#52 Q and A Tuesday no. 5
Q1 : ANILA: For products coming from China to UK, how do you work out the duty value to put on the boxes to estimate for the taxes? Not a VATable product
MICHAEL: Basis for duty is Commercial invoice value = Manufacture cost plus freight (if your supplier is handling freight, it will probably be on the same document). AKA Total Landed Cost (TLC). Then put that value into the dutycalculator website.
Any freight experts here, please feel free to correct and or refine this statement.
If you are using a Freight Forwarder or even just a Customs broker, obviously ask them how it works and check any nuances for your own product.
Q2: BEN: Hi gang! Thanks for your help with my previous question. Here’s another one. I’ll shortly be sending my first delivery to Amazon. I haven’t finished the ‘send/replenish inventory’ section on seller central yet (as I’m not ready to send yet), but when i am, I presume I’ll end up on a page that tells me how to organise delivery with one of Amazon’s preferred carriers?
Otherwise…the Amazon help pages aren’t very helpful in detailing how I actually get my stuff from my house to their warehouse! I understand that amazon’s preferred carriers offer discounts for going to amazon…which I presume I book through seller central, rather than parceforce.com, for example.
MICHAEL: Yes that’s right. Amazon’s preferred carrier is just the one, UPS. They give Amazon amazing shipping rates. Something like £1 a kg or less. Get a quote at the Post office or from a courier yourself and you’ll realise how cheap they are.
STUART: Unless, I have missed something but my experience of using Amazon’s preffered carrier, UPS, only applies when shipping from within a particular country.
For example, rates are fantastic when shipping from UK to FBA in the UK. However, when shipping from UK to FBA in the US, there are no special rates. I have found using Transglobalexpress to be very competitive, and they use UPS as well as other carriers.
MICHAEL: Thanks for the hint, Stuart. May I ask why you’re shipping UK to US in the first place? Is it sending stock from UK you already have here in order to test the market for that product in the US?
STUART: That’s correct. I merchant fulfill in UK, and have sent stock to US FBA to test market.
Q. 3 BEN: Guys, I’d be interested in your take on this idea. Especially MICHAEL: after the last two podcasts… I have heard some stories of people sending off their branding to suppliers to get branded samples, and then when they choose another supplier, the un successful suppliers have gone and made stuff with heir branding and sold it on to other people, or just gone ahead and stuck it on Amazon themselves.
What are your thoughts on getting samples made with ‘test’ branding. e.g. my branding with watermarks over the top. That way I can still see the quality of the printing/branding process and can still see roughly what my branding looks like, but I’m protected…
MICHAEL: thanks for raising this point. A few thoughts:
yes that is a danger. It does happen.
Firstly, short-term, nobody really cares about your brand yet. So I wouldn’t over worry about it yet.
However, I like your idea in that you are testing the quality of printing but protecting your brand.
For that matter, if all you want to see is the quality of printing, you could use a different brand altogether!
But The only thing I would say is that by doing this, if you decide to go ahead with a supplier, you probably should get another sample done with your actual logo. Which will delay the process.
You could just trust them to do it well and get it done, I guess.
Overall, I’m basically in favour of your approach.
However, I would say this: I’m not sure how much back and forth you’re doing with Suppliers with samples. But it is really important in the PL market now it’s so crowded to move fast when you spot an opportunity in the market.
SO for speed, I would get my 2-3 samples from suppliers upfront without worrying about branding. Just check out the quality of the product. That should take max 7 days from order to having it in your hand.
Then choose a supplier on the back of that.
If you want to then check the quality of the printing of logos etc from your chosen supplier at THAT point, I would then order a proper sample with your real logo. Unless they really mess that up, I’m going to place an order. If there are minor defects, I’ll have them correct it and then send me photos of the corrected sample.
Then get the order placed and in manufacture
Please understand: There is nearly ALWAYS a trade off between speed and quality.
Yes, it’s good to have a professional process in place and yes you should protect your brand (reputation) and IP (Intellectual Property).
However, if it takes you 6 months to get to market with a good, but not amazing product, which is frankly pretty much the same as everyone else’s, the competition will often have killed off the profit in that market.
You’re better off getting your good but not great product to market, learn about the realities of trying to sell, listing optimization, handling Adwords etc etc and get some feedback from customers.
You may then simply choose
3, or if quality and sales and profit are all good, just go back and reorder!
Either way, you get MOMENTUM. Do not underestimate the importance of this.
“Money Loves Speed”. Quality, sadly, does not.
An eternal conundrum. My advice (as a perfectionist): “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good”
Good luck .
Thanks for the excellent and in depth response – it really is appreciated.
I have decided that this week I’ll be sending a ‘test’ version of my branding to three suppliers for samples. I expect to get them in 7-10 days, and then I’ll trust the best one to go ahead with the first full order using the real branding.
My ‘test’ version is close enough to my ‘real’ version that I’ll know what it looks like from the sample (it’s basically my branding with a ‘test’ watermark over the top, but in such a way that they can’t remove it’.
MICHAEL: Sounds perfect, good process. I like the thinking.
BEN: Only issue now is finding the guy who is going to design my packaging…wink emoticon
MICHAEL: By the way, don’t assume that the Chinese will care about the watermark. If they spot a product that will sell, they will be interested. Period. Part of doing business in China. Yes protect your IP to a degree, plus make it clear in your paperwork that they are not allowed to use it. But then you’ve done what you can in practice. Then move on!
Also don’t spend much money on design before you know if the products are worth selling.
First check the sample quality before you invest time money or energy in it.
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