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Finding Profitable Items To Import From China

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Importing goods from China for resale in the U.S. can be very profitable, but it can be difficult to decide what to import. Find out more about how to choose profitable items to import from China.
January 19, 2022
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Last Modified: November 8, 2022

When looking for high-quality products at low prices to later resell in the United States, many importers turn to China. Due to easy access via cargo ship and robust trade between the two countries, it shouldn’t be too hard to pinpoint the most profitable items to import from China and sell in the U.S. — except when it is. In reality, the marketplace is extremely competitive. Sometimes the profit margins are razor-thin and it takes real work to have any idea how to make money off these products. So what’s a current or prospective business supposed to do? 

When looking for profitable items to import from China, it pays to thoroughly research the products themselves. This includes how they’re imported, demand for the products, whether or you’ll be able to receive a steady supply, import regulations, and more.

To do all of these, keep reading this informative guide that will take you step by step on how to maximize the profitability of these products and what kind of goods to specifically look for when importing from China.

Need Help Importing From China?

Speak to one of our Licensed Customs Brokers and get help ensuring your imports are successful

How To Find The Most Profitable Items

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Nearly 1 out of every 5 imports into the United States in 2020 came from China. The eastern Asian giant has 1.4 billion people and it feels like the same amount of factories pumping out goods. 

While China doesn’t really have that many factories, it’s still true that their manufacturing accountability in 2019 was just under 29 percent — or a bit shy of 12 percent more than their nearest competitor in the United States. If you take the United States out of the equation, China by itself out-produces the countries that rank third through 10th on that list — quite the amazing feat.

Before delving into the particular types of items that have the chance to be most profitable to your business, it’s arguably more important to go through the process of pinpointing how to begin the fact-finding mission to really narrow down the possibilities. There is a certain order of prior planning that should take place before you begin importing these items.

Conducting Research

This is one of the biggest keys to setting yourself up to having the best chance to home in on the best chances to expand profitability. This doesn’t have to be months or years-long of complete market research, but it should arm you with enough information to make an informed decision.

Going on Amazon Marketplace is a fantastic first step when you’re thinking of a particular item you might want to sell.   

Some questions you need to ask are:

  • Are these items easy to import or are they extremely complicated?
  • Can I find a regular supplier?
  • Are these products different enough in some way, either through quality, price and/or demand, for them to be appealing to consumers?
  • Will you be able to move the items directly to consumers, or will you require storage?
  • Where will these items have to be shipped to?

The reason these questions are essential — and require concrete answers — is because each one can truly affect your bottom line or even your ability to sell the products in the first place.

Mind U.S. Customs Regulations

This is an important rule and a place where if you fail, you are stuck. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plays the role of making sure anything that enters the country is legal and also conforms to a specific set of regulations for each classification of product. 

As such, there are general things every importer must follow regardless of what is being imported, as well as more narrow laws. With ports still at maximum congestion, this needs to be minded more than ever.

Federal regulations take precedence first but it’s also crucial to be mindful of each state’s rules as well. These regulations are wide-ranging and can be anything from certain products being required to be packaged and labeled according to particular guidelines. This means warnings on specific categories of goods, and even the country of origin listed for each product.

There’s much more, of course, but some other essential things to mind are:

  • Any shipment that totals $2,500 or more in value will require two things to enter the country: a customs bond and an employer identification number (EIN) or tax ID.
  • Know how to calculate your duty rates. They can be a fixed rate or a percentage, but it’s on the importer to know what it is. In this case, a customs broker could be a huge help in helping with this — and worth the money of hiring one.

Are any of the goods you import from China manufactured in or sourced from the Xinjiang region? Any goods or materials produced in the region are prohibited from entry into the U.S. Read our article on the Xinjiang import ban to find out more and avoid having your shipment fined and detained.

Lock Down A Supplier

You’re sourcing products here with the intention of reselling them for a profit. That means several things when trying to find these goods.

