For many businesses, there has never been a better time to start selling internationally, as a growing number of shoppers are looking to purchase products from around the world.
On the one hand, this rapid international growth is exciting as it signifies a massive opportunity for businesses of all sizes to expand. On the other hand, there are plenty of new challenges and potential risks that come along with it.
In many situations, companies find that the biggest challenge is meeting their customers’ expectations, which is why studying a guide to international shipping is highly recommended.
By learning from others’ mistakes, you will be in a better position to take advantage of the expanding potential of selling internationally while continuing to run a profitable business and providing a fantastic customer experience.
If you are considering expanding into new markets this year, read on for five top recommendations for successful international shipping.
1. Always accurately declare your imports and exports
No matter where your goods are going, your shipments are going to require the appropriate documentation in order to move through the customs clearance process.
While all countries vary in their required documentation, for the shipment to be cleared, most necessitate a commercial invoice and a packing list, as well as a certificate of origin and a shipper’s export declaration.
Whatever you do, you must never misrepresent or under-declare the value of your items as this is a surefire way of having customs confiscate or delay your shipment. Unfortunately, too many business owners try to play the system and ultimately get caught.
Don’t be like them; instead, play by the rules of international shipping and accurately declare your goods.
To help make your shipping processes more efficient, opt to create a list specifying the necessary information for all of your top-selling products, including the weight and package dimensions. By having all the information in one place, it will make it a lot easier for you to organize your shipments and ensure all the information is accurate.
2. Research your target market
Before you start shipping your goods around the world, you first want to make sure that there is a market for them. Therefore, your biggest responsibilities are to understand the international demand of your product and then how countries regulate its importation.
Understanding these two aspects of international shipping will significantly aid you in strategizing how to fulfil orders in various countries.
For starters, it is crucial that you know if your product will be taxed in the destination country and, if so, by how much and at what quantity. Does your product fall under any customs regulations?
Or is there a minimum threshold for duties? All of these questions need to be answered in order for you to make well-informed business decisions.
In some cases, it may be more profitable for you to have products stored in a warehouse within the country and then have these fulfilled locally.
On the other hand, you may be better off dispatching them individually via an international parcel service when someone places an order. Every company has different needs, and so it is vital that you devise a strategy that works for you and your product.
3. Adhere to international shipping regulations
As an international shipper, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are adhering to international shipping regulations and that you aren’t moving products that are hazardous or restricted.
For example, items such as aerosols, explosives, and perishable products are not allowed to be imported or exported.
If you neglect to abide by these international shipping regulations, you could end up with punishments ranging from costly fines to prison time.
4. Always insure your goods
One of the biggest questions when it comes to organizing international shipping is whether or not you should insure your goods. In most scenarios, it is highly recommended that you do insure your products.
No matter what your freight consists of or how you are moving them, there is a much higher risk of damage or loss when moving goods across international borders.
Freight can be destroyed in cargo fires or shipping accidents, can be lost or accidentally shipped to the wrong country, and can also get damaged during the customs inspection process.
While it may be enticing to save some money by skipping out insurance, this is not beneficial. It can be potentially catastrophic to your company if goods are damaged or lost during the shipping process as you will not only lose the original freight, but you will still have to provide substitutes.
Similarly, you don’t want to only be covered by liability insurance through your carrier or freight forwarder, as this is generally not enough to cover the costs of serious loss or damage.
Full-coverage cargo insurance provides you with a thorough level of protection while also giving you peace of mind.
5. Work with an online shipping solution
One of the best things that you can do for your international shipping strategy is to partner with an online shipping solution that aids you through every step of the process.
From providing you with an online quote to organizing your freight and tracking them, an online shipping solution equips you with the necessary tools to ensure your international shipping processes will be as successful as possible.
For many companies, working with an online freight forwarder is ideal because it enables them to have a personal guide throughout the process who can work with them to ensure they are choosing the most suitable options for them.
For example, not only will this enable you to submit most of your paperwork electronically, but, in many cases, the online shipping solution will be able to submit the documentation for you.
They will also be able to help you determine the best routes to utilize, as well as locate the appropriate ports at your intended destination.
Has your business started shipping internationally? Is it something that you are considering doing this year? Why or why not?
Let us know your thoughts and any concerns you have in the comments below!