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Top 10 Imports from China and finding niche products in China.

[fa icon="calendar'] 15-Jun-2016 12:37:04 / by John O'Grady

Last week we had Dragon boat festival here in China, I didn't see a single boat in Shanghai. There was enough rain water for boating in most places - so let's hope they were there somewhere. This week has seen the humidty set in - "real" summer has arrived. Anyway enough about the weather! Today we are looking at the following:

  • The most popular products being exported from China.
  • Why being popular is not always cool? 
  • FREE China Product Sourcing Coupon worth USD $299! 
  • Research tips on finding your niche product?
  • Tips on finding niche products in China.

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1. Most popular products being exported from China

China is still the world's workshop and depsite some shrinkage in the volume of exports it is still the default go to when sourcing or outsourcing manufacturing. Here is the top 10 list of product categories by USD value for 2015.

  1. Electronic equipment: US$600.3 billion (26.3% of total exports)
  2. Machines, engines, pumps: $364.5 billion (16%)
  3. Furniture, lighting, signs: $98.7 billion (4.3%)
  4. Knit or crochet clothing: $83.8 billion (3.7%)
  5. Clothing (not knit or crochet): $78.5 billion (3.4%)
  6. Medical, technical equipment: $73.8 billion (3.2%)
  7. Plastics: $65.8 billion (2.9%)
  8. Vehicles: $62.7 billion (2.7%)
  9. Iron or steel products: $60.6 billion (2.7%)
  10. Footwear: $53.6 billion (2.3%)

These are quite meaty areas so the good people at World's Top Exports went one better and drilled into them a bit more.

  1. Phone system devices: US$213.2 billion (HTS code 8517)
  2. Computers, optical readers: $137.3 billion (8471)
  3. Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $70.1 billion (8542)
  4. Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs: $35.8 billion (9405)
  5. Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools: $34.0 billion (9013)
  6. Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $33.6 billion (8541)
  7. Miscellaneous furniture: $29.2 billion (9403)
  8. Computer parts, accessories: $28.9 billion (8473)
  9. Automobile parts/accessories: $28.3 billion (8708)
  10. Cases, handbags, wallets: $28.3 billion (4202)
  11. TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $28.2 billion (8528)
  12. Electrical converters/power units: $26.6 billion (8504)
  13. Women’s clothing (not knit or crochet): $25.9 billion (6204)
  14. Footwear (rubber or plastic): $24.6 billion (6402)
  15. Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs): $23.7 billion (9401)
  16. Insulated wire/cable: $21.4 billion (8544)
  17. Printing machinery: $21.1 billion (8443)
  18. Cruise/cargo ships, barges: $20.4 billion (8901)
  19. Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet): $19.7 billion (6110)
  20. Women’s clothing (knit or crochet): $19.4 billion (6104)

Again stats provided is the hard graft of Daniel Workman @ World's Top Exports. 

2. Why being popular is not always cool?

This is about understanding whether or not you can have any slice in the massively popular product genres in the lists above or have the big boys got them all sewn up? For the most part they will have them pretty locked down. That is, they have the best suppliers, the best prices and can budget for marketing in a way you can't. That does sound pretty grim when I put it like that but there is always a way even within these categories there are points of differentiation you can make on exisiting product types or look to simply brand something better than it has been done thus far. I hear you, easier said that done but actually if you focus and drill into products 1 at a time and build a small range it is highly achievable. That's right there is some good old fashioned hard work involved.

The problem for SME's and online sellers is one both should relate too. Both need to find areas to be competitive and avoid getting into battles they cannot win.

To get started first look at what exactly the big boys sell in a category of interest, genuine interest mind you - please don't do the "yeeeeah that might sell well" and get tunnel vision on it being the answer. Research is very important so check your perceived competion, where you might want to fit in the market. Is that a nice place? So in my view going after the most popular products per the lists above is very difficult, not cool and if... 

A) you have not established a small or medium sized business in the area already.

B) you are intending to compete just because big companies are selling well - you will need more than just a hot market.

Note: if you have a business already in product X and are interested in buying from China direct (if that is you contact us)

Start thinking about....

