Though not all embracing, the following tips are meant to help you safely and effectively
complete an import transaction.
Decide upon what products you will import
A careful decision to import products from foreign nations has
well-established economic benefits, which in a short time can steer a
business in the direction of cost-savings, competitive advantage and
profitability, and the medical marketplace
is no exception. The caveat however is the risk of dealing with a
supplier who turns out to be a sorry choice. Nevertheless, if as an
importer you've done your homework well, and taken the necessary
precautions, chances are good your decision to import becomes a
stepping stone of success for your business.
First off, you need have a clear idea about the products you want to
import. For many importers selecting products that can either be sold
in large amounts or would let them build their own brand are a preferred
The Internet often serves as a fast and easy way to begin your search
for products. You could either search for individual manufacturers or
take the help of a number of businesses-to-business (b2b) websites and
directories, which allow you to identify manufacturers, traders and
suppliers for a range of medical supplies, e.g hospital equipment supplies
Print and online catalogs also serve as important sources of finding
information in 'black and white.' Also, advertisements published in
trade and medical industry publications
can provide you with a
good idea of potential suppliers.
Visiting relevant medical trade shows
expositions, and trade events where you can meet the suppliers or
representatives in person is a good option to find a match, and will
provide you with information that an indirect contact such as that over
the Internet, wouldn't. However, you may need to consider your budget
Based on your requirements, you may shortlist a number of prospective
suppliers. Further refinements to your list could be achieved by
considering the country of import, or whether you'd want to deal
directly with manufacturers, or traders, suppliers, etc. For instance if you want to import hospital furniture items such as hospital trolley
, hospital stools, hospital tables, or patient transport systems
, your search will be much easier if you have a clear idea about the quality, technology, design or its uses, before you begin your search.
You'd also need to establish a relationship. In order to establish
trust and probe the potential suppliers and know whether they'd be able
to meet your requirements contact and seek information from suppliers.
Teleconferencing, emails, referrals, certifications from independent
auditors, registration and incorporation documents, etc can help you
with that. You may further verify the credentials of suppliers from
foreign trade assistance bodies of your own country and the that of the
supplier's country. The point is to gather reliable information and
verify the past records of the supplier.
In your communication with the prospects you may explore in depth,
the price and trade relationship that's acceptable and expected.
Further, ask for product samples that will help you review product
quality, packaging, instructions, collaterals. If you're satisfied then
get all the information you need to prepare for placing a trial order.
Terms & Expectations
A clear idea about about how the transaction will unfold in terms of
cost, payment & delivery schedule will help you set realistic
expectations and also forestall any sour surprises.
For example, a payment of 30% at time of order with the remaining 70%
when the product ships is common. The initial down payment helps the
manufacturer/supplier to begin production, though you may need to
negotiate customized terms.
In terms of landing cost estimates, a simple formula to get an idea would be:
= cost of the goods Freight On Board (FOB) +
transport costs by forwarder + import duties (if applicable) + local
transport costs + cost of service providers (inspections, agents,
Keep in mind that this mathematical expression doesn't reveal anything
about the hidden costs. And while a consultation with your import
management company is one way to know that, a trial order with a small
quantity should ideally spill most of the beans.
Legalities & External Help
To be clear about an import deal you may need to do both your own
homework in understanding some basics, and also seek professional help
on specialized issues such as foreign trade laws, compliance, etc.
Some common terms used to confirm with your suppliers about shipment
are Freight On Board (FOB), Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF), in
addition to payment terms. Since these terms are closely linked to the
landing cost estimates and risk assessment, you may seek the help of
your import management company and a freight forwarder for a detailed
break-down of the actual costs and risks. Additionally, your import
management company may also help with negotiating the trade terms, if
As for compliance issues you'd need to understand the aspects relevant
to import within you country. Understand the regulations of all the
bodies which govern foreign trade in your country. For example, in the
US, some of these agencies include the US Customs and Border
Protection, FDA, DOT, USDA, and ATF to name a few. Also restrictions
and allowances may be different for different products and/or
Considering the specialized nature of compliance, it makes sense to
hire the services of a good customs house broker before placing an
order. For that you may contact your local international trade
organization and association, customs office to learn about the listed
consultants. Shop for the one who can meet your needs and you're
comfortable dealing with.
Your Order, Custom Clearance & Tracking
Place a written purchase order for trial. In addition to providing a
detailed description of the products and trade terms, list all needed
shipping documents required.
An on site inspection of the goods to be shipped takes care of the any
surprises once the goods touch-down to your country. Returning back to the hospital furniture example you are better off by having an aid perform the necessary checks, as many specialized hospital furniture items such as ward furniture
, hospital stools or hospital table
could be quite costly, an could cost you a fortune if what you get isn't up to the mark. You may avail the
services of an inspection company for it, and ask for a detailed
report. In the case of products such as pharmaceutical drug
supplies you may need to take extra precautions for combating counterfeit drugs
Keep a tab on the transportation and customs clearance. This is where
your forwarder and customs broker will be of help. At the same time
you'd need to track the process and assist them by providing any
further products information and endorsing bill of landing. You'd also
be required to issue a power of attorney to your broker and purchase
customs bond for the import.
If you've done your homework right the deal is likely to be a success
and you may embark on a journey of cost savings, better profits
and growth for your business.