In January 2018, Linda Forsberg was ready to launch her company, By Faux, and sell artificial plants to consumers. After many years as a sales director in mass media with significant personnel responsibilities, she was ready to do something of her own. To work for herself and provide the market with something not available – high-class artificial plants.
Quite soon, she came to two important conclusions:
- She would focus on businesses instead of consumers
- She needed to import the plants herself to increase control and profitability
Linda solved the first part fast, through a focused effort. She redirected her business towards companies, built a customer base, and raised sales volumes. The second part, to start importing goods, was more challenging. She did not even know where to start.
But Linda is not a person who backs away from a challenge. Alone, she took a flight to China to visit the overwhelmingly huge Canton Fair, where you can get in contact with manufacturers to see what they have to offer. The visit resulted in expensive purchases that did not measure up once they arrived in Sweden.
– Then I was ready to give up the idea of import, she says.
But after she got in touch with an agent, who helped her find high-quality manufacturers, she was able to get what she needed. Then came the next challenge. She had to get the goods home from China. How would she do that? She contacted Key Logistics.
– When you are a small player, relationships are essential. It is no pick-nick to deal with the big forwarding companies when you are insignificant and last in priority. Key Logistics treats me the same as any large customer, and they fight for me and make sure my deliveries get on the boat the way they should.
In Key Logistics, she found a partner with collaborations with all major freight forwarders and can handle the entire transport chain.
– When the first shipment came, we took our little boat and went out to meet it. All of a sudden, I had become an importer! I had to pinch my arm. Then I cried a little when the big Maersk boat came in and docked in the Scandia harbor with my stuff on board. It was a big event for my small business.
Linda says that by putting her agent and Key Logistics in contact with each other, they can solve the import among themselves. She only needs to inform about the volume and the customs tariff percentage. Then Key Logistics handles shipping, import, customs clearance, and transport all the way to the third-party warehouse By Faux uses in Gothenburg.
Since the first delivery, she has imported a few more shipments, and each time she increases the volumes a little at a time not to strain the cash flow.
– It is a challenge to find the balance and increase sales without getting into debt or being stuck with large stocks.
When asked what the most significant benefits of direct import are, she answers control and quality; to own the chain from production to her warehouse.
– I know exactly when the boat leaves China, when it arrives in Gothenburg, and how much I can sell. That control allows me to provide better service to my customers. When I have worked with wholesalers and distributors, sometimes they have forgotten my order or by accident sold it to someone else. Through self-import, I also have complete control of the quality.
How does the collaboration work in a purely practical way?
– I announce that a new production batch has started. This volume is ready by this date. Then Key Logistics takes over until the goods arrive at By Faux’s warehouse in Gothenburg.
What do you appreciate most about the collaboration with Key Logistics?
– The personal connection. I attended the Christmas party with their other customers who have worked with Key Logistics for many years. It was clear how much they appreciate Key Logistics and their professional and friendly relationship with the customers, and their ambition for everyone to thrive in business.
How has the Corona crisis affected your shipments?
– It has been very challenging! First, there was the lockdown, then the lack of containers due to ships and containers waiting off the west coast of the USA and Europe downgraded in priority. Then all the drivers got Covid19, and then came the Chinese New Year and the following quarantine. Last fall, my goods nearly didn’t get on the boat, but Key Logistics talked directly to their contacts and solved it.
Would you recommend others to go for direct import, and what advice would you give them?
– I would definitely recommend it. Read up on how to do it and create relationships. For example, I do not know Chinese, but I can talk to my agent, who has people in place who speak Chinese. The same thing applies to Key Logistics. It’s good to have someone holding my hand, and I can ask them about anything and everything without feeling stupid. They are both knowledgeable and friendly, and there is always someone to talk to to get help.
Linda emphasizes planning for delays and additional costs such as customs and unforeseen events. She says that it is seldom a straight path, but you need to get in the car, see where the road turns, and explore the side tracks. They can lead to new business ideas. She adds with a laugh:
– No one remembers a chicken! You have to dare to get somewhere.