Selecting Products and Finding Suppliers for Your Import/Export Business

By John J. Capela

Your potential customers can choose from an overwhelming variety of products by assessing the value each product can deliver. Your business exists to satisfy your customers while making you a profit, so selecting the right product and identifying the best supplier are critical to the success of your business.

The number of products that you can import into or export from the United States seems infinite, so how do you choose? Research shows that the key issue in your initial product selection is finding a niche or an area of specialization. The more focused you are in your initial presentations, the better your chances of communicating clearly with your customers and making the sale.

When making that selection, rely on your knowledge and experiences. The more you know about a product, the greater the chances that you’ll be successful, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn as much as you can about the product. Finally, make sure you choose a product you personally believe in.

Note that gaining access to major branded products is almost impossible because the company more than likely already has an extensive network of exclusive distributors. Beware of counterfeits.

After you choose the product category, the next task is to identify the suppliers. If exporting, you focus your efforts on finding suppliers in the United States; if importing, you look for suppliers from other countries. The task of finding suppliers today has been simplified; you can accomplish it through the Internet and business-to-business platforms such as www.thomasnet.com and www.wand.com (for U.S. suppliers) or www.alibaba.com and www.globalsources.com (for overseas suppliers).

This process of finding a good supplier requires a great deal of patience. One of the more frustrating aspects of searching for suppliers is spending a lot of time to locating a supplier, only to be rejected or have them not respond to any of your requests. Be persistent.