International selling is a massive opportunity for any small business to grow. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that the “Internet Economy” will double in 2016, with millions of consumers from nations all across the globe opting to shop online vs. in retail stores. But as a small business owner, if you landed a huge order from Vietnam and another one from France, and yet another one from New Zealand, how would you ensure a hassle-free international shipping experience for your product, your business, and your customers, given that UPS alone ships over 15 million deliveries on a given day?
It’s nerve-wracking. Here
are a few tips to consider for a hassle-free international shipping experience:
Choose products wisely.
Not all products are created equal, but we’re not saying that about the quality of your product. Products that are good for international trade include relatively small items that are light and easy to ship. Otherwise, it’s not worth the extra profit to risk shelling out a considerable amount of cash just to ship your product.
Do your research.
All major US shipping organizations provide specialists for every business requirement to help business owners with their shipping options. Explore your options. Understand country-specific requirements and regulations. Learn more about international ecommerce. If possible, start your international shipping endeavor by targeting two specific countries first and expanding from there. Study all the international shipping fees: customs charges, customs duties and taxes, export compliance, and more. Know how much the total fees are and whose responsibility these fall under – you, your customer, your supplier, or a fulfillment service?
Use fulfillment services.
Get rid of the headaches caused by international shipping and simply hire a fulfillment service to manage your business’ international orders. From arranging global transportation to preparing price quotations, issuing cargo insurance, packing, labeling, and monitoring the regulations, a fulfillment service can take care of all that for you. Plus, because a lot of these companies have global warehouses, merchants can take advantage of domestic shipping rates or even free shipping at times.
Always keep communication lines open. Make sure your customers can reach you anytime and anywhere they may be. From face-to-face meetings and phone calls to emails and chats, ensure that your customers can talk to you for inquiries, problems, and other shipping-related concerns.
Establish a good return policy.
It’s no rocket science that customers are more likely to go through a purchase if you have a good return policy in place. There are hundreds of retailers and vendors that your business is competing with, and customers, even your most loyal ones, won’t buy from you if they get a refund or an exchange of goods for shipping damages or defective products.
As an essential part of the order fulfillment process, efficiency in shipping across borders can spell the success or demise of your business. So ensure that before you even branch out into international sales, you have a solid strategic plan from inventory to packaging to shipping and back again.