If you’re going into export for the first time, your first task will be to investigate any rules and regulations regarding your products. For example, food and agricultural products are subject to some pretty tough regulations, and you’ll have to have your paperwork in good order while your products must pass inspections. If you’re satisfied that you can meet the legal requirements for your products, it’s time to get down to practicalities. Here are some tips to help you.
1. Packaging is Especially Important
Whether you’re transporting your goods by sea or by air, packaging will be of particular importance. Your packaging should help to shield your consignment from any damage, and you will need uniform-sized containers in order to stack a shipping pallet. Stock up with all the necessary B2B shipping supplies you’ll need including boxes, tape, shipping pallets, binding twine, bubble wrap and cling wrap (handy as an extra wrapping for goods stacked on pallets.)
2. Don’t Ship Unnecessary Weight
Shipping costs for exporters are extremely high, so reducing weights and volumes will help you. If, for example, you’re shipping beverages, it is better to send them in bulk containers. Your client will need to have a bottling plant, or you will need to form a relationship with bottle manufacturers and bottling businesses overseas.
3. Get Reliable Freight Services
You may be surprised to find that even major shipping services aren’t always reliable. Rapid and timely shipping is especially vital when you’re sending perishable products, but even when your products won’t expire if delayed on route, you will be judged on timely delivery. Talk to other people in your industry to find out who you can trust with your cargo – the answers might be surprising.
4. Track Your Consignment
It’s important for you to know exactly where in the world your consignment of goods is at any given time. You may not be able to compensate for delays, but if there are any, being able to inform your client in good time could help to protect your reputation as a reliable supplier.
5. Insure Your Goods
A lost or damaged consignment of export goods could be a huge blow to your business. Although insurance is an extra expense, it will shield you against financial loss if anything happens to your goods on the route. As an experienced exporter will tell you, you’ll be surprised at the number of things that can go wrong.
6. Record Environmental Conditions
If your products need to be maintained within a certain set of environmental conditions or orientation, be sure to send a recording device along to track whether your shipping instructions were followed properly. Once again you’d be amazed at the conditions your products will have to survive if things go wrong. A sea container with a broken refrigeration unit, for example, can build up heat quickly. Airplane freight holds are usually safer, but it’s not unknown for goods to be left for hours in the blazing sun on a tarmac.
7. Start With a Test Consignment
If the export is new to you, it’s wise to start small and test the waters. Be honest with your client if this is your first foray. You will want feedback on the condition of your packaging and goods upon arrival at their destination. Your staff will also get a trial run at packaging and dispatching an export order – and since this is invariably a time-sensitive, high-pressure task, they’ll learn some valuable lessons in the process.
It Gets Easier Once You Know the Ropes
At first, packaging, dispatching, and tracking exports will be a stressful business, but you will get used to it. Your staff will get more skillful and better organized, your methods will be fine-tuned, and soon, it will become a matter of routine.