As an e-commerce business, your delivery strategy is of the utmost importance. If your shipping and fulfillment strategy is unreliable, your customer experience will suffer, resulting in decreases in customer loyalty and loss of sale.
Having a strong delivery strategy is as important as having a well-designed e-commerce website. If your business has taken its first steps toward shipping its products internationally, congratulations!
Here’s what you need to know to ensure your first overseas shipment is definitely not its last.
Start with an international shipping strategy
Shipping internationally is significantly different from domestic shipping. When transporting goods overseas, more logistics are involved. Not being prepared for things such as language barriers, customs, or international trade regulations can be a logistical nightmare.
Best practices will differ according to the international market your business will be servicing. Regardless, to make your first shipment a success, work with an international shipping company that can assist you in strategizing your international shipping strategy.
Consider the cost of shipment
Certain factors come into play when determining the cost of an overseas shipment. Weight and size, origin and destination, and mode of transport are all factors that determine freight price.
To calculate the costs of the route your products will take, go online and find a freight forwarding company that offers instant online freight quotes. While this will give you a general overview of costs, remember to account for any duties and taxes that may be imposed on your products.
Provide proper documentation
If your goods are shipped without the right documentation, chances are, they’ll come back to you. This will delay delivery expectations and be detrimental to the customer experience.
When shipping any products overseas, provide the following documentation:
- Proforma invoice
- Commercial invoice
- Packing list
- Certificates of Origin
- Electronic Export Information (EEI)
- Shipper’s Letter of Instruction
- Bills of Lading
- Dangerous Goods Forms
- Bank Draft
These are the basic freight documents you will need to provide to ensure your products arrive at your customers’ addresses in a timely manner. Certain countries and destinations may require additional documentation.
To be on the safe side, confirm with your destination country what specific documentation they require to accept an overseas shipment.
Pack your goods for export
Unlike domestic shipping, a lot more thought has to be put into how your goods will be exported overseas. As your goods will arrive at their destination country through various transport methods (air, sea, or land), you will need to take into account how you package your goods.
Packaging your goods for export is a considerable undertaking as improper packaging will result in your products failing to reach their destination in pristine order. This will leave dissatisfied customers that will impact your brand’s reputation.
The packaging your goods arrive in should be strong yet lightweight, durable and cushioned to minimize the risk of damage, and watertight or water-resistant, particularly if using sea freight to ship your goods. Your packaging should also declare any hazardous materials.
Deal with returns
Returns are a dreaded aspect of any e-commerce business. And like death and taxes, returns are a certainty in running an international e-commerce business. How you deal with international returns determines the future of your online business.
Before shipping out your products internationally, ensure that the freight forwarding company you’ve partnered with has a return handling policy built into their services. The process to reclaim your products from its destination country is similar to the shipping process, only it goes backward.
Your freight forwarding company can further outline how to deal with your own country’s import customs, regulations, duties, and taxes.
If the cost of the return far outweighs the product’s value, another option for returns is to make it available in secondary markets for resale. Failing that, your goods could also go through a certified destruction.
Do a cost-benefit analysis to determine the best outcome of your returned goods.
When it comes to shipping your products internationally, it’s important to work with a shipping partner that’s reliable and has a reputation for delivering products in a pristine and timely manner.
As this is your first foray into the overseas shipping game, work with a shipping partner that can walk you through the complete process of overseas shipping. With their help, you should be able to jump confidently onto the world stage.
| About the Guest Author:
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.