The world is your oyster.
As an online business, you have the ability to expand your reach to every corner of the world and sell your products to anyone with internet access. If you’ve been shrugging off this opportunity, chances are it’s because of the complex nature of international and cross-border logistics. But you’re missing out on a bigger slice of the pie. Expanding your sales internationally can bring in considerable revenue— there is potential in tapping into a larger customer base, as long as you understand the intricacies of international shipping and find the right shipping partner for your business.
If you’re willing to pivot and adjust your eCommerce strategy, you need to know what to look for when researching international shipping companies in Canada. You want a company that offers a combination of experience and special resources.
So where do you begin? Right here, with our guide to choosing the right international shipping company for your business.
Experience is everything.
Consider a company’s experience and number of years in the Canadian logistics industry. International shipping can be complex, and you need to trust that your shipping company has what it takes to deliver your product to your customer without issues or delays.
A reliable international shipping company has expertise in these key areas.
1. Customs regulations and fees
Regardless of their mode of transport, all products that are shipped internationally are required to clear customs. This involves specific export documentation, without which your products cannot be released from customs. This is bad news for both you and your customer. That’s why you need to work with shipping companies that are knowledgeable about each country’s customs requirements, including paperwork and fees. Customs fees vary by country, and it’s crucial for you to know what they are— and who is responsible for paying them— before you ship your product. Shipping companies with industry experience will be able to give you accurate and up to date information on customs requirements, so you can make an informed decision about which countries you want to export to.
2. Modes of transport
Should you ship by ocean, air, rail, or truck? This depends on three factors: transit times, cost, and type of product. Air is the fastest and most expensive option, whereas ocean freight is affordable but considerably slower. Your product may also not be able to withstand long transit times in cargo containers. Shipping by truck? You’ll most likely need less than a truckload (LTL). Whatever your product or requirements, you need an experienced shipping company to advise you on the best shipping services for your business.
3. Restricted items
The items you’re sending may be restricted in some countries, so your shipping company should have comprehensive knowledge of the products that can’t be imported. They’ll also be able to tell you if your items cannot be exported at all from Canada, regardless of destination. To avoid having your products seized by customs in Canada or abroad, make sure you get expert advice on product restrictions at your point of origin and at the shipping destination.
4. Transit times
Your customer expects to receive their order on time, and your brand’s reputation largely depends on timely delivery. Experienced shipping companies have the ability to estimate transit times to various countries, so you’ll be able to set appropriate customer expectations of shipping times. You should also be aware that international shipments are more likely to be delayed due to geographical factors as well as customs processing. Shipping companies can work with you to find the optimal delivery service based on when you want your product to reach your customer abroad, so you can plan your shipment accordingly. Bear in mind that for some countries, overnight delivery may not be an option at all.
Special resources take you places.
Overseas shipments require a ton of additional resources beyond those required for standard domestic courier services. Make sure your shipping company is equipped with the tools you need to get your product out in the world.
Your goods should be carefully packed for international shipping. Depending on your product and destination, you may need a company that handles special packaging, such as heat-treated wooden crates.
2. Customized documentation
In some cases, customized paperwork, such as commercial invoices and certificates of origin may be necessary for your shipment to cross international borders. Choose shipping companies that have the resources to prepare the necessary documentation for international shipping.
3. Specialized international shipping service
Are you looking to grow your business south of the border? Work with a shipping company that specializes in shipping to the US, such as eShipper’s PBX. A specialized cross-border shipping service cuts your costs and simplifies border clearance, ensuring that the process of shipping to the US is as smooth and hassle-free as possible.
4. Tariff codes
Harmonized tariff codes are required to ship a product internationally. Customs authorities and other government regulatory bodies use these specific codes to monitor and control the import and export of commodities across international borders. Shipping companies are able to identify which codes are necessary to prevent products from being delayed or seized as they pass through customs.
5. Perishables, animals, and plants
If you’re sending perishable goods, you need a shipping company with access to equipment and resources to ship them safely and in line with international requirements. The same applies to shipments of plants and live animals.
Ask the right questions.
In addition to verifying a shipping company’s experience and resources, make sure they’ll be a reliable and trustworthy partner by checking if they provide the following:
- A free, no obligation quote
- A point of contact if you need support
- Shipment tracking
- Shipping insurance
Do your research.
As more businesses extend their offerings to international customers, more and more companies are advertising their international shipping services. Do your due diligence and choose a shipping company with the experience and resources required to safely and efficiently transport your products to your clients overseas.
Contact us and request a free shipping strategy analysis for you and your international customers.