USA to UK - import association

I would like to start a discussion - regarding the setting up of an
import association for purchasing tools/supplies in the USA and
shipping to the UK for re-distribution.

This would allow the costs of shipping to be shared.

Also If any USA suppliers ( Riogrande/Ottofrei/Stuller/Contenti
etc.) would support this form of purchasing - allowing all the
purchases to be packaged by account and then shipped as one item.
Bulk shipping once a month - to keep the cost down. Also, could a
discount be negotiated for members ?

Perhaps (thinking a head) setting a up a yearly trip for members to
visit some of the suppliers and one trade show.

Initially this is just an idea and would like all replies/thoughts
to be through this forum.

With the exchange rate pretty stable at around 1.6 dollars to the
pound there seems to be a real opportunity here.

Keith Reffell

Hi Keith,

Lee Marshall and I have both already been doing this. (He with his
saws, and me with the stakes.)

We’ve been sending bulk orders over to Tamizan Savill, and she then
sells them on. As you’ve noticed, the shipping is brutal. Splitting
it up across a bunch of pieces makes it more reasonable. (VAT really
doesn’t help, but there’s not much any of us can do about that.)

The reason it works for us is that Lee and I only have a couple of
different products, all of which are in high demand, so Tam isn’t
stuck warehousing (or financing) a whole pile of stuff until it
sells. Trying to set up the same arrangement with a wider product
line means that somebody has to pay for it, and then store it until
it’s gone. This is the classic startup point for an import business.
Look at the early British or Dutch import/export houses. That’s
pretty much exactly how they got started.

If you’d rather aggregate the orders over here, then the supplier
needs to store (and track) the items internally until they finally
ship, which adds a layer of complexity and storage that they’d
probably rather not deal with. A couple of largish bits hiding in
the owner’s office for a week? Possibly. Dozens of small items
waiting until “enough”? Simply impractical. The only way I can see
any of the “big” dealers doing that is if you’ve already got a big
group order, and you present it all in one go, so they can pack and
ship it all at once, even if six different credit cards got charged
for the contents. The biggest obstacle is simply tracking/physical
control and payment: nobody has processes in place to make that
anything less than a massive PITA.

Wish I had better news,

Hello Keith,

Shipping costs with the large the couriers… Never pay the
pricelist rates for deliveries. Select one company to work with, set
up an account, and negotiate the rate down. Most couriers will offer
an immediate 20% off list rates for startup accounts or up to 35%
off if you expect bulk shipments…

Hi Keith,

I have been buying tools from (mostly) Rio Grande about twice a year
for about ten years, and I do ask other jewellers I know if they want
anything, this helps with everyones shipping costs.

I have noticed in the last couple of years that carriage (mostly UPS)
has escalated greatly. I have a friend who used to have a business
regularly importing from the States and could ship things at much
reduced costs with a contract with a carrier. I do not know details.

The American companies do a great selection of stuff and in my
experience wonderful service, Rio had a bit of a hiccup when they
computerised but all is fine now. I cant help feeling that some of
the European companies must be worth getting in touch with as well,
but the Americans are so used to sending stuff.

Perhaps somebody who imports and exports can give a few details
about carriers?

Tim Blades.

Dear Tim,

Would you keep me in mind when you are next ordering.

Kind regards,