There are many opportunities for South Africans to start and grow their own business by importing unique products that are not available in the country or that cost significantly less than what can be obtained locally.
The success of an import business greatly depends on finding quality products that match or exceed the standards of the South African market. Although these might be easy to identify, it can be complicated to find.
1. Target Trade Shows
Trade shows offer a platform where related products from numerous suppliers are showcased. These trade shows offer many advantages. Not only do potential buyers and sellers come together face to face which helps build trust, but the buyer also gets a good idea of the numerous products available for a specific industry.
Potential buyers will also get exposure to the latest products and trends in the industry and a chance to network with businesses around the globe. It is also common for most sales staff to be English, which gives potential buyers the added advantage of getting accurate information about the features and benefits of a specific product. To search for trade shows you can visit www.biztradeshows.com or http://tradeshow.tradekey.com.
Although trade shows are a good way to source products, there are certain negative aspects that need to be taken into consideration. For instance, the amount of money spent on travel and accommodation (which is usually in another currency), as well as the time spent away from work.
A potential buyer is also not guaranteed that his or her ideal supplier will be present at a particular trade show, which means that a lot of money was spent without achieving any success in the quest of finding the right product to import.
2. Use Business to Business Trading Platforms
The use of online business to business trading platforms has become increasingly popular over the years. Portals such as Alibaba are now commonly known. These web portals showcase products from suppliers all around the globe and have easy search functions to assist potential buyers to get quality products.
They also have systems in place to verify the legitimacy of suppliers and to avoid fraud. Examples of these are http://www.globalsource.com and http://b-2b-marketplace.com. However, potential buyers need to rely on the platform to validate the reliability of the supplier, and it may not always be accurate. It is also difficult to compare suppliers as one only sees what the supplier chooses to reveal online.
3. Contact the Chamber of Commerce in the country
For orders of a significant size a person can contact the chamber of commerce in the country. They usually have a list of reliable suppliers that are big enough to fulfil orders. However, one may get a long list of phone numbers to work through and the language barriers can also be a problem. Furthermore be warned; some chambers of commerce won’t respond if they deem a business to be too small.
Related: Importing Documentation
4. Enlist the help of an International Trade Consultant specialising in sourcing products
Another way to source products is to make use of an international trade consultant that specialises in sourcing products like Trade Logistics. These trade consultants are seasoned in finding quality products, while also evaluating suppliers. Over the years they have built-up contacts with thousands of suppliers. Making use of their services is equivalent to hours spent sourcing an ideal product.
The initial effort and time spent to source a product can ultimately determine the long-term success or failure of an import business and therefore it’s well worth the investment. For more information and tips read through our Trade Logistics guide on how to source and sell products globally.