In this ever more globalized world, there is plenty of potential for small and medium-sized businesses to expand their target market outside of their home country. With the opportunity to increase sales and boost brand recognition, this is an (understandably) enticing option for all business owners.
However, there is the significant challenge of international shipping, which isn’t always as simple as wrapping up your product and putting it in the post.
To help you understand how to successfully incorporate international shipping into your business plan, read on to learn the most effective shipping strategies for global companies.
1. Be thoughtful about where you will ship.
Before you start offering shipping services to all 197 countries, you first need to sit down and consider what areas or regions of the world make the most sense for your business. While it may seem like the dream is to deliver products everywhere, in many cases, that just isn’t realistic — particularly if you are a small or medium-sized business.
If you are just getting started with your business, then it is best to start closer to home until you get a feel of what it is like to fulfill orders and track shipments. The last thing you want is to be stretched so thin that you are unable to satisfy any of your customer’s needs.
Once you have started selling and shipping products, use your analytics to ascertain which international markets are already coming to your online store. If you are noticing high traffic from a particular country, this could be an indicator that you should consider offering international shipping there.
Other things you want to consider are language barriers (you are going to have to be able to communicate with your customers), consumer trends in foreign markets (does your product have a unique selling point?), and whether your product and packaging are durable enough to survive the long journey.
2. Understand country-specific regulations and requirements.
Once you have decided on which countries you will be shipping to, you then need to research what are their specific regulations and requirements. Not all states have the same ordinances, so it is essential that you thoroughly understand what you are getting yourself into before you offer it as an option to your customers.
While some countries ban certain items completely, there are others that merely restrict them. If you aren’t informed about the controls and regulations that affect your shipments, then you are not in a position to be able to ensure your customers a reliable delivery.
3. Be transparent with your customers.
When it comes to any shipping strategy (or any aspect of business), it is crucial that you are transparent with your customers from the beginning about the costs, the delivery options, the tracking numbers, the insurance provided, and your delivery and returns policies.
The worst thing you can do when it comes to shipping is to over-promise and underdeliver. Therefore, you want to be upfront with your customer about the delivery timeframe and keep them updated throughout the shipping process. This is how you manage your customer’s expectations and reduce the chances of angering them (no one wants angry customers, no matter how far away they reside).
4. Work with an online shipment platform.
Whether you are about to offer international shipping from Germany, to Germany, or somewhere else, the best way to stay on top of your shipping process is to work with an online shipment platform. Not only will this allow you to book freight online efficiently, but it will also reduce the costs associated with your international shipping.
The best online shipment platforms will be able to provide you with years of experience related to international shipping and will walk you through the entire process in an orderly fashion. From the moment you book freight online to the time it is delivered to its recipient, you will find that the process is a lot more organized and less stressful than if you were to do it on your own.
Does your business ship internationally? If so, what tips do you have to share with others who are looking to start? If not, what challenges are you currently facing that are hindering you from expanding in this way? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
AUTHOR BIO :- Toby Edwards is the CEO of Shipa Freight and is based in Dubai. Shipa Freight is a new online platform powered by Agility that makes it easy to get air and ocean freight quotes, book, pay and track shipments online. Shipa Freight empowers small and medium-size businesses, taking the complexity out of International Freight Forwarding, making it easy to manage legal, regulatory and compliance issues, and offering convenient ways to pay to move their goods.