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Extras Episode 31 Transcript:
[00:00:01] spk_0: Welcome to the seller roundtable e commerce coaching and business strategies with and er not [00:00:06] spk_1: and amy Wiis. [00:00:08] spk_0: Mm [00:00:15] spk_1: Hey everybody, how's it going? I am here with my friend Miro and we are going to talk about sourcing from Pakistan but before we do that I'm Euro, how's it going [00:00:30] spk_0: every day is a beautiful dream. [00:00:32] spk_1: I love it. Well you know you and I have just been keeping in touch this whole time. We've been social media friends and I have so many awesome social media friends in the e commerce community and it's so great because you know you learn something from all of them. And so I mentioned something the other day about, oh I shared a story, a podcast from my friend Robbie about sourcing from Mexico and you posted on there that you source from Pakistan and so I was like oh let's talk about it, you know, on a live because there's so many people that might think that that's an interesting opportunity. So thank you for being here. [00:01:17] spk_0: Problem problem. [00:01:19] spk_1: Do you mind telling everybody a little bit about you and your journey and e commerce and how we come to be talking today? [00:01:26] spk_0: Okay. Sure. My name is Maria plastic, I own a I own a supplement brand. And what happened was I had my background, I used to be a computer guy, I used to have a chain of check cashing store, so I had a kind of a very career. Um so again the E commerce originally um just I I found this, let me tell this rambling stories. So one of my big passions is natural health and natural illness, right? And there's this type of natural health cardiomyopathy, which I thought was really, really cool and I always had problems finding quality remedies because what happened was the remedies like you buy in the stores were never really that good and I had a firm and brought some more from India and they're really like, this is this is a good stuff, right? Like this is the real deal. And um I was like looking from the supplier and one of my friends was a home, a path in Canada and he's like, I got because I got a supplier from Pakistan that makes these, right. So I seven only send me some samples. That's what started this relationship. So it started off as like a hobby for me and the kind of more of a general business which is doing okay. And then I went deep into online with amazon and shop find walmart and it just blew up. So it went from being a hobby to being like some interesting to holy cow. I'm, you know, I'm buying food with this stuff. So it's been great. [00:02:46] spk_1: That's awesome. Yeah. It's so great when a business starts based on something, some parts some necessity in your life or something that you need because it becomes like your lifestyle and your way to be able to help other people at the same time. Um So I think it's a really great thing, so how long now have you, have you had your supplement brand? [00:03:14] spk_0: Um I've had it for almost 12 years. I got into online with about six years ago when I kind of did the transition from like hobby kind of puttering to really try to make a go of it. So really full time. About six years. [00:03:26] spk_1: Oh wow, that's amazing. So how did you get started sourcing from Pakistan? Tell me about that. How did that happen? [00:03:35] spk_0: Well, it's really interesting because I hadn't done any import export in a long time, like I did someone else in my early 20's and I'm 50. So actually I'm 51 today. Today is my birthday. So you're [00:03:50] spk_1: here with me on your birthday. Like I feel that's amazing. Thank you. Happy birthday. So [00:03:58] spk_0: what happened was I had found the supplier of these really amazing products, right? And and it's so interesting because I had done in the import export, I had no idea what I was doing. And so I just, I order my first shipment over and it's so funny because here's some, you know, you meet somebody over the over the internet, you send a couple emails back and forth, you have a Skype call and then you wire them a bunch of money, right? And I don't care who you are, you thinking. I am never seeing this money again, right? And they're like, yeah, we're doing your labels for you. I'm thinking sure you are, right? And then like it's still going on the boat and it's not going on the boat, you know, you know what to expect. And I got the stuff in and, and what happens like logistically the level of the packaging, the artwork was very 19 seventies, right? So one of things that we didn't really blow up our business was just, we repackage the stuff to american standards with. Um I got like a $10,000 label printer. So we're really like, that's what would turn us around was repackaging stuff and rebranding it. But the qualities of the product itself is just, it's fantastic. Like anything I need to like, hey, give me this, Give me this. And they're just like, it's an amazing relationship with them. Um a lot of nuts and bolts and stuff. Like what I find very interesting. Like I'm doing like I'm bringing supplements right is the process of importing something isn't as smooth and easy as they make it seem in all the courses that are like yeah you got a customs broker and you just pay them and they handle everything. No that's not how it is at all. I mean I'm in supplements so every time my stuff comes in I got to go to the F. D. A. M. F. D. A. Registered right? I have to get like a 30 page document and it's just and it's like they inspect the stuff. Um One year I had a shit [00:05:47] spk_1: you're getting inspected here in the US then. [00:05:50] spk_0: Um What's happening is it's inspected there before it goes out. That comes in the U. S. There's serious paper and the problem