Where do i start if im planning to import my merchandise? what liscense, paperwork etc.. do i need? thanks in advance.
You don`t need a licence to import merchandise. You need a busines licence so you can get a wholesale business licence to purchase your products at wholesale costs.
Importing merchandise is not hard, but you have to have the right tools in place before you start. You have to get pricing quoted to you with the landing costs included. A lot of merchants will give you costs based on production cost only so you think ok, they have $2 t-shirts I will go with them...when you have to include shipping, and any tariffs into the price of your merchandise if applicable depending on where you source your product from to know the true cost of your product.
What many people don`t understand is that you need 3 different suppliers of merchandise which I will explain below.
1. A cheap supplier overseas for the majority of your product in which you forecast your sales and order from on a regular basis. positive = cheaper, negative = longer delivery time..and can get stuck in customs. 4+ weeks shipping time.
2. A local (i.e. USA) solution of the same merch that has a short fullfilment schedule 2 -4 weeks max. Not as cheap as overseas but still reasonable
3. Another local (USA) solution that has a short fulfillment time 1-2 weeks. Positive= Quick orders. Negative = more expensive
Why 3 suppliers?
1. Your overseas supplier will allow you to have higher margins. negative is customs can ruin an order. For example if Macys buys your merchandise and you promise to deliver it in 8 weeks. Customs delays your order, or ship arrives late..You risk loosing sale from Macys and they will NEVER order from you again.
2. Supplier in USA allows you to beat competitors who only use overseas fulfillment allowing you to get into stores that purchase more over the year. For example, small boutique stores make purchases every 2 weeks going through all thier inventory because they make many smaller orders.
3. A fast solution is needed. If your sales rep gets an order that needs to go out quickly, you become a hero to a buyer who has an emergency. They will know that they can count on you to come through for them if they have a problem, building trust between you and any buyers you deal with.
There are many details to importing products. I suggest you attend a trade show that has international suppliers and speak directly with the reps of the manufacturers. In addition, get good sourcing book is critical or attend seminars on purchasing products internationally.
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I would start by contacting your local customs broker. You don`t need a license to import into the US (unless it is alcohol or something of that nature). Depending on the quantity and the value of the items, you may be able to have your supplier ship the items directly to you (via DHL, Fedex, etc). If you are going to be importing frequently then a customs broker is the way to go. They will make the process a lot smoother. They can tell you about any restrictions, quotas, etc, that you may not be aware of. If you have any other questions about the process, feel free to PM me.