You can read the entire blog post here.

I can’t tell you what’s best for you and your product, but I can tell you that I have sourced products from the UK, USA, China and India and all are possible! 

Today I cover:

  • The pros and cons of sourcing in your own country
  • The pros and cons of sourcing your product overseas
  • How to overcome some of the challenges of sourcing overseas

If you do need to (or decide to) source your product overseas, here are some ways around the disadvantages I’ve shared.

If you’re concerned about quality, I’d suggest ensuring you get at least two samples (so you can compare) of your product before placing a mass order. 

Shipping is a cost to consider, but if the production cost is lower it may even out.  Shop around for the best shipping price. Remember, the shipping method you use (air, rail, sea, etc) all impact on costs and the time taken.  It may be that it’s worth waiting an extra 7-10 days for your goods to arrive, if it saves you money.

There are definitely ways to verify suppliers.  Much of this can be done online, but you can also pay for an inspection if this puts your mind at rest.

There may be communication issues.  To help with this, you can keep your communications short, clear (remember they may well be ran through an online translation tool, so keep your language as simple as you can) and number questions, so it’s easy to keep track.

There’s not much you can do about customs fees, unfortunately.  You might want to consider DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) shipping, if you don’t want to deal with it yourself – but it is a cost you will have to pay if you’re importing.

USEFUL RESOURCES

Episode 16. Finding a great supplier to source your product

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Transcript
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Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast,

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practical advice and inspiration to help you create and sell

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your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg. So

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I hope that wherever you are, and whenever you are

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listening to this, that you are safe and well, so

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today I want to talk about a question I get

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asked fairly frequently, which is do I need to find

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an overseas manufacturer to make my products? In other words,

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do I need to get my products are sourced from

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China or from another country? I meant to China first

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is that is one of the first countries to people

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tend to think of my honest answer to this is

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maybe it really depends on exactly. What is your looking

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for.

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You might want to go back at this point and

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listen to episode 16, and if you haven't all ready.

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So in that episode, I'd have a lot of information

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about how you can find a great supplier to do

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you manufacture your product. And I did talk a little

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bit in that episode about which countries you can source

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from and how you might go about it. But what

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I want to do today is go over the pros

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and cons for sourcing abroad and sourcing in your own

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country. And I'm talking these few are a little bit

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and seen if that helps you to make your mind

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up about which is best for you. And at the

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end, I want to give some practical advice and tips.

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So if you do want to go down the routes

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of sourcing in a different country, I want you to

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give you some really Practical advice, things you can do

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to hopefully make that process be as simple as possible,

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and for you to get the product that you were

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looking for at the end of it.

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Okay. So let's start with sourcing domestically and by domestically,

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I mean, in your own country, so whatever country you're

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listening to this from So in terms of the advantages.

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So I guess first of all, there is a bit

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of a market and appeal with home grain products. So

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let's say you are listening to this in the UK.

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You might often see maid in the UK on packaging

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or a marketing materials, and it is a bit of

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a USP or unique selling point. So that's one thing

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to think about the quality can be higher or not

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always that you can get some great quality from overseas

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manufacturers equally. You can get poor quality products if you

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saw it here, but in general, the quality is perceived

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to be better, at least.

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And that perception is actually quite important. And if you

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are creating a positive, that has strict safety requirements. So

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for example, let's say toys, that's going to zoom in

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to be an even greater concern because you need to

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make sure that any product that we manufacture meets all

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of the legislations of requirements for that particular product shipping

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is faster or non-existent if your sourcing products and we

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were in a country. So if you wouldn't be a

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good to have to be delivered to your door, Tamara,

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you can pay for next day delivery and get them

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there. You can't do that from the other side of

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the world. You obviously can get things shipped fairly quickly,

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but you know, that's going to cost you. Umm, and

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which leads me on to the fact that she is

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a shipping is obviously going to be a lot cheaper

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if your shipping in your own country and you wouldn't

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have to pay any import fees, there's less chance of

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your supplier turning out to be unreliable.

