Often, when people hear the word “mini importation” the first thing that comes to mind is China, this is somewhat stereotype, considering there are other markets out there, where importers can buy products at a relatively cheap price and sell them at a profit price in Nigeria. The idea of importation from Asia countries has sidelined importers from exploring other markets, hence I would discuss the entire process of importing goods from the United States in this article, for better understanding, I would create a question on the process and give a comprehensive answer to the question, however, if the article does not cover your question, you can please make use of the comment box, and I would do my best to answer your questions.
WHAT CAN I BUY FROM THE UNITED STATES?
The short answer to this question is; EVERYTHING! It’s the united state! This country has a huge market for anything you can possibly think of. However, I would like to point out that, a larger percentage of products in the United States market are premium products, they’re product with big names associated with it, talk of Samsung, Apple, Hp, Gucci e.t.c. This product can be very expensive for an average Nigerian, and I strictly advice that a mini importer should stay away from such products, because it’s not very easy to get a buyer for them here in Nigeria.
Import Good from the US
The idea of importing from the US is all about buying fairly used branded goods. Fairly used branded goods are sold at a relatively cheap price in the US market, as an importer, buying this items and selling them in Nigeria can make you rich within a very short period of time. A larger percentage of the Blackberry phone in Nigeria are fairly used product from the US, same thing goes for Iphone, PsP games, designer shoes and cloth. Everyday new technology springs up in America, and people living over there love to stay abreast of latest development, so they sell their current product to buy a new one, which means most of this used branded products are as good as new, they’re being sold out because the owner wants a new technology.
For a starter, I would advice that you explore the following category of goods when buying from US market.
- Computer (Laptop and Desktop PC, Batteries and charger)
- Cell Phones (Always make sure they’re unlocked phones)
- Game Consoles (PS, Xbox, PsP, Game controller e.t.c)
- Tablet device.
- Kitchen Utensils.
- Mp3, Bluetooth device and PDA.
- Clothes, Shoes and Accessories.
- Decoration materials and Lightening.
- Car accessories (radio, music player, Bluetooth car mirror, e.t.c)
- Digital camera, cam coder, webcam, e.t.c
I listed out just ten (10) because I wouldn’t want to overwhelm you with choices, however, the general idea of choosing what to buy depends on two major factors; the first of which is the price of your supposed goods; is it cheap enough for you to make profit after shipping to Nigeria? If the answer to this question is yes, then you can proceed to the second question of how valuable this product would be to Nigerians, if you’re planning on importing a product, it must be something Nigerians would find valuable. Take for instance; it would be a total waste of money to import product such as video game installation disc, when we have pirated copies everywhere in Nigeria. I believe you have the understanding on what to buy and what not to buy by now.
WHERE CAN I BUY THESE ITEMS?
The name Aliexpress, DHgate, 1688 e.t.c is synonymous to Chinese market. The US market is somewhat unique compared to the popular B2B websites in Asia market, in the US, most of the websites where you will order your goods is a platform where those willing to sell their used items interact with potential buyers, what the websites actually does is provide a protection for both party to prevent any flaw during the process of transaction.
Before I proceed in discussing these websites in details, I would like to sound a note of warning that scam artist are everywhere, unlike Asia market where you test a supplier and stick to them for some period of time, in the US market, you don’t have a stable supplier in most cases, because it’s an independent market, what am trying to imply is that, extra level of caution must be taken in other to avoid losing your hard earned money. I would discuss more on this in subsequent section.
Below is a comprehensive list of sites where you can buy cheap used items in the United States, I also rated each of the website on a scale of 1 to 10, the higher the rating the more secured the site is, however, I decided not to give any preference to the list in order of arrangement because it may confuse you on where to explore.
- Ebay.com: This is obviously the number one destination for mini importers in the US market. With millions of products listed on this website every day, the sky is probably the beginning of your journey here, it should be noted that most of the listing on this websites are done by retailers that also import goods from China (tricky, ehn?) But the difference in this product is that, this retailer have associates in China that makes sure the product they make for them are quality products compared to the ones you buy directly from China.
In my research I discovered that a larger percentage of the materials we buy directly from Chinese store (especially clothes and shoes) are produced with the light turned off in the night; which means the worker are producing it as a side “runs” after the normal factory working hours, this materials are then sold to Chinese retailer at a very cheap rice, and they list them on websites like Aliexpress and the likes. But in the case of the ones on Ebay, the retailer has a business partner in China that goes into the company during the official working hour to order items which are then shipped to the US to be sold on EBay. The reason why I am taking my time to explain this is to emphasize the level of quality of EBay items.
EBay has a bidding system for buyers, where you can bid on items you like, you can also make use of the buy it now option, which usually have a fixed price. I would discuss the payment method and shipping options in subsequent section of this guide.
