In a world full of products, it's interesting to ponder that every product in existence once began as a thought, then a drawing, then a sample and then eventually a product on a shelf. The journey from the inception of an idea into the hands of a customer is a lengthy one that often starts and exits from the continent of Asia.
Not surprisingly, China dominates the globes manufacturing sector producing almost 30% of the world's goods. It's no wonder that businesses around the world look to China for their sourcing needs.
If you're one of the many businesses using China as your product source and manufacturing hub, then you know that sending product samples to your Chinese suppliers is an integral part of the process.
Samples are the visual and physical representations that allow suppliers to see the exact item you need replicated, thus ensuring that what they produce for you meets your requirements before starting mass production.
This brings us to the important question of how do you ensure that your samples make it to China without getting delayed or stuck at the border?
In this guide, we'll explore the different options available to you and the key elements that will help ensure that your product samples arrive at their destination in China swiftly and safely.
You have two main options available to you when shipping samples to China:
By understanding the pros and cons of both options you'll be better equipped to make an informed decision.
However, one of these choices heavily outweighs the other and is more favourable when sending samples to China. Below, I'll highlight both the pros and cons of both options so you can see for yourself which method is the obvious winner.
Hands down, this is the shipping method that weighs heavily on pros, and light on cons.
This option weighs heavily on the cons, and light on the pro's.
These above pros and cons show the bigger picture of why you need to consider the associated risks before you let a lower shipping cost seduce you into sacrificing some very important factors.
Is it worth saving money to gamble on risking your shipment going off grid and getting lost?
When your package arrives in China is gets processed and handled by the Chinese Postal Service.
You have no means of tracking, therefore a greater risk of losing your package, the shipping fees you've paid, the loss of your product, and needing to start from the beginning again.
In contrast to the security that using an international courier offers:
Yes, it's going to cost a bit more, but you'll have peace of mind using an international courier.
If you have a long lead time and the sample item you're sending has a low value, then you may feel more comfortable gambling with sending your sample through a government post office.
But if your timeline is tight, your sample value is high and you can't risk a delay or the potential loss of ability to track your sample, then hands down you'll want to elect for the more secure and more expensive option of using an international courier.
When sending samples to China, the way that you package your product can greatly impact its safety during transit. Proper packaging will not only protect your product from damage but also increase the chances of a successful delivery to your Chinese counterpart.
Here are some tips to help you package your samples safely:
When it comes to addressing the package, it's important to ensure that you have the correct address and that it's written in a way that is clear and easy to understand for all parties involved in transporting your package to China.
Here are some tips to help you get it right:
You likely aren't a master of writing Chinese characters, so the easiest way to do this is to ask the supplier for their Chinese address, print it out and stick it somewhere on the package.
When sending samples to China, it's important to properly declare your shipment. This means providing accurate information about the contents of your package to ensure that it complies with Chinese customs regulations so it won't get held up, seized, or destroyed.
Here are some tips for declaring your shipment:
By properly declaring your shipment, you will increase your chance that your samples will be delivered successfully without costly delays or being rejected by Chinese customs officials.
Even samples of a low value require a commercial invoice. The commercial invoice is an important document that acts as a declaration of the goods being shipped. It provides information to customs officials in both the origin and destination countries.
In this section, we will discuss what should be included on the commercial invoice:
A well-prepared commercial invoice is critical to ensure the smooth and efficient shipment of your samples to China. It provides important information to customs officials and helps to avoid potential issues such as delays, additional fees, or even the seizure of your goods.
It's also important to be accurate and truthful when completing the commercial invoice, as any inaccuracies or false information may result in your package being delayed or seized by China customs officials during the customs clearance process.
When sending samples to China, it's important to make sure that the contents of your package meet the requirements for commercial samples set by the Chinese government.
Typically, this means marking and altering them in a way that makes them unsuitable for resale, as commercial samples are not intended for retail sale or consumption.
One way to do this is by permanently marking the samples with a label such as:
In addition to permanently marking samples, there are a variety of common alterations that can be used to make items unsuitable for resale and more obvious to customs officials that these items are samples and won't be resold.
Some of these alterations include:
These actions will limit the chances of duties and taxes being applied to your shipment. However, it's ultimately the decision of the inspecting officer to decide if import tax or duties will be levied on your shipment during customs clearance.
You can learn more about China customs regulations, rules, prohibited items, and what can't be shipped to China, by visiting the website of the Chinese customs authority, the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China (GACC).
Although it isn't recommended, the cheapest way to ship samples to China will be by using a government post office such as USPS, Canada Post, or Royal Mail, instead of an international courier such as DHL, FedEx, or UPS. But as I mentioned earlier, cheaper comes with greater risks.
The safest and best way to ship samples to China is to use an international courier like DHL, FedEx, UPS, or your country's equivalent. DHL is our go-to international courier and is often a favourite among other importers and exporters. You can get a freight quote with DHL here.
The cost of shipping samples to China can range from $50 for small packages to several thousand dollars for large or heavy items. The cost depends on various factors such as the size and weight, the mode of transportation, the chosen shipping company, the origin country and destination, and any additional services that you might require.
Getting a physical representation of your product in the hands of your supplier is one of the most important aspects of production. Do not overlook the importance of this step. If you do, you might regret it.
Take your time and make sure you follow the steps outlined. Lastly, congrats on taking the action to bring your idea and product to life. You're one step closer to getting your product on a shelf.