RutaGanusauskaite Hi Ruta,
No legally it's the merchant who is liable. They cannot enforce it in China due to their lax laws over there so the US authorities come after the importer - the merchant by law, US. Yes you're right it is up to the merchant to do the background and testing etc for it because they are 100% responsible for every single product they import and sell in the US and UK markets.
Unfortunately it's not a matter of ONLY avoiding cosmetics and electrical products I really wish it was that simple then I would be 100% behind the drop-ship from aliexpress model (to be honest I don't think it can work legally unless you independently have every one of your samples tested by 3rd party inspection agents like asianinspection.com I think it can only work if you order in bulk and meet the compliance regulation laws yourself with 3rd party labs and testing companies or source from other countries like US suppliers who must meet compliance regulations unlike in China).
I understand this isn't the fun, trust me I wish I could just go nuts and drop-ship a bunch of products from Aliexpress the way I found out about this is I'd spent weeks building a chlildren's store after my other one did well and it was nice to have some spare $$ but then I learnt that children's products are the MOST regulated of all and I cannot possibly see any way around it to sell these products to parents - you cannot assure they're compliant or safe for their kids. No one selling the 'drop-ship' from China model wants to think about it but it's the laws and you're putting people's safety at risk not to mention your business at risk. I'm surprised Shopify and Oberlo don't have information regarding this or seem to be far more knowledgable/understand the risks and requirements of the country of import and implications for their customers using their services on all this? I had no idea about any of this when I was a newbie joined this drop-ship AE a year ago.
Don't get me wrong I think Shopify + Oberlo are fantastic products - the cheap suppliers are great, some of the products are excellent and I've had many lovely suppliers etc it's great! BUT....... you can't just sweep this under the rug and ignore it as more and more people sign up and are flooding the Western markets even more with these unregulated and non-compliant products. The only ones who benefit is Shopify + Oberlo + Aliexpress - the merchant may make alot of $$ in the short term but they are doing so at a HUGE risk to themselves each product they sell and to others. And their customers are most likely completely unaware they're are purchasing unregulated/non-compliant products they'd just assume they're safe.
Please read: http://www.chinaimportal.com/blog/cpsc-regulations-importing-china-usa/
I mean, how many people selling their products from aliexpress understand the compliance and regulation laws of the country they are selling in? How many are meeting those? How many know exactly what raw materials are being used to make the products they're selling? How many know whether the factory suppling their drop-ship goods doesn't use child labour (BSCI certificate)? How many know 100% if the products they sold have met all the labelling requirements of the country of import? It's things like this which are very worrying. I'd imagine the % is very very low. As most people who are aware would probably find another business model I know I am. I just want to make others aware as Oberlo and Shopify don't seem to be doing that because either they're unaware also or it would be detrimental to your/their business but unfortunately it's the law.
ALL products have regulations and safety laws, for instance the dyes in children's textiles MUST meet the compliance standard, the stuffing in soft toys or cushions must meet regulations, swimming goggles have to meet standards like FDA approval even etc, EVEN a pen has regulations and testing it must meet because they can be a choking hazard, anything you eat off must meet FDA approval (like even selling something as simple as mug), ALL children's products MUST meet CPSIA/CPC compliance regulations.
Please watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VLQ13PqU_M
For example fidget spinners coming in from China have been found to have higher levels of lead in them than legally permitted (and how many oberlo + shopify sellers do you think have sold or are still selling fidget spinners especially marketed to children - when they were at their peak/hype stage in the market? ALOT..) & the CPSC has issued warnings. (Same with many children's jewelry coming from China)
Please read: https://www.cpsc.gov/Business--Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Fidget-Spinners
I just think it's a massive issue that needs far better clarity for paying shopify + oberlo customers who are signing up to this business model, so yes would be great if oberlo or shopify could write up comprehensive guides and posts educating /warning merchants and helping them navigate/understand all the compliance regulations they must meet - how do they protect themselves/their business and how to find out what their specific products need to meet compliance regulations and labelling laws and what they MUST do, just like the issues with copyright and patents which is another whole issue on it's own. I assume alot will ignore it because it IS a huge headache and complex it's far more fun to just make a shop and sell stuff not dealing with it/just risking it - so it's not like you'd lose much business but at least people would be made more aware - until one day those who ignore at their own peril are unlucky enough to get the ramifications of doing so, only then they'd take the steps to deal with it like we all have to or wished that they had. (e.g. the exploding Hoverboards nightmare: https://www.cnet.com/au/news/why-are-hoverboards-exploding-and-catching-fire/ & https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianahembree/2017/06/30/exploding-hoverboards-top-consumer-watchdog-blacklist-for-summer-toys/#78a6ca160d24)
I just want to make others aware, that's all as I myself had no idea also when I first started. Personally I'm still going to import from China etc but not drop-ship. I've learn't alot with your platform though so thanks.. I love both shopify + oberlo but I do think this is an issue that is skipped (or ignored) and I don't think it's right for the merchants and customers. But YES it is their responsibility not Oberlo or Shopifys. You are correct on that. It will be us who pays the price if a customer contacts the CPSC and any person can make a complaint easily on their website for those authorities to investigate at any time. (cpsc.gov)
I would love and be back if Shopify/Oberlo one day uses US manufacturers or other countries as suppliers too or finds a way to protect their customers from such compliance/labelling laws legal issues with Chinese suppliers (but I know that's very difficult) - although more expensive if using US suppliers etc and margins are lower at least then the legal responsibility falls on the manufacturer in those cases and not on the merchant. Products on Amazon.com must meet compliance regulations and Amazon are becoming very strict with these regulations for sellers so maybe even drop-shipping from amazon would be an option in future as those products would have already met the standards for selling in US/UK/AU market places? Although I don't know if products on Amazon are all 100% compliant that would have to be something to research into more thoroughly but I do know they come down very hard on sellers for non-compliance and kick them off if they do not meet these regulations or provide evidence for compliance before they'll allow them to sell on their platform (like certifications etc).