PLH 92 | Global Sourcing

Part of growing your business is expanding. One of the routes you take with that is global sourcing, specifically in one of the booming markets in the world, China. However, doing it for the first time can be quite challenging and intimidating. With the help of Brenda Crimi of AMZ Alliance, Tracy guides you into the world of product sourcing in China for the first time using a retail buy plan. They talk about going to the Global Sources Summit and how to make the necessary preparations for it. Sourcing is not about being impulsive, that is why you need to have a buy plan in order to keep your head above and have a manageable inventory. They go over the financial aspect as well as the time of the year to buy. Learn some great tips on how to go over product sourcing abroad while keeping in mind where you want to go with your business.

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We are going to talk about product sourcing in China for the first time. When you’re sourcing for the first time in China, it’s intimidating. When you’re even making your first trip, it’s intimidating. I’ve got Brenda Crimi here from AMZ Alliance, one of our Product Launch Hazzards Expert. It’s her first trip and she’s coming with me. We’re not going into China, we’re going to Hong Kong but a lot of the Chinese vendors will be there. It is still sourcing at the same time. We’re sourcing overall global Asian sourcing. Brenda, are you excited?

I feel like a newbie. It’s crazy because we’ve been selling for years and we have several suppliers we’ve been working with in China, but I’ve never gone there. I don’t know what to expect. It’s very intimidating. I’m so thankful that you’re inviting me to come along with you to the Global Sources Summit because I don’t know that I would have overcome this fear. I’m very excited to learn because there are lots of stuff I don’t know.

I’m going to have you to ask me tons of questions that’s why I invited you on here because there are all these what-ifs and how do I do this? It’s like running through your head the first time you go. It is scary. I have to say that I made my very first trip all by myself and the anxiety was super high for me. I swallowed that all down. I just did it and I was like, “Why was I nervous?” It was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be, especially when you have partners that you’re going to meet up with. The good factories that you’re working with, they handhold for you. There’s a lot going on there. I thought I would start with some of the things you should prep on your end before you go. This is not about what to pack, but this is about being prepared for your business if you’re going to source your brand or for multiple brands. Let’s say I have lots of clients and we have lots of people on the Amazon selling side who have catalogs of different brands. You have tons of different products that you’re buying in, that’s no different than any retailer. You need to start thinking of yourself as a retailer and using some of the retailer tools. Have you ever heard of the term a buy plan?

No.

This is why I’m there with you to hold your hand so that you will not just go shopping because this is not an impulse time. Have a buy plan. Open to buy is not having an open to buy calculation. An inventory understanding is one of the number one reason most retailers go out of business. It is because they don’t know how to manage their inventory. That can be the same case where you get into a serious inventory problem and you lose profitability as an Amazon seller or an eCommerce seller in general. It’s based on inventory levels. At the beginning of a month, you have an inventory level. Maybe it’s $100,000 of inventory that you have on hand. That’s high for most Amazon sellers. Maybe it’s $10,000. Let’s start there. It’s $10,000 of inventory you have in your garage. I know you’ve got a little warehouse. The problem is that if you don’t continue to hold at about that level and let’s say you’ve been selling at a very consistent rate, that $10,000 is the perfect number for you to do enough inventory turns where you’re selling enough and you don’t run out over the course of the month.

When you run out, it means you’ve underbought. You’ve got an underbuy situation and you’re going to miss sales. Also it doesn’t mean if you overbought, you have too much sitting there that’s taking months and months to turn and you’re eating up your cashflow. You have to balance those two things. If I have $10,000 and I want to maintain this inventory level but I’m going to discontinue a couple of products or a couple of products are in decline or a couple are on the rise, I might rise my inventory level to $15,000 coming up in the next quarter. For the fourth quarter, you might do something like that but I don’t recommend you go buying for the fourth quarter in October because you can’t get it in. That’s not a possibility but be thinking about that. You don’t want to base your numbers on the wrong time of the year. You want to base it on the time of year that you’re going to be shopping for.

