Where In The World?
If you’re looking to stand out from the usual Amazon seller crowd, you know you may need to look further afield, sourcing quality commodities and manufactured products for your private labeling business, beyond our borders. The question is where in the world do you start to source these items while turning a profit?
There are a myriad of sourcing regions around the world, and honestly, no shortage of specialized markets to consider for just the one article. Therefore, I’ve briefly outlined some global regions and materials that you can check out, before you head off to costly unknown destinations.
Though Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa – the Ivory Coast the first – it is also producing digital technology goods, tablet computers and smart phones in Accra. Farmers of the Ivory Coast, discouraged by cassava and cocoa’s lower returns, are also pursuing natural rubber production in the farming areas of Abidjan, Grand-Lahou and Miluna Gwaka (DR Congo) and Dieke (Guinea).
Though South Africa is primarily a tourist destination, its agricultural industry produces raw materials for health and beauty stocks and its farmers are reporting favorable growing conditions for goji berries in Stutterheim, Eastern Cape.
Asia (The Philippines, Indonesia)
As the economic center of the Philippines, Luzon Island‘s industry is concentrated outside of the urban areas of Manila. Its agricultural heart is based in Bicol (abaca (Manila Hemp)), Tayabas City (coconut arrack) Central Luzon (rice, pandanus and sea grass) Benguet province (silver smithing), and its tax- and duty- free area in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
Java is the manufacturing hub of Indonesia, producing electrical, footwear, furniture, textiles and plastic products, though central Java is still the source of raw materials like maize, groundnuts, soybeans, tea, coffee, rubber, sugarcane, and coconuts. Raw and ground spices like cinnamon cassia, peppers, turmeric and cloves (Kerenci in Sumatra, and Java), nutmeg and mace (Sulawesi and Maluku), are plentiful though quality varies. Sumatra is the world’s largest producer of Kopi Luwak, with smaller touristic focused farms located on Bali, Java, and Sulawesi – note the industry, and the civet cats, have been cruelly exploited so do ensure you source authentic wild sourced coffee.
Asia (China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan)
China’s current environmental push is seeing traditional raw material sourcing cities, like Shantou, relying not only on it’s own resources but importing polymers, for example, from Thailand, Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan to combine with it’s own materials – product labeling still promotes as “made in China” – though China’s pricing advantage currently remains due to its abundant labor pool, factory capacity and start of the art machinery. Areas of similar note are Guangzhou and the “four little tigers” of Zhongshan, Dongguan, Nanhai and Shunde (marketing towns), and the toy-manufacturing town of Shantou, all in Guangdong province. If sourcing glitter products, seasonal and occasional decorations, glass and crystal handicrafts, ceramic and porcelain, leather and every other kind of hand bag, structured hats and fascinators, bath products from spa supplies to bath mitts and shower caps, art and cosmetic brushes, toys, herbal formulas and teas, beads, pendants and jewelry boxes to put them in, and first aid kits, then Guangdong province is a must. Shenzhen, China’s most successful and first Special Economic Zone and the shop fronts of many manufacturers, SEG Electronic Market, has sourcing opportunities for cell phones, and all manner of open source and physical computing hardware. Dalian city (Liaoning Province), though moving away from its agriculture and aquaculture-based beginnings, still remains the area to source plant extracts – along with the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Yanji, Jilin Province – including ginseng and essential oils, along with herb and natural remedies. Also manufactured items like wood handicrafts and carvings, toothpicks, coffee stirrers and ice cream sticks can be sourced here.
If sourcing in China, do check out my “3 Place to Source Products for Amazon and Ebay” article for extra information.
These provinces of China propose interesting import-export activities for Hong Kong – the approval of experimental cross-border e-commerce physical stores for example – yet being the home of the internationally famous container terminals of Kwai Chung and Tsing Yi Island, the sourcing opportunities for private labeling are numerous. Materials such as glass, polyresin, wood, stainless steel and casting molds, can be sourced here.
Taiwan produces much of the same products as China, with focus on art supplies and childhood educational products, and particularly Yingge Township’s porcelain (Taipei county)
Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam)
Indochina still supplies the world’s non-wood forest (NWFP) markets with essential and industrial oils, resins, rubber and medicinal plant products. Vietnam particularly has many options available and often re-exports these raw materials from Laos and Cambodia – Laos due to its landlocked geography and Cambodia, in part, due to the export transport options located more closely in Vietnam than its Sihanoukville port. Cassia oil (Saigon cinnamon) is sourced from Vietnam’s Quang Nam province, and Cassia bark from Pakse, the capital city of the Champasak province in Southern Laos. Vietnam has one Star Anise distillation plant located in Lang Son province, and manual production lines in Cao Bang and Lang Son provinces. Star Anise is also found in the mountainous regions of Eastern Laos. Eaglewood essential oil can be sourced from the distilleries and small factories in the Vientiane (Laos) and, after being re-exported from Laos and Cambodia, from the distilleries of Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam). The medicinal plant Litsea cubeba (May Chang) is sourced from the northern provinces of Vietnam for both the plant (Mountain Pepper) and its essential oil. Benzoin resin, used in perfumes and incense, is produced in the northern Laos provinces of Oudamxai and Luang Prabang. The eastern provinces of Laos and the Vietnamese provinces of Lam Dong and Quang Ninh provide the gum rosin, wood rosin, tall oil rosin, and turpentine to be used in varnishes, adhesives and inks. Also Pine resin is sourced from both the Laotian provinces of Khammouane and Ziangkhoang. Damar gum is produced from the dipterocarps of Yen Bai province in Vietnam.
If sourcing silver, Thailand’s Karen Hill tribes produce 97.5-99% genuine, pure and high silver content jewelry. Chantaburi, a regional center of the gemstone trade attracting buyers from all over the world, is where you’ll find gems and silver jewelry; though do ensure authenticity before purchase. If in northern Thailand, approach the silversmiths of Wua Lai Road, Chiang Mai.
Of course, at the end of the day, your customers will determine what materials you pursue, but regional sourcing of those, as well as cherry picking stock opportunities on your visits, is a cost-effective business model.
A few words of caution; sourcing commodities, specifically from farmers in developing countries, is honestly an extremely difficult space to get into – if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it right? Relying on emails and searching the net will not amount to the type of business relationships you must develop in order to establish any kind of mutual benefit and worthwhile profit margins.
These relationships can be unfamiliar, they at times rely on trust, communication is often frustrating and confusing, and what may be promised one day, could be left unanswered the next. The type of quality you want to provide for your customers will require more than a few extra steps on your behalf, but done steadily and with respect, your persistence will pay off in the end.
Sourcing internationally for products to sell on Amazon, is a sure bet for leveraging your reign on the juggernaut e-commerce site. Whichever product you choose to source, make sure it is unique enough to keep the copycats away.
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