Whether you’re setting up a new home or a new office, you will need furniture. Furniture is available at varying price points depending on the material used and the brand marketing it. One of the most economic options for furniture is to import it from China. Here, furniture is available at wholesale prices that are substantially lower than retail prices. China has gained such popularity as a market for furniture that today,it has entire cities dedicated to manufacturing and selling furniture. If you’re thinking of visiting the country to source furniture, here’s a ready reckoner for you.

Advantages of Sourcing Furniture from China

Furniture is typically an expensive investment. In China, buying furniture at wholesale prices drastically reduces your expenditure. This gives you a bigger budget for other expenses. There are over 50,000 furniture manufacturers in China. Interestingly, most of the high-end furniture available at leading design houses across the world is manufactured in these places. Thus, you stand a chance to get designer furniture at a fraction of their retail price.
The way furniture is manufactured in China is also worth taking note of. Here, nails, screws,and glue are avoided for joinery. Instead, manufacturers focus on traditional means of joinery that have a longer lifespan. In many cases, the joints are barely visible leading a layman to believe that it was constructed out of a single piece of wood.
Lastly, given the large number of furniture manufacturers in China, there is a wide variety of designs available to suit different tastes.

So, how do you go about importing furniture from China?

There are 2 ways you can do this- taking a trip to China and sourcing furniture yourself or partnering with a furniture sourcing agent. The latter may be an online partner like Alibaba.com or furniture sourcing agents based in China. There are pros and cons to both options. Visiting China may involve higher overheads as you need to include the cost of tickets, visas, hotel stay,etc. but it gives you more control over what you see and can buy.

Sourcing Furniture on Your Own

There are 2 main districts known for furniture. These are Guangzhou and Shunde. The city of Lecong in Shunde is a platform for over 5000 furniture dealers. Spread over 3 million square meters, it has been nicknamed the Furniture City. Guangzhou and Lecongare well connected with three different modes of transport.

  • By Taxi
    One can easily find a taxi to and from both cities. This saves time but is the most expensive travel option.
  • By Shuttle Bus
    A free shuttle service connects the two cities on Saturday and Sunday. The timings are as follows:
    • Guangzhou Kengkou metro station to Louver: 10am, 10.30am,and2pm
    • Louver to Guangzhou Kengkou metro station: 12:30pm, 5pm, 6:15pm
  • By Metro
    Visitors may take a metro between Xilang and Kuiqi Lu. This journey takes about half an hour. The metro station is connected to the furniture malls by taxi and bus services. If you do not understand the language and are traveling alone, this may not be the best option for you.

Getting to China

China has a number of international airports but if you are planning a visit focused on furniture sourcing, you should ideally enter the country through the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. You will need to have a valid passport and visa for China before you enter the country. It is also a good idea to arrange for a translator as many sales representatives do not speak English.

Ideally, you should plan a visit for a week to 10 days. This will give you enough time to visit the markets, finalize your selection and confirm your order.

Timing Your Visit

Furniture malls in China are open throughout the year. In addition to these, furniture exhibitions are also held on a bi-annual basis. You may want to time your visit to coincide with these exhibitions. The most well-known amongst them are:

  • The China International Furniture Fair (CIFF)
    This is one of the biggest furniture fairs not only in China but across the world. It is held twice a year; once in March and once in September.
  • The Guangzhou Canton Fair (CF)
    This fair is held in April and October.

Weather-wise, it may be advisable to avoid visiting China between November and March.

Furniture Markets in China

There are a number of furniture markets and malls in China. However, not all of them are comparable. Many outlets offer cheap furniture but are not reliable when it comes to their quality. If quality and pricing are equally important to you, here are the top three places to visit.

  • ShundeWholesale Market for Furniture
    Shunde displays furniture from over 1500 manufacturers. Almost all kinds of furniture can be sourced here. However, you may have to deal with different vendors for different types of furniture. For example, one manufacturer may specialize in bedroom furniture while another manufactures sofa sets. The market is spread over a 5km stretch with shops on either side of 20 streets. Due to its proximity to Lecong, this market is also known as the Foshan Lecong Wholesale Furniture Market.
  • Louvre Furniture Mall
    The Louvre furniture mall offers a wide variety of high-end designer furniture at attractive prices. The furniture brands in this mall are known to maintain high standards of quality. With each store offering unique designs, the mall is great fun to explore. Today, it is one of the most favored sources of furniture for resellers. One can easily spend hours at this mall.
  • Red Star Macaline Furniture Mall
    This furniture mall is located on the Wenshui Road in the Dadong District. Many top furniture brands including Maiso, Beking, Landbond and Natleer have stores here. These stores showcase the latest trends in furniture along with soft furnishings and other home décor artifacts. During the sale season, prices drop quite dramatically to give buyers added savings.

Staying in China

Ideally, you should pick a hotel that is close to the main furniture market on your itinerary. The top 5 hotels to stay at are:

  • Fortuna Hotel:0.9 km from the Louvre Furniture Mall
  • Sofitel Foshan:0.2 km from the Louvre Furniture Mall
  • Park Lane Hotel Foshan Lecong:0.8 km from the Louvre Furniture Mall
  • Ramada Foshan Shunde : 3 km from the Louvre Furniture Mall
  • Hilton Foshan: 5.7 km from the Louvre Furniture Mall

Furnished apartments are also available for short stays.

Transportation in China

Most hotels will be happy to arrange transportation between the hotel and the malls. Alternatively, you may use the taxi app called Didi to book a taxi. However, this can be difficult to do if you do not have a Chinese phone number. Regular taxis may also be hailed. The fare for all journeys is dependent on the distance to be covered. Payment may be made in cash or through the Chinese payment app, WeChat or AliPay. When paying by cash, always pay in small bills to reduce the risk of getting counterfeit notes. If you do not speak the language, it is a good idea to have the hotel name and your destination name written on cards in Chinese with you. You can then show the driver the relevant card to get to your destination.

