Weird and wonderful china

Well, been here a week now and got a lot done. Visited trade areas and factories, moved into a sick apartment, worked hard and partied hard but most important of all seen some cool stuff and met some cool people, every week I will throw up a few photos of weird and wonderful china. Enjoy. Continue reading

Product Hunting

Before i came here i did a lot of research into past sales volumes of certain products on sites such as ebay and amazon. These however are not going to be my only sales outlets as due the volatile nature of these sites doing so would be ecommerce suicide – never put all your eggs in one basket. Continue reading

This is china

“This is china” – a phrase used by western people living here. It means “This is pretty crazy right but hey don’t be suprised, your in china after all”. That just about sums up this place, culture shock doesn’t even cut it. I have been all over the world but this feels like another planet.

I landed in Hong Kong on friday and it’s been a mad rush and emotional roller coaster for the past 3 days. Losing my iPhone didn’t help, if you know me personally then please email your contact details to me on dan @ cassico.com.

I had to fly into HK for my visa which i had to wait overnight for. I have then travelled to Guangzhou which is my first port of call to start visiting factories on Monday. Pretty tired but can’t wait to start putting all this planning into action.

I have Just been for a meal with a friend of mine who lives here and met my guide/translator. Sorry for the lack of updates for the past 3 days but interestingly blogging, facebook and things like youtube are all banned in China so i had to sign up to an off shore server in order to log in – this is china! Here’s a few snaps from the last few days, afraid since I lost my iPhone all the good ones are gone.

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From what I can see people here are either pretty poor or super rich, it’s a funny set up and you can see the social effect this has. There is a lot of fake stuff here, as you might expect, but I didn’t expect this level of blatant copies. I went to a roof top party on Friday night and there was a fake Rolls Royce phantom parked outside. Outside my hotel, a casual fake range rover sport. I just went to buy a new iphone from a legit looking apple dealer until my translator told me it was a copy. You could never tell, makes you wonder….

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Living costs wise you can live for real cheap, but you can also spend big bucks. Apparently the average wage here is about £120 a month but my hotel was £160 on the first night so I guess I need to slip out of “Tourist” mode. A bottle of water is A few pence but in starbucks one will run you £2.60.

So tomorrow we start hunting down goods, very excited indeed.

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One last job before I leave.

Now and again you get something me and my friends call “a touch”. I suppose it could be described as when you come across a really good circumstance that leads to a financial gain. Well on Wednesday I had a bit of a touch.

I have had a few of these since i have been buying bankrupt stock and it’s a real buzz when you find yourself with high retail price products that a bailiff, auctioneer or private vendor has mistakenly undervalued. Sometimes of course they know the value but they just need the goods outa there, either way if your on your toes you can enjoy the benefits.

I bought a variety of stock from a bankrupt electrical components wholesaler. Some of which I recognised from previous jobs and some of which I knew nothing about. When it comes to the latter I suppose that’s not entirely true. With all this technology we have these days I guess valuing assets has never been so easy, my iPad is worth more than it’s weight in gold and 5 minutes on it makes me an expert on any product or piece of machinery – as long as you know where to look.

One product caught my eye and I quickly looked it up, cheapest price on the net was £660. These are large commercial electrical breakers usually found in factories and usually costing £800. You can see a pic of one of them below, not very exciting right? But then sometimes the best ways of making money are pretty boring – look at football. There are 20 units and if I blow them out at £500 each that’s 10k, a pretty nice return. Obviously I was more than pleased for them to be in the job lot I had just picked up.

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Now you dont get these kind of deals every day but when you do I guess it makes you realise why you do all this running around.

What I have realised over the last couple of years of doing this is that the key is margin, if you can offer a product at the most competitive price yet still yield a good margin then your onto winner, in my experience this can come from buying stock as cheap as possible or having a really high value niche market item. At one time you could do both, I guess part of me going to china is to see if this is still possible.

I guess you would like to know how to do this? Well keep tuned, I’m happy to help you guys have your own little touch.

Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards.

Downsizing – not really a word I would use to describe a business moving forwards but is that the wrong attitude?

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Above you can see the back of one of the warehouses I was using up until recently. It’s 8000 sq ft and at about £2k per month including council rates and electric, was costing me a fortune to run. Looks like a lot of headache right? I was using it to house bankrupt stock and assets, in the photo you can mainly see some of the 37 pallets of kitchen units and doors that I bought from a bankrupt company in Darlington and Exported to Nigeria in Africa.