Preparation is not about what to pack, it’s about being prepared for your business. Click To Tweet

If you’re in this place where you’re looking at buying inventory or your sourcing products for let’s say February, March and April, you want to use your past February, March and April’s inventory numbers and say, “Has my business scaled up? If it’s grown 20% then I want to add 20% to that inventory level. I want to use that as my starting number if my overall business has grown that much over the course of this year,” or whatever that is. You can’t totally base it on year-over-year at the same rate because your business has grown. You start with that beginning inventory level. Look at your sales turns that you’re doing on your existing products and say, “How much left am I going to have if I’m not adding in new products or if I’m not buying more?”

You also want to look at your markdown levels and how much have you had to mark down and discount based on the past products that you’ve introduced or the products that you’re currently in and you’re knowing that they’re in decline. Maybe I need to mark them down more. You want to look at those two numbers. Then what is left is an open to buy. If you had $10,000 and you say, “Based on what I’ve got, I’ve got $2,000 more to spend. You look at that and you go, “If I fill that 2,000 with a great product then I’m going to end at the same inventory level. That’s going to balance me out and keep me growing so that I can have the same or growing revenue.” That’s where you look at that and that’s what an open to buy plan is. It’s a financial side of the plan. It doesn’t tell you what to buy. It just tells you how much you can buy.

This is where people get in trouble because they say, “I have this much in my checkbook. I can buy $10,000 worth of inventory.” No, you cannot because you have cashflow for other reasons. This is where you can get into trouble and what you do need to look at. There is a difference too if I might come in and I’m going to say, “I’m going to go from $10,000 to $20,000 because I’m going to grow and double my product line,” but it’s an investment. You’re clear about that and that I’m growing on that. It’s not about keeping your steady inventory level and the number of products you have on your shelves.

To that point, this is one of the biggest educators I have with my clients is the cashflow projection. It’s like, “I’ve got this much money. I’m going to buy a container full,” but are you going to be able to keep up with that demand of that particular product? Are you going to come up with and be able to replenish that container full or whatever that order is in another two months or so? When you’re sourcing overseas, you have that lag time before the products here. You’re ordering your next product before it’s even landed and you’re selling it. You have got to make sure you’ve got the cashflow especially if you’re expanding.

You do want to be thinking about all those things. There is a financial component and I like to start there because if you don’t have the money, you shouldn’t be sourcing. Let’s be thinking about that clearly. That is one of the areas which I look at as the first portion of what you should be doing. The second portion of that is, “What do you want to buy? What’s cool and what’s worth buying? Where do I want to go with my business? How is that working? Are there any products that I categorized that I’m missing? Is there stuff that I want to round out?” You have a line of products that you already have and you’re looking to maybe bring other products to surround it, to support it. That’s a great way to grow. To grow in collections is a great way to do that. Maybe you don’t know exactly what that is. Maybe you say, “I know it’s kitchen accessories or I know it’s going to be stuff for the garden,” but you don’t know what that product looks like.

What I want to encourage you to do is both plan to have a plan. That’s my number one rule. You’re going to write this down eventually and you’re going to figure out a way to have this plan. We’re going to call this your buy plan. The inventory number is still there or the investment number is still there. It’s at the start of it. You’re saying, “I’m not going to spend more than $2,000 on inventory or $10,000 on inventory,” whatever that might be. “I’m going to spend it over three months’ time. My purchase orders will be planned that way.” You set that in your mind. The second thing I do want you to think about in this plan to have a plan is your profitability number. You should have at a certain point in your business, it’s a little hard when you’re starting. You should have a minimum margin that you’re willing to accept and you should never deviate below that. I highly recommend you add 5% to that, 10% to that and don’t deviate below that because stuff comes up, tariffs are coming up. There are a lot of issues that you may not know about. You do have these things that creep up on you.

