Your small business customers probably don’t care or even know where you are based. That means you need to be ready to ship around the world. With many international markets experiencing increases in online transactions performed within said markets, e-commerce is expected to grow.
If your small business is shipping internationally, then you might be doing it through Alibaba, Amazon, or eBay. These three marketplaces alone account for over half of all consumer e-commerce happening internationally. This can spare you problems such as currency conversion issues and getting international exposure to new markets.
On the other hand, even international consumers expect free and expedient shipping. Your small business has to cater to that while dealing with more paperwork and being in compliance with IATA dangerous goods regulations. When your small business is shipping internationally, you go from over 300 million potential clients to over 7 billion. Knowing the right international shipping tips helps you capitalize on all of this.
Tip 1: Understand International Demand and Regulations
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Hopefully, your small business has some great core products or goods that make you money and appeal to many markets. However, demand might vary from one country to the next. You need to know where your offerings are going to make the most money, but you need to know the specific regulations in those countries. Keeping the most recent IATA books on hand might prove to be a useful resource for your small business.
Tip 2: Start With a Single Country
When you decide to start selling internationally, you don’t have to flip the switch all the way and suddenly cater to the nearly 200 nations spanning the globe. Pick one country to start with, and then add one country at a time as you see fit. A country that gives you substantial online traffic likely has a high interest in your sales possibilities.
If possible, choose a country that shares a common tongue with your team for easier communication. Obviously, a country that’s closer geographically will have fewer issues in terms of time zone differences for any live-time communication. Shipping costs are also likely to be lower.
Tip 3: Utilize a Parcel Consolidator
The majority of international consumer packages are 20 pounds in weight or even less. First-class international mail is getting more expensive, and it’s slowing down in certain emerging markets in the last legs of shipping. That impacts reliability and delivery speeds.
However, you can use a new parcel service known as the parcel consolidator. Packages bound for the same country get bulked together on the same pallet or inside the same box and then pass through the destination country’s customs as a bulk deal before getting disseminated into local post items. This means faster shipping and lower costs for crossing borders.
Tip 4: Start Things Light
You want to sort your products and goods to see what you can sell globally, but you also want to sift through them again to start with the most lightweight options. Selling these first will keep shipping costs down. In many cases, you can even pack them in the free shipping supplies of different carriers.
Tip 5: Use Shipping Automation Software
Couriers may charge you extra for address corrections, return fees, and delivery re-attempts. While some of this might be unavoidable, you need to prevent as much of it as you can to protect your margin and bottom line. Small businesses simply can’t absorb the expenses and losses a larger company might be able to withstand. Shipping automation software can reduce input errors and even let you import orders from marketplaces you might use. Automatic label printing, centralized shipment tracking, and discounted postage all help.
Tip 6: Keep Customs Forms Simple To Finish
International shipping invariably involves more forms than domestic shipping. The customs forms are among them. Your shipment contents need to be listed entirely in these forms. Accuracy is essential, but avoid being verbose. Space is typically quite limited. The right e-commerce shipping software can prompt the right questions of users to autofill these and print them for quick and easy documentation.
Tip 7: DDP Over DDU
If you’ve been using Deliver Duty Unpaid, then consider switching to Deliver Duty Paid. If you can accurately estimate the total shipment cost, including fees, taxes, and duties, then your packages will have a much lower chance of things getting caught up at customs. Also, your customers are less likely to be hit with a surprise fee just to get what they ordered and thought they already paid for.
Tip 8: Address Things With Accuracy
Correct and complete addresses help shipments get to the right destinations and do so on time. Certain carriers won’t even offer money-back guarantees without an accurate address. Be sure you include complete addresses for both sender and recipient, including ZIP codes and phone numbers. Full country names usually go on the last address line.
Tip 9: Package Wisely
The right packaging helps your products arrive intact. Use the appropriate poly-mailers and boxes for the particular product you are shipping. Be sure they are new, and leave lots of room for ample cushioning. Don’t skimp on air pillows, peanuts, foam rolls, and bubble wrap. Mix and match them if it seems like the right move.
A Small Business Shipping Internationally Has to Be Careful
Small businesses don’t have the labor or resources that larger companies do, so every little thing matters. Any small business shipping internationally should make a regular practice of these small Business tips so they can be as efficient as possible. Keep your profit margin safe and your customers happy at the same time.