Fundamentals of Importing Apparel and Shoes to Australia
If you are looking to get a slice of the retail pie, this guide covers the fundamentals on how to import apparel and shoes into Australia
The retail industry has experienced exponential growth. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average retail turnover in 2014 was AU $23.5 million, compared to the average of AU $25.5 million in 2016.
Understand the rules of importing
The good news is that there are few regulations that restrict the import of apparel and shoes into Australia. The Australian Department of Border Protection has a number of very thorough guides on their website.
Learn about any restrictions on the types of products you can import
With apparel and shoes, you’re unlikely to fall afoul of Australia’s import restrictions. However, it’s important to check the list as there may be some areas of restriction for the products you’re interested in, and if you’re not sure, contact the Australian Border Force.
Source Apparel and Shoes you’d like to import
Sourcing for goods is a major step to importing. Remember to carry out some market research and get an idea of the goods, price range, brand, quality, and other factors your potential customers may want. Use this insight to help you source for items.
There are various places you can find items to sell, these include:
- Alibaba — A huge online marketplace that provides millions of different types of items, mainly available from China.
- Amazon — Look through the various marketplaces to find suppliers of apparel and shoes and approach them directly.
- Ebay — Some manufacturers and distributors will list items on the popular auction website.
- Etsy — Since Etsy is built for craftspeople, there’s plenty of clothes and shoes to choose from.
Hints and tips on choosing the right Apparel and Shoes
- Avoid importing products that are already available through the major retailers in Australia. They buy in bulk and you’ll never be able to compete with them on price.
- Always source items based on what you know about your prospective customers. Base your decisions on your data and research.
- Read reviews on the quality and customer service others have received from your prospective suppliers. Research them as much as you can before placing an order.
- Always request a sample of any items you’re interested in. When you receive it, check the quality and workmanship. You might want to look into the authenticity of the products.
- Ask the supplier about their terms for payment, how long it will take them to send the product to you, what protections and guarantees you have, and what their policies are on returns. If you are satisfied and you’ve finished your due diligence, sign a contract with them.
Make sure your Apparel and Shoes is labelled accurately
Imported goods must be properly labelled. This includes the country of manufacture and origin, a true description of the goods, a sender’s address, and a recipient’s address. The labels should be in English, attached to the goods in a prominent position and be clear and easy to read. You can find full details of labelling requirements here.
Understand costs to import Apparel and Shoes
Now you know the furniture products you want to buy, you’ll need to understand the total cost to your business.
This includes the following:
- The cost of buying the furniture in the first place (the wholesale costs).
- The costs of shipping the furniture from its place of manufacture to Australia (logistics and distribution costs).
- The tariffs and duties you’ll need to pay when importing into Australia.
You will almost certainly have to pay some taxes and tariffs on your imported goods. Spend some time learning about:
- Import entry costs and processing charges which you can find here.
- Understanding how to value goods for customs duty taxes.
- Find out if you have to pay goods and services tax.
- Getting the right tariff classification for your goods.
- You’ll also need an Australian Business Number to claim tax credits and defer tax payments. You should contact your taxation office for more information.
If your goods are valued at over $1,000 AUD, you will almost certainly have to pay import duty and GST on them.
- Import entry costs and processing charges – Customs will charge you a fee (typically under $200 AUD) for processing your goods.
- Customs import duty is calculated as a percentage of the price you paid for the goods. The duty rate can range from 0% to 10%, but the rate for most goods is 5%.
- Goods and services sales tax (GST) will also be charged based on the following:
- The valuation of the goods plus;
- The customs import duty amount plus;
- The cost of insuring the goods and transporting them to Australia.
- GST is charged at 10% of the final amount.
This is just intended as a general guide – These charges can be influenced by what you’re bringing in, excise taxes, free trade agreements, and many other factors. Please check with customs for your individual circumstances.
Figuring out your costs
Plan your costs and manage your business’ finances before you begin to import. Make sure you work out how much you are purchasing the article of apparel and shoes.
Then, include your price per item (buying or manufacturing), transport and logistics, exchange rates, operational costs, insurance, salaries of people you need to pay, duties, tariffs, tax, and everything else that goes into running a business. Use all of these costs to help you set your selling price.
Paying for your goods in foreign currency
Importing is usually done in US dollars or Chinese Yuan, especially if you're importing shoes and clothes from China.
Consider using OFX.
They specialise in international payments and receipts for Australian businesses. Each client has a personal manager and access to a range of useful products like Forward Exchange Contracts, Options, Limit Orders and Currency Options.
OFX is a trusted partner of The Currency Shop. Click on this link , sign up and never pay a transfer fee for your international money transfers. Ever.
OFX charges no transaction fees. Minimum transfer A$250. Third party intermediary fees may still apply.
Learn more about OFX
What about receiving money in foreign currency?
Until recently, Australian businesses had 3 options to receive money from overseas customers:
- Get paid into a local Australian based, Australian dollar account.
- Open a Foreign Currency Account, usually with a bank
- Use a payment gateway like PayPal, Braintree or Stripe
Unfortunately, these options are usually filled with fees, balance requirements or massive exchange rate mark-ups.
In October 2017, TransferWise released the Borderless account in Australia and it’s really impressive. It allows you to receive, hold and transfer 27 different currencies.
A unique feature that is particularly useful for businesses, is the ability to have local bank account details in USD, EUR, GBP or AUD. This makes receiving money from overseas customers exceptionally easy.
Learn more about the Borderless Account
Sell your furniture and reap the profits
As soon as your shipment arrives, it’s finally time to put it up for sale in your ecommerce store, brick and mortar shop, or through an online marketplace. Good luck!