How do I source products from in and around Europe?
April 12, 2014 9:04 PM   Subscribe

Hello all I'm thinking about starting an import business specialising in very high quality and hard to find products, particularly tools and machinery. I'm having trouble finding good quality online directories that list manufacturers like Alibaba that target Europe. Does anybody have any advice on finding products in Europe? Thank you kindly
posted by Jimmeh to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
High quality tools and machinery from Europe? You mean something like Bosch? What market window are you looking to fill?
posted by sanka at 9:31 PM on April 12, 2014

Response by poster: @sanka Like Bosch, but a lot smaller. There are loads of smaller producers. It's just a matter of finding them. I'm open to other products as well. I haven't drilled down a market window yet, I'm just trying to see what's out there first.
posted by Jimmeh at 10:14 PM on April 12, 2014

Swede here. The tools/machinery market is fairly small so you will probably only find a few European manufacturers per country that still make their products locally. I kinda know because recently I tried to create a web site of Swedish companies - regardless of industry type - that make their products in Sweden but soon gave up because I realized that the list would be too short.

My suggestion? Just google ["made in country" tools OR machinery OR "power tool" OR "hand tool"] etc. The very few European companies that still have their production in their own country tend to really brag about this.

If you need help with sourcing the Swedish market or just encounter language problems, I would be glad to help. Just Mefi mail me.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:40 AM on April 13, 2014

I worked for one of the bigger retail organisations that has supermarkets around the world. I was part of a team that had to source non-food items (the product segments I worked in were toys, consumer electronics and camping) We had very little time to come up with a proposal and the only way to get this done was travelling extensively, from trade show to trade show. Usually 2-3 days per show and then one or two days just for shopping nearby the trade show. Most big European trade shows are somewhere in Germany.
Especially if you are looking for quality, desktop research doesn't cut it. And if you are cornering a specific part of the market, I would go out and speak to craftsmen in Europe (visit workshops etc). I am fully aware that this a very expensive way to get the job done (and I never had the opportunity again to work like this).
An alternative that we used, to get an indication of what to expect, is find the best shops in a particular town (there are many online fora to find your niche), look online what brands they are carrying and take it from there.
I don't know exactly what you are looking for - and I know nothing about tools - but German store Manufactum does what you're looking for: finding the best. The prices are rather high and they target a consumer market only. Good luck with your venture!
posted by ouke at 4:51 AM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention that you can contact various chambers of commerce, such as Stockholm's.

And then there's Europages.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:09 AM on April 13, 2014

Ireland has Enterprise Ireland, which is dedicated to helping Irish manufacturers and producers to export their goods. There are goods manufactured here (I have clients who make fencepost drivers and outdoor heaters) but probably not in small tool and die. My point is really that most countries will have similar organisations and that is your best starting point.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:47 AM on April 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all for the replies. Some very helpful information here!
posted by Jimmeh at 4:58 PM on April 16, 2014

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