Targeting the domestic buyer: How to sell goods that aren’t available in the Philippines

Warehouse workers importing products that aren’t available domestically.

Now is as good a time as ever to make money online, especially if you’re in the Philippines. Online shopping is enjoying a sustained surge of popularity as most people choose to stay home. So, if you decide to open an online store, your chances of doing well and reaching a market that’s willing to buy your products are very high.

But if everyone you follow on social media already has an online store; you might have a hard time thinking of things to sell. After all, you maximize your potential profits by carving a niche for yourself, and the more shops open, the harder that is to do. How does one come up with a great plan to sell more unique products on the market?

Well, have you ever considered importing products?

Selling products that aren’t readily available in a domestic market is a great way to make money. If you can find a product that a lot of people want, but isn’t sold locally, you’ll open yourself up to a niche that you can easily dominate and earn a lot of money from. 

Great reasons to import products

It benefits consumers

The first good reason for importing is that it fulfils local customers’ needs. Suppose you identify a product that domestic buyers really need. In that case, you’ll be doing them a favor and, in turn, doing your own brand a favor by being a reliable source of products that aren’t usually available locally.

You help create more jobs

Although you might think that you’re taking away some opportunities for local producers by importing, you’re helping boost the economy by creating many jobs connected to trade. Importing enlists the help of services like shipping, transport, and manual labor to make it all run smoothly.

You help foreign manufacturers

Not only are you able to make more money if you were to sell imported goods online, but you’re also helping out the foreign manufacturers. You help them sell more product by bringing it to a market that’s got more demand for imported goods than their respective local markets.

How to start importing goods in the Philippines

Now that you know all about the benefits of importing products and selling them online in the Philippines, it’s time for you to get started. Take note: the road to getting all the necessary business permits and clearances from the different departments of the government is long. But if you’ve got a winning idea, then it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Figure out what you’ll be importing

First, arguably the essential part: figure out what you’re importing, and how you’ll be importing it. Make sure it’s also not in the list of banned items. (Looking for ideas on products to sell online? Check out our guide to the most in-demand products in 2021.)

Register your business with the DTI and BIR

Get your necessary business permits from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). (Here’s our guide on everything you need to know to start an online business in the Philippines. Before you begin the official business of importing and selling, you’ll have to do this first to make sure your online store is 100% legal.

Get the necessary permits and clearances for importing

After you register your business, you’ll have to secure several necessary permits and clearances to be able to start importing in the Philippines.

You’ll have to get accreditation from the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BoC). You can access the full list of requirements on their website. 

You’ll also have to register with BoC’s Client Profile Registration System and renew it annually.

Buy your goods and ship them to the Philippines

Once you’re fully registered, you can start shipping your goods to the Philippines. 

When they arrive, you should have the following documents ready:

  • Packing list
  • Invoice
  • Bill of lading
  • Import permit
  • Customs import declaration
  • Certificate of origin

If you’re bringing in animals, plants, food, medicine, or chemicals, you also need a Certificate of Product Registration from the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration

You’ll also have to pay taxes and tariffs on the goods you’re importing. Fortunately, the Tariff Commission has made it easy to know how much you’ll be paying with a convenient online tariff finder.

Start selling unique products today!

Once you’ve managed to get your imported goods successfully and legally into the country, it’s now time to start selling them to Filipinos online! As long as you’ve figured out what local buyers are looking for, it shouldn’t be hard for you to start making money off unique products in the Philippines.

In fact, why not make the process easier for yourself? Set up your online business using Shopify: the complete eCommerce platform to get you on your way. For a monthly fee, you can start, market, and manage your business on a platform that helps you do everything you need to build your own brand online. 


Start your online business today — sign up to Shopify for a 14-Day free trial. No credit card required.