PLH 92 | Global Sourcing

Global Sourcing: If you don’t have the money, you shouldn’t be sourcing.

I always like to have a margin reserve as well. That way when you go in there, you have a negotiation positioned to. You can go in there and say, “I’m sorry this product is not priced right for my margin requirements. My margin requirements are 35%,” or whatever the number that you have in your head is, “That’s my minimum. I can’t deviate below that.” You’ll be surprised. They’ll negotiate with you right there and give you that extra 10%. That gives you that margin of error you wished you had before and now you’re in a better cash position too. Keep that in mind as a number two like I always keep that in mind. I don’t necessarily although occasionally we do adjust it by category or product type. I require margins higher on the cost of goods for furniture for instance because the landing is so expensive. It’s heavy, it’s large and it costs a lot of money and my margin will end up lower there. I have an adjusted margin that is required when I help companies source furniture, but I may not do that on other products. If you have an unusual category like that, be thinking about that. You may have multiple numbers there but generally, it should be across all of your products to have a minimum margin requirement.

The second thing you need to do is do some research. You should do some research ahead of time. You should say, “I’ve got this product that I want to support. What else is selling out there? What else might be the right kind of thing?” You may not know exactly what that is, but you should have some ideas in mind. A lot of times we used to get brought in to companies to plan that out because we would be creating those products from scratch. We would be going in and saying, “Not only do we want to find these products, but we want them to also end up looking like this at the end of the day, so we’d already know exactly what it was.” We would create buy plans for large retailers like Target and other places like that where they had pictures of what we wanted it to look like and renderings that we had done with all the margins lined out, the turns we expected and the amount of inventory we would buy initially.

It would be a very full buy plan that we would come in with that documentation. That’s a little bit advanced and it’s a product designer advanced level like if you’re going to develop and design your own products. I’d like to find a company that has this product. If we start with this product that already exists and it has these qualities to it, then I know that I’ll be able to create the thing that I want to create because they have the good starting point. They have all the features I need to start with. Then I’ll work with them to develop it all the way into the unique thing that I want to develop it to. Having some research around what that looks like, what those features might be and making sure you know your requirement, sizes. Colors are not important at this stage because you can always get them to make another color. We don’t have to have it that specific but if it’s something that we are going to straight buy from what they have now, then we do want to know what our color should be. We should have a palette of them already. We should say, “Is this the right blue? Is it the right pink?” Whatever we might be going for, you should bring those things with you.

Having some research ahead of time, knowing what’s trending and knowing where you might want to go with that is a good idea. Do you need total specifics? No, because you are also going to look and get inspired. What you don’t want to do is you don’t want to walk away and go, “I’m going to buy it,” then you walk away and realize, “I should have checked Etsy and I should have checked Pinterest. I should have checked all these things because this is out of trend,” and you didn’t think about that at that time. You should have that in your mind ahead of time. What are people talking about in this category already? Then when you see something, you go, “That’s it.” That will play with what’s the ongoing messaging in the marketplace. The other thing you need to do is know your numbers. You need to know your numbers, but you should also know very clearly what your inventory, your initial buy will be. They’re going to quote you. You want to know what your initial buy will be and then you want to know what your high buy will be.

At volume, what do you typically do? What do you believe you can do? That’s where a little bit of research in a category. If it’s a kitchen accessory and you’re already doing kitchen accessories, you can expect without doing a ton of research that they’re going to turn around the same amount. There’s a little bit of difference in nuances and categories for sure but it gives you a sense of, “My initial buy is 1,000 pieces and my long-term buy will be 10,000 at a time once it passes its first test. Having those numbers in your head to saying, “What am I willing to do and what do I think I can do at high volume?” gets you a better quote at the end of the day. They’ll look at you and they go, “They were serious. They knew exactly those numbers ahead of time.” That’s a part of being professional in front of those people. Brenda, I know you know your numbers.

