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By Juno | 12 September 2023 | 2 Comments

How to Import Office Furnitures from China: The Complete Guide

China, the leading country in office furniture production, as the world's largest exporter, especially the brands located in Guangzhou, producing on a global scale, has been the focus of attention of office furniture importers in recent years.

Office Furniture and Its Place in the Furniture Industry

Office furniture is a product that combines art and technique, which affects the usefulness of the space with its functional value, makes the space look beautiful with its aesthetic value. Office furniture is produced in different concepts for home users, including workplaces, co-working areas, and study rooms. Typical raw materials used in the manufacture of office furniture are wood, steel, plastic, and glass. These raw material differences determine the main classifications in global trade.
Furniture can be classified according to many different criteria. The basic furniture classification is made in 3 categories:
1. Classification of furniture according to its use: Indoor furniture and outdoor furniture
2. Furniture classification according to production materials: Wooden furniture, metal furniture, plastic furniture, furniture made of natural stones, furniture made of composite materials, etc.
3. Furniture classification according to whether they are movable or not: "Movable furniture and fixed furniture."
In the Customs Tariff Statistics Position (HSCode), furniture is shown in chapters 9401, 9402, 9403, and 9404.
Office furniture is classified as furniture made of metal or wood, according to the area of ​​use, used indoors, and according to the material used in its manufacture.
1. 940310 Furniture; metal, for office use
2. 940330 Furniture; wooden, for office use
3. 940130 Swivel seats with variable height adjustments (office use)

Office Furniture Global Market Share & Export-Import Statistics

In 2020, the global furniture market exceeded 500 billion USD. By the end of 2021, it will increase to 525 billion USD. In the next five years, this market will exceed 600 billion USD. The global office furniture market is 15% of the total furniture market. In 2020, a total of 72 billion USD worth of office furniture was sold worldwide. Of course, this figure includes the sum of both exports and domestic sales in different countries. Despite the epidemic's effects, the office furniture market is expected to grow by 5% on average every year for the next five years, approaching 100 billion USD. In the growth of the office furniture market, the expanding corporate industry of large-scale companies, the growing real estate sector, and the increasing demand for high-quality and designer furniture.
The common view of furniture importers is that in the next ten years, China, as a manufacturing base and the largest exporter, will lead both the furniture and office furniture market. The Asia Pacific market is the largest market, with North America and Europe the second and third regions that import the most office furniture.

Why Importers Choose China For Office Furniture?

In countries such as Vietnam, Mexico, and Poland, there are small-scale workshops, most of which work with traditional methods. These manufacturers are not only able to offer a standard quality but also produce with a limited capacity. Germany and Italy are other important producers, but they are not competitive on price. China is unrivaled in product diversity; China is the world's biggest furniture and office furniture producer, producing by itself the total capacity of the following ten countries.

What Should You Consider When Searching for Office Furniture Manufacturer in China?

Companies that want to import office furniture from China, have no previous import experience, or have no business with the Chinese market before, should do careful and meticulous research to find a reliable partner with the right price, quality products, efficient production capacity, and affordable service.
In addition, information should be collected from up-to-date and reliable sources on what to do in the import process, customs procedures, shipment organization, and choosing the best payment methods.
Importing is a serious business. A detail that you skipped during the import process, a wrongly prepared document, or a communication problem may cause an extra cost or prolong the delivery of the products. In fact, the most critical point is to find the right partner. What should you look for if you are looking for an office furniture manufacturer in China? What features should you look for in the company?

Let's check the details you need to look for office furniture based on a successful example:

Office Furniture Manufacturer Selection Process: Example Company - Meet&Co Office Furniture

China Guangzhou Meet&Co Office Furniture is one of the leading office furniture manufacturer & exporters companies in China that offers various kinds of office furniture.
If you are going to import office furniture, you can make an evaluation based on 4 reference information provided by Meet&Co when looking for a manufacturer in China:
1. Company Background: 12 years of experience, the company has become a large-scale exporter enterprise focusing on office furniture.
2. Factory Information: Company factory and facilities are world-class services and production capacity of all kinds of office furniture.
3. Key Products: Production of office furniture such as sofas, coffee tables, reception desks, conference desks, and many more. Their products are exported to the US, Europe, India, Japan, and the Middle East.
4. Advantages: B2B business capacity, various kinds of products, 24/7 customer service, high manufacturing capacity, experienced exporter.

How Can You Find Office Furniture Manufacturers in China?

You can use four main sources to do this type of research in China.
1. Sectoral Exhibitions
2. Industry publications
3. B2B marketplaces and Sourcing companies
4. Manufacturer companies' websites and social media channels.
You will have to gradually evaluate the exporting companies and product groups that you will identify through all these sources and research channels. After the pandemic process, we see that sectoral fairs have turned into digital fairs, and companies do not show as much interest in fair participation as before. On the other hand, B2B marketplaces can cause confusion in terms of the reliability of thousands of companies they contain.
Nowadays, it's clear that manufacturing companies can stand out with their own websites. Assist it with social media channels and blog posts that will enable this site to attract potential customers from all over the world. 
Nowadays, manufacturers can make sales through their own websites by supporting it with social media channels and blog sites, that is, by attracting traffic. There are many ways to do e-marketing by attracting potential customers to the main site, such as e-mail marketing, search engine optimization, AdWords ads. Meet&Co Office Furniture is a good example of an innovative office furniture manufacturer successful in e-marketing. By making use of the opportunities offered by the digital age, all product images, technical information, and quality documents can be shared with customers. With Zoom meeting and 24/7 customer service, time zone differences and the disadvantages of being far away are eliminated.

