Import From China Business

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A practical guide for starting a small business

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Import Agent

Import Agent - Purpose

The Import Agent plays a major role in the international importing business.  Many companies require the services from someone who can assist them in acquiring raw materials, semi-finished or finished goods from countries abroad.  Through the use of an Import Agent, the company can find the appropriate supplier much more efficiently than if they had to conduct the search on their own.

Starting Out as an Import Agent

One of the benefits of starting out as an Import Agent is that it has minimum startup costs.  In fact, many Import Agents start out of their homes.  You will need some basic office equipment such as these items below.  

Outfitting a home based Import Agent Business:

Essentially, what you are selling is your knowledge, expertise and supplier connections to your client.  That’s why startup costs are minimum.

The Skill Set and Role of the Import Agent

To be a successful Import Agent, you will need to develop proficiencies in the following areas:

The role that the Import Agent plays may vary.  

Types of Import Agents

The type of Import Agent is based on how the person gets paid:

  1. Commissioned Import Agent - Acting as an intermediary, the Import Agent receives a “commission” (usually based on a percentage) for a sale to a company.
  2. Retained Import Agent - In this case, the Import Agent is paid a fixed amount to represent a supplier to sell its goods over a fixed period of time.

Seven Import Agent Tips

As an Import Agent, you must consistently add value and deliver exceptional service to your customers.  If you don’t fulfill the needs of your customers, they can just meet on their own leaving you out.  You will then have lost business.  Here are ways to  add customer value:

  1. You deal directly with the overseas supplier.  This relieves the burden from the company that you are representing in your home country.
  2. You arrange for shipping, processing, payment of the order. You almost become another employee to your client.
  3. You track the shipments and get an accurate arrival date for your client.  You help your client to continue to have adequate supplies.
  4. You ask for favors from the shipping company to get a shipment arrive earlier.  This is huge if your client needs the goods faster.
  5. You can arrange for pickup of the order at the port of entry and deliver it to your client's warehouse facilities.  Your client can concentrate on other aspects of his or her business.
  6. You may be able to offer your own warehousing services.  This is manageable for you and convenient for your customers if the inventory is small.
  7. You may be able to offer credit to your client if you have established relationships with the manufacturer.  Convenience such as credit is just another way to keep your customers for a long time.

Keeping some or all of these things in mind will help you become a successful Import Agent.