Five steps towards successful importing

Have you ever spotted an ingenious new product overseas that you thought would be perfect for the Australian market, but didn't know how to go about bringing it in? Here are five easy steps to getting your import business off the ground.

Research your market

The first thing to do is research, research, research! Conducting market research  involves finding out who your target market is, their preferences, your potential competitors, industry conditions and barriers to entry. Your family and friends don't count, either - larger scale research is required to determine if people will buy what you import.

Identify potential overseas manufacturers

According to the Small Business Development Corporation of Western Australia  (SBDCWA), chambers of commerce, industry associations, foreign embassies and government departments of trade can all help to identify your suppliers. It recommends that businesses also use the Internet to conduct extra research. Don't make decisions on price alone, though - always take into account the quality of the product and the reliability of the manufacturer. Also consider paying a visit to the manufacturing facilities as this will give you a better sense of how products are made.

If in doubt, conduct a credit check on potential suppliers as this is an excellent indicator of their financial standing and reliability. Conduct a credit check now >>

Decide on your business model

Now that you've located your target audience and snagged yourself a reliable supplier, it's time to sit down and write your business plan. Consider the type of business model you will be adopting - do you have enough finances to run a bricks-and-mortar business, or should you just establish an online presence? Should you sell the products as they are or should you value-add?

Calculate your total costs

SBDCWA also recommends that start-ups prepare a cost analysis to arrive at a landed cost, which includes calculating costs for freight, handling, insurance and customs duty. Dean Ramler, CEO of online furniture store Milan Direct, suggests that you also take into account currency fluctuations, which can change importation costs significantly. Additionally, remember to advise your customs broker with the details of your transaction!

Set a launch date and timelines

Lastly, draw up timelines and set a non-negotiable launch date. This will ensure you stay on track during each stage of the importation process. Breaking down larger goals into smaller milestones can also be effective in helping you tackle each task. However at times, even the best of plans can go awry, such as a natural disaster hitting your supply chain hard, but as long as you take the right measures to safeguard your business, you'll be on your way to becoming a successful importer.

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