is well like the FDA like the customs inspectors these aren't like you think someone is expecting supplement to be like someone that had was a lab work or something else. My last FD inspector used to be a toll booth operator on the highway. Okay. And they made her into an FDA inspector. Like they're just you have to educate every along the way and it's just but it's such a journey like everything say the hard part setting the money overseas, that's the easy part getting the stuff through and everything else is a tricky part. [00:06:27] spk_1: So how did you find this? You said you know you found the supplier a really great products but how did you find suppliers? And how do you recommend that other people if they're looking to source any kind of product from Pakistan, what's the best way to find a supplier? [00:06:45] spk_0: Um I found the supplier by just asking people I knew that were in this specific field. Like I was asking other homemade paths hey who who do you guys use? Who has the best remedies? That kind of stuff. So I got a little bit of research and word of mouth and the name of my supplier just kept coming up. Like these guys are the top guys. Uh one of the biggest guys in Asia, they do a great job, you know big facility. Uh So like the I. S. 0. 9000 registration. That's a good one because that shows that they're they're adhering to international standards, right? And it's funny when I used to be a computer that I used to do. I so audits for people. So I know that it's just it's a big paper chase but at least it tells you that people can least do paperwork and follow instructions, right? [00:07:30] spk_1: Yeah. So I saw 9000 so asking for certifications. Um and then the other thing is what you said neuro that I really love is you said you asked around and you asked other Honea path like hey who are you using? Where are you getting your remedies? And then this supplier kept coming up. Right. Uh The thing is in Isil 9000, that's a worldwide certifications. It's worldwide recognized as a standard. Right? So it's a good thing to look for. You should always for anyone sourcing from anywhere. You should always ask your suppliers what certifications they have and you should be familiar with the different certifications that are standard in your industry. So that's really really good a tip that I have for folks when you're looking for suppliers, something that miro gave here is to ask around, but if you're wondering where similar products are made, go to the store, pick up the bottle on the shelf, read the back, see where it's manufactured, where it's distributed. You know, start making calls like this. Um, It was manufactured for prime, my body LLC in carrollton texas. Right. But I bet that I could call these guys and say, hey, where's this product made? Where is it actually? This was manufactured for them? But who was it manufactured by? Um, and a lot of packaging will give you information about where something was manufactured. Um, and you know, and by who, Right, Sometimes it will say manufactured by for this company. So don't be afraid to go out there and read labels. Right? Because you might find where your your supplies were made. So how did you go about where you're not nervous about just reaching out to this, this random supplier in Pakistan? And how did you go about kind of getting to know them better and inventing your supplier? [00:09:35] spk_0: Well, what happened is I made contact with uh, different suppliers of this type. Uh mostly India indians are a lot of this, a lot of these kind of guys, right? And the problem I had with the India guys was um, my experience has just been like, you know, it was very much uh, I don't see there's there's an arrogance about how they approach. It would be like, oh, we have the best we have this, we have that. It was a lot more about them than it was about me, right? And these guys that have impacted, okay, Merryl. Look, what do you need? How can we packages for you? We have 400 formulas. We have actually 3000 different products. Which product mix do you want to start with? Like, it's more about, okay, how can we be successful together? And it's been really interesting because as I've learned my business, they're like, hey, we, we are okay with you going to other like I'm the exclusive agent for North America, but they say, look anywhere else you want to go in the world, we got your back, you want to chip, you want to package Whatever you need. Because we got, we developed a good relationship over the last 12 years. There's a lot of trust there, right? And my volume is going up to, I mean, I started off with, you know, I placed an order, I placed a small order every two years, right? It was a bigger order every year. Right? And now I'm more even like, you know, £15 £20,000 at a time, like I'm getting pretty much a full container on a pretty regular basis, right? [00:11:00] spk_1: And that's something that you mentioned is that you know supplier relationships are really important. And when you found a few suppliers in India you said that there was kind of an arrogance and it was like almost like they didn't want to work with you. Like you had to kind of sell yourself to them. And that's how that was for me in the U. S. Because one of my products is made in the U. S. And it was very hard to get a supplier in the U. S. You really have to get them on your team. You know and it's it's very because there's only so much room on the factory floor, right? Um But I always tell people that even when you're dealing with china or any supplier anywhere like those relationships are so important. Um Someone posted in one of the groups this morning, they said you know when should I negotiate an M. O. Q. Should it be before I get a sample or after? And I said um well, first of all, you don't want to negotiate an