Exporting can seem like a daunting task to many small- and medium-sized businesses, but it can also be a great way to expand your customer base and grow your sales. Make no mistake, exporting can be a challenge. You have to take the time to select the right product, understand the applicable rules and regulations in both the U.S. and the country to which you are exporting, identify your potential customers, and find out about the different payment and shipping alternatives. Here are some tips for becoming a successful exporter.
- Identify your potential market. If you’re interested in exporting, you need to identify the right foreign markets for your products. Information is readily available through government agencies and business-related organizations such as foreign trade associations, chambers of commerce, trade commission offices, and development centers (like the SBDC in PA). You can also visit www.export.gov to access a wealth of data that can assist you in identifying overseas markets for U.S. goods. Each foreign market has different trade barriers, import regulations, and technology considerations that may affect your exporting decisions.
- Assess your product potential. A product may be successful in the U.S., but that is no guarantee it will be successful in a foreign market. Preparing a product for export requires not just knowledge of the product, but also an awareness of the many unique characteristics of the market to which you are exporting. Cultural difference and local customs may also require product modifications in areas such as branding, packaging, and labeling. Awareness and sensitivity to these differences are critical to a successful product introduction.
- Know the export controls and licensing requirements. Exporting can expose your business to laws and regulations that you may not be familiar with. Different rules can impact your ability to successfully do business in foreign markets. Violation of these rules can have significant repercussions, including denial of our export privileges and fines.
- Investigate foreign country import controls. Before exporting your product to a foreign market, you need to identify whether the country you’re exporting to has any import controls related to the sale of your product. These can include prohibitions, restrictions, or import licensing requirements. Import documentation requirements and other regulations also vary by country.
- Understand U.S. export laws. As an exporter, you need to determine which federal department or agency has jurisdiction over the item you’re planning to export, and whether or not you will need an export license. The key in determining whether an export license is required for a given product is whether the item has a specific Export Control Classification Number (ECCN).
- Make sense of Incoterms. As an exporter, you need to understand the costs, responsibilities, rights, and obligations that accompany the use of a specific Incoterm. Every quotation or sales order must include a term of sale. If you fail to clearly identify the specific Incoterm to your customer, it can lead to an overestimation or underestimation of the costs associated with the goods you are selling (and ultimately a lost sale).
- Make sure you have the right insurance coverage. You need to understand the amount of insurance on your export transaction and who will be responsible in the event of loss or damage while the goods are in transit. Many freight forwarding companies will provide cargo insurance options to help address these risks.
- Hire a reliable freight forwarder. An international freight forwarder acts as an agent on your behalf and assists in moving your shipment from its U.S. origin to its foreign destination. Capable freight forwarders are familiar with the import rules and regulations of foreign countries, U.S. export regulations, methods of shipping, and required documentation. They can assist you in preparing pricing quotations by providing freight costs, port charges, documentation fees, insurance costs, and handling fees. They can also recommend packaging methods that will best protect your products during transport.
While the above tips are good for every exporter to know, if you work with an experienced and reputable freight forwarder, such as Logistics Plus, you won’t have to deal with too many of the details involved with exporting your goods to a foreign country. We have access to substantial shipping discounts for both international air and international ocean freight services, and our fees are very affordable. We can also provide you with valuable consultation on all aspects of global trade compliance, and we can even help you with financing solutions. Click the button on the left below to request more information, or the button the right to start the export quotation process.