How do they do it?
When I was in Quartzsite, AZ this past winter, wandering around the sales, I bought a new pair of reading glasses with yellow-tinted lenses to cut the blue light from mobile devices. I’d heard that the blue light was bad if you used a device at night, which I did. Often. I think the glasses have helped improve my sleep patterns.
Because I need readers with me all the time and I don’t always carry a purse or clothes with suitable pockets, I’d taken to wearing the glasses on a chain around my neck, kind of like a stereotypical librarian from the 1950s. (I’ve been accused of many things, but vanity is not one of them.) When I bought the new readers, they also had beaded chains that were quite pretty and only $2. I bought one.
I wore it just about every single day for six months. Then it broke, dropping microscopic beads on the floor. I was definitely not going to restring them. With heavy heart, I tossed the chain away and got online to find a replacement.
Nice looking beaded chains were available on Amazon.com starting at about $12. Surely I could do better.
I did. On eBay. $3.56 with free shipping. I submitted an order and paid with PayPal.
I knew it was coming from China and I figured it would take a long time. Maybe a month. Whatever. I wasn’t in any hurry. I still had the old chain I’d used before the nice beaded one.
But within a few days, I got an email message from the Chinese company I’d bought from. It was written in perfect English, easy to understand, and complete in the information I needed. If scammers wrote letters this nice, they’d fool more people.
The package arrived about a week later. It was a padded envelope with Chinese postage on it. It easily fit in my mailbox.
I brought it in and opened it up. I was very surprised to find a nice pink box inside. I’d been expecting the chain in a cheesy plastic bag marked with an inspection number. The box made it suitable for giving as a gift.
When I opened the box, I found the beaded chain inside it on a piece of satin that seemed made just for it. Classy.
And that got me thinking. How do these Chinese companies make money?
First they have to get the materials and labor to create the item they’re selling.
Then they need the fancy box with the satin insert and someone to carefully stow the chain inside it.
Then the box goes into an envelope with a packing slip. A label goes on the outside with postage.
And then someone takes it with countless others to the Chinese equivalent of a post office where it’s shipped thousands of miles. It goes through customs (I assume) and gets sorted into the U.S. postal system. And eventually it makes it to my mailbox.
Less than the cost of a latte.
How can they possibly make any money on this?