Why import furniture from China?

US imports of wooden bedroom furniture have increased for four consecutive quarters (by dollar value), driven by recovery in the real estate market and falling national unemployment numbers. Furniture/Today’s 2015 Imports/Export Report reveals that US furniture imports rose eight percent in 2014. As this milieu has been challenging in recent years, this is encouraging news for furniture importers and their manufacturing partners.
In 2014,furniture shipments to the US rose to $21.4 billion, up from $19.7 billion in 2013. China remained the top overseas resource, with $12.2 billion in shipments, up six percent from $11.6 billion the year before.
China is well-knowing as an exporting powerhouse, and so it is unsurprising that China accounted for more than half the world total of imports, confirming its ongoing importance as a source country for the US market. If you’re an entrepreneur in the US, you should learn more about how to import furniture from China to the US.

Importing from China

China has an entire city devoted to manufacturing and selling furniture-Shunde. It is about 40 km south of Guangzhou, and is also known simply as Furniture City. It is easily accessible to both Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Shunde is home to over 1,500 furniture manufacturers and 3,500 furniture dealers (both Chinese and international), who display their products in 200 modern buildings covering roughly 32 million square feet.
Visiting Shunde, or attending something like the Canton Fair in Guangzhou or the Hong Kong Houseware Fair can also be a good way to get to know the types and range of furniture sources available in China.
Of course, if you are a seasoned importer, you already have your sources; iContainers is here to help you bring your goods into the US quickly, securely, and economically.
As China is a major importer and exporter, it is home to many large, modern, well-equipped seaports from which many US importers ships their goods. Among the most important of these ports are:

  • Port of Shanghai
    The Port of Shanghai, managed by Shanghai International Port Group, has been the busiest commercial port in the world since 2010; it exceeded 35 million TEUs per year in 2014. Yangshan deep-water port, Wusongkuo, and Waigaoqiao make up the port of Shanghai. These locations have a number of terminals, including the Zhanghuabang Company (which handles containers, heavy cargo, and steel and iron); the Coal Branch (which handles sand, gravel, and carbon); and the Baoshan Terminal Branch (which handles general and bulk cargo).

  • Port of Ningbo
    The Port of Ningbo has played a major role in relieving the congestion that was becoming a problem at the Port of Shanghai. This port is located South of Shanghai, and is the exit port for all goods exported from Zhejiang, which is China’s the second most-important province. Ningbo has been merged with the Port of Zhoushan, and is now able to handle 17 million TEUs annually. It has 309 berths and five terminals: Beilun Port Area, Zhenhai Port Area, Ningbo Port Area, Daxie Port Area and Chuanshan Port Area.

  • Port of Shenzhen
    The Deepwater Port of Shenzen is one of the world’s fastest-growing ports, as well as one of its busiest. Its has facilities in Da Chan Bay, Shekou, Chiwan, Mawan, Yantian, Dongjiaotou, Fuyong, Xiadong, Shayuchong and Neihe do business with 39 shipping companies, making it one of the most important ports in China. It has 140 berths, including 51 berths for vessels of 11,000 deadweight tons (DWT) or greater. Roughly 560 ships call at this port monthly. A projected merger with the Port of Hong Kong will make them the world’s primary seaport.

Full container load (FCL) or groupage (LCL)

When goods are shipped via maritime transport, they are shipped in containers of either 20 feet in length or 40 feet in length. Ten standard pallets (or 39 cubic yards of goods) will fit in a 20-foot container, while 22 standard pallets (nearly 75.5 cubic yards of goods) can be shipped in a 40-foot container. If your shipment is at least five standard pallets, your most economical choice will be FCL, or a full container load. If your shipment is smaller, your most economical choice will be a shared container, called groupage (LCL).
Even if your shipment is small, FCL is wise if you wish to isolate your goods from those of other importers. This helps protect your goods from any potential damage caused by contact with others’merchandise.

Transit times for maritime transport

Shipping times for maritime container transport to the US vary depending on destination, and are not exact. Transport from China requires between 14 and 50 days. Shippers must also factor in possible delays caused by unforeseen incidents, as well as time for customs clearance. This is why iContainers encourages shippers to allow three months for shipping.

Air transport for imports of furniture products from China to the US

For smaller shipments of furniture, air transport may be a better option for you that maritime transport. If high stock turnover or high demand make your import deadlines very tight, you may want to consider this option. Although air transport does impose limits that mean moving a lower volume of goods at a higher price, it does reduce shipping times dramatically. iContainers’calculator can help you determine whether this is a viable choice for you.