How to buy direct from China Without Having to Fly There

by | Apr 22, 2014 | Business, International Trade, Shopping | 0 comments

Every month hundreds of thousands of Kenyans board planes and head off to China in search of various goods. While getting on a plane and going to China is a good business and cultural experience, did you know you can save lots of time and money by buying directly from China? This is possible through online trading portals that connect buyers and sellers globally.


  • Visit any one of several well-established trading portals and register an account. The following are the top five online trading websites where you can find thousands of manufacturers, traders, and exporters based in China and other parts of the world:
  • Read through the instructions on each website because each site has different terms and conditions.
  • Browse through the various company and product profiles. Once you identify the goods you wish to import, contact the supplier(s) using the contact information provided and request a quotation. Make sure you request quotes from at least five different suppliers for comparison purposes.
  • Select your preferred supplier and confirm the order. Insist on making payment via a letter of credit as opposed to a telegraphic transfer (TT), Western Union, Credit Card or other methods. A letter of credit protects you in case the supplier ships sub-standard goods or goods that differ from the description. You will set up the letter of credit from your bank in Kenya. The transaction then becomes a bank-to-bank transaction. Your bank will only release the funds to the Chinese bank once you confirm that the goods have been received and conform to the description on the bill of lading. 
  • The supplier will prepare a bill of lading and organize to ship the goods to Kenya.
  • At this juncture, you will need to enlist the services of a clearing agent. The clearing agent will advise you on the import duty and VAT payable. The agent will also process the import documentation through Kenya customs. 
  • Once your goods arrive at the port of Mombasa or at the airport,  pay the duty and collect your goods. Confirm that the cargo conforms to the exporter’s description as contained on the bill of lading. If satisfied, notify your bank in writing and they will release the funds to the Chinese suppliers bank.

Tips and Warnings

  • A round-trip to China costs over two hundred thousand shillings (flight and accommodation). For many people, buying online can result in considerable savings and give them that extra competitive edge that they need. 
  • Beware of scammers. There are many fraudsters in China. If you use this method to transact, insist on payment using a letter of credit. Avoid any Chinese supplier who refuses this form of payment as this could indicate an intent to defraud.
  • It is not possible to use online trading portals for all kinds of goods. Some items may demand your (or a representative) physical presence to confirm specifications, choose from different options and inspect quality.
  • Find out how to import from China through Eastleigh.
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