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I'm not gonna say it. There's no chance. There is

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still a chance, but it's much easier to check out

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or a company based in your own country and verify

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that they are indeed legitimate. So from Google searches, asking

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for them, he was picking up the phone or perhaps

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even visit and in person at the Maman we're in

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the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. That may not be

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possible that in normal times, there's no reason you can

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actually just turn up on the doorstep of supplier. You

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know, a proposal, you know, range. It is in advance.

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I'm, you know, arrange you ask in advance. If it

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is possible for you to turn up, get a tour

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of the facility, see the people that work there, ask

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lots of questions, see how their production works and that

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should hopefully put your mind at rest and hopefully make

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you feel much more secure about, you know, making that

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payment and communication can be easier as presumably you, you

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will be speaking the same language and then it also

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won't be a time difference, meaning that you can communicate

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during the sort of working hours or whatever that might

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mean to you.

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And I know that this is, you know, not everyone

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works at nine to five, but presumably you'll be able

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to speak to someone at a time that works out

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for you. If you do it, as you want to

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pick up the phone and speak to someone and then

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the final advantage, and this comes back to you, you

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know, not really having to ship your goods very far

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is the fact that this is much more sustainable to

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source products in your own country because you're not paying

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for them to be flown or shipped from the other

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side of the world. So there's that, that's a fact

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of it as well. They've all, however, some disadvantage is

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the first one being that manufacturing costs may be higher.

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However, you do need to take into account here that

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shipping will be less and important fees. We know it

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existed. So when you're calculating, which is the most, cost-effective

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do bear this in mind.

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And I have seen it before people get a bit

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tripped up here because they look at sourcing in their

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own country. Then they look at the source in some

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way like China and the cost of getting the same

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product in China can be a bit lower and they

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think we're great or go for that. But they haven't

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actually factored in that by the time you pay for

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the shipping or the import fees per item, it may

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end up being, you know, almost the same. And then

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of course, if you do have that environmental factor that

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I mentioned earlier, and the second disadvantage about sourcing in

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your own country is it can be harder to source

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some products. There are some products that are just on

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made here, so, or if they are, they might be

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harder to Find. So, as I mentioned, as you might

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tell from my accent, I'm based in the UK and

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I can not get any of my Bambi products source

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directly from a manufacturer, it in the UK at this

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moment, not to say I won't be able to at

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some point in the future, but right now there is

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nobody that I can find that manufacturer is the products

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that I am looking for.

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So I have no option, but to source them outside

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of my own country. So now we move on and

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talk about sourcing from overseas manufacturers, say the advantages. I

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mean the first one is that manually factoring costs will

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be lower in most cases. And in some cases I

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would say much slower. And the second advantages you will

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find lots of more options to choose from. In some

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ways it's going to actually be a possibly a disadvantage

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can certainly be a bit more daunting. Anyway, as you

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can actually find literally hundreds of suppliers offering the product

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that you are looking for, but don't let this put

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you off because you do need to narrow them down.

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First start often, you see it, you will look at

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it will look like there are a hundreds of suppliers.

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If we go somewhere like Alibaba, which I had mentioned,

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Episode 16, it might look like they were a hundreds

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of suppliers offering the product you're looking for. But once

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you delve into a little deeper, you started doing some

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research. And if you look in to their supplier that

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you might find out that actually that, you know, they,

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they don't produce exactly what you want. So a lot

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of manufacturers will, you know, give the impression that they

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can meet your requirements, but they can't always. So don't

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let that get you off. In fact, deuce, it is

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an advantage that if you've got hundreds of suppliers to

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choose from, and hopefully you will be able to find

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the one that that is right for you and can

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meet what you're looking for. So if we talk about

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the disadvantages now, so as I said above, the quality

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can be a bit lower and it's sometimes perceived to

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be lower as well when you saw S from Africa.

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So in other countries, the shipping will take longer, you

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know, no matter which country or sourcing from, if it

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is not your own. So this is going to take

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a bit longer and it can also be expensive depending

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on what your shipping and the method you're using. And

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if your shipping something that's particularly oversized, you know, a

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large product, you know, the shipping costs actually might be

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prohibitive for you to actually be able to let you

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make a prophet. You might find that when you do

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manufacturing cost is fairly low, but when you take the

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shipping cost into account as well, actually, you're not going

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to have much of a margin left. And at the

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fair disadvantage is it can be a bit harder to

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verus up by suppliers. And if something does go wrong,

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as you know, there's little recourse, I do believe you

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couldn't take precautions against this.

