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Chasing China

(April 2008) posted on Tue Apr 15, 2008

A look at directly importing media from overseas.

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By Jonathan Zinsmeyer

Price negotiations themselves also can prove to be a long ordeal, especially if you throw in a customized product. I typically buy three to four different products or roll lengths, but just negotiating that takes many hours. One big difference to be aware of: There is no such thing as credit. You pay usually 30 to 50 percent up front and the remaining balance prior to the container being packaged. If you are lucky, you have found a factory that will assist you with shipping and export taxes for the material; otherwise you have to hire someone in China to take care of those aspects and that comes at an additional cost.

Now you can buy just about any kind of media if you look hard enough, or if you don’t have the time you can find a sign broker who will sell you everything and take care of shipping for you. Some of the most popular items are 3- and 5-meter vinyl and mesh, PSV, inks, poster paper-typically products that you use in out-of-home media. More difficult to find are holographic or reflective vinyls, textured wallpapers and textiles, and the like; you just have to ask the right people, and have a good translator who is on your side and can tell you if the sellers are being honest or not.

Once your price has been finalized, you are typically back to the airport or off for a tour of their facility. I choose the latter and am always impressed with the abundance of equipment and how the entire process works. I find that touring the company’s facility always furthers that relationship. Some customers even choose to fly back into China to watch or QC the production of their vinyl material as it’s being made. Instead, I have the company send me a swatch of the material prior to shipping; it comes FedEx and is much cheaper than a flight.

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