Ordering Samples from China: A Guide for First Time Amazon Sellers

This guide covers the ordering of samples for new Amazon sellers looking to source their product sample from China. You’ll learn how to order from factories and evaluate your sample. This is ideally so you can start mass-production to eventually sell on Amazon’s marketplace.

I sell on Amazon FBA, and now earn a full time income. Yes – it’s totally possible. Most courses have hype, some keep it more low key. I keep things raw and real. Creating an online business, even on Amazon, isn’t easy. But in the long run – it’s worth it.

Drilling down on the niche

When looking for samples to order from China, you need to 1st decide on a category. You want to then go into a niche. It can be any type of product, provided that it’s something you’re confident about selling, and you believe that customers will love it.

It’s important to do the numbers, as you want to find a long-term profitable product to sell on Amazon.

For this example, I’m going to use dog prams. I like this type of product, as there’s some complexity and the price-point is medium tier, reducing the competition. Plus, I love dogs! There’s a lot of competition in the lower priced products. There’s still competition for this mid-priced product too, yet it is paired with a lot of buyer traffic.

Finding a supplier for Amazon FBA

Once you’ve discovered the product, looked at the numbers, and researched your competition, it’s then time to look for a supplier. I like to look at a range of suppliers. You can find them quite easily on a number of websites.

Other sourcing sites to consider include:

  • Alibaba (no surprises there!)
  • Made-In-China
  • China brands
  • LightInTheBox
  • DHGate (for drop-shipping mostly)

There’s also a range of other websites, including those if you wish to source outside of China. As I don’t source in India or Indonesia yet, I can’t provide a reference. But Google will come up with some excellent results I’m sure!

There’s also Trade Fairs. Previously, I claimed on some of my blog posts here that you can source online without ever visiting China. I still believe that! Yet, going to China really does save a whole heap of time and messing around. The prices for flights and accommodation is cheap too.

There’s a range of Trade Fairs catering to all types of products, with the Canton Fair being China’s biggest. It also holds the title of the world’s largest Trade Fair. This place is HUGE!

Other fairs to consider include:

  • Yiwu Commodities Fair
  • East China Export Import Fair
  • Global Sources Hong Kong Fair
  • ASD MarketWeek (Las Vegas, USA)

There’s many more fairs, and an excellent site I’ve found is 10Times which features some of the best Chinese sourcing fairs available. In 2019 I’ll be attending up to 5 different fairs, including the famous Canton Fair.

Obtaining pricing information for your product

Once you’ve found the supplier, it’s time to get a price on at least 500 units. Preferably 1,000. In the case of dog prams, given their relatively big size (even when bubble-wrapped in a box), you do have some negotiation towards reduced minimum order quantities (MOQs) as 500 dog prams may not fit in a shipping container. If you’re ordering dog whistles, given the significantly small size, consider an order of 2,000+ as a minimum.

Finding a supplier at the right price-point and quality is an art in itself!

The reason you want pricing information before you order the sample is simple. You want to know that there’s profit margin, before going forwards. There’s no point receiving my dog pram sample, then finding the unit cost for each pram is $80 out of China, when I’m only able to sell them on Amazon for $99. The shipping to Amazon, and Amazon’s own fees will eat into that profit margin instantly.

Ordering the sample from China

Once you’ve decided on a product, and the number’s look good based on the manufacturers pricing and the eventual Amazon sales price, then it’s time to order the single unit sample. This sample will 99% of the time be air-freighted to you, simple to save time.

That said, there’s exceptions to that rule. For example – if you’re ordering say a large gym system, in which case you’d want to go to a health and fitness equipment fair in China for this. There’s a few of these that happen ever year, including Phase 3 of the Canton Fair. Also, some products can’t go on air freight.

The Chinese factories and source agents have good English, and will help in ordering samples!

There are 2 costs that will be rolled into 1 fixed cost.

  1. The cost of the sample (example: $10)
  2. The cost to ship the sample to you (example: $85)

So if a supplier quotes you $95 for the sample, it’s these 2 costs rolled into the $95. Please note that 99.9% of the time, they quote in USD. If you’re in Australia like I am, the price would be between $130 and $150 AUD.

