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A Quick-Start Guide to Becoming an Import-Export “Middle Man”

Interested in starting your own business in the lucrative import-export market?

One route is to sell directly to consumers online. But there is a potentially more lucrative alternative.

As a “middle man,” you link overseas manufacturers with retailers in your area… or nationwide.

Any small to medium-sized retailer should be open to doing business with you. But you have to give them the best price. And you need access to the products their customers want.

Both requirements are easy to fulfill.

Marc Charles, the creator of the China Wholesale Trader program, uses 100% cotton T-shirts as an example. (Because, if you think about it, most stores sell some sort of T-shirt.)

So let’s walk through the process of brokering a deal with T-shirts.

The first step is to research potential buyers for imported T-shirts.

Think about stores in your neighborhood. Look in the phone book. Search online. Write down contact information for as many local retailers as you can find that sell cotton T-shirts.

For retailers outside your area, go to RetailNet (www.retailnet.com). It’s huge database of all the retailers in the U.S., including big players like The Gap and Foot Locker. But your focus will be on the small and medium-sized businesses. Yes, you will have to pay for some of this information. But it’s worth it to find good contacts. Retail Industry (www.retailindustry.com) and Retail Forward (www.retailforward.com) are also good sources.

On RetailNet, look under the “apparel” category on the left side of the home page. Once you’re there, look at the latest headlines and some of the paid databases to find 5-10 retailers you would like to contact.

Call or e-mail the stores. Get in touch with their purchasing managers, if you can. Ask if they’re open to receiving a wholesale price list. You’re going to get some “no’s.” But many will say yes. Remember, they’re all about the bottom line. And if they can get a better price through you, they’ll work with you.

You might also consider contacting some direct-mail list brokers that specialize in retail business owners. Rent the lists – it can be quite cost-effective. And send out a letter introducing yourself and your services. Include your phone number and/or e-mail so they can get in touch with you.

Your next step is to go to Alibaba.com. That’s the site where you’ll find the T-shirt manufacturers – many of them in China. Just type “cotton T-shirts” in the search box. You’ll find thousands of companies that can fill your needs. Narrow it down to the top 10. And then ask each one to send you a quote for 5,000 cotton T-shirts.

Now you pass on that information to the retailers who asked for your wholesale price list. But first, you add 10% to 15% to the prices you got from the manufacturers. That’s your cut for brokering the deal.

Here’s the way your final agreement with both parties might look (an example I took from Marc’s program):

Finish Line Inc. agrees to purchase 15,000 100% cotton T-shirts from [your company] at $1.95 each, plus shipping ($4,200), for a total of $33,450. This amount includes all taxes, fees, and insurance.

ABC Export Company in China agrees to export 15,000 100% cotton T-shirts to Finish Line Inc. [your client] for $1.25 each, plus shipping ($4,200), for a total of $22,950.

When this deal is completed, your profit would be $10,500!

In his program, Marc explains exactly how to approach the retail business owners. And how to negotiate to get the best deal from both your suppliers and the stores you’re selling to. He even includes a template you can use when contacting business owners by mail.

Yes, your upfront investment can be a bit steep. But brokering these deals can be a very lucrative. And the market and opportunity for growth is huge.

The United States is a nation of consumers. We love to buy things. And no matter how bad the economy gets, that won’t fundamentally change. People will just buy cheaper stuff. And that’s where you come in.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ways you can play this business opportunity. For the whole story, you really have to check out Marc’s program, The China Wholesale Trader.

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