Around 86.9% of insulated bottles sold on Amazon are imported from China. We believe this is a growing market and needs some clarity on importing them, especially for strong willed entrepreneurs looking to break into the market.
In this blog, you will learn how to import insulated water bottles from China, and how to find suppliers accordingly in China. We also added some extra tips and even how to package them.
Step 1. Sourcing
How to Choose Good Quality Insulated Bottles:
The best choice of bottle wall material is food grade 18/8 stainless steel that will not break and should not rust, Cap material should be BPA and Phthalates free. Whatever plastic or silicon will be used, you need to require food grade.
The main capacities in the market are currently 12oz, 14oz, 16oz, 18oz, 21oz, 22oz, 25oz, 32oz, 40oz and 64oz. Usually, higher capacity bottles have better performance at keeping liquid cold.
There are many types of lids which have various advantages:
• Stainless steel lids and flip lids for hot beverages
• Handle lid for easy carrying
• Chug lid for easy drinking
• Straw lid for sports
• Commercial invoice number and importer/exporter details
All vacuum-insulated water bottles need to go through strict testing to ensure the high quality. You should require the manufacturer to conduct the testing below before packaging:
•Temperature insulation test
• Torque test: ensure lid works well with bottle
• Drop test
• Leak test
• Capacity testing
Finding Manufacturers in China
A whopping 92.9% of vacuum insulated water bottles were produced in Zhejiang in 2016 for export. The production of high-end vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottle manufacturers are mainly concentrated in Shanghai and Zhejiang Province.
High-end foreign brands such as S’well, Hydro Flask, Yeti and other brands are all manufactured by Chinese factories.To find reliable and good manufacturers of water flasks, normally there are a few sites that can help:
• Alibaba: Alibaba has a large number of manufacturers available on their platform with products ranging from heavy machinery to accessories and shoes.
• DHgate: DHgate is similar to Alibaba and you will find most shoe manufacturers in both places. We recommend DHgate as a second platform to try if you can't find any on Alibaba, as they do tend to have slightly more variety in their offering.
• Made-In-China: Made-In-China is similar to Alibaba and DHgate, with the key difference that 80% of their traffic comes from the Western market (US and EU buyers), while the other two get 80% traffic domestically (Chinese buyers). Their product offering is not that large, but if you do find options that interest you, the manufacturers are more likely suited for importing to the USA.
Step 2. Certifications
If you are looking to manufacture and import water bottles into the U.S., you should be aware that you will need to make a declaration to the FDA in addition to Customs, because water bottles come into contact with food. This declaration is simple and is usually done online, but it does represent an extra task.
First, water bottles are classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule depending on what they are made of: plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, etc. The material will help you determine the Customs duties that are required for importation.
After you’ve found the HS code that fits with the size and material of the bottles you’re importing, you still have two small fees to pay to customs, mandatory for every shipment imported by ocean into the US: Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF) and Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF).
The next step is to declare your product to the FDA. The declaration requires:
• A product code to identify and advise the FDA what the product is made of. This can be done here
• FDA Manufacturer Code (use customs MID
Taxes And Duties
The other types of shipping costs are the taxes and duties you will pay for importing your products into the country.
Taxes (aka tax tariffs) are based on the country of origin of your product, as well as the class of products it belongs to.
To find the specific tariff rate that will apply to your imported shoes, you will need to go to the official Harmonized Tariff Rate government website.
Duties are the taxes you need to pay Customs for bringing your goods into the country.
Duty is based on import value, and for lower values (below $800 in the United States) you actually don’t need to pay them.
For import values over $2,000 you will also need to purchase a Customs Bond.
Get a quick estimate of what all your taxes and duties will cost you using this tool. (note that you will your product’s Harmonized Code to use it)
Besides these, the United States also requires importers to have a Customs Bond, if their shipment’s value is above $2000.
There are two types of Customs Bonds, one for single use (Single Entry Bonds), and one for continuous use over a period of a year (Continuous Bonds)
The last necessary piece of documentation is the Importer of Record: the owner, or buyer, or trading firm that is in charge of all import obligations for a shipment.