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However, and if you use sites like Alibaba, their own

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chips seem to be getting more vigilant. And I talked

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to a lot about this in episode 16. So again,

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please do go back to that one. If that will

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be useful for you. The fourth disadvantage is that you

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might experience the communications and time zone issues. So while

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sales people for most players will speak good English, there

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are always things. It can get a little bit lost

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in translation. And yeah, especially when you are going back

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and forth over email, sometimes, you know, things aren't always

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entirely clear and I'm going to talk a bit later

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about what we can do to help him. Plus if

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you actually want to speak to someone in person, you

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know, you do decide that it actually, it will be

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easier to just get on to Skype or WhatsApp.

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And that could actually mean getting up very early or

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stay up very late, depending on where you're based and

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where your supplier is based. And it doesn't mean there

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aren't ways around this, but just something to be mindful

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of. And then the fifth disadvantages, as you will have

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to pay custom fees to import goods into our own

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country. I can't tell you what the fees will be.

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It depends where you're importing from where you are importing

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two on what the product is. And there are tariffs.

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I'm the best places to find that information from is

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from your own government websites, or if you're using it

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a shipping company or a freight forwarder to help you

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with your shipping, they will be able to help you

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out here as well. So there's definitely a lot to

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consider, and hopefully you haven't listened to this and being

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completely put off sourcing overseas.

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That is not my aim at all. So I, I

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can tell you that I've sourced products in the UK,

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the USA from China and India, all of a possible,

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the main thing is wherever you choose to source for

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it. I mean, is it, you think it through carefully?

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So you think about, you know, where you could possibly

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source your product from you weigh up the pros and

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cons. You look at the cost, perhaps there is nothing

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wrong with looking to source of product in China. For

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example, while at the same time looking in Turkey or

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looking in India or looking at in the UK, there's

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nothing wrong with it. You know, looking at them, going

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down multiple routes at once. And that might actually be

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a good idea because it will give you an idea

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that you might then be hope you were to compare

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quality like for like, and costs and things like that.

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So it definitely is possible, but you just need to

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make sure that, as I've said before, that you're vigilant,

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you do your research and you're looking carefully at everything.

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And if you do need to So perhaps your product

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or you are looking for you, you can't get on

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your own country or you actually decided to go for

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another reason to source your products overseas. I just wanted

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to share some ways around this advantages. I talked about

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above. So some practical things that I hope that we

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help you. So first of all, if you're concerned about

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quality, because that was the first disadvantage, as I mentioned,

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I'd suggest in short, when you get to at least

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two samples, so you can compare your product before placing

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a big order. I think two or free is a

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really good number. And you might possibly want to go

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for a sort of maybe one more than this.

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If you are, for example, looking at sourcing from China

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and the UK, let us use that. As an example,

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you might decide to get two samples from China and

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two samples from the UK, so you can compare them

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altogether. I think there is a, I think that's a

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really good, it's always a really good idea to get

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the samples. It's the best way of determining whether the

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supplier can meet the quality of the are looking for

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another hint I've got here is that if there is

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a product similar to your products already on the market,

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if you can get a hold of one, whatever that

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means you have to buy one, or you can borrow

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one from somewhere, but just to have a similar product

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that you can compare your sample two, I think is

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really useful because it's really hard to look at quality

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unless your company.

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And then as you've got a benchmark that you're looking

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at it against. So that's the first thing that I

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would recommend there. So the second disadvantage spoke about with

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shipping and yeah, there's, this is a cost of consider

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the matter of where you source your products, but unless

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you, unless you can physically drive yourself and pick it

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up from somebody's doorstep or warehouse store or whatever, you

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are going to have to pay for shipping. And, but

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as I mentioned earlier, if the production cost is lower

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than it might, it might actually even out and you

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can shop around for the best shipping prices as well.

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So remember that the method you use, so wherever you

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use air rail or see all impacts on the cost

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of the shipping and the time it will take, and

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it might be that actually you have to wait an

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extra seven to 10 days for your good days to

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arrive.