M. O. Q. Like what supplier wants to work with someone that you know, how little can I order from you? Right? And it should never be about that. But then the second thing is like take the time to have a conversation, like reach out before you ask for samples, reach out and have a conversation so that you know that this is a good partner for you that they're actually going to want to work with you because how horrible would it be to get a sample? And yeah, it's a great sample, but this is a terrible partner. So I love that you mentioned I reached out to these guys and it just was good vibes from the very beginning, it was a good partnership now, as far as other products, like, do you know anything about other products that are made in Pakistan? I [00:12:42] spk_0: know Pakistan is a very strong textile market. I know they do huge business and towels sheets. Um I also know that um they do a lot of leather goods, uh they're you know, they're just support equipment, soccer balls, that kind of stuff. Like they have a good manufacturing base. Um one thing that I talked about two is is, you know, we talk about pricing right? Like when my guys came on, when I first start bringing with them, their pricing was really low, right? Because like, let's be honest, any kind of supplement stuff is generally room in there, but my pricing is really low and at the same time, like I'm I'm I pay attention to stuff. I know that, that the Pakistani currency has dropped by 30 40 against the us dollar over the last five years. Right? They have not, I have not asked for a decrease in the price and they haven't, you know, the guy kinda mentioned because miracles. You know, squeeze and I'm not gonna squeeze you guys on price. The price I'm paying for your products is a fair price. I'm going to talk to your product. I get what I want, how I want it. I'm keeping the price because to be honest with my material costs is incidental to my packaging and everything else. Right? So I'm okay being the price because it's a fair price and still gives me a lot of room on the table. Right? I wrote a, I wrote a rent a few a few months ago and put on facebook if you started out basically saying, hey, you know what? Be good customer. You know, don't sit there and squeeze the crap out of every single deal. Where the guy is like, why should we do this? We're not gonna make any money on it, right? So it's got to go both ways. So you want to get supplier, But you also want to be a good customer. [00:14:25] spk_1: Yeah, it needs to be good for them. I'm always reminding, reminding my suppliers, you know, like, hey, I do need this price. Like this is my target price, but at the same time, like I need to make money, but I also want you to make money. I need both of us to be happy in this situation, right? And I need our customers to be happy, right? So how can we work together? Like, let's figure it out if if this price doesn't work for you at this level of this product, is there anything we can do? Can we change out a material and still keep the same quality? Let's work together and figure it out, because I agree. It has to be a situation where everybody is making money and because otherwise, who's gonna want to work for you? [00:15:09] spk_0: Well, like I had an episode a few weeks ago, I use a small contract, where else? And it's a small operation have like four or five employees, right? They do my fulfillment for me, and I introduced a new task for them where they're sending some inventory to amazon and walmart for me. And the guy's like, well, we'll just build you, you know, an hourly rate, thank you, tim uh million hourly rate for this, what else? Right? And I'm like, you're under billing me because what I said, you are under billing me for the services. We'll start charging by the hour. But that I would be charging me. You're not including your overhead your your air conditioning, electricity and stuff. I said you got to charge me more and let's do it for peace basis. And I'm not doing that because oh, I'm a sweet guy and I'm all kumbaya. I'm like, I want these guys when I pick up a phone call, they're eager to talk to me. Hey mira, what can we do for you? Right. [00:15:59] spk_1: Right. I wanted to be a true partnership. [00:16:02] spk_0: I do like what happened is Arab operations were grown And we don't have a forklift. We don't have a warehouse. So we used to get shipments into our parking lot. Okay? They drop off 50 pallets. Then we would unload 50 pallets by hand into our office facility. We have to break up all the pallets. It was, it was like a day project where the 10 of us are just killing ourselves. Right? So I dumped this job on to my warehouse and now they receive because they have, they have a warehouse, they pick up the forklift on the shelf, They charged me $200 and it was like it's saving like a day of hell of just having crap scattered everywhere and making a mess and that kind of stuff. So absolutely build the relationships. Be nice. Not being nice because. Oh kumbaya, we don't hey it's good business. [00:16:50] spk_1: Yes exactly. I love that partnerships are so important. You want to be there for the long run. So what about finding these suppliers? So you mentioned a lot of different great products from Pakistan tax style stuff like that. Tori s do they have a trade show? Is there a supplier database that you know of? Um Ali mentioned um that I'm guessing ali you maybe from Pakistan um that there's a couple of trade shows but nothing substantial happened lately because of obviously covid nobody has been going to trade shows. Um and it's really hard to to throw off uh to to throw a trade show digitally in some countries. So, do you know of any supplier databases or anything? [00:17:35] spk_0: My suggestion would be, it sounds kinda goofy like in the US the Chamber of Commerce is