Ok so, you want to know more? Interested in how the whole thing comes together?
Let start with the absolute basics:
What I do
At it's core:
... sounds like sweet gig doesn't it? Heck, why isn't everyone doing it? Well it brings me to the number one question asked...
Why are the prices so much higher on eCig retailer websites compared to the prices on the Chinese manufacturers' websites?
This one got me at first but when looking into it, it is easy to see "why":
A lot of people think that if something costs $1US from China, they should only pay $1US here in the USA. But it's not that simple. I can understand why someone would feel this way, but knowing the whole process might help"soften the blow" of retail costs for eCig gear.
First, vendors take on tremendous risk. I have to review new and existing products from manufacturer catalogs and sift through all the featured items being promoted by manufacturer reps. Then I decide whether investing a few to several thousand dollars is worth the risk. If the products I select don't sell, are poorly made or have faulty design issues, I can't return them to the manufacturer. I don't get any refunds :(
Second, the day-to-day costs of running any business, much less one in the adventurous eCigarette industry are staggering! Combine this with the fact that creating and maintaining a truly successful business venture demands absolutely all your time and attention, this is my ONLY source of income. My livelihood, and the support of my family, leaves no room for failure!
The bottom line is that you are buying Chinese products but you are supporting American businesses and families like your own for a very small margin of profit. So, I do what every other vendor does, and charge a markup. Say, I sell you a product for $2US, that sells for $1US directly from China online. That's a 100% markup, which sounds incredible. BUT out of that $2, I pay $1 to the manufacturer. From the $1 leftover, I pay for shipping from China, plus a myriad of other hidden costs and fees to get my product to you.
In case you are curious, that $1 pays for:
and the list goes on....So, after I pay all of that, there isn't much left over, and I would like to earn a fair wage in order to provide for my family. Although some well-run eCig vendors earn a handsome profit, they either can't sell you the products at a fair or discounted price, or they cut their costs elsewhere. We strive to give you good value for your money PLUS excellent personalized customer service. It's not simply 'order in bulk from China, ship to customer, bank profit.' So, while the idea of a 100% markup might seem considerable, it's clear to see that it is not alot when considering all that running a business in the US entails.
Why doesn't China sell direct?
Well, they do. In some cases, you could probably get some manufacturers to send you products by ones and twos. But there is a problem with that. First, they don't appear to genuinely care about their customers. You, the consumer, are a very small fish in a very big pond. Returns are next to impossible, and shipping costs are exorbitant even for small orders. Almost every manufacturer uses an "on time order" system, meaning they make the item once it is ordered. There is no existing 'stock' because stock doesn't generate revenue. The manufacturing industry in China is fiercely competitive. As an individual consumer placing an order, you would almost certainly receive the least quality assured products or even worse from a previously place order. On the other hand, the manufacturers have established and ongoing relationships with retail vendors. They are competing for repeat buisness, so they do their best to send the best quality products they have, the first time. Otherwise, vendors will not purchase from them in the future.
While these explain the cost differential, why is product quality sometimes lacking?
Competition. "Cheaper, faster, cheaper, faster." is every manufacturers motto, at least in the Chinese e-cigarette hardware manufacturing industry. When one company comes out with a good product--that sells well-- there are copies of it everywhere within days, and the copycat companies offer it for less. How? They may be using cheaper materials, newer equipment, untrained workers, unethical business practices... because to stay competitive, every penny counts. You get the idea. Plus, if they sold a perfect product, they'd quickly run out of customers: planned obsolencense! There are some GREAT companies out there. Smoktech and Vision put together some very good products, but even they are caught up in the "cheaper, faster" mentality. So, some products are less than stellar, resulting in countless revisions of the same product. (V1 has thinner tubes, V2 has thicker tubes, V3 has longer wicks and on and on and on.) Not a good thing, but that's the current situation.
Why can't they just get it right the first time?
Since every penny counts, there is no room for trial and error. Consumers become their guinea pigs. WE provide the field for trial and error. If they produce a poorly designed product, they say "Sorry.We'll fix it. Now, how many of those do you want to order?" Don't lose heart, though! The good part is that these products are getting better all the time! Every week a new product is released, and it seems to outperform the old one! Sunny skies are coming,I think, so stay tuned! :)