Negotiation Process with the Manufacturer

When you contact a Chinese office furniture manufacturer, you should get information on the issues listed below in order to determine your purchasing decision, the price of the products, the production and shipping process, and negotiate if you have different demands.

a) MOQ - Minimum Order Quantity: Office furniture importers may want to keep their initial orders limited. It is crucial to get MOQ information from the manufacturer.

b) Sample request: Manufacturers' fabric and wood charts can be requested. In particular, we recommend that you choose the fabric from the color chart, not the picture.

c) Product price: Many manufacturers set a price scale based on the order quantity. It is advantageous to keep the order quantity high.

d) Production Time: When negotiating with producers, be sure to discuss production time. Production time and shipping time determine when you can put your products on sale and when you can make the first deliveries.

e) Payment Terms: Payment options are subject to agreement between companies. Exporters want to work in advance, and importers want to work in the future. The increase in your trade with the producer company determines the payment terms, your creditworthiness with the banks.

f) Delivery terms -  Incoterms: Incoterms determine who will pay the transportation, insurance, and customs costs and who will organize the transportation. Therefore, incoterms should be chosen while talking about product prices.

Contract, Purchase Form and Proforma ınvoice

Submit your import request by issuing a purchase form "purchase order." You can also prepare a contract to ensure trade continuity by determining the conditions with the manufacturer company. Briefly, make a sales agreement with the following details and request a proforma invoice in accordance with the sales agreement.
1. Product details, product standards,
2. Production conditions, production time
3. price, payment method,
4. Label, packaging, pallet standards.
5. How and when to ship
6. List of documents you will need for customs procedures.
7. Warranty conditions.
Before export customs clearance and shipping, it's better to request the draft versions of the original documents and make the final check before they are printed. In particular, make sure that the information on the "bill of lading," "certificate of origin," and "invoice" is correct.

What is Customs Clearance?

The office furniture set is ready for shipment. All of them are loaded into the container and transferred to the port of shipment. Manufacturer company, i.e., "exporter," handles the customs clearance in China before it is shipped. When the ship reaches to destination port, the import customs should be handled by the importer company.
However, the requested documents and control processes required for export and import customs procedures differ from each other. Mostly import customs check the documents more tightly, and sometimes customs officers request additional documents. Therefore, every importer should learn the necessary documents for customs procedures in his own country before importing and inform the exporter about it.

How to Choose the Type of Overseas Shipment?

Office furniture is more suitable for transportation with containers (sea shipment). Air shipment can be an option for emergencies and exceptional situations, but it is quite expensive.
As advice, it's better to check the delivery times and business conditions before choosing the shipment option.

How quickly does the product need to reach its destination? Is the product a stock item, or has it already been sold under a contract? Are there any penalties in the contract that include the deadline?
The most commonly used method for importing office furniture from China is container shipping, but sea shipping prices also differ among themselves. Faster lines, more economical lines are available. You can ask the following questions while evaluating the alternatives suitable for your port of loading and destination. What impact do shipping costs have on your overheads? Where should the goods go?

Shipping insurance allows you to receive compensation if your products are damaged against accidents that may occur during shipment. Get quotes from different insurance companies before taking out insurance. Finally, pay attention to the packaging. Containers can be airtight, affected by seaweed and weather conditions. Ask the exporter to package all products in a waterproof manner.

Maritime Transportation and International Trade

The main transport mode for world trade is maritime shipping (approx 90% of international traded goods are using seaway shipments)

Sea shipments offer more economical solutions than rail, road, and plane shipments. However, port operations on departure and arrival of ships take time and are slower than other transportation methods.

Advantages of maritime transport:
1. Lower costs
2. Thousands of containers and hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo can be transported on a single ship.
3. Shipping containers can also be transferred by road or rail. (suitable for multimodal transportation)

Disadvantages of maritime transport:

1. Shipping by sea is slower than other shipping modes
2. Bad weather conditions can cause delays
3. Routes and timetables are flexible, and deadlines can be extended
4. There are some extra costs such as port charges, warehouse costs
5. Delivery is restricted to port areas, requires a second shipping organization for delivery to landlocked areas.

Insurance in Maritime Transport

Under maritime transport contracts, cargoes are automatically covered by limited insurance under the Hague-Visby and Hamburg Rules. Therefore, it is recommended to take out additional insurance such as general cargo insurance. If you are an importer and the insurance belongs to the exporter, request detailed insurance in all-risk forms.

General Average Insurance

Extinguishing and salvage costs incurred after ship fires and ship accidents are charged to all companies with cargo on board as general average. In other words, even if your cargo is not damaged, you will be shared in the extinguishing and rescue costs. Make sure your insurance covers the general average.

