Blog: What products should you import or export?

An Expert's View about Sales in the United States

Last updated: 1 Oct 2012

Upon launching an import export business, many new business owners often find themselves with a question: How do I know what products to actually import or export?  Here are a few ideas on how to answer that question that should help you come up with a few ideas of your own.

Your inspiration.  Think back to when you made the decision to get into the import export industry. You may have had a moment or an encounter that really inspired you to take action.  Did you have a conversation with a small business owner who imports electronics? Maybe a boutique owner who imports ladies' handbags? Maybe you read a newspaper article. Whatever "it" was, look at that product or product line.

Look local to go global. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that 1% of American manufacturers export - that leaves 99% of U.S. manufacturers to get into the global game. Worldwide, the "Made in America" label carries great recognition and a reputation of quality.  In your area, there are probably many export-ready manufacturers that you can represent. If their products are selling here in the U.S., there is a market for their products abroad.

Your passion or interest. Is there a product line that interests you a great deal? Something you know a great deal about? When you are excited about a product, naturally, you speak about it knowledgably and with enthusiasm.  That passion will come across to your potential client and they will become excited about it was well.

Trade trends and statistics.  The Census Bureau keeps all trade trends and statistical information about what we are importing and exporting.  Look at the information to see if the "hot items" are something you could possibly work with.

Your contacts. Start with who you know and what they do. Perhaps you know someone who works for a retailer - they could possibly be interested in importing product.  Most small business retailers order their stock from distributors or wholesalers.  You have the potential to bring them new and unique items from a wide variety of sources.  Because you will be dealing directly with manufacturers directly, you will probably be able to bring a greater variety of products at a lower price. 

Remember that there is not "one way" to enter the global marketplace!  There are no secrets nor is there a magic method.  If a product is selling anywhere, then there is a market for it.  And, there is not only just one market for it, but many!


Posted: 28 September 2012, last updated 1 October 2012

See more from Sales in the United States

Expert Views    
Steps to Develop Your International Market Strategy   By Stephen Davis, CXO Advisory Group
Placing Your Goods "on Consignment" in the U.S.   By Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP
Important Points for Distributorship and Dealership Contract   By Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP
Business Errors Frequently Made by Foreigners in the US   By Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP
Hot Tips    
Hot Tips for Planning International Trade Events   By Bronwen Madden, El Camino College Center For International Trade