When you first had the idea for your business, I bet you didn’t imagine you’d get to the point where your products would be loaded in bulk onto massive freight ships and sent all over the world. Even now, when you’re finalizing deals with your international partners, I’m sure the whole situation feels fairly surreal. Now that you’ve made it this far, it’s important not to make any of the mistakes associated with exporting. Here are a few to be aware of.
The first, and in some ways costliest mistake you can make, is making timing mistakes.
Meticulous timing is a big part of general business etiquette, and when it comes to international shipping it’s even more crucial. It’s all too common for new, inexperienced exporters to get a quote on their freight rate, waiting some time, and then trying to organize a shipment only to find that the quote has expired.
This, of course, causes all kinds of timing slip-ups and strains the relationship you have with your buyer. In terms of international shipping, transit, terminal cut-offs and the time for loading all need to be considered. If an order turns up late, or when your buyer doesn’t have enough warehouse capacity, then it could be a deal breaker.
Failing to insure the goods you’re shipping is another big mistake which you have to be careful to avoid. You may be able to run your business indefinitely without ever losing any freight.
However, cargo can still be lost and stolen. Ships sink, planes crash, and piracy goes on in certain parts of the world. Aside from that, simpler things like extreme weather conditions can ruin cargo in transit and end in a loss.
To ensure your business can bounce back from these mishaps, you need to make sure all your cargo is fully insured. There are various rules surrounding the insurance for different goods. For example, household goods have to be packed by qualified professionals to be insured. Make sure you learn all the rules and nuances surrounding the cargo you intend to insure.
Finally, choosing the cheapest possible freight rate. Read any decent trade finance guide, and it will tell you to be wary of choosing particularly cheap freight rates.
Of course, you want to be smart with your capital, and don’t want to sink any money into unnecessary frills. However, a cheap shipping rate is usually the sign of an inexperienced business owner looking to undercut the more established competition.
Check out freight rates, but make sure to dig a little deeper into the shipping company you’re considering. How long have they been operating as a shipping business? How responsive are they to your inquiries? How much do they know about the cargo you’re shipping and the country it’s being shipped to? Do they outline any plans of action should something go wrong? Whatever you do, don’t ignore the value of a professional and experienced shipping company.
The slip-ups made by unprofessional firms may seem minor, but they’ll be a continuous drain on your bottom line.