5 Money-Saving Tips for Your Import/Export Business
This is a guest post by Marcus Dokken.
International trade was, and still is, one of the main drivers of economic expansion. We might even say that it’s directly responsible for shaping the world we live in. That makes you, the import/export business owner, an invaluable cog in a larger machine. And, this is precisely why it’s so crucial for your business to thrive.
However, it became hard to keep your head above water with all the recent international shipping disruptions. Hard – but far from impossible. With these money-saving tips for your import/export business, you can remedy the situation and endure the crisis.
Tip #1 – Stay informed
A wealth of information is key to any successful business venture. It is probably the most noticeable in the import/export business.
First, the market changes. It’s in constant motion; it fluctuates. What was profitable yesterday can become a money sink tomorrow, and vice versa. Therefore, knowing what’s currently going on will help you find favorable deals and cut unnecessary expenses.
And, secondly, as an import/export business, you work with numerous countries and governments. Each one has its own set of rules and regulations regarding international trade. And, all of them apply to you. Now, you may think that these are sealed, set in stone, never to change. That cannot be further from the truth. In fact, this way of thinking was the bane of many import/export businesses. Rules and regulations are also subject to constant change. Sometimes, even on a daily basis.
Therefore, the most essential of all money-saving tips for your import/export business is: stay in the loop. It will ensure your company to not only survive but thrive.
Tip #2 – Work with a Reputable Freight Forwarder
If you’re new in an import/export business, you’ll need all the help you can muster to stay afloat. A reputable freight forwarder company will make your job (and life) so much easier. They act as a bridge between you and your international suppliers or distributors, thus letting you focus on your business alone. A freight forwarder can take a lot of weight off your shoulders, from handling excessive paperwork to providing important updates on the status of your shipment. But, where their strength really lies is in a network of reliable carriers and connections to customs. Both things you need to expedite the process and make it more efficient.
Tip #3 – DIY
If you’re willing to put more time and energy into your work, you can avoid using a freight forwarder. However, bear in mind that this is only advisable if you know the ins and outs of how every single aspect of international freight works, mainly:
- Handling documentation, and;
- Choosing an adequate and profitable transportation method.
This is the part of work every business owner “loves.” Nevertheless, it’s an excellent way to cut some costs – when you learn to do it right. Needles to say, this will take time. Handling import/export documentation can get incredibly complicated. In some cases, you’ll need a dozen documents just for a single shipment. Furthermore, those documents must be impeccable – both filling and filing-wise. But, if you master this process and turn it into a routine, you’ll only stand to gain.
Choosing the Right Carrier
The difference in shipping prices can vary greatly from company to company and from method to method. Sometimes, this disparity is extreme, resulting in downing the profitability of a venture almost to the point of non-existence. To make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s imperative to find a suitable carrier. And the best way to do it is by checking:
- How long they’ve been in business.
Do not settle for the first company you come upon. Ask for freight quotes from multiple companies and find the balance between price and service quality. And remember: cheaper isn’t necessarily better.
As far as the methods are concerned, you’re limited to only four choices:
- Boat freight: Cheap but slow. Remains the most popular option. Still, pay attention to routes, as delivery time can vary drastically;
- Airfreight: Expensive but fast. But, if you’re on a tight schedule or dealing with time-sensitive cargo, this option outshines all others;
- Rail freight: A middle ground between a boat and air freight. Both the price and speed fall in between these two. The most effective usage of rail freight is for transporting excessive quantities of goods;
- Road freight: Relatively cheap and fast, but suffers from many downfalls (traffic, customs, land-locked).
Since global shipping costs continue to rise, choosing the right carrier and transportation method(s) is essential.
Tip #4 – Be Flexible – It’s One of the Most Important Money-Saving Tips for Your Import/Export Business
If you take the advice from Tip #1, you’ll only stand to gain. As political winds change, opportunities will pop up left and right. That’s right; we’re talking about free-trade agreements. However, to benefit from them, you must be willing to change and adapt on short notice. But, with research, you can sort of “predict” when something like this can happen and, thus, be ready to act. Still, be mindful that “flexibility” doesn’t mean “opportunism.” You must research the market and procure necessary licenses and/or permits to avoid problems and fines.
Tip #5 – Don’t Be Afraid to Move Your Business to a More Convenient Location
Yes, moving your office is a drastic change. Still, a better tactical position will give you more ways to save money in the long run, not to mention an upper hand in the competition. However, to reap the benefits that office moving brings, it’s imperative to reduce downtime to a minimum. This is only possible if you have a team that can ensure a time-efficient transfer to new premises without sacrificing quality. But, once you have them, you’re ready to set yourself up for some serious money-saving.
Improve, Adapt, Overcome
The import/export business is in a constant state of flux. That’s why it’s essential to be as fluid as the market itself and to never stop learning. Fortunately, the mere fact you’re reading our money-saving tips for your import/export business means you’re on the right path. And, the further you advance down it, the easier it will be for you to cut costs and maximize profits.
This was a guest post by Marcus Dokken.
Marcus Dokken spent two decades working for various freight companies. Currently, he’s working on establishing his own import/export business while helping colleagues with his blogs.