China Import: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


More often than not, we learn the dos and don’ts of importing Chinese goods from blog posts written by bloggers who have never tried importing anything from China.

Even when we attend seminars our experience is often similar, we are hearing the same thing with the difference been that we are seeing the person physically.

This is one article that can help you get out of this whirlpool: Personal experience from importers and online retailers in Africa.

This articles will answer most of your questions in an easy-to-understand and exciting way.

Hence to assist you break out of your normal reading expectation and learn something new to make you better at importing from China, I have included the use of a graph to show you more.

You will learn, think and re-invent your importation strategy. You might even want to consider that online e-commerce platform you are about to start after this.

Imports from hell 

I was having dinner when my phone rang says one online retailer from Zimbabwe name Tony.

This deal was worth all the money I had and never did I stop thinking how match I would gain from selling the new sets of custom shoes I ordered from China.

Your goods are ready for pickup said the man on the other side of the phone. With exciting fingers, I called the clearing agent to perform the usual.

Clearing and forwarding Chinese goods is one of the easiest among other things to do in Zimbabwe.

I remember before the order I checked and double checked to verify, even had a video call on Wechat with the online wholesaler from Alibaba.

Instead of the goods, I ordered, what I received where inferior pairs of shoes and sandals. Though all shining brightly, they weren’t the best. It wasn’t just any other money I lost, my entire life servings were all gone.

Lessons, it is not all about Dhgate, Alibaba and Alixpress and Wechat.

When making a huge buy, take out time to look for a broker who will monitor the progress of your order and Even take videos in the factories of every item you are buying showing how it started, how it finished, how it’s produced.

 A shrinking market

According to reports from, “it is because of this ease of trade between China and Africa that business has slowed in Eastleigh”.

Home to 200, 000 people that struggles daily with social basic amenities, Eastleigh was one of the best places for Chinese goods in Kenya.

chinese busy port

When I first opened my store about eight years ago, I could make up to $100 a day, enough to build a house and take good care of my family, Now making half that amount is a daily struggle says Mohammed Ali a shop owner in Eastleigh, Kenya.

Other local traders also complain of a similar fate.

Easier than Europe is getting goods from China. It’s surprisingly easy to get consumables from Guangzhou, a port city in China, to Nairobi. Cargo companies with Chinese offices arrange every step of the way, travelling to China isn’t one of the necessity anymore.

Those with already established connections in China make their orders through WhatsApp, WeChat and others.

It is in part of this ease of doing business between China and Africa that business has slowed down.

Shops face stiff competition from other traders who have made connections in China too.

Not forgetting Chinese companies making their presence felt in bigger towns.

Small quantity traders also face the threat of growing retail and supermarket chains that can import in bulk from China.

Superstores like South Africa’s Shoprite are growing rapidly, taking a huge percentage of market share alongside it.

Empty shopping malls are now a common sight.

Last, but surely Chinese goods isn’t all bad if we can use to our advantage the power of partnership.

Instead of buying our products from the open market we can form a partnership with local Chinese firms that will produce for us consumer items that are unique, desirable and innovative for our customers to enjoy.

As you partner, you will sign contracts, MOUs and more. Don’t forget to seek help from a legal personal when necessary.

These are only just a few things you should know as an importer or as one who is asking himself if importing from China is a good thing.

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