- Created: 2018-09-05
Seven tips to help U.S. businesses considering the purchase of foreign equipment
by Pia Torres, marketing and public relations specialist, Toolots Inc.
Industrial equipment is a large investment, and for many people, there is a stigma attached to products made overseas. Many believe buying foreign equipment versus domestic is a risky prospect, especially when it comes to purchasing high-value items.
However, purchasing equipment from overseas may be a good option for those on a budget – but only if certain precautions are taken so any risk is drastically reduced or completely eliminated. For those business owners or purchasing managers considering making the investment in overseas equipment, here are a few tips to keep the risk factor low.
1. Mass production
Find equipment that is sourced from countries that mass produce it. In doing so, buyers often get the best value possible.
This is a simple supply and demand scenario. When supply is high, pricing is adjusted to meet the demand of its consumers. In addition, countries that mass produce products are able to get materials at a lower cost, thus making products more affordable for consumers.
When you purchase overseas equipment from a domestic marketplace or distributor, language barriers and other difficulties can be avoided.
When potential customers thoroughly research the different models and brands of equipment that are under consideration, headaches can be avoided in the long run.
Research is an essential step in the buying process, helping you better understand the equipment, its benefits and, additionally, its drawbacks. Be highly detail-oriented in your research. To get the best value, compare the price and quality of the possible products for purchase as well as the different OEMs.
“Make sure to dig into the details,” says Jason Fu, CEO of Toolots Inc., a fabrication equipment distributor. “If you can purchase equipment with the same functionalities of a more expensive item but at a lower cost from a different seller, why not? On the other hand, be aware that equipment made in some overseas markets may not adhere to U.S. standards or may be manufactured with functionalities made for other countries.”
To save yourself time and money, research the functionality and structure of the equipment. A few questions to ask while researching products include:
- What are the dimensions of the entire machine or piece of equipment?
- What are the dimensions of certain parts of the machine?
- Do these parts meet U.S. standards?
- Are the dimensions listed in the metric or imperial system?
- Is the equipment battery-powered? If so, what types of batteries does it use?
- Does it need to be plugged in? Will that plug need a converter?
- What voltage is the machine?
- Is this machine reasonably priced for its capabilities and quality?
Outside your business associates and colleagues, the next group of people that can help you with your large purchasing decisions are those who have already gone through the same buying process as you. They are the ones who have already asked the same questions and even went a step further by trying the product.
Reading reviews can answer any questions you may have and may offer a more authentic and insightful evaluation of the product than that of a salesperson. Read what they like and dislike, what their buying experience was like, and any additional tips and suggestions they have to determine if that piece of equipment is the right one for you.
Also, make sure to leverage a variety of review websites so that you have a more well-rounded understanding of the equipment and the company. If the product you're interested in doesn't have a review, read reviews about the company itself from third-party review sites and determine if it is a trustworthy option.
Every type of fabrication equipment can be purchased from overseas manufacturers. The question to ask before purchasing is whether that equipment meets domestic standards.
4. Warranties and returns
Make sure to read the fine print before you make your purchase. If, by chance, you receive a defective product, or if there is a chance you won't need the product by the time you receive it, you will want to have purchased it from a company with a warranty and return policy that suits your needs.
Order cancellation policies are also important in the event you decide you no longer need your equipment or if you find a better deal somewhere else. Browse the website to see if the company also offers assistance through web chat or over the phone to assist you with the purchasing, warranty and return processes.
5. Marketplace vs. manufacturer
When you purchase from a reputable domestic marketplace rather than straight from the manufacturer, you can avoid barriers, such as language differences and a lack of services and policies necessary for a confident buying process. There is also the issue of distance and security of personal data with manufacturers, which may result in miscommunication, slow shipping times, and in the worst-case scenario, identity theft.
“An added level of security is the biggest reason to go to a marketplace rather than directly to the manufacturer,” Fu says. “It’s tricky navigating through overseas manufacturers, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the businesses in the area you’re researching. Marketplaces solve both of these problems for you.”
Although not all marketplaces solve these problems, purchasing from a reputable marketplace gives you more security because marketplaces usually filter out products and companies that don't meet their standards.
Toolots is a good example of a reputable marketplace for purchasing industrial equipment at manufacturer prices with the customer service of a distributor. Toolots also goes a step further by offering operation and troubleshooting videos to show customers how to properly maintain and troubleshoot the most popular products on its platform. If a customer needs more assistance, Toolots offers after-sales services to assist with any post-purchase needs.
Toolots Inc., a California-based equipment distributor, has warehouses throughout the United States and China.
6. State and local taxes
If you choose to purchase straight from the manufacturer, check your state or local treasury to see if you need to pay any state or local taxes on the equipment that you are planning on importing.
Every state has different tax laws and regulations on importing products, so make sure you speak with someone from your local treasury if you don't know the laws in your area. Also, make sure to research foreign transaction fees, exchange rates, and shipping and handling fees to calculate if you are truly getting the best price on the product you are purchasing from the manufacturer.
7. Third-party services
If you're unfamiliar with the manufacturer, complete your payment with a reputable third-party service. With money transfers comes risk, so it is crucial that you are able to recognize the company’s method of payment. Some of the more popular payment services include PayPal, Quickbooks and OFX. If you are buying from a foreign company, familiarize yourself with their transaction process before finalizing payments.
Overall, investing in industrial equipment is a time-consuming process and even more so when you are trying to find a reliable product at an affordable price. Purchasing directly from manufacturers may shave some dollars off your purchase, but you may encounter communication barriers, slow shipping times and a lack of security.
Marketplaces, on the other hand, offer buyer confidence, effective communication and, in most cases, faster shipping times. They also provide the ability to browse through a variety of equipment from a vast number of manufacturers on one platform, making it easier for you to compare equipment, thus saving you time.
Purchasing overseas equipment can help you score quality equipment at a low price whatever way you choose. Just make sure to do your research.