really just like a some things that even for profit, the basic just loose organisations and business sources. Right? But over there, the trade organizations, there are an important thing, like they're really like, it's a very prestigious thing to be members of these communities. So I would say go after the trade associations in Pakistan and look through their list and also, you know, find what you can. Um, a favorite comment I have is, hey, look the internet, It's not just for dirty pictures anymore. Okay, you can look up other stuff, right? Uh, and my suppliers did not have a slick website, but I'm doing the math like they've been in business for 50 years. You know, they had a really good reputation. A lot of distributions. Again, these guys are not focusing on their web presence there, focusing on building products. So if you see somebody, it's running like, you know, if you look somebody up and they're in their website looks like it was last updated and like, you know, 92 don't, don't run away from that because that tells you that these guys may not be focusing on their web presence and if they were, maybe they wouldn't need you. [00:18:41] spk_1: Right. Exactly. Yeah. So in this case, you know, one of my little hacks, whenever I get messages from people on linkedin, you know, hawking their services as I say, send me your website and I'll judge you based on that and then we'll be in touch if I'm interested and that usually that gets rid of 90% of them. Right? But in this case I think you're right. You know, even really good manufacturers that I found in china, they don't necessarily have great websites and that's okay because if I can get on the phone with them, get down even a video chat and have them show me around and have a good relationship and a good conversation like you said, they've been in business for 50 years and they're really good at what they do. They're going to be a good partner for you hopefully. So that's that's really a great tip to look up. Trade organizations don't be afraid to google it, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and talk to other like you did with homeopathic providers and say, hey, where are you finding this stuff? Really? Just reach out and get into your industry and find out what's going on? I love that. That is a really great thing. So the other hack that you gave mirror, which I thought was gold is you said that your your supplier, they shift you the product but it was in really terrible packaging that just wasn't good. So I have a couple of questions for you there. I love that you took advantage of repackaging and rebranding the products here to be more appealing um to a US customer base, but also that you didn't let that stop you from sourcing. So my question would be I know in china is kind of a one stop shop right? Like we can go to one supplier and they're going to have a printing supplier. They're going to have a packaging supplier and you can kind of get everything done at one factory. Well that might not be the case in Pakistan, right? They might not have as much in paper or packaging goods. Um So was there a reason that you didn't go to your supplier in Pakistan and ask them to now do your packaging? Was it just not available to you or was it just easier to package in the US? [00:20:56] spk_0: Well what happens is because the FDA regulations in supplements changes like it's so dynamic, right? Something I could have said last month. I can't say anymore right? You gotta make certain claims and diseases, certain things you can and can't do. And what we found was we needed that ability to adapt to the market. Like let me give example, we have a product for teething for babies teething products, right? And one of our competitors ended up putting her, but it was actually harmful to people, right? So the FDA came down like a giant hammer and said, you know, you can't have any more teething products, right? They actually took my teething products out of my shipment and they put it to a landfill and they had a guy in a hazmat suit on a bulldozer running over, okay, like this is kind of what we deal with. It's really crazy. And so that product now is kind of creeping a little bit, but now they're calling it oral pain, it's the same products, same formulation, but now it's a different name. So we have to have that ability to really uh you know, change our packaging on the fly and what we do and having that in house is very good. Like it's kind of funny because because I'm doing the packaging here, we've created a whole white label business and we're actually a wholesale supplier to other people that want to supplement both for humans and animals and some of our animal people are just just crushing it. I got one ladies like over a million a year in her second year, [00:22:28] spk_1: wow, [00:22:29] spk_0: it's crazy. So, well we did kind of as a starting point to improve our products appeal and packaging has kind of become a safeguard for the business. We're able to pivot more quickly and created a whole new business line for us, we're acting as wholesale supplier. So what you think is kind of a negative at first turns out to be positive [00:22:47] spk_1: because now you're able to white label your products to others and you're able to create additional streams of income for your business. Which is so cool. Um and you have essentially become a supplier. So I mean that is an incredible opportunity and something for all of us to think about, think about all the different ways that you can source for many different places and think about. There's lots of printing capability right here in the U. S. There's lots of packaging capability. There's no reason or wherever you're from. There's no reason not to take advantage of that. Now. What about infrastructure? I know you know something that I learned about