This exercise of buying this kind of stock in bulk can sure turn a profit, on the job I mentioned above I probably turned over £12k from a £4k outlay but it is always difficult and timely work which often means logistical costs and headaches. I’m keen to remove one of these headaches by downsizing from such a large and costly warehouse. This will reduce monthly overheads, promote sensible buying of stock and motivate us to turn stock over quickly as we won’t have the room to let it build up month on month.

I have downsized the warehouses and now have reduced overheads and gained some great flexibility to boot. The unit below shows one of the new warehouses and at £600 per month it’s a real saving. In addition to this I have come across a great Fulfilment warehousing service that I’m thinking of using for the bulk china stock when things get going.

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For those of you who might not know what fulfilment is its basically a dream come true for people like me who want to work from an iPad on a beach some day. Your stock is delivered to them via container and they unload and re pallet it accordingly. It is then warehoused and allocated stock barcodes. When you sell items you simply email or fax the orders, they then pick and dispatch them for you. Put simply you never need to see or touch the stock you import. This will allow me to travel to various suppliers globally and spend time doing what I am good at while letting a professional company carry out the day to day logistics.

This sounds like an expensive premium service right? Well no you would be surprised. I was quoted prices from around 70 pence per item which when you take into account the low shipping rate they can offer due to there volumes thats a pretty good deal.

So by getting myself into a downsizing mindset I have found a way to seriously reduce my overheads, promote quicker stock turnover and found a way to potentially improve my stock handling and dispatching. Doesn’t sound like a business moving backwards to me.

Leaving UK in 8 days….

…The weather is freezing cold, so what better time to buy a sports car without a roof.

Well what am I supposed to  do? I went to price up a job yesterday where an established clearance stock warehouse was looking to move on 40 pallets of surplus stock. The owner was one of the nicest guys I have met in business and could see I was in the mood for a bargain. He took me over to his garage where he had a beautiful Robin Hood Lotus 7 Style kit car under wraps. The car has been hand built over the last 10 years and the attention to detail is spot on, a true credit to its builder. Sadly it  had never been out on the road until today. It was a great feeling taking this little toy out but in the back of my mind I was thinking how am I going to sell this on while in China?

Thankfully a very good friend of mine, Alan Murphy from Beaumonts Garage in Darlington offered to put it in his showroom and help it find a new owner. With a bit of luck it will bring a tidy profit and go towards my first container back from China. Until then I better manoeuver it off my icy drive and take it for its first proper run out. Where’s my helmet?

The Little Big Plan

I have half thought things through here, i have some key logistics in place, everything is going to be ok….

I have spent the last 2 years trading in bankrupt stock, machinery and assets. Before this I was importing high-end bikes from Taiwan, Germany and the US. This has been a cool thing to do and I have met some interesting people and travelled all over the world. Good times. I guess most importantly I have had a crash education in business and hopefully have learnt important lessons, some of which came at a cost.

I have kept a skeleton business in place in the UK – namely two warehouses, one in the north of england and one in the south, along with two colleagues. The idea being that I send samples back to the uk very regularly for them to test the market with. I will be using a 5 day air courier service to get them back to the uk asap so my guys can check them out and see what the sales look like. Those that look to be hot items will then get containerised back in bulk. It’s a simple plan but in my experience if you make something simple enough it might just work.

This loose infrastructure should hopefully allow me to test a wide variety of items in the UK market quickly and know which lines are worth risking some funds on. In the past I have visited trade shows and then ordered in bulk once back in the UK, this does not always work and it also means that more often than not you’re not the only person who had that idea. Sometimes a product will have a very limited shelf life where its super popular and in demand for a month or two before the whole of eBay is clearing them out. I guess software such as terapeak might not help this? My idea is to move quick on products like these and I see this method as the most secure way of doing so.

10 day countdown

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As I sit here in my home office – that I only just decorated and moved a PC into a few days ago, I wonder if my last minute spontaneous “It’s new year I need to make a change” idea was a good one.

In ten days I’m moving from Darlington, North East England to Shenzhen in China to see if I can build a new business.

I guess we all have something we think we will do one day but never do, I suppose I don’t want the never do aspect to bug me anymore.

I have been importing and selling online since about 2003. I owned and ran a successful business importing from Taiwan, Germany and the USA until about 3 years ago when the market changed.

I have been toying with a few things since then but I have been putting off making any real life changing moves perhaps because I’m human and that’s what we tend to do.

So this is my grassroots documentation of a young man looking to make money in China, you can follow my steps over a cup of coffee while you too may sit there deliberating some changes.

Oh, I hope you like my new logo…… YMC4Life :)