Shopping for Furniture

Visiting the malls may be an overwhelming experience especially for first-time visitors. Do not rely on your memory but make detailed notes to help you finalize your decision. Furniture is available for both retail and wholesale buyers. If you’re looking at retail, pay attention to stock levels. Products available in stock are easy to buy but if you have to place an order, the price may be much higher.

Wholesale prices are usually 20-30% lower than retail prices. When it comes to wholesale shopping, minimum order quantity is an important term to be acquainted with. As the number of piecesbeing bought increases, the price usually decreases. You may need to maintain a minimum order quantity at some stores.

You may get a general idea of the prices of a store’s furniture on its website or during your initial checks. Once you know exactly what you want and the quantity, you may negotiate the prices to get a good bargain. For this, knowledge of the language is a must. Hence, you must take the sourcing agent into confidence.

There are many different ways you may choose to pay for your furniture. The best form of payment is dependent on the quantity of furniture being ordered and the total amount payable. Chinese furniture manufacturers are quite reliable but they are notorious for delayed deliveries. In rare cases, you may be scammed out of your money. Thus, it is important to be careful about how and when you pay for your purchase. The most common forms of payment accepted are:

  • International Wire Transfer
    This is often used for small transactions or medium sized amounts. In such cases, a down payment is made before production starts and the balance is paid later as per the manufacturer’s payment terms. By paying for products in this way, the purchaser does stand to lose his/her initial down payment if anything goes wrong. The manufacturer also stands to lose if the buyer does not make the later payments for any reason.
  • Letter of Credit
    For buyers making large purchases, this is the most secure form of payment. It is typically used for purchases that are valued above $50,000. It is rarely used for lower amounts as banks charge high fees to make a letter of credit and a lot of paperwork is involved in the process.
  • Online Escrow
    Online escrow is typically used for purchases valued below $5,000. A number of escrow services are available online. However, this is not a very secure form of payment and clearing disputes can be a lengthy, difficult affair.

  • Sourcing Agents / Companies
    If you choose to partner with a sourcing company or agent, you may pay for your purchases through them. They will pay the supplier through Chinese escrow or cash on delivery of the product. This is often a preferred form of payment as the sourcing agent can check quality on the delivery of the product and take a call to reject the consignment if quality standards are not met. Thus, the buyer’s investment is protected. It is usually used to pay small amounts.
  • PayPal
    By choosing to pay the supplier through a PayPal account, buyers can safeguard their bank and credit card details. PayPal charges the suppliers a small fee for such transactions. This may be calculated as a percentage of the total amount payable. Most suppliers will add this charge to the buyer’s invoice
  • International Credit Cards
    Credit cards are rarely used to pay for furniture sourced from a factory. However, it may be used to pay for small retail purchases.
  • Cash
    Cash payments have a high-risk factor. However, this is a very popular form of payment when a sourcing company or agent represents the buyer. Cash payments can help the buyer get additional discounts. They should ideally be used only to pay for small amounts or when the supplier is trusted by the buyer.
  • Western Union
    Western Union is a preferred form of payment for small orders or sample orders of large consignments. There is a high risk to such payments as the transactions is made between two individuals rather than the buyer and the company. Western Union charges a small fee for each transaction but the transfer of funds is done very quickly.

Shipping Furniture from China to India

Most furniture consignments out of China are sent by ship or air. Shipping by air is quicker but much more expensive. This is where you will need the Oye Express Logistics experts. They will take care of all the paperwork, import duties, etc. involved in shipping the goods. They will also be able to help you decide the size and type of container required.

Depending on the volume of your cargo you may choose to chip through a loose cargo load or a full cargo load. In the case of the former, your cargo will share container space with other people’s cargo while in the latter, a container will be dedicated to your cargo. A full cargo load is usually advised if your order is more than 5 pallets of furniture. However, you may choose to do so for smaller quantities also in order to protect your cargo.

The logistics experts will give you different quotes for varying forms of transporting the cargo and you can then choose from amongst them. They will then handle the entire process of picking up the furniture from the suppliers, loading it and delivering it to its final destination. Working with Oye ExpressLogistics guarantees that your cargo will arrive safely and quickly to its destination.

The alternative to this is to either handle the shipping yourself or partner with freight forwarders. However, both of these alternatives have a number of disadvantages and lengthen the time taken for your consignment to reach. You may also have to incur a number of additional costs.

The transit time of consignments sent by Oye Express Logistics is usually around 20-30 days. Customs clearance may also take a few days. When calculating the actual time the product will take to reach you, you must also consider the manufacturing timeline given by the supplier and account for unforeseen events. In most cases, you’ll be looking at an average timeline of about 3 months from placing your order to receiving the stock.

Import Duties

The Indian Customs Act of 1962 gives the Indian government the right to levy taxes on products being imported into the country. Calculating the import duties can be tricky as the duties are often calculated not on the value of the consignment but the total cost of buying the cargo and shipping it. In addition to the import duties, GST may also be payable. The different types of taxes and duties that, may need to be paid include:

  • Basic Customs Duty
  • Countervailing Duty (CVD)
  • Education Cess
  • Anti-Dumping Policy (if the value of the cargo is lower than the market price)

The taxes and duty rates vary from nil to 150% of the consignment value depending on the type of goods being imported. These rates are also subject to change from time to time. Oye Express has a team of experts who can take care of these calculations and paperwork formalities to ensure that there is no hold up at the customs offices.
So, are you ready to go furniture shopping?

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