For the small business owner, the idea of shipping internationally presents a tantalizing opportunity. What if you could expand your markets to include countries like China and Mexico? As more than 3 billion people now have access to the Internet, reaching customers beyond the borders of the United States is indeed entirely possible.
But before you add international shipping to your offerings, keep the following in mind:
1. Pick the right products.
If you carry products that are relatively light and small, you may be a good candidate for international trade. Heavy, fragile, and perishable items, on the other hand, come with challenges that you and your customers ultimately have to pay for whether it means excessive shipping and handling charges, broken goods, or spoiled orders.
2. Read up on regulations.
Don’t get yourself in trouble by being unaware of country-specific rules and regulations. How would you know shipping calendars to Vietnam is against the law or that leather, shoes, and socks can’t be sold to Italy? Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Commerce as well as carriers and solutions like eShipper are more than happy to help you sort through the maze.
3. Start small and do it well.
Rather than sending your first order to the countryside of Mongolia, learn the ins and outs of international trade by targeting nearby countries first. If you’re based in the United States or Canada, shipping across the border provides a doable foray into international shipping.
4. Beware of unexpected costs.
Add duties and taxes to the final tally and you get the “landed cost” you can use the quarterly tax calculator for this; in other words, the total cost of sending an order internationally. This is when application programming interfaces (APIs) come in handy. APIs help you integrate shipping tools into your e-commerce platform and calculate landed costs so there are no unpleasant surprises at the end of your product’s journey (like a customer refusing to pay an unexpected duty).
5. Seek expert help.
For the small business owner, time tends to be in scarce supply. If you still want to take advantage of international markets, but don’t have the resources to meet with carriers, negotiate rates, and learn the details of international shipping, eShipper is here to help. With our strong partnerships with carriers such as UPS, DHL, Purolator and FedEx, eShipper has the advantage of utilizing domestic courier pricing over international direct; cost savings which we deliver directly to you.
The bottom line: Every business makes mistakes, and while some of them are unavoidable, most can be easily prevented. Your best bet is to concentrate on the processes over which you do have control and avoid common errors there. You can master international shipping.