If you’re planning to expand your e-commerce business, international shipping is inevitable. However, international shipping is a whole new level of shipping, and it requires more learning, more planning, and more responsibility.
A good logistics company such as Unival Logistics can offer great help with this because they specialize in shipping valuable items internationally. Nevertheless, it’s still important that you educate yourself before taking this step and learn about the most important factors of international shipping.
#1 Shipping Rates
Before you offer to ship to another country, you should first run thorough research about the shipping rates. For a start, take the exact measures and weight of the package you’re intending to ship. After that, you should find several logistics companies that ship to that country, and enter the measures of your package to the calculator on their website.
Once you have determined which company offers the most favorable rates for you, you should contact them. If you are intending to ship more packages, you might be eligible for discounts. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, because a lot of these companies will offer discounts for larger shipments.
#2 Customs and Taxes
The product you’re intending to ship doesn’t necessarily have the same value in every country. Some goods are taxed at higher rates in some countries, and you don’t want your customer to get unpleasantly surprised when they try to pick up their package and find out about the hefty tax fee.
You should always do your research about the customs fees for each product and each country you’re intending to ship to. Luckily, good shipping companies usually have all this info so there’s less work for you to do. They should have the paperwork ready, and you should just fill it out and sign before shipping.
Pricing is a very important aspect of your business, and you should look at it as a form of marketing, rather than just pure calculation. Of course, you should take all of the expenses into account. You probably already have the price for domestic shipping, but after you calculate shipping costs and taxes for international shipping you can reconsider your price.
A typical customer is attracted to free shipping when buying online. They will often choose a more expensive product if the shipping is free. That’s just how we are, it seems simpler than adding the shipping expenses, and we like the word free.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should always offer free shipping. Sometimes your expenses can get so high that offering free shipping would either make you lose money or make your product look too expensive to buy. You should only offer free shipping when you’re sure that the price is reasonable and that you’re making a profit.
#4 Transportation Method
Choosing the right transportation method when shipping internationally is of crucial importance. To know which type of transportation works the best for you, you should first learn about the benefits of each option and determine which one suits your situation the best.
There are four freight options for international shipments (road, rail, air, and sea). Road and rail work only for shipments across the continent, and since you’ll mostly be shipping overseas, we should focus on the latter two.
Airfreight is the fastest option. Your package can get to any city in the world in a matter of days. If your customer is eager to get the goods that soon and is ready to pay the price, airfreight is the right choice.
However, this type of transportation has certain limitations in terms of cargo volume and permissible items. There’s a variety of goods that are prohibited from airlines, including any kind of explosives, compressed gasses, any kind of solid and liquid flammables, and similar.
Sea freight is a lot slower. It usually takes weeks for ordered items to arrive, and this is the biggest disadvantage to sea freight. On the other hand, this method is a lot cheaper, and most of the customers are prepared to wait for weeks to get the goods at the desired price.
In terms of cargo volume, there are no limitations when it comes to sea freight. This also stands for permissible items; you can ship almost any legal item, as long is it packed according to the regulations.
#5 Delivery Time
As already mentioned above, the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) will greatly depend on the type of transportation that you choose. It also depends on the customs clearance pace. In cases when it’s slow it can take up to 6 weeks for the customer to receive the package.
It’s in your best interest to be realistic when providing the ETA to the customer, and leave some room for possible delays. The customer will be patient as soon as the ETA is fulfilled, but if you provide unrealistic expectations, the customer will have no understanding of the delays.
Make sure that you’ve done everything on your side to deliver the package at the estimated time of arrival. That means that you should do some research on the average customs clearance pace in the country of delivery, be alert for potential severe weather that could cause delays, and sort out all the necessary paperwork.
A good logistics company can offer great help with all of this, so this makes another criterion for choosing the right shipping partner for your company.
#6 Restricted Goods
Every country has its own laws that often differ from some other countries’ laws. When it comes to e-commerce, this means that some countries prohibit items that are legal in your country. Because of that, you should always check if your goods are legal in the customer’s country before processing the order.
However, there is a list of items that are completely strictly prohibited from e-commerce international shipping. This list includes goods like ammunition, poison, gasoline, alcohol, perfumes, fresh food, etc.
International shipping is a whole new level of e-commerce, but it’s an inevitable step if you intend to expand your business. It takes some serious deliberation and preparation. There are many factors to take into accounts in order to optimize your profit.
We have only roughly pointed out 6 key factors of international shipping to start with, but it takes a lot more learning before you venture into the world of global e-commerce. It takes some courage and patience in the beginning, but once you get into it you’ll be getting more comfortable with international shipping every day.