5 Essential Considerations To Make Before Starting International Shipping

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It is an exciting moment when you start seriously considering expanding your company's offerings to a global audience. You recognize that there is potential to increase your firm's revenue significantly, but you also know that there are many opportunities for you to fail – mainly if you are not prepared for what is to come. 

To help you find success in the next phase of your business, read on for five essential considerations to make before starting international shipping. From getting shipping quotes to choosing a freight forwarder, and keeping your customers happy, this article has all the information you need to know to get started. 

1. Is My Business Ready To Expand Globally? 

Before you start thinking about international shipping processes, you first need to assess whether or not your business is ready to expand globally. While global expansion can be potentially very profitable for your firm, it isn't quite as simple as replicating what you do domestically in a foreign market. 

For this reason, you need to consider the quality of your products and services and whether or not you can sustain a consistent quality standard. You must also examine whether there is a demand in the new market for your product. This is ascertained by discovering its suitability to the market as well as the presence of similar, cheaper products. 

Furthermore, if you are expanding into a market that speaks a different language, you and your employees must either learn it or ascertain that there is a representative who can lead you and market your company appropriately. 

To make this work, you will need adequate information about the local market where you are expanding. Unfortunately, too many companies hinder their own growth by not fully understanding cultural differences. 

2. Do I Have The Documents Required For International Shipping? 

The most crucial part of international shipping is ensuring that you have all the required documents accurately filled out and appropriately filed. While every country has different requirements, some of the standard export documents include: 

● Proforma invoice 
● Commercial invoice 
● Packing list 
● Certificates of origin 
● Country-specific certificates 
● Shipper's letter of instruction 
● Bills of lading 
● Dangerous goods forms 
● Bank draft 

These documents are the essentials for international shipping; however, there will be plenty more you will encounter depending upon where you are importing and exporting. 

Your freight forwarder will be one of the most influential partners throughout the import and export process. Generally, companies opt to work with a freight forwarder that efficiently coordinates the transportation of the goods and ensures that everything is managed – from start to completion. 

In this instance, you must provide your freight forwarder with a shipper’s letter of instruction (SLI) comprising the necessary information to ensure your goods are moved. 

3. How Am I Going To Ship My Products? 

Researching international freight rates can be overwhelming, as there are a wide array of possible options. Based on your delivery timeframe, different services will provide various benefits. Moreover, before you make a final decision, you need to consider pricing based on weight and the estimated journey time. 

In addition to costing less to ship, smaller, lighter-weight products also require more straightforward packaging. Whatever it is you are sending, make sure that they are durable enough to endure longer transport times without the need for specialty packaging. 

When looking to expand to overseas markets, make sure to look at all the combinations ( sea, road, air, rail) until you find one that makes sense for your firm. The best freight forwarding services have connections with carriers. This is why they can often provide you with more competitive shipping rates. What better way is there to keep your costs down? 

4. Who Is Going To Ship My Products? 

Unreliable freight movement is bad news for your company, which is why it is highly recommended that you partner with a freight forwarding company that can deliver efficient shipping services. 

The right freight forwarding service for your business will excel in expediting the shipping process, while also ensuring that all phases are under control. They can provide you with quick freight quotes for your potential shipments, which will inform you of the possible routes available to you. 

No matter where you are starting to import or what you are going to export, working with online freight services can help you reach your goals. Not only can you rest easy knowing that they are taking care of your documents, but you also know that you are making your global shipping processes to be as efficient as possible. 

5. What Can I Do To Improve My Customer's Shipping Experience? 

At the end of the day, throughout the entire process, you need to be thinking about your customers. Whenever you need to make a business decision, think about what would improve their experience with your brand. 

For the customer, shipping can be the worst part of an online transaction as they have paid for the order but not yet received anything. For this reason, you want to make their shipping experience as seamless as possible. 

You can do this by providing an estimated (or even better, guaranteed) shipping date. This not only helps to manage expectations, but it also gives the shopper enough information to make the right decision concerning shipping options. When it comes to shipping notifications, make sure you are communicating with your customers frequently. You may also want to have both the retailer and the carrier send the customer email updates. 

However, most importantly, you need to offer your customers a variety of shipping options, streamlined processing, and reliable online tracking information. 

When it comes to shipping options, the more you provide, the broader appeal you will have, as different customers are prepared to wait for different durations; some are patient when required, some are not. Similarly, give customers plenty of opportunities for package tracking, such as onsite monitoring, links to the carrier’s site, and the capability to track orders from their devices. 

Has your company started shipping internationally? Is it something you are interested in expanding into? Why or why not? 

Paul Rehmet is the Chief Product Officer for Shipa Freight. He is responsible for translating the company's vision into an easy-to-use online freight platform for its customers. In his 25-year career, Paul has held various technology leadership positions with early-stage startups and Fortune 500 companies including Unisys, Destiny Web Solutions, and US Airways.

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