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Tristan Roberts, October 29 2020

When should you Import.

In many years of supporting UK businesses to import products from China, we have numerous times been faced with a potential new client who has questioned ‘ Why should I import when I can purchase these goods from my Wholesaler in the quantity I want when I want?’

Firstly, this is not really a question for your Sourcing Agent, as their role is only to support you when you have already made this decision or at least you are clear on what you are seeking to achieve. Secondly, there is no right or wrong answer to this unless you have a crystal ball and can compare the overall financial benefits of the two scenarios.

However, there are a few guiding factors that are worth considering:

- If you are seeking to offer a price advantage to your customers, then you are likely to struggle to be able to do this if you are buying from a UK supplier who is servicing many of your competitors and providing them with the same goods as you are at a similar price.

- Quality and price are key considerations. If the quality of the imported product is inferior to what you can buy in the UK then unless you have a huge price advantage maybe you should think again.

- Price is even more key. Unless you can import at a minimum of 15+ % cheaper than you can buy in the UK, don’t do it or negotiate harder with your overseas supplier. What is the point of importing, when to obtain the right price involves buying in bulk and often funding the goods ‘on the water’ unless you have a really significant price advantage over buying in the UK.

- Own branding of a product differentiates you from your competitors and by having a product made cheaply abroad to your specifications, or bringing in a product with a unique design or feature to the UK market is a potential selling opportunity.

- The UK manufacturing base has shrunk dramatically in recent times and there are many products while sold in the UK are not generally manufactured here. If you wish to sell such products then you will be forced to import them in order to sell them competitively.

Written by

Tristan Roberts

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