I didn’t have the official buy plan. What you titled the different segments as but absolutely, I’m proud to say that I’m pretty clear on those different points. The budget is one of the things that you have to consider. I’m looking to expand and so I do need to go there with an actual budget. This is a great exercise for me because it’s making me a little bit more pinpoint. By doing so, I’m going to be more successful and I know then I’ll make better choices. I was approaching this with, “Let’s just see what’s out there.” With the general idea of what I wanted to do, I’m seeing that that can set me up for failure. Thank you for bringing these points to light.

Plan to have a plan. Click To Tweet

The last two things I have are simple. Make a written document. If you write it down for yourself and you’ve got it out there and you can pull it out in front of the vendors or in front of the factories or whatever, they go, “This is a serious buyer. They understand their numbers. They understand where they are.” The other thing is that they all start to blur together. The other thing about the written document is I always leave lots of room. If I’m looking for spatulas or something like that and I have some images of some ideas reminding myself of some of the research I did, I have some of that up and my numbers up at the top for myself. Below it, I leave space. I might take up the top third of the page and leave the rest blank. In that way, I can make notes from that particular suppliers because they start to blur together after a while.

I like to make sure that I am making notations that are going to help me remind me why I thought that they might have something good, especially if they’re going to follow-up and send you samples later and they’re not going to give you something there, which happens a lot of times. You want to make sure that you’ve got all the right people and all the right things. I throw a stapler in my bag so I can staple their business card right to that page. Packing tip number one, get a stapler. They all give you business cards and so you want to staple it. If I’m going to follow-up and ask them for a sample. I want to do that or I still want to consider it, then I want to make sure that I have the exact contact person of who I’m going to be and not have to go remember. Which one of these 40 factories I saw in a couple of days should I follow up with like, “Which one was it? I forgot.” It’s very hard to be organized.

When I went to the AST show for the first time, I was halfway through before I got the brilliant idea of having the vendor hold up their business card and I took a picture with them. I also had the business card in my pile but then I was able to connect with them.

That’s good if you are a face person, that’s a great way to do it as well. That’s another thing that you can do for yourself. I always like to then staple that business card to my plan. I want to make sure that it’s on the product because I also, at the end of the day, have to associate with the product and not just a whole bunch of pictures on my phone. A lot of them will let you take pictures of the products, so you could also hold up the product, the card, the person. Having that in a document is important for you because it sets you up for professionalism with them and it sets you apart from the other sellers who are coming in and looking at ad hoc buying. Then they know that you are serious and you know what you’re talking about. You’re not just blowing smoke when you say, “I will buy 10,000 pieces.” These are all important things for setting up the communication that you need and setting it up for success from the get-go.

My last tip on it is do not impulse buy. If they tell you there’s a deal that they will still be there later. You can still negotiate it later. You do not need to place a purchase order at the show. Show discounts are myths. They will have them later. They would have given them to you anyway. You can negotiate them any time. I have never had a problem negotiating a discount or whatever the special was a week later. If you need to go back and you say, “I found something. This is so cool. It wasn’t on my radar, but I need to do my product research. I need to go on Amazon. I need to research these keywords. I need to be sure of my turns before I place this purchase order.” Then you take your time to do that. It’s not going to make any difference. They’re not going to run out of inventory. They don’t have any, I guarantee you. They haven’t made it. That’s my overall general quick five tips. Plan to have a plan. Do your research, know the numbers, make a written document and don’t impulse buy.

In combination with your tips and things, going there was overwhelming. Let’s say for example if I’m shopping for a client. Sometimes they say, “I’m open to anything. Find the next hottest thing.” There was that expectation that I was like, “I’m not going to have the data there. What kind of internet connection?” I’m not going to be able to do my research that I normally do to be confident. I love your tip that you said, “Don’t worry about it. Either you come back with that data, do your research and then follow-up and connect with them later.”

PLH 92 | Global Sourcing

Global Sourcing: Know your numbers.

