Selling to customers outside Australia via an online marketplace is a great way to boost turnover, provided you nail the challenges of getting your goods from A to B, write Jennifer Diaz, Marketplacer Director of Partnership and Rob Hango-Zada, Co-Founder of Shippit.
Some Aussie retail brands have been recognised around the world for decades but e-commerce is giving many more the opportunity to shine on the international stage.
Like the thought of earning some of those export dollars yourself? Perhaps by establishing an online marketplace that allows you to curate an extensive array of Australian designed and made products that you can promote to an international audience? It’s a smart way to grow because, by drawing on the inventories of a network of partners, you’re able to expand your offering significantly without the substantial capital investment.
Do it well and you stand to experience growth five times greater than if you confine your e-commerce activities to Australia, according to Shippit research.
For today’s sellers in the e-commerce marketplace economy, sorting out your shipping arrangements in advance will get your international e-commerce endeavour off to a fine start and provide for optimal customer engagement. After all, today’s customers are used to lightning-fast service and having parcels get held up by customs agents for weeks on end, go missing in transit or take months to arrive is a bad look; one that may see your business cop a caning where it hurts most: on your social media channels.
Indeed, businesses have to recognise that customers are people, not transactions. It even helps to become a little customer-obsessed. When you think about it in these terms, what could possibly be better positioned to drive real and deep engagement other than your major point of contact – your shipping experience.
Here are some quick tips to make international shipping easy and efficient.
Research the Regulations
Every country has its own rules regarding the import and sale of certain products. Here in Australia, for example, we’re wary about foreign plant matter because it could represent a bio-hazard that might potentially damage the country’s multi-billion-dollar agricultural sector. Across the ditch, the Kiwis are quick to say ‘no bro’ to butterfly and flick knives. Keep yourself on the right side of the law by using government and carriers’ websites to review the regulations relating to your goods. Do your research here at home and in the countries where you intend to sell before you start accepting orders.
Prepare the Paperwork Properly
Swift and painless passage through Customs can mean the difference between an on-time order and one that languishes in transit for weeks, or is marked “return to sender.” Up the odds of a hassle-free experience by filling out your shipment details clearly and accurately on a customs declaration document or commercial invoice. Your document will need to include your Tax Identifier Number (TIN), which is used to identify your business and track tax-related activity, a Harmonised Shipment (HS) code which allows customs officials to identify the specific type of goods you’re sending, and a detailed product description.
Mind the Hazards
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to send some ‘hazardous’ goods overseas – think lithium batteries, aerosols and the like – providing you jump through the requisite hoops first. That means submitting approvals for three key things along with your customs declaration document: certification for shipping dangerous goods via aircraft; approval from your shipping partner and requested carrier; and a Material Safety Data Sheet or Safety Data Sheet. If you’re not sure which carrier is suitable for your product, Shippit’s Know Your Carrier guide can help you identify one. Package and label your items correctly and you’re good to go!
Offer Customers a Choice of Shipping Options
Super fast and correspondingly costly or somewhat slower and significantly cheaper? When it comes to international shipping, it’s fair to say you get what you pay for. Research the carriers that service the countries where you plan to sell and offer your customers several options at the check-out, laying out the costs, average delivery times and terms and conditions clearly for each. Overpromising and under-delivering can lead to a less than satisfactory customer experience and it pays to invest some time to ensure you get this step right.
Team Up With a Partner that Can Manage the Process
Sound like a lot to get your head around? It can be, especially if you don’t have time and resources to devote to the task. Working with a dedicated, cloud-based shipping provider like Shippit, Marketplacer’s logistics partner here in Australia, can take the hard work and hassle out of shipping overseas. Their seasoned team of logistics experts understand how to move goods fast, from Singapore to Saudi Arabia and every place in between. They can help you streamline the shipping process, organise transit protection cover, contain costs and get orders winging their way from your warehouse to far-flung customers at double speed. They can also act as a single point of contact, dealing with carriers on your behalf, tracking deliveries and taking charge of the process should a package be damaged or go astray anywhere between your premises and your customer’s mailbox, home or place of business.
Going for Growth In 2022
If you’re an established e-commerce vendor, both product readiness and performing deep-dive due intelligence will complement working with industry expert partners to support selling your products – and those of others – via an online marketplace to a global audience. You’ll also be well placed to surprise and delight new customers around the world with a great customer experience.
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