10 Tips for Successful International Shipping
The Ladingo Team
December 22, 2020
Going global offers tremendous potential for growth-minded businesses. However, scaling your business internationally is not always smooth sailing, especially when it comes to international shipping. Language and culture barriers abound. Unpredictable shipping costs can crop up and delays are par for the course. Even if you manage to circumvent these challenges, local customs clearance processes and regulations could further complicate the shipping of your goods cross-border or ordering inventory from international merchants for resale in your home country. As a result, you might find the entire process to be overwhelming and deterring.
That being said, with a little determination, perseverance, and due diligence, you can overcome the obstacles associated with going global, start shipping goods internationally with speed and ease and scale your business to new, profitable heights. The benefits of leveraging international shipping to take your business global include gaining access to a much larger customer base and pool of talent, helping many more people through your offering, exposing your company to more and diverse investment opportunities, improving your brand’s reputation, and more.
How can you successfully engage in international shipping and become a cross-border e-commerce powerhouse? Here are 10 tips for navigating the maze that is the international shipping space, so you can sell big, ship big, and scale.
#1 – Assess demand before reaching out for supply
Before you go all out and create partnerships with international contacts to secure goods for importation to your country or supply their country with your offering, be sure that there is a demand for whatever it is you want to ship. Research each market and come up with a strategy for entering each new locality. If there’s already a demand for your offering – great. If not, you’ll need to build an awareness campaign that explains why customers in each target market NEED your product, so as to create that demand, before you start filling containers with the merchandise.
#2 – Know what can and cannot be shipped internationally
Each country has its own rules and regulations about what can and cannot cross its borders and/or be sold, and to whom. For example, the following items may not be shipped from the US to any other country: aerosols, fresh produce, cigarettes, marijuana, perfume (containing alcohol), dry ice, nail polish, ammunition, and more. And there’s a whole other list of items that cannot be shipped TO the US. When in doubt, research import and export compliance laws for the countries you wish to ship to and from and avoid being fined, or having your shipments denied passage by foreign customs agents, indefinitely.
#3 – Learn about all payments ahead of time
To keep your international shipping costs as low as possible and avoid any hidden fees, it’s important that you take the time to study up on what payments need to be made and how much each of them can cost. Standard payments include freight forwarding and last-mile delivery fees, as well as customs, duties, and taxes. These fees depend on the size and weight of your shipment, as well as the products’ value and the country to which they are being shipped. Note that shippers you choose may opt to include additional fees, such as fuel surcharges, and extra costs for weekend deliveries and delivery signatures, which may or may not be important to your customer base.
To keep your costs down, prioritize establishing long-term partnerships with freight forwarders over one-time negotiations. The more you ship with them, the lower your annual shipping rate will be.
#4 – Study your competition
Competitors who have already mastered the art of international shipping should be studied. Learn from their successes, as well as from their prior (and existing) failures, to implement an international shipping strategy that is as seamless as can be – from the start. Ideally, you should observe what your direct and indirect competitors are doing in each new market. Doing so will save you time, money, and much frustration in the short and long-term.
#5 – Double-check all documents & labels
Maintaining your brand’s reputation is just as important as streamlining your international shipping for convenience and profitability’s sake. Failing to complete all necessary documents and labels – and fill them in accurately – can cost your business in time, money, and unnecessary hassle. It is estimated that failed deliveries cost large retailers an average of $85.00 per delivery, as they must scramble to resend those deliveries and make the loss up to their customers. To prevent documentation and labeling fails, double-check each form, name, and address before sending your shipment out.
#6 – Be as transparent as possible
Transparency is a critical part of successful international shipping for two reasons. First, being transparent about your shipping costs, timelines, and processes injects an immediate sense of trust and confidence in your brand among your customers. Second, doing so serves as a form of “checks and balances” for your business, helping to keep you on the straight and narrow, and on top of all stakeholders. This way, all parties involved know what they’re meant to do, when they’re meant to do it, and at what cost.