In Hong Kong, it should be fine. There is internet there. The show is going to have a good internet because they asked me to live stream from the floor, so they should have something decent. In and around China, there are areas where you cannot get on, you cannot go on Facebook. You can’t do things without a VPN. If you’re going to go to Mainland China, then you should have a VPN service. There are lots of them out there. When we were going there was a couple of them. I don’t even remember what they’re called. They’re probably still in business but they’re great. What they do is they disguise where you are and they say, “I’m back in Los Angeles,” so it lets me get on Facebook. Within the factories, most of them have very good internet access. They need it to run their businesses nowadays, so I don’t find a problem there.

Most of the hotels are very good as well with that, but you get blocked from being able to go to all the places you might want to go. You can’t go to Pinterest and research what you need to research without that VPN set up in place. What you do is you dial into the VPN then you go online and you go to Pinterest. You get it like your Wi-Fi. We used to have to dial-in. That’s the old school. You hook up to LAN. We used to carry it with us but almost all hotels have it. Our computers don’t all have them anymore. The thing that looks like a phone jack, we used to clip it in. That’s the way most of the hotels have that. If you didn’t have that on your computer anywhere as your computers are so advanced, you couldn’t get a good internet because you couldn’t tap into the LAN. That used to be a problem but now a lot of that has changed in most of the decently sized hotels. You shouldn’t have a problem unless you’re very broad. If you hit the factory then you’ll be fine.

I’d like to have samples prior to purchasing big. Should I have an expectation that I can walk away with samples and if so, do I pay them with a credit card for that? Do they accept credit cards? Do I have to have cash and exchange it?

It’s different all the time, it depends. What I can tell you is the more professional you act, the more likely they are to hand them to you. The more professional you are, the more proven you are. I always travel a show with a host, with my partner. Our partner is Hanson Hung. He’s been fabulous with us. Someone from his team or someone like that usually escorts us so that we have a translator. We use someone who is an expert and not just a translator because he has expertise since he’s been working with us and doing this for over a decade. When he presents us to them and translates that in Chinese, he is giving us the authority that we need to be able to walk away with that. If that’s your expectation that you’re at that level, then you do have someone maybe from a factory. If you’re using a sourcing agent in the process, a trading partner, a trading company, any of those things, ask someone to escort you through the show or meet you there. Then you can build your business in person with them anyway.

If you are working with any of those people, invite them to come with you. That adds that layer of authority that you need to say, “This is a pro. This is not someone who just said, ‘I think I’m going to buy stuff.’” Having the plan in place and then seeing all this professional and interaction with them is going to help you through that process. For the most part, I never pay for samples unless I ask people to make something unique because I’m going to ask them to build something for me. You always offer to pay for samples because there’s no guarantee you will buy at the end of the day and I don’t feel that that’s right. That’s how I work with factories and they respect that. A lot of them still don’t even charge. They will say, “No, you’ve given us enough business. We’re happy to make samples for you.” That takes a lot of time to build up to that level. Expect to have to pay but very little money. I’d say PayPal is getting to be more and more common, having an email address and being able to have PayPal. Keep in mind that you have to compensate for the fees. You always need to add a little bit extra and talk with them about what that is. If you need to add $5 more for the fee or 10%, 3% or whatever the amount needs to be, make sure that you’ve added that. Sometimes you can walk away with it, sometimes you cannot.

When I’ve been sourcing from here to overseas, whenever I’ve requested samples, oftentimes I’ve had to pay for them and then they credit that towards your initial. One of the things that I was surprised with and may be helpful to some of the audience if they’re not familiar with this. My intention, I’m less the size or such where I could easily put it in my suitcase or probably be that they are mailing them to you or shipping them to you after the fact. Most of the time, you’re paying for the air shipment and not necessarily the sample. They’ll say, “I’ll go create your free sample.” The expectations for the general weighted size product is about $50 to $60 to get it here from there. If you have a supplier that you have multiple samples from, you want to make sure you request them in the same shipment.