India um is that the infrastructure is nothing like it is in china right where when you when you leave, when your products leave the factory in china, you can expect them to get to the nearby port pretty quickly with minimal interruption. Well in India they're having to drive quite a way over like dirt roads and you never know. Something could get broken and something could get, you know what it is? It like that in Pakistan as well. It's very mountainous region. Um, it's maybe the roadways aren't as good. Is that a concern or something that people should be aware of when sourcing from Pakistan? [00:24:11] spk_0: Um Actually the trends has actually been better for me than a lot of people in china because we haven't had the same kind of like when uh, when they're doing the, the out of the extra tariffs on china didn't affect me at all. Um They have this big clog at the West Coast ports right now where all the ports are shut down. All the boats are sitting the ocean waiting doesn't affect us because we're able to um just myself comes in through new york, comes on the east coast. It has been a problem. Some of the people don't realize like the biggest misconception Pakistan is that some little dirt road country and they have a lot of like the fringes in Afghanistan and stuff. But the actual like the capital in the big cities, Like 80 of our farm, a school drugs are made in Pakistan, like these guys have a very educated workforce, very high end stuff. They've got infrastructure in place, like my stuff gets on the truck, goes on the truck from Lahore, the capital, it goes to Cameron in the port city, the port city, They put it in a queue, it goes on a boat. You know The boat makes like 20 stops along the way and I'm watching the boat. I don't know if anyone else do you guys do this is you get to the name of the ship and you watch the ship on the little map and where it goes. You guys do that. That is so much fun. [00:25:26] spk_1: No I've never done that. If [00:25:31] spk_0: you look up the name of the ship does these web sites actually track the ship for you? Right? So something's going out of stock I'm not too sure about like why is the ship stopped? Dude come on get come on [00:25:43] spk_1: get going. Oh no I don't know that. I need that in my life right now. Like I shit something. I shipped something from China January 20 I think it left and I'm still waiting. So wait. It's probably it's probably like sitting in port for a month now because there's so many delays. So speaking of that before we before because I want to ask you about duties and stuff because um you know uh we have this this comment here from Aditya that says when we source from outside it just becomes too expensive. I'm guessing you're sourcing from Pakistan with the customs duty on top of what we already have the amazon referral fee closing fee shifting in packing fee, yep, that makes sense. Um And then ali says small home based industries are pretty good at providing limited quantities including handicrafts. So you can source small quantities which is another benefit of sourcing from countries like Pakistan and and and the like right because you can source small things so definitely check those out depending on your what your what it is that you're sourcing. Um So the question I have for you is you mentioned in your post and this was like made my ears perk up. I was like wait a minute. Um you said you don't pay the kind of tariffs that we pay um coming from China the 2025 tariffs. So talk to us about that. Like how do you, first of all do you just contact any old freight forwarder? Um What about inspections and quality control? Let's let's talk through inspections. Quality control and then let's talk through some importing and import duties and stuff. So maybe we start with quality control because that's like the next step in the process right? So normally before my products leave I leave the country leave the factory, I get them inspected to a SQL standards. So what do you do neuro, how do you get yourself inspected? And how do you find inspectors in places like Pakistan? [00:27:53] spk_0: Mostly I think positive [00:27:55] spk_1: because [00:27:58] spk_0: because Pakistan is a very mature pharmaceutical industry uh that type of manufacturing is very closely regulated within Pakistan. They have good manufacturing practices and the government has a very strong interest in making sure that everything is you know safe and proper as it should be. Right? So inspection isn't really think that I do I just don't feel it's necessary. Right? Um I've got a good trust my supplier and so far everything has just been like I've never I think out of like I'm gonna say millions of units I've had maybe one or two or the seal is broken in transport like it really has been. The quality has just been spectacular. Right? So I haven't read the quality. The next thing is the tariffs because of the political situation the U. S. Has has a lot of presence militarily in Pakistan. Right. So I guess the butter butter up the government they provide like a preferred trade status to it. So depending on which is what you're bringing in. Generally the tariffs are either nothing or they're very nominal. We used to be in a different category and my tariffs to be like Maybe $1,000 on a $40,000 order and now I think they've done a couple 100 bucks. It's just it's it's incidental to the cost of the product. Thanks for tuning in to part one of this episode, [00:29:17] spk_2: Join us every Tuesday at one PM [00:29:19] spk_0: pacific standard time for live Q. And A. And bonus content after the recording at cellar round table dot com, [00:29:25] spk_2: sponsored by the ultimate software tool for amazon [00:29:28] spk_0: sales and growth seller. S. C. O. Dot com [00:29:31] spk_1: and amazing [00:29:32] spk_2: at home dot com.