  1. You need to find a reliable supplier selling quality goods
  2. In order to achieve No. 1, you might not be able to necessarily go with the lowest price because it might come with some undesirable qualities. This can include irregularities in quality or availability that cause customers to view your products unfavorably.
  3. While this might seem somewhat contradictory to the previous point, price is definitely still an important factor. When scouring sources for profitable products, both Alibaba and AliExpress can be good starting points. Alibaba in particular allows you to view retail items at wholesale prices and even link directly to the manufacturers.

Those three things are worth looking into, but so is one last thing — requesting a product sample. There’s really no substitute for holding a product in your own hands and trying it out. 

Even if you barely know a hairdryer from a hairbrush, it’s not hard to tell if an item is well-constructed, free of defects or blemishes, and would please a customer should he or she part with his or her hard-earned money for it. 

Do you need an import compliance manual for your business? Make sure that all of your bases are covered in the event of an inspection by CBP, especially if importing goods that are impacted by an import ban. Read more about import compliance manuals and get help determining if it’s the right move for you.

Buy in Bulk

The best way to get the cheapest base price for most products, in any industry, regardless of the product, is to buy as much of it at one time as you can. This is usually mutually beneficial for both the wholesaler/manufacturer and the party purchasing it to re-sell. Manufacturers are known to give discounts if you purchase a certain quantity.

A random example could look like this:

  • You are quoted a price of $150 for 10 units, which makes the unit price $15 per item
  • However, if you buy 100 units, you might be charged just $1,400 — or $14 per unit
  • But wait — the same product might cost $13,000 for 1,000 items — $13 per product

Although the initial outlay is more upfront money, you have the opportunity to make an extra $1 or $2 per item and enjoy a discounted rate. When extrapolated into higher sales volume, this is not an insignificant advantage to claim, provided there is a market for your goods.

So if you can afford to buy more and have done your market research that bears out a demand for the product, it could be a great benefit to buy more at once.

Electronics From China

Models of many electronic appliances

Specific examples include wireless and traditional phone chargers, smartwatches, home security, internet accessories such as wireless routers, wi-fi extenders and mesh networks.

While smartwatches are on the list, most electronics right now that use advanced computer chips will not only be hard to make a profit off of — they’ll be hard to find in general. So in order to strike the perfect balance between profitability and availability, target electronics that aren’t too technologically advanced or that require expensive or hard-to-come-by components, if you can help it. 

Clothing and Home Goods From China

A person holding pillows and blankets

Clothing from China is among the cheapest of anywhere in the world that clothing is manufactured, but it also benefits from the strong manufacturing there and puts out coveted value for the dollar.

Really any clothing — shirts, pants, dresses, shoes, etc. — could be made in China. The same goes for home goods since anything from towels to kitchenware are ripe to be purchased and resold in America.

Importing Goods From China With USA Customs Clearance

Regardless of whether it’s the latest electronics, the most fashionable clothing, or anything in between, let USA Customs Clearance help you with your profitable items to import from China. With clearing customs or other supply-chain-related services, we can expertly and efficiently assist you in ways to maximize the success of your business.

If you’re still in the research phase or just have any questions about getting the goods you sourced from overseas into America, USA Customs Clearance has Licensed Customs Brokers who are available for 1-on-1, 30-minute consulting sessions to really drill down to the bottom of anything you’d want to know about importing, tariffs, clearing goods through the CBP, and more. These can be set up as a one-time deal or as a monthly consulting excursion.

As previously stated, you’ll probably need a customs bond — which USA Customs Clearance can surely help you purchase and put in place so you can start importing immediately. Whether it’s a single-use bond or a continuous-use bond, we’ve got you and your freight covered.

So when you’re fully prepared to begin targeting the most profitable items to import from China, make sure to reach out to USA Customs Clearance for all of your needs. You can call us at (855) 912-0406 for a free quote and information about importing.

Need Help Importing From China?

Speak to one of our Licensed Customs Brokers and get help ensuring your imports are successful

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