Clearit.ca's Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates
As your business expands outside of the continental US, international shipping becomes necessary for your customers to receive your product. What may seem like a simple system of send and delivery, invariably presents a few obstacles when doing business with other countries, cultures and ways of doing things.
International shipping can be very tricky at times—everything from custom forms and regulations to the way an address is written and formatted on the envelope or package varies from country to country. That’s why we’ve outlined a handful of tips to consider before you start shipping overseas to eliminate the hassle of international shipping slip ups.
#1 – Research regional target market
Researching your target market is an important first step before deciding to do business in a given country. These may seem like an obvious one, but it’s also an important one. What are the market competitors like and what types of goods and services do they sell? Do they sell comparable products at similar rates? Consider these key questions to avoid breaking into a new, foreign market and failing miserably and still footing the bill for international shipping.
#2 – Become familiar with the shipping logistics
It’s very likely that you won’t know the way a particular country handles certain shipping methods. Making mistakes in this area could leave you with extra shipping-related charges that could have been avoided. For example, consider the basics like projected delivery time and the most efficient way of packaging the goods.
It’s smart to ask other companies who serve your target market how they handle shipping and timely deliveries. They can offer advice that is invaluable as your company breaks into a new market.
#3 – Assess the risk
Opening your company up to do business in a new country is a risky endeavor, and you ought to be prepared to tackle the risk and additional expenses along the way. Research things that may go wrong with each step of the deal and develop a plan to solve each potential problem. International shipping gets expensive when not researched and then done incorrectly. There are additional costs associated with a package not showing up the way it was promised. These costs come in the form of extra shipping charges and disappointed customers.
#4 – Address the format
As young children, your parents likely taught you the way to properly address an envelope. And you’ve felt comfortable doing such for most of your life. Well, this “proper” way may only be correct for a certain region or country. It’s critical to understand the way a country formats their address labels to save costly confusion later on.
Be sure that everything on the package is clear and legible. Plus research the host market’s national policies regarding labeling correctly the contents for ease of passage through customs and other shipping procedures.
#5 – Understand custom regulations
Take some time to research primarily what is and what is not allowed into a specific country. Perhaps certain items are illegal to be imported. By knowing in advance, you save precious time and money that would have been otherwise spent sending packages only to have them be rejected and sent back.
Know the estimated time it will take to clear customs so you can effectively inform your customers. Approximate delivery dates will provide them with useful knowledge for planning the delivery of their purchases. Consider if there will be random checks or regular hold ups in customs based a country’s way of doing things. Whether or not customs is a positive experience, is an important item to research intensely as many countries may or may not have systematic ways of performing these tasks. Ask other companies about their experience with international customs policies.
By keeping in mind these five reminders for international business and shipping, you should be well on your way to finding success on international shores.