How are companies able to sell/ship products from China so cheaply?

I’ve purchased several items on Ebay that came from China or Hong Kong.
I bought a 4 pack of rechargeable batteries for 99 cents with free shipping.
A 3 pack of ear bud extension cords with volume control for 89 cents with free shipping. And etc… Everything I’ve bought worked great!

The packages arrive withing 2 weeks with Chinese postage stamped all over them.
How on earth can they sell these items so cheaply and then ship them all the way from Asia for under a buck?

I don’t know, but I would guess that the postage is rate in China is very very low, heavily subsidized. Under the treaty of the Universal Postal Union, a recipient country is required to deliver, without additional charge, any piece of mail that was posted in any other country.

When I went to Guatemala 20 years ago, the postal rate for an air mail letter to the USA was equal to four cents. The US postal service was bound to accept and handle it as first class maill when it got to the USA.

Labor in China is very low cost. Plus environmental regulations are minimal, so lower costs there.

Then, factor in that you aren’t shipping 4 batteries overnight, you’re shipping 40,000 batteries in a couple of weeks, so the shipping costs are quite low also.

All of that adds up to a very low price.

Just a note: the postal systems for the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and Macau Special Administrative Region of Macau are all different and independent of one another. The postage rates for one has nothing to do with the postage rates for another.

Apparently this is going to be an annual Dope tradition.

I found a variant method for my earlier thread in tracking the most recent cheap thing I bought off eBay from HK/PRC. It seems that the postal system is: put a lot of the items (packaged and labeled) in big mail bag. Send that bad really cheap to the US (in this case, Chicago), and then from there the individual packets thru the USPS.

But still the total cost of mailing plus the item is so small, it is amazing.

That’s not at all what pkbites described. pkbites didn’t order 40,000 batteries. It was an eBay order for a 4 pack and it was air mailed from Asia.

There’s a company called that sells very cheap electronics that are mailed from Asia. Yes, the envelopes are clearly postmarked from Asia and have marks indicating they cleared US customs. (This is certainly not a plug for dealextreme. While I’ve always gotten what I ordered, quality is hit and miss).

The real issue here is not the cost of postage; that is a secondary issue.

I need an adapter cable for my tablet.

Here, the cheapest I could find was $34.95.

On e-bay I found exactly the same item for $1.69, with free postage.

So the question is: why $34.95 in the USA and $1.69 in China?

Companies don’t price their products based on some fair markup over their cost. In theory pricing is simple - you price them so that charging any more would result in enough fewer people willing to buy it that you’d earn less money over all.

In practice companies generally aren’t terribly rigorous in their methodology, but they’ll still charge as much as they can get away with without hurting their bottom line. U.S. companies, especially big box retailers, can charge massive markups on cables that cost less than a dollar to make, because there are so many unsavy buyers. The kind of people who buy cables from Best Buy or Staples aren’t in a good position to realize how massively overpriced they are, but there are lots of those people out there. Those people also aren’t likely to chance buying a Chinese non-brand cable for 1/15th the price.

There are plenty of people who are willing to chance buying a Chinese cable, but those people are much less likely to pay the ridiculous markup on the cable, so the Chinese can’t markup their product like the US Retailers can.

China has deliberately suppressed the value of its currency relative to the dollar. It has been doing this for a long time. In recent years concessions have been made, but it is probably still significantly undervalued.

In addition to what I posted in the linked thread on the same topic, I found these articles that talk about the subsidized postal arrangement between the US (USPS) and Hong Kong (China Post). This link has some numbers for reference.

China Post is not Hong Kong Post. The post office in Hong Kong is, unsurprisingly, Hong Kong Post. The post office in mainland China, again unsurprisingly, is China Post. Once again: they are not the same entity.

I used to work for a company which,among other things, sold products related to the industry we were in. Among which, a very well known UK based product.
One year, my boss went to an expo in China. Among the many interesting contacts he made there, was a company based out of the factory where the above mentioned products were manufactured: assuming there are 3 shifts in a day, they would produce the UK product for 1 or 2, and then for the last shift(s) carry on manufacturing the exact same thing, with the same excellent quality, but substituting the UK labels for their own, and then sell the finished thing for a fraction of the price.
I suspect this happens with several products, especially electronic-type ones.

The Chinese can make things amazingly cheaply. Here is the website of a company that sells disposable toothbrushes to hotel chains for less than four cents each.

I’ve used them – they would probably last a month or two of daily brushing. More or less comparable to the ones sold in US discount stores for over a buck apiece.

No need for the snark. The articles mention deals with both HK and China Post. Are you questioning the articles or just trying to point out a (minor) misstatement of mine in summarizing the articles?

No. I’m pointing out something mentioned in this thread already: HK Post is not China Post. And one of your links itself repeats the error.

What snark?

I can understand electronics, very cheap, from China. They are labor intensive products. But when, at the store, I saw garlic, imported from China, I was shocked. California has the best soil in the world, and I am offered garlic from China? How could it be cheaper?

But it could have been part of a service that consolidates international parcel shipments.

For example:
1 - 10,000 orders are individually packed and labeled at mfg by automated system
2 - Entire group is shipped as one shipment to destination country including handling customs
3 - In destination country the packages are individually inducted into that carrier’s network (or a partner’s) and delivered
Even with something like the OP’s example is still pretty inexpensive.

In regards to the OP, sometimes those items are sold for feedback padding so the sellers can get their ratings higher and then make back the losses on higher-profit items, or higher-profit quantities. Not necessarily the case here, but sometimes.

California also has stricter labor and and environmental protection laws. Land is expensive. Labor is expensive. Regulation is expensive. Taxes are expensive. If you look around your grocery store, often times you’ll find cheap commodity foods imported from all over the world even if the local climate is able to provide them.

As I posted earlier, this is what happened in my most recent instance. That was China Post out of Guangzhou. (A lot of stuff originates out of Guangzhou. A lot.) I think places like Zenni (glasses) does this as well. But two earlier purchases were HK post and were sent individually according to tracking.

While labor is cheap in that area, it’s not free. Plus you have warehouses, office space, computer and mailing equipment, etc.

I just don’t see how they do it.

Shipping large, comodity products is really cheap now. Hence, The World Is Flat. And it even doesn’t have to be overseas. I am also amazed I can buy a ten pound bag of Idaho potatoes for a couple bucks and know what’s involved. I’ve been on potato farms in that area. I can’t conceive of the farmers themselves making money on this, let alone the wholesaler, shipper or store.

But small, cheap, one-at-a-time items are an entirely different level of amazement.