15 November 2023

Sourcing and Importing Inventory from Asia to the EU: The Importance of CE, EAN, and Import Costs

In the dynamic world of e-commerce, sourcing inventory from Asia and importing goods to the European Union (EU) is a strategic move for many webshops. This process offers opportunities to offer unique products and increase profits, but it also involves some important rules and considerations that should not be overlooked.


1. CE Marking: Ensuring Quality and Safety

Before proceeding with sourcing goods, it's vital to ensure they meet European standards for quality and safety. The CE marking is a mandatory certification for many products sold within the EU. This marking indicates that the product complies with legal requirements and can be safely used by consumers.

In the past, similar to EAN codes, there have been fraudulent companies that created their own CE markings on products, for example, with a sticker that you apply yourself. This is not allowed, as the quality and safety are not pre-tested. Always think to yourself: an unsafe untraceable product can explode, and if a recall action cannot be set up quickly, more accidents can occur.


2. EAN Code: Unique Product Identification

Every product you sell in your webshop must have a unique EAN code. The European Article Number (EAN) is used to identify and track products in the supply chain. This is crucial for inventory management, traceability, and avoiding conflicts with other products of the same name.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of manipulation with EAN codes on Bol.com. Because buying an EAN code actually costs 99 Euro, there are clever companies that filter unused EAN codes from the GS1 database and sell them under the radar for much smaller amounts. It's very tempting to use this, as they cost 90 Euro less per code, but it's highly unsafe. Because the EAN codes are not known in the GS1 system, the safety of the product is not guaranteed. Stick to the rules and only buy EAN codes from the corresponding sales points.


3. Import Costs and Customs Duties: Estimating Costs

When importing goods from Asia to the EU, it's essential to consider import costs and customs duties. These costs can vary based on the type of product, its value, and its origin. By factoring in these costs when determining your purchase prices, you avoid unpleasant surprises and maintain a healthy profit margin.

Where there used to be some leniency with import costs, customs have become more strict in recent years. Among other things, all products from outside the EU are now subject to import costs. These costs are simply 'estimated' by the customs inspector, and based on the number they come up with, taxes are levied on the import. This, of course, protects the EU from sellers who can purchase products cheaper elsewhere. Unfortunately, this is a direct bite out of your profit margin, but that's how it works.


4. Customs Declaration and Procedures: Compliance with Regulations

Importing goods requires customs declaration and compliance with procedures. It's important to correctly fill out and submit all required documentation. This could include invoices, waybills, and certificates of origin. A mistake in the customs declaration can lead to delivery delays and potential fines.

As the tax authorities always say: "They can't make it more fun," but it's not getting easier either 😉


5. VAT and Taxes: Fiscal Obligations

When importing goods, you also need to consider VAT and other taxes. VAT must be paid at customs and can vary depending on the destination country and the type of product. Ensure you're aware of the tax rates and follow the correct procedures to fulfill your fiscal obligations.

Again, in addition to import costs, you are now expected to pay 21% of your selling price in VAT. This is again a chunk of 21% out of your profit margin. Again, not fun, but it is what it is.


6. Certificates and Conformity: Ensuring Compliance

Depending on the type of product you're importing, specific certificates and declarations of conformity may be required. These documents confirm that your products meet specific regulations and standards. Make sure to obtain the correct certificates before bringing products to market.

If you sell products that have a healing or health-related effect, think about nutritional supplements and power bars, for example, you'll probably use statements and marketing slogans in your sales. Make sure your customers can read about the certificates, tests, and requirements your products meet. This prevents customers from thinking your product is not genuine, and proof can actually boost your sales!


Smart Importing for Successful E-commerce

Sourcing inventory from Asia and importing goods to the EU is a strategic move that can grow your webshop. But it's crucial to understand and adhere to the rules and considerations that come with this process. Obtaining the CE marking, assigning EAN codes, accurately estimating import costs, and ensuring proper customs declaration are steps you cannot ignore. By addressing these aspects carefully, you can not only avoid legal issues but also build a successful and profitable e-commerce venture.

Smart importing means relying on reliable quality suppliers. This is something e-pickr® can help you with using the Alibaba Sourcr. This is e-pickr's tool that filters the best suppliers from thousands of suppliers of your product and ranks them based on ratings, response time, and price. This way, you know you're always dealing with a reliable supplier. Often suppliers that have been selling on Alibaba.com for over 5 or even 10 years have the right certifications. Trust e-pickr's data and find your next supplier!

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