We speak about import documentation in more detail in our Complete Guide to Importing From China.
Step 3. Shipping
1. Choose Your Shipping Method
Air freight and ocean freight are the two main methods of shipping merchandise internationally.
Within air freight, you have two options: express courier and traditional air freight.
Express courier is faster (4-7 days delivery time), and it is 10-20% more expensive than traditional air freight.
Traditional air freight on the other hand is cheaper but has slightly slower delivery times (13-15 days).
Within ocean freight, you also have two options: FCL and LCL.
FCL (Full-Container-Load) means that you ‘rent’ an entire container just for yourself. This is recommended only if you have enough merchandise to fill an entire container (upwards of 20 tons)
LCL (Less-Than-Container-Load) means that you share a container with multiple importers. This is the preferred option for most businesses because it makes ocean freight very cheap and accessible.
2. Packaging method
While most insulated water bottles aren't fragile, it's important that your bottles are properly packaged when you deliver them to customers. You need to make sure that your bottles won't get scratched, scuffed, or dented while in transit. Otherwise, you run the risk of incurring a loss due to refunds and additional shipping costs to replace them.
Not only is product protection a minimum requirement, but packaging aesthetics is equally as important. Your customers expect to receive a high quality insulated water bottle, and your packaging should match that quality. The first physical impression your customers have with your brand is with the packaging your bottles are delivered in, so do keep in mind how to give your customers an unboxing experience that speaks volumes about your brand quality.
Here are 3 ways you can package and ship your insulated water bottles.
1. Folding Carton Boxes for Insulated Water Bottles
A folding carton box is by far one of the the most common types of packaging used for insulated water bottles. These boxes open from the top, and your bottle is placed standing up inside the box. If you're looking to sell insulated water bottles in-store, folding carton boxes are perfect for stacking or lining up on retail shelves.
If you like the style of these boxes and you want to make them sturdier, consider using corrugated folding carton boxes. Corrugation, also known as flute, is used to strengthen or reinforce the cardboard that's used in your packaging.
This is the wavy layer in cardboard, and gives your packaging more strength and durability.
2. Use a 2-in-1 Product & Delivery Box
If you want a single type of packaging that can be used in retail stores but also shipped out as is, package your insulated water bottles in corrugated mailer boxes. Mailer boxes are built to handle the wear and tears of shipping, ensuring your insulated water bottles stay protected from point A to point B.
With mailer boxes, you'll need to lay your bottle down when packaging them. However, these boxes provide one of the best unboxing experiences because of the way they open - customers simply lift the lid up to unveil your beautiful bottle inside.
What's great is that even if you're shipping these mailer boxes out as is, you can customize the inside of the box with artwork to give your customers a fully branded unboxing experience.
3. Package your bottles in box inserts
If you want to level up your packaging, you could package your insulated water bottles in custom box inserts that are placed inside a box. With custom box inserts, you have an opportunity to enhance the presentation of your bottles inside your box, while keeping them locked into place while in transit.
These inserts are cut to the shape of your insulated water bottle so that they're a snug fit. Opt for foam inserts if your insulated water bottles are fragile. Otherwise, paper or cardboard based inserts are a great alternative that you can even customize with your own printed artwork!
3. Find The Right Freight Forwarder
The final step is to find a freight forwarder who can get your products from your factory to your warehouse quickly, cheaply and safely.
Should You Use Your Factory’s Freight Forwarder?
We propose it is not, for multiple reasons:
- They will have higher rates than freight forwarders
- They won’t have any value-added services, such as helping you with shipping documentation, customs clearance and taxes & duties, or offering free insurance.
But there is hope! Some freight forwarders are modernizing the industry and implementing a customer-centric approach where customers benefit from many value-added services.
Don’t settle for less! A freight forwarder is ultimately a long-term business partner, and it is worth spending the time to find the right one.
If you have further questions about importing vacuum-insulated sealed water bottles from China to the USA, or anything else, feel free to shoot us a message.
Local Digital Marketing manager and content creator at Bookairfreight. I am someone who loves literature, but here to simplify interesting topics within the logistics industry that are easy to digest.