Today’s retailers have opportunities that didn’t exist decades before. Thanks to the Internet and e-commerce developments, it is possible for clients to be obtained farther nationally and, now more than ever, across international borders.
This expanded client base has obvious potential for retailers, but it also requires some serious considerations, as shipping internationally is a fulfillment job unto itself. Here are some specific tips:
1. Choose Your Products Wisely
Depending on their sizes, some products are easier to ship than others. If you have small items, they can be easy and reasonably cheap to ship almost anywhere. Bigger items, however, will run up huge shipping fees for clients, not to mention they are usually difficult to ship internationally in the first place.
2. Check Your Labels
This sounds pretty obvious; after all, of course you should label your products with the correct addresses so they get to the client’s location. But with cross-border shipments, addresses aren’t written the same as in North America. For instance, there might be district-specific information or extra codes to incorporate into the label that are vital for its proper shipment. Make sure you include everything necessary on the label.
3. Make Sure You Understand Country-Specific Regulations and Requirements
Every country is different regarding what is commercially legal. Sometimes, particular organics or foodstuffs aren’t accepted; in other instances, certain art or intellectual properties are taboo. Whatever the case, make sure you understand all the regulations for shipping to international locales, be it the product, how it’s packaged, or its size.
4. Be Sure to Target Specific Countries
Along with knowing the shipping rules, don’t forget to know what the people want. There might be a demand for certain instruments in a specific country or region. A little market research will tell you who’s buying what and where your items will get the most commercial attention.
5. Know What the Shipping Costs Are
Depending on where you live, your own country’s shipping costs might be pretty low–one fee and that’s it. But likely if you’re shipping abroad, you and subsequently your clients will have to consider landing fees, tariffs and any sort of customs costs. Make sure you get this information down and work it into your pricing schemata.
6. Know Who’s Shipping Your Goods
Unless you’ve got your own shipping services within your fulfillment company, you’re likely going to have to partner with a shipping or logistics firm to move your goods. But be careful; many shipping firms offer great deals but are very slow and/or use cheap packaging. Always look for the best shipping firm, one that can give a concise breakdown of their services and costs.
7. Pick the Right, Country-Specific Shipping Vendor
On a related note, a lot of shipping vendors deal with specific countries. They know the ins and outs of each one, including the shipping procedures, and have established relations each. If you’re shipping to Rio de Janeiro, for example, it’s wise to go with someone that knows Brazil and has connections there. This will save you all kinds of headaches and likely some money, as the vendor will likely know the methods to save it.
8. Get Insurance Coverage
This is an absolute must these days. With so much international shipping, anything can go wrong with a shipped item, from damage to loss. Having an insurance policy on shipped goods will provide both you and clients peace of mind as it will allow you to track goods and quickly replace ones that get lost.
9. Use Fulfillment Services
It can greatly benefit you to get help from a fulfillment service. While the big guns like Shipwire are a good choice, search around for others first; there are a lot of great new international fulfillment firms that are building strong reputations and willing to take on new clients. They also might be especially price-conscious for clients and have useful connections.
International shipping and e-commerce are pretty exciting to be a part of, provided you do your homework. Prepare your international shipping plan accordingly and you will be able to be part of today’s great e-commerce world and reap the rewards of international business.
Need solutions to your product fulfillment problems? APS Fulfillment, Inc. has the knowledge and services to make your direct mail and product fulfillment ventures more successful. Contact APS Fulfillment, Inc. by e-mail at [email protected], visit their web site at www.apsfulfillment.com, or phone at (954) 582-7450.