If your business email is publicly listed on your website, chances are you've probably received at least one email from an overseas supplier soliciting "cheap price" and "quality products". Most of us tend to mark this as spam, but what if you actually responded to these emails? Will you really be able to cut costs?
Before you hit reply on that email, here are 8 things for you to consider before taking this risk:
Are you aware of all the importing laws and permits? Are there any trade agreements or treaties that may affect pricing? The government laws and regulations affecting the import industry are ever changing, so you’ll need to do your research and stay updated.
Has your supplier undergone real testing (and not just forged certificates) to ensure that the materials meet international standards? For example, protective equipment used for sparring purposes requires controlled contact between two or more persons. Testing to International Personal Protective Equipment Standards is a kind of insurance policy that will indemnify you in case of serious injury, and shows that you have taken the due diligence to ensure the safety of your members to the best of your ability. Not having this legitimately tested leaves you open to all sorts of possible legal implications or negligence, which may not be covered under your business insurance.
When corners are cut, it is quite common for unsafe chemicals to be used in the processing of fabrics and other materials, which may contain toxins, fumes, and known carcinogens that may cause health issues with exposure over time. Every time a children’s toy gets recalled due to harmful substances, testing is only done after the child has fallen ill. Again, you may run into serious legal consequences if there are no legitimate testing or certifications.
How will you know the quality? Most importantly, how will you know the quality is going to be consistent across each batch? If you’re fortunate enough to meet with the supplier and see some samples, tread carefully as you might be only seeing their selected best quality.
What are your hidden costs going to be? Have you considered shipping, insurance, import agents, taxes, duties, fluctuations in the Australian dollar, or currency conversion fees?
What are the payment terms? What if the supplier runs off with your money and doesn't supply the goods? Will you have the same rights to legal action like in Australia? (probably not!)
Who will handle the logistics, customs clearance, and all the paperwork? What fines or penalties could you incur if this is done incorrectly? Do you understand importing terminology like COO, CPT, FOB, CIF, CFR, Bill of Lading, Patents (we could go on…)?
How will the supplier handle warranty issues? Can you trust them to warrant the faults? Will they be able to refund or replace?
Lastly, is it worth it? Could you be better using this time to grow your business? On your social media marketing, leadership training for your instructors, or preparing your curriculums?
The answers to these questions may be different depending on the type of product you are importing, the quantity, and also the supplier's country of origin. Asking yourself these questions before entering into any negotiations with suppliers will help you make an informed decision that has the best outcome for your business.
Our verdict? Don't cut corners, and choose SMAI with your next custom gear order. With over 35 years in business, we've built up a trusted network of suppliers and guaranteed quality. (Trust us, we have tried and tested some of those spam emails.)
"You might as well go with SMAI for quality assurance. They are well priced for custom uniforms and there are a lot of headaches when dealing with China customs clearance, shipping, quality control etc. Sometimes it's not worth it. SMAI look after all that side."
Owner of Martial Arts Spirit & Mini Rangers Program