International shipping via your website ? Have you conquered the Australian domestic market, and now your business is attracting sales enquiries from offshore. Is it time to expand your sales reach to global markets? E-retailers rarely like to miss out on sales, prompting the question what is needed to set up a successful international distribution system?
Review the product before international shipping. One of the first real steps is to review your items being sold to make sure it is suitable. Some products are very easy to distribute internationally, however be sure to research into some of the pitfalls regarding what the product will be used for or is it safe for international transport. Key considerations need to be made for the county that the product is being sent to. Checking the import regulations from a product level will help you decide the best countries to target for sales. Take for example cosmetics or food products to the United States there are tight regulations and permits that may be required for certain items. Other countries may restrict books or violent games some destination countries have other rating standards or have import protection quotas to protect local industries. The best place to research into your specific product restrictions is Austrade, customs or checking with your local classifier or customs broker. Austrade is an excellent resource that may be able to help with export advice including any special grants that may apply if your product is made in Australia.
Have a questions section on your website about international shipping. It is important to have a clear frequently asked questions page for international shipping on your website. Clearly outline your shipping terms and responsibilities on your webpage. It is best to research into the international terms used for buying and selling these are known as incoterms. Incoterms rules are intended primarily to clearly communicate the tasks, costs and risks associated with the transportation and delivery of goods. It is important to gain a basic understanding of incoterms. If you are simply planning to sell product online where the buyer pays you for the product and the freight cost to their door you may want to familiarise yourself with the term DDU or door to door shipping.
What countries are best to ship to ? There has always been a very strong trade relationship between Australia and The United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and United Kingdom however growing markets have seen a wide range of countries demanding Australian products. Be sure to constantly keep an eye on the exchange rates as they will either eat into your margin or potentially overprice you. Did yo know that with some international couriers customers can actually ask for your pricing to be set in USD? Other key cost factors include dynamic fuel surcharges that could influence your transport costs. Having a Courier Quotes Australia dynamic calculator in place to have real time shipping costs can help you to have the correct pricing in place.
If you are unsure about a specific countries demand for a product a way to test the demand may be visiting a trade show. A low cost option may be to join industry associations who attend and share expo booth costs. This is also an excellent way to network and find out other peoples export experiences. When testing the waters many exporters start by exploring the countries that Australia have a free trade agreement in place. If you are an ecommerce exporter there are many options to select or default the countries you would like to sell to. A flexible shopping cart example is the Magento system where you can easily pick the desired countries your business would like to allow selling to. Having your content management system block undesirable countries will help you save time by preventing unwanted hassles.
There are many different supply chain models for distributing internationally. Many retailers start by sending orders directly from origin warehouse to end the end user to test the marketplace. Scalability is important and as your volume grows so do your options for third party shipping, consolidating and improved rates structures. When your international market starts to grow there are many ways to cut down cost and improve service. If the market generates enough sales many exporters will either palletise, consolidate or airfreight shipments into a third party logistics operation. There are many methods including strategies to negotiate with a distributor for direct market access. Some successful models include consolidating single orders onto a pallet then break bulking into markets such as New Zealand. This type of distribution method requires consistent volume and some regulatory set up however is a useful way to cut down on transportation costs. Other models may include distributing directly from Asia or the manufacturing point to worldwide. As an example there are many fashion businesses that pre-label in the country of origin then send directly end users. With the direct shipping business model usually the Australian e-retailer employs or is part of an agent company who is involved acting as quality control. Having an agent act on your behalf can often help with documentation, regulatory procedures and to ensure the supply chain runs smoothly.
Working out how much to charge for shipping at the time of sale is important. Important costs that need to be covered may include freight portion, fuel surcharge, charges and a clear message about duty and tax responsibilities. The Courier Quotes shipping calculator assists customers with real time shipping costs saving customers from manually building rate tables, understanding zones and pricing schedules.
Be prepared for any regulatory hurdles. The majority of single website sales are sent as DDU or door to door. Be very clear when selling internationally who is responsible for regulatory charges. It is best to be upfront on your sales page and clearly outline that is the recipient’s responsibility to understand and pay the local regulatory duty, tax, vat and quarantine rules. Be sure to make this perfectly clear in your terms and conditions and just in case have a returns policy in place. Sellers need to be prepared for return or destroy costs if the recipient refuses to pay the required duties and tax. There are fields on the shipping documentation where you can highlight what the terms of sale are making it clear to the regulatory bodies that are responsible for paying charges.
Having correct documentation is essential to selling internationally. Key documents may include the airway bill, commercial invoice, certificate of origin, export licence, known shipper authority. Always declare everything correctly and clearly. A few tips would include putting on the commercial invoice the following information – Who is it for? Who is it from? What does it do? Where was it made? What does it cost? What will the product be used for? What is it made of? If possible include a harmonised code so that goods can be classified when entering the destination country. A handy tip is to include several copies of the documents both inside and outside of the packaging. When shipping internationally always write on the carton the address as carriers utilize many conveyor belts that potentially can strip paperwork. For international shipping it is always best to over-do the paperwork and ensure you have all of the required paperwork to see your shipment clear through customs at the destination country.
Ensure your packaging is suitable for international transport. Many international carriers will provide free cartons for the use on their service. If you are sending smaller items utilising the carriers satchels or airbags is sometimes cheaper than using your own packaging. The reason the packaging is cheaper is due to branding and less chance of damage during transport. If you are sending larger items be very cautious of using pallets or crates that have not been fumigated to international standards. There is a special stamp called ISPM 15 be sure to research into wood fumigation compliance and supplying the relevant paperwork.
What providers you select will be critical to how you manage your international selling. There are different methods and modes of international shipping. The postal system can be utilized for both tracked and non traced shipment movements a great low cost method. Integrators or door to door express couriers can be utilised for speed, peace of mind and tracking capabilities. The main integrators are DHL, FedEx, and UPS. All three integrators have route based or network strengths. It is best to pick carriers based on where they are strong. Courier Quotes Australia can always assist with route and product based advice. Freight forwarders can be used for larger or consolidated modes of distribution. It is a good idea to set weight break thresholds. Consolidating your shipments can also be a handy way to reduce your international shipping costs.
For more information about replicating your fulfillment internationally talk to your local Courier Quotes representative.