how do you find suppliers and what is the process for importing goods?
We use alibaba mostly. We never pick a business that has been on there for less than 3 years though. They are the most trustworthy.
Do you actually travel to China etc or can you order samples from exporters?
We have not traveled over there yet, although there are plans to later this year as we've found a few of our current suppliers have said they would like to meet us in person and talk better deals. As for samples, we tend to get them sent over in one of our containers as you have to pay for them (generally more than you'd pay for them if you were buying a lot of them) and pay the shipping. Depending on what you're thinking about this can get very costly if you have to use LCL all the time to get samples over, and air freight can be a killer.
Is their a reputable website to help navigate the regulatory side of importing (DFAT maybe?).
We pay a company that specialises in overseas freight to handle all of our importing. They take care of organising the shipments, customs charges and take care of all the fees etc involved with importing. We pay them directly for everything.
Hope that helps