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    1. coyotedan is offline

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      #1

      International Shipping - How to handle Shipments Overseas?

      I have been doing local business for a long time, but have just recently begun receiving international customers. Just a few inquiries, really. I am certainly more than a little reticent about shipping internationally, mostly because Im not 100% on all the pitfalls. Can someone outline the pros and cons of international shipping? Not really interested in personal experiences, just facts and how to handle it. Thanks!
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    2. Sell_It_3289 is offline

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      There’s not so much a one-to-one pros and cons line up for shipping cross-border. The central benefit is that you get more customers, and more sales. By avoiding international shipping, you completely cut yourself off from an avenue for business. Some folks do just fine dealing exclusively with “local” customers, but if your product has appeal overseas (which it obviously does), then you’d be remiss to pass up on that interest.

      As far as the pitfalls are concerned, they are legion. I’ll do my best to compile a starting list for you, and I’m sure my comrades will fill in anywhere I miss--

      ● Shipping rates can often exceed the value of the order being shipped.
      ● There’s a greater chance of lost shipments in cross-border trade.
      ● Delivery times are slower than Parliament proceedings.
      ● If a buyer refuses a shipment due to taxes, customs fees, or duties, you’re responsible for the chargers if you want the goods back.
      ● Failure of order to clear customs, typically because of bad paperwork.
      ● Carriers usually charge brokerage fees, and that’s your problem.
      ● Some countries have relaxed regulatory bodies, and that leads to increased fraud.
      ● Returns are often as expensive and slow as the initial shipment, if not slower.

      By and large, you’ll be able to avoid things like customers refusing delivery and the like just by educating them. Do your research on shipping charges, VAT, and the like, and educate customers on them. If you know what shipping to them is going to cost, you can give them a ballpark. Also, make certain they know that there will be additional taxes and customs fees that are their responsibility once the goods are delivered.

      Educate yourself on the customs law of the target country, and make certain you’re following them to the last letter. Cross your t’s and dot your i’s when it comes to paperwork. If an item gets stuck in customs, it’ll typically be substantially cheaper to simply abandon it than to try processing it through and getting it returned.

      As to fraud and loss, make sure every item is insured and tracked. Know where your goods are as close to every step of the way as possible. Yes, this will cost more per order, but you’ll be out considerably more should an item go missing or damaged. Your customers will understand a higher bill a lot more than their stuff showing up broken, or not at all.

      DHL is the go-to shipping courier for the EU, and with good reason. They offer affordable insurance and reasonable (if not cheap) shipping rates. For the long view, establish warehouses in those countries you do the most overseas business. Cross-border shipping can be a nightmare, for all of the reasons listed above, so if you can do international business without necessarily shipping across borders, then you’ll be cutting your costs considerably.
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