Author Topic: Selling electronic products worldwide?  (Read 1288 times)

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Offline Fabian

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Selling electronic products worldwide?
« on: November 16, 2020, 08:52:28 pm »
Hello everyone!

Long story short: a friend of mine and myself are designing a nice electronics product, which we would like to sell at some point. So I tried to getting into the legal side of selling electronic devices worldwide or at least in the most important countries. My current result of research is that this is basically impossible to do legally for small projects. Am I missing something obvious? Please correct me if any of the following is wrong.
We are located in the EU, so my first thought was 'hey, selling within the EU cannot be too hard once we have fulfilled everything in our country (Germany)' but that is not true. Especially the WEEE directive is a pain in the butt. You need to register EACH product in EACH country within the EU and you need a local representative in EACH country. RoHS and CE are not that big deal as far as I understood. You need the ROHS documentation for your manufacturing chain and EMI testing can be done by ourself if we are sure we will not fail a 'proper' test.
When looking at other countries there are different regulations for every one of them. For example for the US you need (in our case) a small FCC compliance test which costs 1000-2000€ as far as I could figure out. But even that is a big investment for a small project. And I guess this continues for every other country we would like to sell. So how do other projects (for example all the stuff on Kickstarter) handle this? I know that CrowdSupply will do most of this for you, but once the campaign is over you have to handle every thing yourself. Also distributors like Mouser, Digikey, or smaller ones will not do these things for you.
Hope you get my problem. Any ideas or advices?

Best regards,
Fabian
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Selling electronic products worldwide?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2020, 10:08:20 pm »
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/chat/where-can-i-sell-my-projects/
Blueskull has some good posts about this.

You can consider places like seeed or elecrow to sell your design as well, so any responsibility falls to them.
 

Offline Fabian

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Re: Selling electronic products worldwide?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2020, 10:54:30 pm »
Hi, thanks for the link, will read that tomorrow.
Are you sure that selling over Elecrow or similar sides solves the weee problem? According to my knowledge both the manufacturer and the importer are responsible for registering the product and paying the fees. And if the importer does not do it, you as the manufacturer are responsible.

Best regards,
Fabian
 

Offline NANDBlog

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Re: Selling electronic products worldwide?
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2020, 11:37:30 pm »
Hope you get my problem. Any ideas or advices?
Grab a smaller bite. First you should launch the products that are available for you. In Germany, you have access to 84 million potential customers, if you stay within the EU, another 340 million. You can easily skip on markets, and be overwhelmed. Can you market your product in all those countries?
 

Offline Fabian

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Re: Selling electronic products worldwide?
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2020, 09:40:38 am »
Grab a smaller bite. First you should launch the products that are available for you. In Germany, you have access to 84 million potential customers, if you stay within the EU, another 340 million. You can easily skip on markets, and be overwhelmed. Can you market your product in all those countries?
Yeah, that would be the current plan, but we will have to expand at some point as the market is probably not large enough with 84M people. Our product is quite specialized and the potential number of customers is relatively low.
My hope was that I was missing something obvious like selling it though someone else like thm_w mentioned, but I don't think this will release us from the burden of import requirements (like WEEE, FCC, ...). I also figured out that there are companies who (for example) take care of the WEEE stuff in all countries you would like them to do, but I was not able to figure out how much that would cost. Any number on this topic is welcome.
 

Offline mairo

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Re: Selling electronic products worldwide?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2020, 02:27:17 pm »
If let's say you have a website (e.g. own, or eBay) and allow worldwide shipping, wouldn't the burden fall onto the customer who will also be an importer if he decides to purchase the goods from you and import them to his country of origin? 

I am guessing you are looking for something like compliance to as many countries as possible, wouldn't a FCC and CE (covering Germany as a start) for example be enough and again 'pass' any further responsibility if any to the foreign customer(which however could also lower your customers based on the product type) ?

I am just speculating, do not know much about it, but also interested in the topic.
 

Offline Fabian

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Re: Selling electronic products worldwide?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2020, 10:02:00 am »
Sorry for the late answer, the email notification is not working for some reason...
Interesting input, but I don't think its working this way, although all the chinese suppliers probably do it this way ;)

And yes, doing the compliance stuff for Germany (which is the same as for the EU, except WEEE) and FCC would be the first step. And once this is running, upgrade to more markets. But I think I will have to look at each individual country and check what they require, which seems unrealistic. And I would start with a CrowdSupply.com compain, as they will take care of this stuff.

If anyone has more information on this topic, feel free to let us know :)
 

Offline prasimix

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Re: Selling electronic products worldwide?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2020, 09:14:04 am »
Fabian, please let me know who gave you info that CrowdSupply will take care of anything related to compliance stuff mentioned here. I'm not aware of such thing, and personally chasing them for more then a half year without success for simple answer if they are willing to become "proxy" for FCC SDoC once we passed CE testing in accredited lab here in EU (Croatia), or not.

Offline Fabian

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Re: Selling electronic products worldwide?
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2020, 10:39:11 am »
Hi prasimix,
I just checked the email they wrote me again, and I probably misunderstood it. I think they don't. They just take care of export/import stuff (export compliance from within the USA, taxes, ...) but not things like FCC/CE/EMI/WEEE. So that is still up to us. I found this quite usefull article:
https://www.mikrocontroller.net/articles/WEEE-Anmeldung
Yes, it is writen in German, but maybe you can use some translation tool. If you need any particular translation to english, PM me.
They talk alot about companies dealing with the WEEE problem for you. I have not come around to contact any one of them.
A friend also told me that it is common practice for small companies to register WEEE in their own country, which is not too expensive (less than 1k€ in Germany I think, and much cheaper in most other EU countries). This way you get this registration number you can put on your website and your bills. This protects you from those nasty lawyers who just use bots to crawl though the internet and sue evey company not complying. They then still sell their products within the whole EU (basically illegally), but there is no instance who could figure this out, as those who care about WEEE do not know where you ship your stuff. But as I said, this is just a rumor I heard from a friend, and it is defenetly not allowed.
Another nasty thing everyone should watch out for is the fact that the WEEE is basically a lottery. Just paying the fees is not enough. You will get an account which holds the amount of electronic waste you put into the market and you will get assined containers with e-waste randomly. You are then responsible for the correct disposal of these containers. And yes, this is literally a physical container sitting somewhere and you have to go there (or hire a company to do so) to get rid of it. Once you have done that the container will be subtracted from your account. Negative account values are possible, but they will not save you from another container. Here one of these companies dealing with this problem can be helpful.
 
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