On a scale 1 to 10, I give EBay 8 based on reviews and past experience. Take note that 8 is the highest level of assurance for the sites listed in this guide.
- Ebid.com: This is another popular website in the United States; it’s just like EBay but with slight differences. The benefit of EBid over EBay is the payment gateway it accept, you’re allowed to make payment through the Google Checkout which is available and secure for Nigerians (I would write more explicitly on the payment later on). Sellers on EBid pass through a verification process, which helps in preventing scam artist from posting items from the website; there are premium sellers on this website too.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give EBid 8, mainly because of its proper security checking for seller and numerous payment gateways.
- Craigslist: This website is a classified websites, where users post their items and buyers can contact sellers and from there strike a deal. Although deals on craigslist is very attractive and the website has numerous listing based on different states of the country, It’s not a very secured website, in fact I would advice that you stay away from craigslist if you don’t have a business associate in the US that can help verify how genuine the seller is.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give craigslist 5, mainly because of how easy it is to list any item on the website.
- AMAZON: One of the most popular website in the United States with chains of products ranging from toys to books to home furniture, just name it, amazon has a very robust market with attractive price. It should be noted that a larger percentage of products listed on this websites are served by third party retailers. A distinct feature of Amazon store is the shipping process, compared to EBay and other websites, Amazon has warehouse in various countries, hence it is more secured and faster to ship out products to buyer after making payment. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate Amazon 8 over 10.
- Other Websites Includes: Find other popular website listed below, with the rating enclosed in brackets.
- QuiBids (6)
- Happy Bid Day (6)
- Bidz (5)
- Etsy (7)
- Overstock (7)
- CQuot (6)
- Kijiji (5)
- Olx (5)
NOTE: I strongly advice that you stick to the popular website, until you understand how US market works.
HOW DO I MAKE PAYMENT WHEN BUYING FROM THE US.
There are various means of making payment when buying from the US market, recently PayPal gave Nigeria a temporary account that allow Nigerians to make payment for online using their own PayPal account. I would list out the popular payment method, however it should be noted that each websites has its own payment gateway, you must therefore endeavor to ascertain the payment method which is being used by your preferred website.
- PayPal: With the new Nigeria PayPal account, you can transfer money to your PayPal account using your normal bank master card, and then make payment for your product using the PayPal account. It’s as simple and secure as that.
- DEBIT Master Card: Most Nigeria banks now allow customers to make payment in foreign currency with their regular master card. I am very sure of the GTB master card as I have used it for international transaction on many occasions.
- Google Checkout: Google Wallet allow users from various part of the world to link their bank debit card to Google Wallet account, and you can use the wallet account to make payment on websites that accept Google checkout option.
NOTE: When buying from craigslist or Kijiji don’t transact with seller than insist of bank transfer or western union mode of payment, most of them are fraudsters, you should stay away from such people as far as you can.
HOW DO I GET MY GOODS AFTER MAKING PAYMENT?
There are various ways of shipping your item from the United States to Nigeria. The process is very much easier and cheaper if you have a family or trusted friends in the United States, however not having a family does not pose a threat to your business, I would discuss the shipping process in two method.
The first method would discuss the shipping process for those that have an associate in the United States, it’s advisable to buy your goods online, and ship it to your associate address in the United states, who will then help with repackaging everything in a box and ship it to you in Nigeria, this process is very much cheaper compared to the second method I would be discussing very soon. Using this method, all you have to do is order your goods and have them shipped locally to your associate in the US, you would then instruct your associate to repack all your items into boxes not more than 30-40lbs, once that is done, you can head over to http://www.usps.com or DHL depending on your preferred choice of courier, to create a shipping label for your boxes, on the website, you would input details about your box, the home address of your associate where they would go and pick up the item and also your information; where you want them to ship the item, once all information is correctly filled out, you would be required to make payment based on weight and distance ( you can make payment with your naira MasterCard).
After making payment, you would be able to print a shipping label from the website, you would then scan the shipping label and send it to your associate email address, make sure it is readable after scanning, instruct your associate to print the label and paste it on the box containing your goods, and he should try to stay around during the pickup time you specified on the website when making payment. The courier would come for the box and ship it to you here in Nigeria within days, depending on your courier company.
There are third party shippers, example of which is SHIPPYME (http://www.shippyme.com). What they do is provide a US address that you can use as your delivery address when shopping from US websites, once the item is delivered to their warehouse in US, they would then repackage and send it to you in Nigeria. It’s a straight forward process with no hassle, it should however be noted that it maybe a little bit expensive if you’re shipping through air freight, their sea freight is cheaper. You can please check their website for more information about the process.