Exporting American Clothing To Africa
Exporting clothing from the United States to Africa, to countries such as Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Nigeria, has been a popular business endeavor for decades. Many New York based wholesalers have taken advantage of this fact, selling American-made clothes, and clothes made for the American market, at wholesale prices that are affordable for boutiques based in Africa. There is a great deal of potential in this trade.
Some of this clothing is made by small local companies. These small businesses specialize in the niche clothing that American consumers have come to love. They are not large companies, but they tend to be more family oriented and local. They tend to be very happy to sell you their garments at a bargain. The downside of this scenario is that the bulk of these garments might be offered at a wholesale price that can be very expensive for the African continent.
This scenario is not the norm. There are many American clothing manufacturers that have shipped their finished garments to Africa. While the percentage of American garments that are sent to Africa is not high, it is still a good percentage of the merchandise that is exported.
One way that companies have used clothing providers in the United Kingdom to ship their merchandise is to contract with them directly. Some contracts are even open ended. That means that if your contract ends, so does your contract with that provider. However, you can keep your apparel with them and then you sell it elsewhere.
Another way that some American clothing manufacturers have used outsourcing is to send their finished product over to Africa. There is one major problem with this method however. Those in need of importing your merchandise in Africa are working on budgets that reflect their local economies. For example, a boutique in Lagos might be able to pay for a Calvin Klein dress, than what a boutique in Mali might be able to pay for the same designer dress. As with any other business venture, there are many individuals and companies in the world who do not have the financial resources to purchase clothing from countries outside of their own. Your clothing needs to be able to reach those individuals and companies.
For example, many companies in the United Kingdom make shoes. In order to make those shoes, many factories need to employ hundreds of people. These people are usually paid reasonably well. Those companies that are manufacturing shoes for export need to be able to pay their bills and keep the lights on in the factories.
However, clothing needs to be sold in the United States in order to make a profit. That means that many clothing companies will search to countries such as China, India, and even Russia to supply their products to consumers within the United States. While these clothing companies may be able to produce clothing at a reasonable rate, they do not necessarily have the financial resources that the larger, better-known companies do. Those companies also have the leverage of being able to purchase rights to use your clothing in the United States. This means that if your clothing does not sell very well in the United States, they can request that you stop selling it and that you are paid damages for breach of contract.
If you are considering exporting your clothing to Africa, then you need to do your homework. Exporting clothing to Africa is an excellent way to earn some extra money, but it is also a risky business. The clothes that you export should be made from garments that are suitable in style and materials, and by brands, that are idea for the local people. If you cannot ensure this, you could find yourself owing many thousands of dollars to your overseas outsourcing company.
If you are going to export your clothing to Africa, make sure that the items you choose are ones that people will like. People tend to be willing to buy clothing that they can wear, but they do not like mass-produced items that are advertised on the racks of Wal-Mart or the shelves of Target. Instead, you should focus on niche items that are attractive and unique. There are companies that specialize in exporting handmade African artisans, which would be a good choice if you are looking to sell clothing to African merchants.
When choosing the countries in which you want to make your item, you also need to consider the cost of importing the items. In the past, many companies would simply charge for shipping, regardless of the actual cost of the product. This often caused businesses that were exporting items to Africa to incur huge shipping costs that harmed their overall profits. Today, many shipping companies are charging reasonable fees for their services, but some will also require an initial deposit before you ship any items. This can be avoided by shopping around and comparing rates and fees. You should consider utilizing the services of freight forwarders such as Brady Cargo and Corporate Messengers.
Exporting clothing from the United States to Africa is a great way for you to make money and gain exposure on the African continent, provided that you are providing the market what it needs, as compared to the more challenging, yet possible, business of introducing a new brand or style to a local market.
From my experience, especially in countries in such as Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, there is a very strong demand for internationally known brands such as Tahari, Nike, Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Coach. The challenge is that if you purchase merchandise directly from the brands, you will pay the full, or close to the full, wholesale price, making your products highly unaffordable to many consumers in the continent. A better approach is to purchase overstock and closeout merchandise, such as pallets of overstock merchandise from department stores. While this overstock and closeout merchandise might be from a previous season, it will still be original and authentic brand name clothing that you can buy for as low as 10% of the original retail price, thus enabling you to resell the clothing at a decent markup while offering affordable prices to your clientele.