I’ve personally ordered samples in the $70 to $200 AUD range, and I know others that have stretched up to $500. Samples aren’t cheap, and selling on Amazon isn’t a business for cheap people. If you’re scared to invest in samples, you have no chance on Amazon. You should probably stop reading this guide on ordering potential Amazon products from factories in China, if you’re too cheap to pay the sample costs.

Waiting for the Amazon sample from China

The sample will generally take 5 to 7 business days to arrive. Sometimes when entering Australia, they’ll roll on to Australia Post’s distribution system. Other times they’ll jump on to couriers, such as Fastway. If you’re in other countries such as NZ, Canada and the US, they’ll likely roll on to your national postal network.

If you have an account with a freight company such as UPS, which I do, then you’ll at least know which carrier will deliver it. You can then set specific delivery instructions. UPS has had the fastest delivery time for me, generally within 3 business days door to door. Yes, that fast!

Receiving an inspecting the sample

This is where the magical day has arrived. Where you’ll be beaming with joy. Where unicorns fly gracefully down the street, and there’s a rainbow on the horizon….

The moment the courier knocks on your door with the sample is MAGICAL!

….your sample has arrived!

You open your sample, and anything can happen…..

Either you’ve got exactly what you ordered, or there’s something wrong. Something that you completely missed, or the supplier completely messed up on. Either way, the sample is here, and you need to inspect it.

First up – look for quality. Is it of high quality. Would you personally buy it? Would your friends buy it? No, I don’t mean in a fantasy world. The unicorns aren’t welcome here….

What I mean is – would you be proud of this? We need to totally leave the emotion out of the picture here. Evaluating a sample is serious business. In my example, the dog pram could be completely piss-poor, or a work of art. Go road testing with the product, and put it through its paces.

You need to scope the following things:

  • Materials used
  • The quality of workmanship
  • Defects, or potential future defects
  • The packaging used, and if it needs more
  • Potential colour or design changes required
  • The likelihood of that product being expanded to a range
  • Whether the manufacturer really cared about the quality

From here, you’ve got 4 completely different roads in which to do down….

  1. You’re very happy with the sample. You then contact the factory agent, and tell them the great news – you’re ready to place an order! You use the sample as a basis for drafting the purchasing agreements, including all required specifications. Happy days!
  2. You’re not happy with the product. It’s probably a minor change, or something that was lost in communication. It’s okay, as you know that the factory and the person you’re communicating with is just trying to do good. They’re genuinely wanting to help you, so that you can go down road #1 eventually.
  3. This sample completely wasn’t what you were expecting. You decide this manufacturer isn’t for you, and perhaps even the niche isn’t for you. You go looking for a new supplier, or even a completely new niche.
  4. Even though you receive the sample, you give up completely on the Amazon dream. This happens often, for some completely strange reason. Maybe it’s due to a lack of knowledge. Perhaps you’re too cheap to invest in a proper Amazon course. Perhaps you don’t know what to do next, which is what every course teaches.

Either way, to get towards full production on a product, you need to start with samples. You need to gauge the quality and potential of a factory. You want to look into their willingness to help you start, and maintain a long term working relationship.

The euphoria of finding a great Chinese factory! You’re work isn’t over yet though…

I’ll cover the contracts and production of an Amazon product in another blog post. This one was focused on ordering samples from China for evaluation purposes.

Summary

I hope this guide to help beginners source and order samples from China for Amazon has helped open your eyes. If you’re looking to create a real business, and become a life-long Amazon or eCommerce seller, then you need to invest in your knowledge. I highly recommend taking an Amazon course, of which there’s some excellent offers in the marketplace, created by actual Amazon sellers.

Selling on Amazon isn’t for cheap people. Learning by error really does cost you money. The small investment in these courses are going to help avoid those mistakes, especially when you’re new. You simply can’t learn within Facebook groups, as most groups are full of newbies who lack basic marketplace understanding.

Amazon courses always praise the new students…the smart ones who invest in their knowledge!

Because this journey isn’t easy, and you don’t have to do it yourself. I didn’t go solo, as I was prepared to use mentors who have been before me on the journey. Today, I’m simply blown away by the support that such courses give to new students.

I’ve written a comprehensive list of the current available Amazon courses in the market. You can check them out right here, they’re ranked in order of quality. I genuinely care that you get the right knowledge.

Invest in yourself my friend, it’s the best investment you’ll ever make. Be prepared to back yourself, and play the long game.

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