Since we started writing the business series, there have been some inquiries regarding the process of shipping products from China. For some of us, we may think the process is as simple as finding a supplier with cheap products and then shipping them home to make a huge profit.
However, the process is not as simple as it may look on the outside. There is the looming possibility of one being scammed of their life long savings among other things. In this article, we will outline a guide to small businesses on shipping successfully from China to Kenya.
There are many different problems that one can face when shipping products from China. For instance:
- Order being less than supplier’s MOQ
- Product’s shipping cost being higher than it’s value
- Getting fraudulent agents
How to ship from China to Kenya as a small business ordering small quantity
The biggest problem lies here. However, there are many companies in Kenya these days that have come up with this service of shipping from China to Kenya.
a.Air Freight and international express
In Kenya, there are some International companies offering air freight and express such as DHL. The main difference between international express and air freight is that: Air freight is suitable for over 300kg goods while international express is for less than 300Kg goods. One is required to pick these goods from the airport.
LCL companies offering all in price shipping
The LCL companies are the best for small business shipping. Most of the times, the companies handle everything for the customer, all that one has to do is pick up the goods from their warehouse. Below we will discuss 2 of such companies in Kenya.
a) African Salihiya Nairobi
This company came in highly recommended from people who have used their services before. They are known for packaging, shipping and also clearing with the authorities. All that a business owner has to do is to pick up the cargo from their offices at Eastleigh Nairobi. The company charges a minimum charge of Kes. 9/kg.
b) Kentex Cargo Clearing and forwarding
This company has also been recommended by a friend of mine who used their services to ship video games from the US. The good news is that the company provides shipping from Alibaba to Kenya directly. Their lead period to deliver is equally shorter.
What is a small business? and What’s the minimum shipping quantity?
Various business experts have different definitions of what a small business is. However, most sourcing and consulting companies define a small business as one whose imports are less than USD 500,000 in a year. This amount is too high for a business starter to reach in one year leave alone in 5 years. This difficulty, therefore, explains why it is very hard for small business to ship products from China to Kenya.
A small business is one that can import different products worth USD 5,000- USD 50,000, in a given year. The shipment volume for this amount of cash is from 5CBM to a 40HQ container. However, this volume can easily fill a factory’s MOQ.
Moreover, since small business imports at small quantities, it may be very hard to fill a full shipment container. The other option is mainly to buy enough products to fill the minimal less than a container load (LCL) target for shipping. This LCL is usually around 4 to 5 CMB.
A small quantity buyer is the one that buys less than Kes 200,000 worth of goods per order. This type of buyer is the one therefore suitable for shipping products from China to Kenya in an LCL container.
Products suitable for importation by small businesses
Before shipping or importing anything from China, it is important to decide on what you are going to sell. Not all products are suitable to be imported by a small quantity buyer. Lets then discuss the most suitable goods.
a. Small size products with high value
A big problem for small quantity importers is shipping. Most of the times, the shipping volume of a small business will fail to fill even an LCL. As a result of this, a business owner will be forced to use express or air freight for shipping. The air express shipping is basically 8-9 times higher than the shipping cost.
In order to reduce the cost burden of shipping, a small quantity buyer has to focus on buying small size products. Some of those products may include:
- electronic products
- Fashion accessories
- Hair accessories
The small-sized high-quality products will give a business an upper hand over its competitors because the shipping cost may not exceed 10% of the product value.
b) Interesting products over normal products
We all think that if we buy the normal everyday products from China to resell we will make a killing. Truth is, we won’t. This is because there will be many people importing these products at low cost which will make it hard to compete with them. In most cases, the cost of normal everyday products when imported are higher than what one could buy them for in Kenya for reselling.
These interesting products have to be unique and of high quality.
Finding Chinese Suppliers
The best way to find a supplier when you are small business is through the internet. It may be very costly for one to visit China just to find suppliers and then import an LCL. Some big business also prefers shopping online rather than going to China themselves to buy the goods.
Yiwu wholesale market is the biggest market place in China to buy products. This market place is a multicultural city. In case one has all the finances to visit China to find a supplier, then this is a good place to start.
Alibaba is the best place to search for Chinese suppliers online. Most of the time, their MOQ will be less than that of the factory warehouse. Therefore making it perfect for small quantity shipping.
If you want to learn tips on getting the best suppliers on Alibaba, please go through the article, it’s quite informing.
Sometimes, Alibaba might be having a higher MOQ than one can afford. DHgate provides a better alternative to Alibaba. Here one can even find suppliers willing to sell products in very small quantities. The only issue with DHgate is that most of its products are highly priced. It might, therefore, be very hard getting a good to resell price for the Kenyan market.
Aliexpress is slightly cheaper than DHgate when it comes to products costs, but the price is higher than Alibaba. The MOQ is also very small as one can even buy products in only one piece. If a small business owner decides to order from Aliexpress and DHgate, they have to be sure they are reselling to high-end-customers.
It is very important to carry out due diligence before selecting a supplier from China and a shipping agency from China to Kenya. Check online reviews from their previous customers to see if they are trustworthy. Diligence prevents one from being scammed.