Your brand

Your product

Your marketing

Your capital or lack of

Your contacts

This should set the scene well for finding niche products in China as detailed in 4. below. First though here is a free USD $299 bucks that will help fast track progress on finding reliable Chinese suppliers of the products you are....genuinely interested in.

3. FREE China Product Sourcing worth USD $299.

Yeah I know we shouldn't have but we have and we are doing this one just for you guys and girls. Since we understand you really have enough on your plate, so at Found based in Shanghai where we provide China sourcing services - we decided we just wanted to prove how nerdish we are on the topic. So we decided to give you our dear readers a challenge to challenge us. Tell us what you are looking for and hey presto we are going to give you 3 options on the widget of your dreams. Well it would be nice if you can specify for us the kind of widget you want a little at least....To do that, just follow this! 

China Sourcing Services 299 USD coupon

4. Tips on finding your niche products. 

Niche, niche, niche! I'm sure you are tired of hearing about it and why you need to choose one. Well it's pretty simple if you don't you will just waste time scratching around in the general end of products Mcgeneral and thats where the big boys really do control things. I know it's not fair but thats business. 

What to do? First, don't panic! There are many examples of small business who have built between 200,000 - 1M fans and followers on Facebook, Youtube and the rest within 2 years. Why? because they made a plan, they chose their niche wisely and were passionate about letting people know how much passion they had behind the product. 

So before you dive into sourcing from China mode.....Start with some resarch on the front end!

  • Check out the potential market size using the google keywords tool. This will tell you how many users are searching for a specific keyword term. Are you looking at a growing market or something that is just a topical trend. The second one is fine for opportunisitc cash but you can't build a brand around it.
  • The competition, normally there will be competition and thats fine unless the competition is a Walmart for want of a better example. If you were looking for a product to sell online, you need to think can it already be picked up locally by consumers without a thought. So look at your competition and ask "how can we do think differently?" "how can we offer more value to the end user"?
  • Who is your ideal customer? Try to define them and where they go to seek information and purchase products. An idea is to look at some of the competitors you found and using the Alexatool you can check out the demographics on the visitors they receive. 
  • Use Amazon to drill into categories. This is a useful research exercise that will allow you to get to 5/6 levels from the top category. The reason that this is useful to know is that most of the major retailers are not covering all these ones - so in there lies opportunity.
  • Pick a product with a retail value. You dont want to get into buying for $5 to sell for $10 stuff. It's not to be sniffed at if the $5 was all yours and you can sell enough units. The but being there will be some running costs that eat margin and more importantly when starting out in a product you won't get a flood of customers so making sure there is reasonable margin from each sale (on a valued item) is a better place to be - you need less customers to get going. Think $50-$150 USD sales point.

There is no silver bullet and zero short cut from your research - it just has to be done.

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5. Finding niche products in China.

  • Quickly you can check out Alibaba & Global Sources to see if there are suppliers in China for what you are interested in. Maybe even contact a few to get a feel for specification and prices they offer. Take a breath after that, do not fully engage orders here quickly unless you have really done your homework.
  • It's more than likely your competitors are hunting around the Chinese B2B's also, is that good? Unless you have a cracking brand idea it's not great if everyone is fishing in the same pond. Get on Import Genius to find suppliers who have shipped into your local market from China and retrace them to source. There is a huge amount of useful data here on the buyer too.
  • You should be looking for supplies outside the B2B's for an edge so collate the information from Import Genius with the B2B sites, also do google searches on them. 
  • Go to trade exhibitions in China. Try get specific after your research on which one to go to. Don't just go to the canton fair blindly without research on the front end.
  • Use any contacts you have in China or a Found type offering China sourcing services to get you access to suppliers off the grid that your competition will not have access to import from China.

That's it from me this week - this is a big topic so feel free to drill into the topics covered as the devil is always in the detail. john.ogrady@foundlimited.com .

Also don't forget to pick up your FREE China Product Sourcing coupon (Under Valued @ USD 299).

China Sourcing Services 299 USD coupon

Have a great day,

JOG

Topics: Sourcing Tips

John O'Grady

Written by John O'Grady

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