#7 – Always insure your shipments
When it comes to shipping items internationally, insurance is your best friend. This is because, when you’re transporting merchandise across borders, there’s always a degree of risk involved. Things happen. Shipments can get lost or delayed. Items can become damaged or ruined. But customers still expect – and deserve – their orders. Insurance may ostensibly seem like another added and unnecessary cost, but when in a pinch, it saves you from having to shell out much higher costs to cover replacement items, while enabling you to continue to provide a satisfactory customer experience to all.
#8 – Disclose crucial information (only)
It is critical that you declare hazardous materials and goods in clear, English letters so that your shipments can be handled with the appropriate levels of care and avoid being penalized by customs officials for one reason or another. That being said, it’s recommended that you only disclose exactly the information that needs to be shared and nothing more, to reduce the chances of your shipment falling prey to thieves and pirates. You want to inform, but not tempt anyone to take a peek into your boxes or siphon off some of your wares for themselves.
#9 – Pack and track your shipments well
Packing your shipments properly can protect them against being damaged in transit by bumps and knocks, or even the weather. However, keep in mind that most freight forwarders charge based on your shipment’s dimensions and weight, so be sure to pack your items using the lightest and smallest packaging materials possible You can acquire these in bulk ahead of time, to save you money in the long-term.
Once your goods have left the merchant’s warehouse, they should be tracked until they are received at their final destination. For brands importing items from abroad, this will help you estimate when your shipments will arrive and be ready for resale. For brands shipping items to customers in international destinations, it further promotes operational transparency and confidence in the brand. It can also allow your customers to know when their orders may be delivered, improving customer service.
#10 – Partner with a logistics solution provider
Perhaps the greatest factor influencing efficient shipping is partnering with a logistics solution provider capable of automating and streamlining the entire fulfillment process, from the merchant’s factory to your brand or your customer’s front door. Logistics solution providers, like Ladingo, are familiar with the international shipping process, have connections with international freight forwarding companies, and know global documentation requirements inside out.
With Ladingo’s one-stop-shop for all of your cross-border shipments, you can enjoy international e-commerce shipping without limits. Our API ensures easy integration for all online shops and marketplaces, and our calculators provide full and transparent, real-time shipping rates, immediately upon entering any product’s details.
What are you waiting for? Partner with Ladingo and start implementing successful international shipping practices today!
从中国向美国进口时应避开的3个主要雷区 美国从中国进口什么？不进口什么？美国人喜欢从中国进口商品——因为产品便宜，质量达标，而且中国工业市场的生产力一直都充足。事实上，在美国的大型市场上，包括亚马逊、eBay和沃尔玛，有30%-50%的卖家是中国人或从中国进口的美国人。然而，从中国进口商品的过程可能很复杂。以下是你必须避开的3个雷区： 1 – 选对供应商 从中国进口到美国的产品，在购买之前，你必须比较来自不同制造商或供应商的同类产品，以确保质量最好，价格最好。首先在阿里巴巴等网站上采购多个产品，直接联系供应商获取报价，并创建同类产品列表，以便比较。阿里巴巴是个不错的进口工具。我们建议经常查看“信用保障”和“金品诚企会员”框，以防止选到不可靠的供应商。你也可以尝试DHgate.com、Made-In-China.com等提供类似服务的网站。同样的流程也适用于选择从中国到美国的货运公司。仔细研究每一家运输公司提供的服务，确保你购买的货物能尽可能快速、无缝、实惠地安全送到目的地。如果跳过这一步，你将可能面临从中国向肯尼亚进口手机、等待发货的时间不合理、或者收到错误或有缺陷的商品等风险（由于语言差距相当大，并且在紧急情况下可能会在包装、运输等方面出错）。 2 – 努力解决“额外成本”问题——进口手续费、税费和关税 想知道如何从中国进口商品并享受最佳性价比？自然，你会想用尽可能少的钱把你的货物从中国运到美国，并通过海关。但从长远来看，采取一些常见做法，比如故意低估产品价值，或将某些产品归到其他类别来避税或减税，可能会让你得不偿失。从中国进口货物到美国时，一定要准备好以下文件，并且要保证信息属实：
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