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10 steps to become an import-export agent

Following the article “How to become an import-export agent?” You can become a successful importer/exporter by following these 10 tips:

Find a product to represent

A broker for products must determine what they want to buy, locate suppliers, manufacturers, and suppliers of products.

Contacting the embassy of the country you want to source from is an effective sourcing method.  If you would like to represent goods from Dubai, you might want to contact the commercial section of the Emirate Embassy in your country and request a list of the UAE’s manufacturers and suppliers.  Using this method can help you source internationally.

Getting a list of companies exhibiting at overseas trade expos is another way to find products. This will allow you to put together a list of dates, locations, and contacts.  Consider visiting as many trade fairs as you can to connect with people and begin building a network.

You can ask the organizer for a contact list of all exhibitors if you cannot attend the trade fairs. They will often provide it to you for free.  After you have a pretty comprehensive list, you can reach out to those manufacturers and start building your network.

These methods have worked well for us in the past.

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A Range of Products

Build a range of products from a single supplier, or find a range of products from different suppliers that work well together. This strategy has the advantage of persuading a potential client to buy your main product when you pitch it to them. It may be easier to sell the whole line if you back it up with a range.

Another advantage is that if your potential client isn’t interested in your main product, they may be interested in something that’s in your range.  When you have a variety of products, you increase your chances of a sale and expand your sales network.

Knowledge of the product

Do you know enough about your product? It’s not necessary to know every detail about your products; however, you should have a good grasp of how the product is made, how it is constructed, how it’s priced, what it costs wholesale, retail, and what it costs for profit.

To pitch your product successfully, you must have confidence and a deep understanding of it. If you are uncertain about the answer, you can always reply, I’m unsure, so let me check and get back to you. You can then follow up the next day with the correct answer, maintaining contact and dialogue.

It will only work if there are a few questions you’re unsure of.  Your product will look weak if you can’t provide this answer to every question.

Make sure that you receive product training and knowledge.  The following resources are great for getting yourself up to speed: training videos, webinars, video calls, etc.

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Never stop researching

This is so crucial. Do not ignore the importance of knowledge as the key to your global success.

•             Which other companies are importing and wholesaling your products?

•             What is your competitors’ wholesale price?

•             Who retails the product(s)?

•             What is the retail price of your product(s)?

•             How might you improve or differentiate your pitch from your competitors?

•             Could you improve your service over that of your competitors?

•             If you have all this basic information, ask yourself, Will I be able to compete on price and delivery with a stockiest or commission agent?

What is your profit margin, and can you work with it? Do your numbers add up?

Make sure you specialize in something, become the expert in that niche, and build your foundation from there.

Safety Regulations

Many people overlook this step, but it can be very costly if not considered.  What are the regulations for health and safety in the country where you sell your products?

You find your product, pitch it to potential clients, negotiate a deal, and import it, only to find out that it doesn’t meet health and safety regulations, cannot be sold, and is being held up at customs. The deal will likely incur substantial costs and add untold stress, and there is a good chance that the profits will be wiped out, or worse, you will lose money.

If you ignore this step, your profits will be wiped out.

Mark Your Territory

Decide what territory you would like to represent. Perhaps you would like to be an import agent for the UAE or worldwide. To a large extent, how extensive your network depends on your goals, the amount of capital you have, and the size of your business.

To a large extent, how extensive your network is depending on your goals, the amount of capital you have, and the size of your business.

You may have limited capital and only work within your region if you’re just starting. Eventually, you may consider having a national network as your company grows in all aspects. It might take you a while to build your network, but you may be surprised at how fast it grows.

Circumvention Clause

You must include a clause that prevents the buyer or seller from excluding you as the commission agent in future sales in your contract.

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Samples

You’ll probably need samples to promote and demonstrate in your pitches and meetings. Presenting your products without a working version makes it more difficult to sell.  Establish if your supplier will provide you with free samples or whether you will have to pay.

Promotion Material

Do you have any promotional material from your supplier?  You can obtain product images to add to your website and advertise on Facebook or other social media platforms.  Images should represent your brand and product well and be clear and professional.

If your product is professionally produced, videos can be an excellent way to show it off. Find out if there are any you can use.

You should leave product brochures with potential clients after a meeting that include a breakdown of costs, prices, and profit margins.

Commission

The last and perhaps most important question is, how will you negotiate the commission rate? Obviously, you need a profit margin in order to make your commission worthwhile, so you must know all your costs, as well as what your bottom line is. Knowing how to export is crucial as if you get it wrong, you will directly hurt your bottom line.

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