Ordering the Next Step
The next step was ordering products for Unique Things. As stated in my last two blogs, I have a love for technology gadgets, and I frequently participate in funding projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The projects on those sites are usually made in China. At the time, we decided to see if we could get some of the knockoffs of Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects. This was not a good idea, and you’ll see why later.
We joined the Alibaba website and started our search. Though our aim was geeks, the same people that pledge on Kickstarted and Indiegogo, we forgot all about that. We were overwhelmed by what we thought would be good products for Unique Things. My spouse was staying up crazy hours at night looking at the site. I was still working at that time, getting up at 3am for my commute to New York City. I would be half asleep over coffee, but I had to go to Alibaba to see what I could find for the business. We each had a list of items that we’d compare after work and on weekends, and of course, we didn’t agree on everything. Actually, we were both wrong, because we weren’t considering our target consumer; it was just whatever we liked and thought was different. This was, in my opinion, the biggest problem; not realizing that just because something was different, it didn’t necessarily mean it was a fit for Unique Things. The other big issue was that my spouse would go to work and discuss things with her coworkers, and of course, they all had an opinion. Their opinion I really didn’t need, because I was already having a hard time dealing with my spouse’s opinion as to what was unique.
The Chinese; I can say one thing about them, they are a persistent group of people. The time difference didn’t help matters, because our night is their day. The only saving grace was, with my getting up at 3am, I could sometimes email someone and get a response. They were usually on their way home, so the followup question had to wait until the next day. There was always a followup. The language barrier was another blip in ordering; I found that most Chinese spoke broken English. The bigger issue was their understanding the meaning of my words. The amount of emails was ridiculous. It seemed that, if you contacted one seller, somehow, other venders would be emailing you. When you order from the Chinese off of Alibaba or Aliexpress you have to try to decipher if this is what you want. The description, in most cases, is very limited.
There was also the aspect of quantity, which was way more in most cases than what we wanted to spend, especially when you don’t know the quality. We made the big mistake of always asking for samples, because we only wanted two or three of an item. They were eager to sell samples, which meant they would sell a few, with the full cost of shipping. We made a huge mistake financially, buying samples with full shipping cost. This ate up a lot of money we could have used for advertising. I’m sure that the sample prices gave them a profit, though I can’t prove it. When some products arrived, they were nothing like the pictures and some where the quality was questionable.
I can say that most of the payments were done through PayPal, except one item that required a wire transfer. The Chinese sellers where fast with the shipping, which took about ten days via DHL. I never had any problems where they received their money and didn’t ship. It was a very time consuming job, going through the website to find knockoffs of Kickstarter and Indiegogo products. The reason for trying to find knockoff Kickstarter and Indiegogo was that these sites had new gadgets that people might have never thought possible. It was hit and miss on finding knockoffs that we could get the quantity we wanted and for a price, plus shipping, that we could afford. In the next blog, I’ll talk about the products we bought and more on disagreements that can arise in doing business with your partner.