Friday August 21, 2015
There can often be hesitation for small businesses, start-ups and sole traders in the UK when it comes to expanding into the international market. Having little or no experience in this area can put many people off, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Is your product allowed into the foreign country?
Start by researching the list of restricted items for the country you want to send to. You probably already know the obvious restrictions on things like food and items which can be used as weapons, but many countries also restrict specific items. Did you know China doesn’t allow baby milk powder to be imported? Or that South Africa, Mexico and India don’t allow you to send a pair of matching shoes?
So before you start taking orders from customers in a different country, check that what you’re selling can be shipped there.
Understand the local language
You don’t have to be fluent in the local language, but you need to be aware of accents, umlauts and other characters which aren’t used in the English language. These are really important when addressing your parcels and could make all the difference when it comes to having them delivered.
If you’re unsure, we suggested double-checking the details with your customer. If your keyboard is missing a special character, try copying and pasting the address directly as it has been sent to you by your customer.
Customs Officials and Pro-Forma Invoices
When you send a parcel outside of the EU, it will have to pass through the country’s customs before it is allowed into the country. As part of this process, you’re required to complete a pro-forma invoice. We’ll ask you to complete this during booking so it’s quick and easy to do, just be sure to be accurate with your descriptions and valuations as customs officials do check this.
You’ll need to print off 5 copies of the pro-forma invoice and we recommend you attach these to the outside of the parcel so that the customs officials don’t have to open and re-seal your parcel.
We also suggest putting your business name, address and telephone number on the outside of your parcel, so that you can be contacted if there are any queries from the customs officials. Some countries, including Canada, actually require this.
Plan for Potential Delays
You probably know the UK bank holidays without even thinking and have planned how these could affect your deliveries. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the national holidays and festivals of the countries you want to send to. This way you can prepare for any potential delays to deliveries and give your customers an accurate idea of when they can expect their parcel.
Offer Delivery Choices
Whilst the majority of UK shoppers would prefer a free delivery option, this isn’t always the case in other countries. Research has shown differences in the parcel delivery priorities from different international communities. For example, an essential factor for German shoppers is speed of delivery. Make sure you offer a range of delivery options and as the sales start rolling in you’ll start to get a clear picture of what your customers want.
You can find out more about European Parcel Delivery and International Parcel Delivery here, including specifics about many countries across the globe. Just follow our tips and the next time you get an order from outside the UK, it could be the start of a full-scale international expansion for your business.