5 Things Successful International Shippers Know & Do
Importing or exporting goods can be very lucrative business. It can also be very costly if you don’t know what you’re doing.
But what makes the difference between a thriving business selling imported goods and a struggling business stuck with a warehouse full of imported goods it can’t sell?
How does one business have high profit margins on imports and exports when another business spends so much on international shipping that they can’t get their books out of the red?
This blog shares five things successful international shippers know and do to make their business successful and importing and exporting goods very profitable for them.
1. Emphasize Service Over Price
When looking for a freight forwarder or international shipping company, many have one factor in mind: price.
Who will give me the best freight rate on my international shipping?
Pricing is obviously an important factor in international shipping, but successful international shippers know that it is not the most important thing when looking at companies to handle their imports and exports.
A freight forwarder’s service outweighs the freight rate pricing they offer.
Service is two-fold: Does the freight forwarder or shipping company offer the services you need and does the company provide excellent customer service?
Successful international shippers know the services they need (e.g. air freight vs. ocean freight, door to door vs. port to port, customs clearance, warehousing, etc.) and make sure their freight forwarder or shipping company can provide those services.
How good the freight forwarder or shipping company’s customer service is in offering those shipping services is also paid close attention to by successful international shippers.
Does the freight forwarder or shipping company follow up with you? Do they pay attention to details?
Many shippers have found out the hard way that emphasizing price over service can be very costly in the long run.
2. Recognize Importance of Experience
Speaking of things to pay attention to over price, successful international shippers know to go with experienced freight forwarders or shipping companies.
The international shipping industry is volatile and complex. There are many factors, from international law to customs clearance and dockworker strikes to piracy, that can affect the delivery of your goods.
During Universal Cargo Management’s 30 years as a freight forwarder, we’ve seen it all and know, along with successful shippers, that you need a freight forwarder who knows the ins and outs of the international shipping industry.
If problems arise, as often can hapeen in the international shipping industry, international shippers who are working with an experienced freight forwarder or shipping company can have confidence that their cargo will be taken care of, whether through rerouting, properly handled paperwork, or cooperation from the freight forwarder or shipping company’s business partners and relationships.
Most problems will be avoided by an experienced freight forwarder or shipping company before they ever even arise.
3. Import What You Can Sell
Successful shippers import products they are able to sell.
Most shippers are not Walmart or Target and can’t compete with these kinds of stores with similar products.
Being a successful importer often means finding your niche in the market.
A number of people have gotten into importing with the idea of making big money by importing products from China and selling them at profit, but ended up with a garage full of goods they can’t sell.
Successful shippers consider what they are importing carefully. It is not just picking a cool product, but one that you can sell at a nice profit.
It is a good idea to pick a product you can ship in large quantities, can sell at a high price, and are passionate about.
We go into this in more detail in our blog: 3 Tips for Choosing a Product to Import from China for Making Money.
4. Stay Up to Date on Shipping Industry News
We already mentioned the international shipping industry is volatile. Successful shippers tend keep up on what’s happening in the world of international shipping.
This doesn’t mean becoming an expert on the topic, but knowing things are happening like contract negotiations at West Coast ports creating big backlogs at congested ports or severe winter weather causing delays on shipments through the East Coast and Midwest can be huge in business planning.
Working with an experienced freight forwarder or shipping company helps mitigate this need to be up on the latest international shipping industry news because the freight forwarder should be paying attention to these things and helping your shipments move as smoothly as possible.
Still, knowledge is power and knowing what’s happening in the international shipping industry can be a huge help in being a successful international shipper.
An easy way to stay up on international shipping is subscribing to this blog by entering your email in the box on the right side of this page. We post articles about international shipping news as well as important shipping alerts.
5. Have Specific Shipping Details Ready
I saved one of the most important things successful international shippers know and do for last.
Before approaching a freight forwarder or international shipping company, you need to have your shipping details ready.
This includes knowing what you’re shipping, its value, its weight, its size, when you’re planning to ship, and to and from where you’re shipping.
Remember that whole international shipping is volatile thing? If you want an accurate rate quote, you want to request rates close to when you’re shipping.
As a general rule, freight rate quotes are good for about 30 days.
Have more advice for successful international shipping? We love your input. Share your thoughts and experience in the comments section below.