More than ever, we exist in a global market. From a large-scale manufacturer all the way to a small-scale retailer, there is business being conducted from one end of the earth to the other.
As a business owner, it only makes sense to consider accessing global marketplaces. A recent study by Statista shows that over 50% of all global consumers order products from overseas. In addition, according to DHL, international sales average higher in value than domestic sales, and can result in 60% faster growth for your business!
Navigating international shipping is hardly an easy task. That’s why today we’re going to look at some of the finer points of what it takes to get your goods anywhere they need to go!
Know Your Market
Like any decision for your business, expanding into the global market is not a decision to make lightly. It is important to do the right research to ensure that you are expanding into markets that will offer a worthwhile ROI.
Resist the urge to expand too quickly. Focus initially on one or two marketplaces that you can confidently expand into. Studies have shown that many consumer groups will feel more confident purchasing local goods over similar foreign goods, so it is important to research consumer trends to ensure that your goods not only fit the markets, but that there is a demand for them, as well.
Learn the Rules to Play the Game
International shipping laws are constantly changing, as evidenced by the EU recently introducing changes to VAT rules on cross-border and eCommerce sales, so it is worth your time to stay informed of any changes that might impact your chosen international marketplaces. One uncrossed “t” or undotted “i” could mean that your shipment doesn’t ship.
First and foremost, research your destination country’s packaging regulations. As with much of international shipping, these regulations can vary from country to country, and sometimes from carrier to carrier. For instance, there is an international set of guidelines specifically for the use of wood as a packaging material for export.
Ensure that what you’re shipping doesn’t fall into a country’s “Dangerous and Restricted Goods” classification. If an item is restricted in its destination country, it can ground your whole shipment indefinitely! Typically, a country will list its dangerous and restricted goods on their government website.
Lastly, but certainly not least, be sure that all your documentation is correct. Typical customs documents include a Commercial Invoice, Export Packing List, and Certificate of Origin.
- A Commercial Invoice is used in value appraisal and calculation of duties and taxes. It must include retailer name and address; recipient name and address; quantity, description, and price of all items; terms of sale and payment; and mode of transport.
- An Export Packing List is similar to a domestic shipment packing list but includes the mode of transport; carrier information; and weight, dimensions, quantity, and type of each package being shipped.
- A Certificate of Origin lists country or countries where all products in the shipment were produced, manufactured, and/or obtained. This must be signed by the retailer, and occasionally the local chamber of commerce.
When filling out this documentation be thorough and accurate. In some cases, such as shipping to India, much of this information is required directly on the shipping label. Failure to provide correct information could result in your shipment being delayed, or even held!
The result? Fees known as Detention and Demurrage fees. Worse still, these fees are only going up: A report by Container xChange saw the D&D fees across the world increase by an average of 104% in the past year! The more information, the less potential for customs hiccups, and unnecessary fees.
Choose Your Carrier Wisely
Knowing what and where you’re shipping is certainly vital but knowing who and how is equally important. Choosing the right carrier and method of transport is integral in ensuring that you don’t overpay or underdeliver.
Let’s start with the how. Depending on where you’re shipping to, and what you’re shipping, your options for the best means of transport can vary. For instance, shipping by air is certainly the fastest overseas option, but often that speed comes with a premium; air shipping can be upwards to 3 to 6 times more expensive than sea shipping.
Shipping by sea, on the other hand, is often a more cost-effective option, but is certainly not without its drawbacks. Aside from the fact that shipping by sea increases your shipping time by weeks, there is also a higher risk of damaged goods on account of choppy seas and due to the time in transport, especially for fragile shipments.
Further, it is important to keep in mind that different carriers specialize in different forms of shipping. The carrier you use to ship a pallet to New York by truck is not likely to be the best choice to air ship a parcel to Beijing. Choosing the right carrier for the job can save you time and money and ensure that your customers have the best experience possible.
Of course, there are other factors to consider when choosing a carrier. For instance, 93% of consumers expect to receive visibility updates on their shipments, so a carrier who offers end-to-end tracking on international shipping will be able to keep you and your customers up to date through the whole process. That peace of mind can go a long way in building lasting business relationships.
Are You Ready to Go Global?
International shipping has become an inescapable reality for nearly every modern business, and with so much to consider when shipping outside your own borders, it’s crucial to do it right.
- Choose the right market for your business. Research your web analytics and consumer trends to ensure a worthwhile ROI.
- Be clear on the shipping regulations not only in Canada, but in the destination country.
- Ensure that all your documentation is thorough and accurate. More information means less potential for error.
- Choose the best method for shipping your goods, accounting for time and cost.
- Ensure that, whichever method you choose, you also choose the best carrier for the job.
Managing your business’ shipping needs is a monumental undertaking, even more so when you expand your shipping reach. That’s why at Freightcom we’re here to offer solutions to manage those shipping needs. If you’re looking for a way to give your business that extra edge, contact one of our shipping experts today at 1-877-335-8740 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and see how we can help you ship better.
Written by Brandon Draga
Brandon Draga is a full-time content writer at Freightcom, the leading shipping solution for businesses in Canada. When Brandon is not writing content to help businesses with their shipping needs, he can be found at local skate parks or writing fantasy novels.