5 Things to Consider Before Shipping Internationally

  •    Michelle Mondonedo is the content marketer at Easyship, the all-in-one shipping tool for eCommerce sellers looking to sell worldwide.

If you’re thinking of taking your business to the next level by accepting international orders, you are in the right mindset. Sellers are beginning to see the benefits of selling internationally, with 31% strongly agreeing that cross-border eCommerce is profitable.

Figuring out international logistics can sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you consider the following before going global.

Make Sure You Can Import Your Product to Your Target Markets.

Think about where your target markets are, and list the countries you’d like to start shipping to immediately. Visit each country’s official customs website and see if your product is on the restricted or prohibited list for imports.

If a product is on the restricted list, it may be quarantined in customs for an unspecified amount of time, causing delays in delivery. If it’s prohibited, it could either be returned to you (causing you to not only lose a sale, but be responsible for paying return fees) or worse, be destroyed in customs.

Anticipate Potential Delivery Issues.

Some countries are easier to ship to than others. Countries with low tax thresholds makes importing expensive, so you have to determine whether customers in that market will be willing to pay additional taxes for your product.

Countries like Brazil, India, and Russia require the recipient to provide proper identification to accept overseas packages, so you should make efforts to communicate this to customers.

China is a lucrative market for cross-border eCommerce, but Chinese customs is very strict with imports and shipments are prone to processing delays. Also, the sheer size of the country proves challenging when it comes to delivering packages outside large cities.

Make Sure Your Product Doesn’t Have a Dangerous Component.

In shipping, “dangerous goods” are defined as something that, if not handled with care, can cause harm to those handling them in transit.

The most common dangerous goods in eCommerce are liquids and batteries. Although they are not dangerous by themselves, they might have a dangerous component, such as being flammable.

There are restrictions around transporting dangerous goods, especially if you are shipping something by air. If your product has any dangerous components, you must let your courier know. You may get charged extra fees for special handling, but it’s a lot better than the alternative (getting your shipping account shut down for breaking the law.)

Determine Whether Tax and Duty Will Apply to Your Shipments.

Governments usually impose import taxes to protect domestic companies from foreign competitors, or to raise revenue. Every country has a tax threshold, which is the amount where a person begins paying taxes on an imported item.

Depending on the retail value of your shipment and the threshold, tax and duty may or may not apply to your shipment. You can research each country’s tax threshold on Easyship’s countries page.

Consider Shipping Insurance.

If you are shipping something valuable, or need peace of mind knowing that you can get reimbursed should your shipment get damaged, shipping insurance could be just what you need.

The good news is that many express couriers offer automatic insurance for both domestic and international shipments with a value up to $100USD, so be sure to confirm this with your courier if you’re interested.

However, if the value of your item is above $100USD, it’s best to buy additional coverage if you have concerns. Insuring your shipment is affordable; it can cost as low as 3% of the item’s declared value.