Do not impulse buy. Click To Tweet

Let’s go to the packing tips. Don’t ever pack because you may want to put samples in your bag. Have you ever gone to Costco and they give you the set of three bags and they all fit inside of each other? We sometimes used to go with the medium size and the large size. I’d pack my clothes in the medium size but send the whole thing into the large size because we would be taking back large samples. Then the whole large suitcase would end up with as much stuff in it. When you’re coming back from there, usually they don’t care about the weight of your suitcase, which is so awesome. In international travel, they don’t totally care about the weight. Sometimes it gets way overweight. If you’re going to do that significant amount of that, you can pack a suitcase within a suitcase on your way out and have two on the way back. It’s no big deal.

I’ve had factories boxed up the entire pieces of furniture. They bring me to the airport with the box and put it on a plane with me. You never know what you can get accomplished to get it home. At some point, it’s probably about the same amount but you’re going home with it immediately. Sometimes, we were doing the final review of a product that needed to go where we were going. I was going straight from there to going meeting with the retailer and having to show it to them. It was a timing thing more than anything else. Have your DHL number, have everything you might need to do to prep a doc, email it to them. Make sure you are prepared with all of that to be able to execute that right there if you want that sample. That seriousness of like, “I’m going to go online and I’m going to get you my DHL number right now,” that’s great. It is going to put you in this place of which you are way ahead and more professional than all the other people that they saw, who said, “I’ll email it to you later.” Then it will be a week or two weeks later and you’re just way ahead of that. Professionalism and communication.

When we first started in our very first order that we did overseas, I had no idea what a custom broker was or a freight forwarder or any of those. I tried to do it all on my own. That first couple of transactions with the suppliers, I can look back now and I could have gotten better deals. Now, it’s interesting. They respect. They want to do business with people who are doing business. They’re professional. They want to build a long-term relationship. They don’t want little onesies and twosies fly by night transactions because it takes so much time.

A lot of communication especially when they have somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing. It’s a lot of education on their part with no guarantee of sales. You can understand why they are not as eager to give you the best price and all those things from the beginning. When they see someone professional, they’re happy to do that. It means that they know they could begin to establish a relationship. That’s another one of those reasons. Brenda, knowing your product category ahead of time, you were mentioning freight forwarding, the cost, and all of those things. There is also not knowing your category or not knowing what category you’re going to go into. When it’s so open like that, that’s another reason not to buy on site. You do need to line those numbers up and make some calls. Find out what classification are your products and end up and what tariff code it’s going to be in. You need all that information in order to make sure that you are on your budget for that profitability. At the end of the day, if it’s not profitable, you should not be doing it.

We talk often about our passion. It’s our mission to keep people from having garage full of product and not being able to move it. Your point of don’t be impulsive and do your data research before you commit to anything is spot on.

I have a lot of clients that are happily like, “We’ll do a thousand tests. We don’t care.” To me, that effort and that marketing effort and all of that, it’s crazy. That’s not where I want to be and it’s why I don’t do it. You should be thinking harder like, “I do want to test my stuff. I want to make sure because it’s better for me. It’s better for the factory if I’m testing that and I know for sure I can sell this.” I do want to do that, but I don’t want to do it on anything that strikes my fancy. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because my time and my effort is valuable at the end of the day. You don’t want to work harder for this.

PLH 92 | Global Sourcing

Global Sourcing: The more professional you are, the more proven you are.

These are perfect tips. If you would have asked me before this call if I was prepared, I’d be like, “I’ve got an idea. I’ve got this covered.” I would have been there when, “I wish I had this. I wish I had that.” These are perfect points to be very focused and specific on what I’m looking for. The criteria will also help me not be impulsive. Having the reminder was great. When you have the data there and the specifics on what you’re trying to accomplish, it will help you not be impulsive in the shiny objects.

What other questions do you have?