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'cause you decide to send them by a sea rather

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than rail, but it saved you enough money, but actually

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it makes it worth it. So there is a lot

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to consider and a lot to do. And a lot

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of the way up, this is just some things for

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you to think about coming onto the source of the

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supplier and how you've verified them. So much of this

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can be done online. And I mentioned in episode 16,

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that you can also pay for an inspection if this

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helps put your mind at rest. In fact, in that

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episode, I spoke about lots of ways that you can

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check out your supplier in detail and just check that

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there are legitimate. And do you feel happy working with

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them? So the fourth disadvantage we spoke about was communication

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issues and to help with this, I think there are

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a few things that you can do.

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So keeping your communication short and clear is a really

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good because we're on, but they might be around for

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an online translation tool. So if you can keep your

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language and simple as you can, and this will really

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help. As I mentioned earlier, in lots of sales, people

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from companies do speak really good English, but I've certainly

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come across cases where there isn't a case or perhaps

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something I've said has been lost in translation. So if

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you think you can do here is to use bullet

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points. That's quite a nice way to structure. You know,

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this is my specifications, but at points, it all out

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a number of questions. So if you send in questions

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that to be an answer, sort of a number of

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them. So it was quite easy to keep track. If

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I mentioned before, in a previous episode, the visuals are

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really good as well.

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So if you're not entirely sure that your eye, you

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know how to work your eye or your product idea

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is simply, is there a way that you can explain

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it in a drawing or a graphic or a photograph

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or a screen shot or so for anything that you

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can do to aid understanding would be a really good

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and finally customs fees. Now there's not much we can

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do about those. Unfortunately, if you don't want to do

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it yourself, one option might be to consider DDP shipping,

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which is delivery juicy paid. And so you still will

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have to pay the costs, but it basically means that

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your freight-forwarder will take care of all of the paperwork

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for you. I'm not necessarily gonna get it done any

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quicker, but it just will save you a step.

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And often it doesn't work out much more expensive. Well,

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for me, in my past, in my own experience, it

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hasn't actually worked that much more expensive to doing this

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than me playing the costume separately. But of course this

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is going to vary by case. So it is something

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to look at me and it's, you know, never about

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a thing to get a chance to get the costs

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so that you can compare. And I guess that's going

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on in my message for this whole thing, I can't

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say to you is better source in your own country

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or which country would be best for you to source

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your product to them, or they, of course, certain products

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are more easily available in different countries. But what I

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will say, the best thing that you can do to

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help yourself make this decision is to get all of

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the information. So, as I mentioned, a bar for you

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can look at sourcing from China and the UK.

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If you're not sure about a shipping, you can get

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a quote for shipping buy and a quick quote for

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shipping by sea. You can get it delivered, use your

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page quote, and the one where the customs fees is

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split out. You can, I guess what I'm trying to

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say is you can get all the information that you

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can, nobody's holding you to any feeling. So my best

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advice would be do your research, look, me, explore different

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options, get all the information and then make the decision

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that it's going to be ultimately be best for you,

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but, you know, get with him, him, all the information

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for you. So don't be scared of sourcing overseas. As

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I say, I've done it. I do it a lot

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and it's definitely possible, but you know, just to make

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sure your vigilant and yeah, I can get all the

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information before you start.

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So if you have any further questions about shipping or

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anything else, please do get in touch. It's Vicki@tinychipmunk.com. This

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episode has been quite short and sweet. It's kind of

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a bonus episode I wanted to record for you because

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I felt that in our last episode, that wasn't really,

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the time is going to detail about where to sort

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of quite often what people say to me, or what

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do you know, do I need to talk to my

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product in China? And this is just to be, to

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say no to that. There are other countries you can

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source in other than China including your own. And, but

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there are plenty of places around the world. We have

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fantastic suppliers who can help us produce fantastic products. So

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don't be scared to have a look inside of it.

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And as always, if you've enjoyed this episode, please do

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rates in Apple podcasts.

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You just take a couple of seconds, click a button

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and give it a star rating. And if you have

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got an extra minute or two in your day, and

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which I appreciate most of us, don't be. If you

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have an, you can go on at the time and

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inclination to write me a little bit of you, then

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that would be fantastic as well. So thank you so

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much. And looking forward to speaking to you sane.