Offering multinational shipping is a useful and exciting way to expand your existing customer base. However, shipping parcels outside the United States involve a few extra steps to ensure that your customers receive their orders in a safe and timely fashion.
By refining your global shipping strategy, you can transform your organization into a world-class leader in your field. Use these seven tips to drastically enhance you shipping processes worldwide.
1) Establish a network of dependable international carriers
"Any vendor that you hire for international shipping services must understand the trade lane you are in and the appropriate solution to move your product safely, timely, intact and in fulfillment of all required regulations." - Mark Baxa, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals
Establishing relationships with multiple shipping companies is a good idea for several reasons.
First, shipping costs typically vary from one carrier to the next, so it is a good idea to obtain at least two to three quotes from carriers you trust.
Second, some carriers have particularly strong relationships with customs officials in individual countries.
Finally, some shipping companies are faster than others at responding to quote requests and scheduling parcel pickups, so it is always a good idea to have multiple options to ensure you meet customer deadlines.
2) Create a weight and dimensions list of your Essential products
As your global shipping activity grows, you will likely notice certain products tend to be more popular among your international customers. You can improve your efficiency by identifying your top ten products that you ship overseas and creating a list that includes the weight and package dimensions of each of those products. This prevents you from having to obtain information from scratch every time you need to get a shipping estimate.
3) Enlist the services of a top-notch shipping insurance provider
"Chain of custody, points of handoff and consolidation, layered approach – all these phrases point to the fact that air cargo goes through many people and entities before it reaches its destination." - Air Cargo World
As outlined by Air Cargo World, international shipments are particularly at risk for theft and damage because they pass through more hands and channels than domestic shipments. Securing international parcel shipping insurance is the best step you can take to make sure that your international customers receive the items they ordered. Here are a few of the many reasons why you should always seek insurance for your overseas shipments:
- Parcels can be destroyed in cargo fires or shipping accidents
- International parcels are sometimes lost or inadvertently routed to the incorrect country
- Packages can get damaged during the customs inspection process
4) Assign a dedicated resource to handle your shipping documentation
Most international orders will need to be shipped with export documentation to facilitate the customs clearance process. Documentation requirements vary by country, but most countries require packages to be sent with a commercial invoice and packing list. Sometimes a certificate of origin or shipper's export declaration is required for a parcel to be cleared.
5) Attend local export training seminars
The multinational shipping process can seem intimidating, especially to people who have never shipped parcels outside the United States. Fortunately, there are usually some free or low-cost seminars available in most cities in addition to online webinars and educational resources. Some examples of such resources include the following:
- The U.S. Census Bureau provides a variety of free educational videos on topics ranging from taxes to sanctions
- Companies such as FedEx offer free or low-cost webinars and classroom programs on global shipping
- Local government trade centers often provide international trade support
6) Take measures to prevent parcel theft
"Cargo theft has been around for centuries, from robbers attacking merchants on trading roads to pirates seizing ships at sea to bandits on horseback robbing stagecoaches. Unfortunately, crime has evolved along with cargo transportation methods. Trucks have replaced horse-drawn carriages, and today's bandits are organized into international crime syndicates." - Jared S. Palmer, Inbound Logistics
Thieves who target parcels are becoming more sophisticated by the day. They present a danger to every stage of the shipping process from pickup to the final delivery phase. While it is impossible to monitor every step of the global shipping process, you can take the following measures on the front end to help ensure that you and your customers are protected from theft:
- Ensure that staff are properly trained to distinguish between legitimate carriers and individuals posing as carriers
- Refrain from shipping parcels to another country without international shipping insurance
- Keep track of the types of products that are frequently targeted by thieves
- Pack parcels securely in sealed, generic boxes so thieves will not know the contents
- Vary your shipping schedule so thieves will have difficulty intercepting shipments
7) Be wary of goods you cannot ship overseas
"Dangerous Goods are items that may endanger the safety of an aircraft or persons on board the aircraft. Dangerous Goods are also known as restricted articles, hazardous materials and dangerous cargo." - International Air Transport Association
It is your responsibility as an international shipper to refrain from dispatching items that are hazardous or restricted. Examples include aerosols, perishable products, poisonous substances, and explosives. Failure to adhere to international shipping regulations could result in penalties ranging from seizure of goods, to costly fines, to prison time.
The Bottom Line
Promoting your products overseas is a fruitful and exciting way to expand your customer base and take your business to the next level of success. However, it is important to continually improve your approach to global shipping. By bolstering your training initiatives and by forging strong relationships with shipping companies and insurance providers, you can establish yourself as a global leader in your industry.
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