Expanding your audience reach to overseas customers is a great way to scale your small business up and increase your revenue. However, navigating the costs and regulations involved in shipping to another country can seem overwhelming for entrepreneurs.
The United States has about 300 million people, but tapping into a global market gives you around 7 billion to sell to. Navigating the world of overseas shipping requires knowledge of how different countries operate and how to get the best delivery rate possible.
1. Start Small
Instead of going from selling in your home country to the whole world, try adding a country or two at a time. Starting small allows you to figure out the rules and regulations in each location before adding more sectors. You can also tap into the buyers in each market and develop strong personas to better target your audience.
2. Simplify Paperwork
The forms businesses must fill out to send their goods abroad can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, you can circumvent some of the processes by choosing the correct one. For example, while you might think you must file a complex Section 321, low-value goods may only require an Entry Type 86 form.
The advantages include lower costs and faster shipping times for your overseas customers. Entry Type 86 can reduce taxes, duties and other fees.
3. Choose Lighter Products
If your inventory includes products of different sizes and weights, start with the lighter ones first and offer those to your overseas customers. It costs less and is quicker to ship lower-weight items.
4. Embrace Technology
Technological improvements in supply chain management ensure you get goods to your customers in other countries without the same bottlenecks seen by inexperienced brands. For example, small electronic trackers are monitoring lobsters in the supply chain and reporting back on their health to ensure they arrive in good condition on the other end.
The sensors you choose may vary, depending upon what you’re selling and the information you’d like to track. However, there is a big advantage to knowing where your products are and if they are in pristine condition.
5. Cushion Items
Improper packaging results in damaged goods. You aren’t just shipping to the next state, after all. Your package will go through multiple hands and machines before arriving at its destination. Wrap it, add peanuts and add some extra to account for settling along the way.
The more cushioned an item is the less chance of breakage. Make sure you choose the appropriate size mailer and allow enough room for plenty of cushion.
6. Study the Rules and Regulations
Become familiar with each country’s rules and regulations. Some charge more for items over a certain weight. Understanding your cutoff can help you only offer products you can ship for a profit.
There are also some things countries don’t allow to cross their borders, especially by a smaller business. For example, you might find shipping perishable food or chemical products impossible. Examples might include fresh fruit, nail polish or cleaning sprays.
No matter what shipping company you use, you’ll likely find UPS’s tool handy to check out various country shipping standards.
7. Follow Up
Who handles your products on the other end? Are you shipping directly to the customer, or do you need a third-party local to distribute or sell your items? The difference between setting up a small store in another country and selling directly to the consumer from your website makes a big difference.
Make sure you follow up with your users and ensure they received the product in the right condition and are satisfied. Word-of-mouth can help your business grow beyond what you ever expected. People may share on social media about your brand. However, poor exposure can do more harm than good. Make sure your customer service meets the same standards in other countries as in your own.
8. Try Different Carriers
Experiment with different options for shipping. You can try USPS, UPS, Fed-EX, DHL Express and Sendle. Determine which ones send your items the fastest and for a rate you can afford. Work with the one that best matches your preferences as a brand and helps you understand the ins and outs of international shipping.
Ship Overseas With Confidence
Expanding your small business to overseas markets and be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Follow these tips to ensure your shipping goes smoothly, and you get the reputation you deserve.