If you have an ecommerce business or you’re starting one, you may be wondering about shipping internationally. Widening your market to the entire world offers enormous potential for your business, but it does take some legwork.
Many believe that international shipping is just for large corporations, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. With the right logistics partner, you can open your business to international shipping in no time.
Take a look at these tips and solutions to shipping challenges to expand your market and grow your business.
Why Ship Internationally?
Choosing to offer international shipping can be overwhelming, but the opportunities are virtually limitless. You can reach a wealth of new customers and boost your revenue, which makes the initial setup process worth the effort.
There’s no better time than the present. We’re seeing a sharp increase in growth in middle-class populations all over the world, including Africa, Asia, and South America. We’re also seeing tremendous growth in online shopping in international markets, which is likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your customers are no longer restricted to your city, state, or country. Social media and SEO can drive global business to your website, but only if you offer international shipping.
Ready to get started? These tips should help:
Choose Your Shipping Process
The first step in international shipping is determining the best shipping and fulfillment process for your business model and market. You must decide if you want to handle the shipping yourself, or partner with an expert to deal with the logistics and customs.
Here are some details to consider:
Is Your Business D2C, B2C, or B2B?
- Direct to Consumer (D2C) is a wholesale business model that removes the middleman, allowing consumers to buy directly from the manufacturer.
- Business to Consumer (B2C) is the most common ecommerce business model in which businesses sell directly to customers. These businesses aren’t the manufacturer. Instead, they get fulfillment through another party.
- Business to Business (B2B) is a manufacturer or distributor that sells directly to other businesses. Most consumers don’t buy directly from B2B companies and the orders are usually in bulk.
Shipping and Fulfillment for D2C and B2C Companies
If your business is D2C or B2C, the best shipping and fulfillment model is similar. Order sizes are usually smaller to midsize in scale and ship products directly to consumers. Here are some options:
- Courier services: You can use a courier like DHL or FedEx for international shipping. Many ecommerce platforms integrate with major international courier companies and offer shipping rates, label printing, and shipping schedules.
- Multi-carrier shipping aggregators: These companies reduce shipping costs by managing import and export documentation for global shipments. They also offer features like automated shipping labels and order management.
- Regional logistics providers: These providers work in specific regions, giving them the option to deliver exceptional service and features. Regional logistics providers understand the ins and outs of tariffs, documentation, and compliance, so you can save time, money, and hassle. Some of these include:
Savo Store: Delivery to East Africa
Fastway Couriers: Delivery to South Africa
Yun Express: Logistic services in and out of China
Yamato Transport: Logistics services in and out of Japan
Shipping and Fulfillment for B2B Companies
B2B companies have a few more considerations with international shipping, such as high volume and shipping to multiple countries. These needs are more complex, but you still have numerous options to handle the challenges of international shipping.
Freight forwarders are an excellent option for international B2B shipping. These companies handle the logistics of large consignments from beginning to end. It’s important to choose the best freight forwarder for your business needs and market, however. Here are some things to consider:
- Experience: Freight forwarders need to have experience with customs, laws, and regulations in the origin and destination countries. They’ll handle the details, so it’s vital that they’re correct.
- Reputation: Freight forwarders rely on reputation and connections for success. Ask other businesses for recommendations, or ask the freight forwarder for references directly. If they’re known for good service, they should be happy to provide this information.
- Network: After being in business for a while, freight forwarders will develop connections in multiple countries. This gives them the potential to negotiate rates and provide customs brokerage. Make sure your freight forwarder has these connections.
- Features: Freight forwarders offer a range of different features beyond simply shipping, such as customs brokerage and cargo insurance. While you may not need all of these services now, you may in the future and it’s important to know what the company offers.
- Pricing: Pricing shouldn’t be your only consideration, but you should have price transparency to understand what you’re paying for. All freight forwarders should provide you with a rate quote and aspects of the shipment that may affect that rate, such as terminal transfers.
Consider Regional Freight Forwarders
If your market is local to a region, you should consider regionally focused freight forwarders. These forwarders work in a specific area and understand the nuances of compliance, regulations, and more, so they can be very helpful to you.
Many regionally focused freight forwarders will provide door-to-door logistics along the way, so partnering with them can save you time, hassle, and money. They can navigate all the challenges along the way, giving you the freedom to focus on your business.
Expand Your Market
If you’re not offering international shipping, you could be missing out on incredible sales and revenue potential. Though it takes some work at the start up, expanding your market to include international customers can be a significant boost for your business.