I am expecting that there will be a little pressure that this is the next hot selling item. I’m not necessarily looking for the next hot item because if they think it’s already hot that means it’s already been playing out. There has been plenty of other people saying it’s a hot item. I’m looking for things that look unique and I can then present to the market that are an alternative to what’s already out there.

This is how I like to structure my tradeshow visits anywhere I go. I go the first day without any appointments. If I planned to meet up with people, I never meet them on the first day. I walk the entire show floor if I can and some of them are way too big and you can’t. I walk as much of that as I can. What happens is that you walk into the first booth and they’re like, “All hot on something,” and you’re like, “That’s cool, I haven’t seen it,” then you see it everywhere. The last thing you want to have done was bought because you’ll be sticking with yourself later. You want to find the hidden gems, the things that they are hiding behind the counter that they haven’t shown anyone. I walk around and then I go, “I want to meet with these people because they had either a unique offering. They seem to know what they were doing more when I conversed with them. They seemed more open.” That’s how I do it.

Then I’ll go back to them and I’ll make appointments. I’ll go see them or I’ll step into their booth the second day and purposefully sit down and say, “Show me what you haven’t shown anyone else.” When I sit down and I say, “I’m looking specifically for stuff like this.” If they don’t have it, what’s wonderful about them is they’ll tell me who does. They’re so collaborative. They’re so happy to help their fellow factories because it all comes back to them. They are very gracious about referring others. If they don’t have it or they don’t have it with them, they will get it to you. They’ll share it with you. They’ll get pictures on their phone right then for you. They’ll have someone in the factory to take a picture of something in their showroom that they didn’t bring with them.

Having a conversation about what you’re looking for and why you’re looking for it is important too. If you find one that you say, “These people know what they’re doing. They seem great. It’s a great factory location. The quality looks good.” I’m going to sit down and have a further conversation. I didn’t see exactly what I wanted but I’m going to have a further conversation. That’s what I do the second day. Then the third day, I go back and buy if I was ready to buy. If I knew purposefully I had come there to buy something specific or do something specific. That’s how I do most trade shows or I go in and ask for the sample on the third day. I’d say, “I’m more serious about what I want from you. I like the sample. You can have it sent from your factory. I see you didn’t have it here but have them send it to me. Here’s my DHL number. I’d like it as soon as possible.” I’m looking to buy prior to Chinese New Year or post-Chinese New Year. Be clear about that. That’s my basic approach.

Having a conversation about what you're looking for and why you're looking for it is important. Click To Tweet

The last thing I thought we should touch on is what to pack, Brenda. Pack an umbrella. I will be packing plenty of flat iron and plenty of hair frizz because it’s humid and my hair gets bigger and bigger. I pack lots of extra baggies. I always double bag all my liquids because you’re going up to a higher altitude. Things that you didn’t imagine will bust and the last thing you need is all your clothes to smell nasty or something to happen. Be careful with anything you’ve got that are liquids, creams or anything like that. The umbrella is a necessity because you never know, it will come out of nowhere. It’s like Florida in the summer. All of a sudden, there’s a storm and you didn’t expect it. It can happen.

You should definitely always have cash, have local currency on you. You can convert it at the airport. That’s not a problem. There are so many times when you’re going to need it for something and you’ll convert it back when you come home. Although, I still have them. I’m like, “I found some in my drawer.” I was going on so many trips that I never reconverted it back. You should do that. That’s also a great way if you wanted to buy samples. You just walk out with a sample right then and there and if you hand them cash, they’re happy to give it to you. That’s like an even bigger incentive than pay and calling them. Keep in mind that most of these samples don’t cost a ton of money. At the end of the day, you’re giving it to them in their currency and they’re happy with that. For the women out there, bring your own tampons. Never rely on it even if you don’t think it’s your time of the month. Bring them with you. Stick them in your bag because theirs have menthol in them or something like that. They burn and you don’t want to be in that situation. I always keep them with me. I’ve traveled with other women and they’re like, “Please give me yours.” There’s a reason for it.

