China is the United States’ largest trading partner, consistently providing more than 20% of total U.S. imports. Despite shaky relations between the nations, that trend shows little deviation over time. In terms of closeouts and discontinued inventory, this is almost 100% a byproduct of all the imported products coming from China. Warehouses and 3PL’s would have no need to sell excess inventory if we hadn’t brought in so much to begin with. It is clear that our trading with China will continue at a high-volume for years to come. It isn’t easy to find new sources for over half a trillion dollars worth of goods and closeouts after all, so companies that buy overstock will still need to have a strong grasp on the requirements of importing from China.
If your goal is to buy discontinued inventory or closeouts in China, you may need to hire a customs agent who can take care of some procedures for you. You could spend days trying to understand the United States International Trade Commission Harmonized Tariff Schedule, to figure out what customs duties will be assessed on the products you're buying. It's probably easier to get an expert to organize this for you. You may also need an agent overseas to help you buy overstock. Remember, any overseas factory that wants to sell excess inventory and closeouts should have samples for you to see. If you have your own agent in China, you will save huge on time and money by not having to ship samples to the U.S. Just make an appointment for your agent to visit the factory and view the discontinued inventory.
When trying to buy overstock and discontinued inventory from China, consider warehousing and delivery costs. If you are looking at high cube products like furniture or office supplies for instance, you need to factor in the costs of warehousing the product and delivering it to your customer. 3PL warehouses are appealing because they have the capability to handle large shipments of closeouts. If you buy overstock of smaller products like closeout housewares, toys or home accents, these may be cheaper to ship and store because they take up less space. Often, companies that sell excess inventory are getting rid of inventory that is taking up too much room in their warehouse.
When you buy overstock and closeouts for import, make sure you buy products that avoid barriers such as failing to comply with US safety standards, high customs duties, or carrier restrictions. You would be surprised to learn how many shipments of seemingly innocuous products being imported from China to the US are prevented entry by US Customs. This is the reason there are so many overseas factories having to sell excess inventory and liquidate containers at U.S. Customs. The ports are often filled with closeouts and discontinued inventory that must be liquidated for pennies on the dollar.
Finally, China is home to a lot of knock-offs. In your search to buy closeouts of high quality, you will find a wide variety of counterfeit products to import including products that violate trademarks, copyrights, and/or patents. Many factories sell excess inventory that they never had permission to manufacture, and instead of liquidating it at a discount they should actually destroy it. It’s a bad idea to import counterfeit products because they may be seized at the border, Amazon may suspend your account, and even worse things can happen. At the end of the day, in any of these cases, you will lose a lot of money liquidating inventory to closeout buyers specializing in overstock and surplus inventory. Closeout wholesalers often buy excess inventory at only a fraction of the original cost.