With millions of kids all over the world, selling toys can be a very good business. If you are a global toys buyer, it is 100% sure you are buying China toys at wholesale prices, and selling at a good profit.
But there are some big risks. Read carefully, as I will outline point by point, what the potential mistakes are, and how to avoid them. These top mistakes to avoid when buying toys in bulk can absolutely save you, I had to learn all of them the hard way.
If you buy a 40 foot container of building blocks, you can put about 15,996 sets of building blocks into this container. Assuming these plastic toys are packaged 12/carton, you will be shipping a total of 1,333 export cartons containing 12 sets of plastic building blocks each.
Export cartons specifications are rarely discussed when placing an order; did you know that the toy factory will order the export cartons from a special cartons factory, and the cartons have very precise specifications: they have different thicknesses, and various kinds of structure, so it is up to the toy factory to tell the export cartons factory what kind of cartons exactly they want.
The danger: If the cartons are not thick enough or not strong enough, your goods will get…squashed. Have you ever seen a container being loaded with cartons? The workers, some rather large and heavy, stand on the cartons and pile them up, to reach the top of the container. All that standing and walking on the cartons, as well as the weight of all the cartons above the cartons below, can easily squash the carton, resulting in damaged goods inside, and even if the toy itself is not damaged, if the individual packaging is damage, this toy can no longer be sold.
When you buy made in China toys in bulk, the export cartons are included in the price, meaning you are not paying for them directly. The toy factory will allow themselves to skim on this expense, and will order the absolute thinnest and weakest export carton available, putting your entire order at risk, to save a very small amount of money.
Solution: Ask to see the exact (not similar) export carton that will be used. If you think it is not thick enough or not strong enough, discuss with your supplier how much money you would need to ADD to bring the thickness and strength to a level you are comfortable with.
Do Not Argue Too Much About Price
Negotiating is healthy, don’t just pay any price your supplier is charging you. But negotiating too hard can harm your business.
The danger: Remember that China toy factories located mainly in Chenghai & Shantou, have a limited capacity; there is only so many toys they can produce. Usually when a toy is very hot and selling very well, the factory will produce more by adding on shifts and maybe even operate 24/7, but that still may not be enough to supply the whole world.
The factory needs to make a reasonable profit, especially if this particular toy is in high demand. Your supplier too needs to make a profit, and he can only get so many toys from the factory. Your supplier wants to get as much as he can for the qty of toys he can get from the factory, and he will sell them as high as he can. So the danger here is that if your supplier gets tired of your un-reasonable demands to lower the price, they will sell the toys to another customer, and you will be left with…nothing. No toys and no profits.
Solution: Forget about that old dated saying “the customer is the boss”. Power has shifted. It is the toy supplier in China that is in control. So sure, go ahead and negotiate a little, but don’t push too much. Once your supplier advises you that “this is the best price”, I really recommend you accept it.
Shipping Cost And Routing
Lets say you are buying a container of remote control toys from a factory in Chenghai, Shantou area in Guangdong province.
You ask your toy supplier to inquire about the cost of shipping your container from Shenzhen to Los Angeles. Your supplier gets back to you with an attractive quotation.
The Danger: The price for shipping in itself, if the routing is not specified, can be very misleading.
After you wait for a long time for your container, you contact your supplier to find out where the container is, and why it is taking so long.
Oh…the supplier “forgot” to tell you that the attractive price he offered you is NOT based on direct shipment. No, the ship is not sailing Shenzhen to Los Angeles as you thought…sorry….It is going Shenzhen to Hong Kong, then to Singapore, then to Malaysia, then to Korea, then going to Los Angeles, so sorry if it is taking a few weeks longer…
Solution: Make sure a quotation for a shipment comes with full details about the routing as well as the time in transit. If you do not check all the details carefully, your container with precious cargo may arrive AFTER Xmas instead of BEFORE Xmas. Attention!
Don’t Buy First Production Run
If you buy classic toys in bulk, then you have nothing to worry about. Classic toys have been in production for a long time, and the risk of quality problems is low.
But if you are buying remote control toys, when a new hot rc toys comes out, you will be in a big rush to put in your order, so you can be one of the first to put the toy on the market, securing nice profits for yourself.
The danger: Every new toys will have some quality problems in the beginning. When a new toy is produced, it will take a few production runs to discover all the problems and fix them. Maybe even some molds need to be adjusted, or maybe the type of battery or motor is not suitable, and needs to be replaced. It is 100% certain that there will be “issues” in the beginning.
Solution: Don’t be the first. Wait. Let other buyers place orders. Once the factory has produced a few containers and fixed all the quality problems, then you can move in with confidence and place your order.
Certificates And Testing Reports
No one can afford to have a container full of remote control toys or summer and sports toys get seized by customs. This is the worst nightmare for a wholesaler importer in any country.
The danger: A supplier can easily tell you he has the certificates, nothing to worry about. But once your container is stopped by customs, the supplier says that the certificate was actually for a similar toy, not this toy “exactly”. Or the test reports show it passed the test, but for one part of the test…it failed. Or maybe the supplier will have the successful test report, but the testing company is not approved by customs…
Solution: Make very sure, before you place an order, that your supplier has all relevant certificates required by your customs service. Make sure the report has the same factory name on it as the factory you are buying from, and that the toy as described in the report is the exact same toy you are importing. I cannot over emphasize how important due diligence is in this case…if you screw up on this one, you may have a full container…gone to customs. Attention.
Counterfeit Goods & Intellectual Property Infringements
Often, the hot best selling toy you want, is in fact a knock off of another patented toy. It may be a design patent or a trade mark infringement.
The danger: First customs may be on the lookout for specific types and kinds of toys that they have been notified to look out for. If they catch you, they will seize your container.
But another danger more common, is that the container will not be seized at the port of entry by customs, but once you put the toys on the market and promote them for sale, you may be found by the IP rights owners, who will sue you.
Solution: Be very careful. Do your best to research the toy in question. Do name search, image search and go deep to find if the toy is patented or not, or if there are other IP issues. These kind of problems are not always easy to detect, so be very vigilant.
Get Free Spare Parts & Ship With Container
Almost any kind of toy you buy will have some parts that will need replacement. Parts often have a very low cost, but shipping them from China is a headache, time consuming and very costly.
So a really good idea is to ask your supplier for some of the parts you know will need to be replaced, and ship them at the same time you are shipping your larger order. This will save a lot of time and money later on.
Focus On The Supplier & The Quality
As a shrewd businessman, you are looking for a long term successful relationship with a good toys supplier, don’t focus too much on the price.
Some toy exporters will offer a very low price, in some cases lower than their own cost, just to start a relationship with you. Some will offer a ridiculous low wholesale price, but beware, if the price is too low, it means the batteries will be cheap, the motors will be cheap, and the printing will be lousy.
Remember that you get what you pay for. Avoid companies offering a price that is so low, it makes no sense. And it takes time to manufacture a container of toys; if you are promised a very fast production time, well, maybe something is fishy here…
If you are a buyer of toys in bulk, it will be greatly appreciated if you can add a few comments below, to alert and help other toy buyers about potential problems….Lets help each other as much as we can.