Also, not to do something illegal. If you set them all on top of your suitcase, they will not rummage through your suitcase. If you don’t want everything all messed up and wrinkled when you get there, set them on top and they won’t touch your suitcase. I discovered that because the bag burst and they were all over the top. They opened it up to inspect it in front of you and they’re like, “Okay.” I did not discover it doing something covert. You can’t bring water on the plane when you’re in China. You can’t even buy water in the airport and bring that on. There are a few little things that happen that are a little bit different. The rules are usually posted. Pay attention to them because you don’t want to be buying drinks and then realize you can’t drink any of it. Then you have to dump it all. There are a few things like that.

All in all, it’s going to be a great trip. It’s so much fun. The people are so nice and the food is so good. I’ve got a few tips from a couple of people who said, “You should go here in Hong Kong.” I’ve gotten a couple of places we should go. There are marketplaces and other things. We can buy bags and shoes and fun stuff like that. The fashion tradeshow is going on at the same time, there are samples that maybe I’m not buying them for anyone but myself as long as you’re honest with them. A lot of times they’ll let you take them. That’s why you want the extra cash on hand.

These have been fabulous trips. Talking through them with you, I feel like I can present myself professionally now versus scattered and showing up.

We’re going to be traveling all night and we get there in the morning, which is great. You sleep as much on the plane as possible. When we get on the plane, we’ll work or do something. Go out and check things out and enjoy the day. You need to as fast as possible acclimate with the time. You just want to force yourself into doing that. Then we’ll go to bed early that night. You want to get into that time zone mode as fast as possible. From there, to avoid the second day is you hydrate all day too. You’ve got to drink more water. Then my favorite thing to do right before bed that night is to go and get a foot massage. They’re relaxing for an hour long.

PLH 92 | Global Sourcing

Global Sourcing: When you have the data and the specifics on what you’re trying to accomplish, it will help you to not be impulsive with the shiny objects.

Wear your clothes and put your foot in a bath. It’s simple and they massage your feet, your shoulders and everything. It’s not the massage where you’re lying on a table or anything like that, you’re sitting on a chair actually. It is so relaxing and you will go right to sleep after that. I tend to wake up at 4:00 in the morning. You wake up earlier the first day. Then eat on their schedule. Go have breakfast. Make sure you do that because you’ll be burning lots of calories walking that show floor. This has been so much fun and I can’t wait. I’m so looking forward to spending my time with you as well there.

I am too. Thank you for helping me wrap my mind around all this stuff because these are great tips. Even as a seasoned seller, I’m thinking, “I’ve got this.” I wish I had this information ahead of time.

That’s why I thought we do this episode together. If any of you have questions prior to you going and joining us at the Global Sources Summit, Brenda and I will be there, so we’d love to meet up with you. Please connect with us and let us know that. If you have any questions, reach out to me on Facebook, YouTube or anywhere @HazzDesign. Connect with us and ask us questions. We’re happy to answer those for you. Thanks, everyone, for joining us. This has been Tracy and Brenda on Product Launch Hazzards.

Tune in to Brenda Crimi‘s next Office Hours. Connect with and find out more about Brenda Crimi in our Experts Directory.

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About the Authors

PLH 92 | Global SourcingBrenda Crimi’s entrepreneur career spans over 20 years, during which time she’s operated several successful businesses, to include owning and operating a national franchise, consulting on systemizing small businesses, and inventing and bringing to market an award-winning organizing product. In 2013, and between projects, Brenda started “dabbling” with selling on Amazon. Through extensive training and research, she learned the skills to leverage the Amazon marketplace and turned that “dabbling” into a ¼ million dollars in sales her first 12 months. Because Brenda knows first-hand of the challenges and high costs associated with bringing products to market, she quickly recognized how invaluable and lucrative the Amazon marketplace could be to the success of a product launch. So, together with her husband and business partner, they formed AMZ Alliance as a platform to assist brands in navigating the highly competitive Amazon marketplace.

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