I will buy from several sources; I will place a small order first to ensure my customers like the quality; and finally, I share with them my anticipated three to five-year volume projections,” says Munro. “I never do contracts – they are unenforceable, but get suppliers to send me purchase orders that I
work over to ensure specifications are detailed and correct, e.g., that paint must be non-poisonous and comply with Australian regulations.” Munroe says “Factory visits are critical to make sure you are dealing with the owners. Genuine owners are delighted to show you around. If it’s a middleman – who might run off with your money, they might stall or resist. I ask them to make up samples and the best factories will do this literally overnight. Additionally, I ask who else they supply to in Australia.” “Make sure you have professionally translated Chinese business cards – they take them seriously,” says Munro.
Business in Heels Lisa Sweeney, co-owner at Business in Heels, a network with over 40,000 members in eight countries and growing fast, was for more than 20 years a buyer for Target, Spotlight, and Best & Less. “Financing is key to buying from Asia. Some markets insist, especially when you first start, on letters of credit (LOC) that tie up your money for six months. This is risky as funds are released before shipping and before you see the
Spark Magazine Spring 2016 The fuel for business