Importing goods from different countries worldwide can seem like an uphill task for your business, especially if you are a first-timer. However, the truth is, while importing is not as easy as sourcing goods from an interstate store, there are ways to get your import business up and running.
Whether you are old in the business or just starting out, these tips will ensure that the import process is smooth and void of any issues that could make you spend more or delay your shipment. Here are some important questions and considerations to make before importing.
1. Should you leverage a specialist?
Almost all complicated tasks and processes have specialists who can help complete the task with ease. Importing can be complex. Because of this, you may need the help of a specialist to guide you through the process.
Fortunately for you, you have two good options. First, you can seek help from a freight forwarder or a customs broker. Let’s see who these professionals are:
When it comes to international logistics, freight forwarders are your best bet. These individuals can help transport your goods from their initial location to wherever you want them. Many freight forwarders also double as custom brokers, meaning they’ll take care of everything, from taking the shipment from your supplier to delivering it to its final destination.
To transport your goods to their destination, freight forwarders often liaise with local transport and logistics. This can come in handy if you don’t have local contacts in your supplier’s location. It also means that you have to work with one person to supervise everything about your shipment, making the process less stressful.
While many people may be familiar with freight forwarders or package forwarding companies, only a few understand who customs brokers are and what they do. The job of a customs broker or import broker is to help individuals arrange customs documents and licenses they may need for importing to a country.
These professionals will also ensure that you have the required documents to clear customs without hassle. Customs brokers can also handle authorities in your stead, thus avoiding delays, setbacks, or unnecessary expenses. And if the need arises, their duty drawback and tax recovery services can come in handy. If you are considering using customs brokers, ensure you go for one with a local and global presence and one with a strong relationship with government authorities.
2. Can you reduce costs when paying for your goods?
As said earlier, sourcing goods from international vendors is nothing like buying materials from a manufacturer in another state. The latter involves international transportation and many charges, which can make the process of sourcing goods from international vendors expensive.
Of course, as a business looking to maximize profits and reduce operational costs, you’d be looking for a way to reduce costs. But is that possible?
Yes. While some charges cannot be bypassed, there are areas in which you can cut costs to ensure you don’t blow your budget. And one of those areas is the payment method you use.
For example, rather than pay your international supplier’s invoice via the normal channel ( bank transfer), which can be expensive ( given the fees and costs), you can save money by using foreign exchange platforms that offer real, mid-market exchange rates with small transfer fees. These platforms are regulated by the FCA and have lots of users worldwide.
3. Transporting goods—what options do you have, and which is best?
Transportation is one of the most expensive aspects of importation. And when it comes to bringing your goods down to your location, you have many options to select from, including:
Air freight can be used to transport small, expensive goods or things that are needed urgently. Prices here are calculated based on the weight, value, volume of goods, and distance from the point of origin to the final destination.
Sea freight is one of the most common ways of transporting goods, especially bulky ones. Unlike air freight, this option is cheaper. But, it’s often slow compared to air freight.
Like ship freight, rail is one of the most affordable ways to transport goods in some areas. European rail services are frequent, quick, and environmentally friendly. However, it is often more costly than road haulage and less flexible, which can be a problem for importers.
Moving goods by road is another way to transport your goods. However, you may encounter issues if the road network is good. And unlike air freight, delivery often takes time. The costs of transporting your goods via roads are also reasonable.
Importing goods from overseas can be a complicated task. As a first-timer, we would advise that you seek the help of a professional like customs brokers so you don’t make mistakes that could be costly to your finances and business as a whole. It’s also important that you consider the goods you are importing before choosing a means of transportation.