With international shipping, processes get even more complicated compared to local or domestic shipping. You face tons of paperwork plus custom regulations to adhere to; among other things. You also would need to take into account the duration of delivery and the costs that go with moving packages on an international scale.
The convenience and speed have become a lucrative edge of e-commerce. Why drive to a local store or check out different shops downtown when you can readily do shopping right from home or even when you are on the move.
The fact is that cross-border or international e-commerce sales are now on a rise. The internet economy doesn’t stop at being just a buzz word or a rush-of-the-moment kind of hype but is now becoming a huge market-drawer as millions of people are now shopping online.
This has strategically set the stage for small- and medium-scale online retailers to compete on equal footing with the biggest brands in the industry. This has become a golden nugget of opportunity for everyone. Shipping isn’t just putting your products in a box, labeling it, and shipping it out. There are rules to follow when you decide to ship internationally.
Choose Products That Suit International Shipping
Not all products are created equal. Some products work seamlessly with domestic or local trading but can be stressful when trading internationally. There are specific products that are good for international trade. No doubt, luxury cars are the most traded international product but for starters and to be in the safe zone, it would be relatively easy to ship lightweight and small items.
There are certain import and export restrictions imposed on specific products that vary per country. If you intend to ship perishable items then it’s recommended to keep the transactions local or domestic. You should consider shipping items that are durable and can withstand long-distance shipping.
Choose Your Suppliers Wisely
The best way to know how your suppliers work is to test-buy items. You should order a couple of products first for personal use and check on how the process goes from their end. With this route, you will know first-hand how fast and accurately they handle orders, packaging and labeling, customer engagement, costs, and how long delivery would take.
You can do this mock shipping to several suppliers to determine the best suppliers that actually meet your standards and could fit your business and marketing goals.
Knowing Country-Specific Rules and Regulations
International shipping, both import and export can be a pain especially for those who are testing the international waters the first time. With that in mind, understanding the regulations for your target countries or shipping destinations would definitely help you ship items smoothly.
You can check out the UPS tool for finding out important information regarding international shipping regulations. These country-specific regulations are also accessible from other carriers and even come handy with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Choosing countries that work well with your shipping needs or are easier to trade with would be the best way to start. You can choose a couple of countries to begin with and go from there. It’s better to start slow and steady than rush things and let your business go down the drain.
Expand Your Markets
Your business would start with a target market – a comfort zone of sorts. However, as your business grows, you would need to explore more markets and take calculated risks. In this way, you are able to dive into or penetrate new markets while still holding onto your powerhouse markets.
There are certainly more markets that are waiting out there, you just have to know where to look. International shipping allows you to that into the big markets while also tapping onto new and potential markets that have a need and demand for your products. There are many destinations or markets that would surely provide you more than just a disposable income. This is what you have to keep your eye into.
Align Your Advertising Strategy with Your Shipping Goals
Consistency is key to shipping it right. For instance, if you use Facebook or Instagram in advertising your products, then your advertising efforts should be aligned with your target market or clientele.
If you cater to people that belong to certain demography or geography. You can expand your reach as you explore other markets in the long run. You will have that gut feel once you are ready to explore and expand out of your comfort zone.
Try Intercepting the Package
This would not work in certain businesses or countries. However, if you are in the United States and your supplier is in Asia then you can use this method. With intercepting the package, you ship the products directly to yourself before you send them to your customers. This is also referred to as a dropshipping strategy which comes with a couple of benefits.
With this strategy, you get to repackage items and put your own label on it before you ship orders to customers. You get your own personal or business branding right into the product which spells tons of difference when it reaches your customers.
Also, by intercepting packages, you also get to check on the quality and quantity of products so you make sure that you will deliver the right items to your customers.
Know Shipping Duration or Times
Transparency and reliability are very important to customers. They would know where their packages are which means real-time reporting is crucial for your business to thrive. The shipping mode and distance can affect the shipping duration.
There are also customs regulations that would vary for each destination. It is also important to be able to comply with the taxes and other fees to avoid any hold in the customs to help keep the international shipping process quick and seamless.
It takes work to know and understand the ins and outs of international shipping. Just like everything else, there are rules to follow in order to thrive in international trade. It can be tricky and challenging but can provide your business with the opportunity it needs to be expanded to new and untapped markets. Discovering potential markets is a part of the growth process, and all you have to do is to take that jump to see where it takes you.