Bill of Lading, Bill of Lading, Sea Waybill

In maritime shipments, a bill of lading is created containing basic information, including the details of the exporter and importer company, the type and quantity of goods, loading, and destination port information; this is called a bill of lading (Bill of Lading, Sea Waybill). This document clearly states who the consignee is and the terms of the contract of carriage.
If you are shipping dangerous goods, you must fill out a goods declaration stating that your cargo contains dangerous goods. In most cases, this will be in addition to the sea freight document you need to accompany your shipments. Learn about the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Law on the International Maritime Organization website. See also the guide on the transport of dangerous goods.

Documents to Be Sent to the Importer in Seaway Shipments

After the export customs procedures are completed for sea shipment, the exporter company sends the following documents to the importer company by the express courier as standard. If a copy of the invoice packing list and certificate of Origin can be processed in the importer's country, this document can be sent to the importer as an attachment to the e-mail. The copy of the Bill of Lading "BL" is invalid, but the exporter can ask the shipper to telex-release the BL, that is, to authorize the shipping agent in the importer's country to issue a bill of lading. In this way, there is no need to send documents by courier. The standard document set consists of:

1. Commercial Invoice

Necessary information that should be included in the commercial invoice:
1) The date of the invoice,
2) Type of goods/services,
3) Company titles and addresses of the seller and the buyer,
4) Payment method (Bank information)
5) Origin of the goods,
6) Delivery method according to Incoterms,
7) The unit price/amount/amount of the good or service,

2- Packing List (If the invoice didn't cover all package details its needed)

Essential information that should be included in the packing list:
1) The date of the invoice,
2) Type of goods/services,
3) Company titles and addresses of the seller and the buyer, weight, dimensions, the number of goods
4) Mode of shipment (Information about the means of transport)
5) Packing specifications, container and quantity information regarding the goods

3. Certificate of Origin

In short, it is stated as COO, it is the official document that indicates the country where the products specified in the invoice and packing list are produced, and if the products are sent and processed to a second country, the country where the secondary transaction is made, that is, which country a product belongs to. It must be approved by the Chamber of Commerce or the Chamber of Industry of which the exporter is a member.

4. The title and address information of the exporter company

1) The name and address of the importer company.
2) Pallet, container, number of pieces.
3) Net and Gross weight information of the item.
4) Type, definition, content information of the exported goods.
5) Approval of the authority that issued the certificate (Date, signature, stamp),
6) If the goods have been processed in a different country other than the country in which they were produced and have undergone changes, information on the transaction is made.

5. Bill Of Lading "BL."

It is an official document valid all over the world, which is used for loadings made by train (Rail waybill), airplane (Airwaybill) or ship (Sea waybill), which determines the rules regarding the conditions under which the loading will take place between the Sender and the carrier. Indicates who owns the transported cargo. It includes all the information written in the commercial invoice, except the product price.

6. Insurance Certificate

Who is responsible for the insurance of the products to be shipped? In a shipment where Incoterms are specified, it is clearly determined who bears the insurance cost and in what process the insurance provides protection.

Our recommendation is to include incoterms in the commercial invoice and bill of lading.
In EXW, FCA, FOB, FAS, CFR CPTincoterms, the obligation to ensure lies with the importer. The responsibility of ensuring CIF, CIP, DAT, DDU shipments belongs to the exporter. In DAP shipments, insurance is made by the importer unless the parties have stated otherwise. For FCA and FOB shipments, inland transport insurance belongs to the exporter. For example, the exporter delivers the container in case of an accident during the transfer process from the factory to the port.

The US & EU & ASEAN Import Documentation

Customs clearance in exporters country mostly completed with the commercial invoice, Packing list, and Bill of lading.
Anyway, in Importer's country, the customs officer may request some extra documents. So we prepared a list below, including some of them, it changes depending on the country and/or product group. Apart from the primary documents importer may need additional documents and certificates. So it's better to check what you need before you start an importation process.
We have listed the documents required by The US and EU customs. EU customs are mostly the same as other blocks like ASEAN except for the ATR document. Anyway, it's not possible to get an ATR certificate for products made in China.
The US customs, unlike other countries, requires a document called a "customs bond" from the importer company for shipments worth 2500 USD or more to enter the country. US customs also require another document called "inward cargo manifest." The important thing to note here is that the "ICM" document should be sent to the shipping company at the beginning of the operation, that is, immediately after the exit procedures of the container at the port in China are completed, and the bill of lading is prepared. The shipping company shares the document with its agency in the relevant US port.

Custom Bond

In order to process imports at US customs, the importing company or shipping agent must open a customs bond on its behalf. Customs bonds can be opened for a single import or valid for one year. One-time bond costs vary between 100-200 USD. If you are importing at regular intervals, it is more reasonable to open a customs bond valid for 1 year with a cost of 250-450 USD.
A single-entry bond can be purchased for around $100 - $200, while a permanent-entry bond costs $250-$450. Second, it makes sense for importers who import more than one shipment per year.

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