Blog Posts by Stuart Whitmore

  • Global Trading Tips: 6 Steps to Perfect Packaging

    Perfume Bottles

    There's an old adage about the perfume industry that the scent costs less than the bottle it comes in. But you don't need to be hawking Chanel No.5 to know that packaging is a vital part of any consumer product. Whether it's protecting fragile contents in transit, making goods stand out on store shelves or working to enhance brand image, proper packaging can improve the bottom line.Alizila tapped some seasoned e-commerce entrepreneurs to find out how they handle packaging issues for the products they sell. Here are their tips:


    When it comes to packaging, most products come ready to be displayed on the shelves of the big retail outlets. That's fine if your products are destined to be sold in store, but it's unlikely to meet the needs of online businesses that run on a click-and-ship, rather than bricks-and-mortar, model. "An online retailer needs packaging robust enough to get to the consumer without damage," says Paul Greenberg, CEO of Australia's National Online

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  • Global Trading Tips: 7 Practical Lessons for Doing Business With China

    Silk Road

    China has held a fascination for traders ever since the Silk Road first opened its markets to the world, but never more than now. The items swapping hands may have changed from spices and silks into mass-produced consumer goods, but for newcomers to international sourcing much of the Middle Kingdom’s mystery remains.

    Linguistic and cultural differences can conspire to overwhelm the uninitiated. New entrepreneurs often approach China with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, the opportunity on offer weighed against fears of being conned or nightmares about causing mortal offense with a misplaced chopstick.

    Alizila asked three old China sourcing hands to share their experiences of dealing with the mainland. Here are the lessons they learned the hard way:

    Lesson 1: Don’t believe all the horror stories

    We all know what happens when you do business with a Chinese company. If they don’t rip you off or screw up your order you end up eating monkey brains in a backstreet restaurant and

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  • Global Trading Tips: The Fivefold Path to Quality Control

    Global Quality

    For businesses that outsource their manufacturing to overseas suppliers, quality control is critical to success. Outsourcing, though, is not a level playing field. When the world's most valuable company, Apple, has an axe to grind on QC, CEO Tim Cook can jet in, don a white coat and demand a tour of the factory. In a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Cook revealed that Apple and its supplier work so closely that employees from Cupertino regularly bunk in Chinese factory dorms.

    If you're a small business you'll never wield Apple's level of influence—putting eyeballs and clipboards on the factory floor at every stage of the production process takes time and money that few SMEs can spare. But there are measures available, short of moving into a dorm room in China, that can help ensure the products that roll off the assembly line meet your standards and those of your customers. Here are five tips for getting what you pay for, without paying a lot to do so:

    1. ASK FOR

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