If you are making the leap into the importing and/or exporting business, there are many things you need to take into account before gearing up in full force. Some things you need to research are international trade regulations, how currency transfers from different countries, as well as how you will track everything. Here is a quick reference to things you need to consider when going into business as an importer/exporter.
- Translation of Product””When choosing a product it is wise to research how it will fare in another country before investing a lot into something that won’t sell. Talk to vendors in the countries you are planning to export to and see if they think you have a product they can sell. Have them back up what they are saying with hard facts and statistics””the more people you talk to the more likely you will find accurate information.
- Trade Regulations””There are many laws on what you can import and export. A good idea is to have on hand resources that stay up to date on these rules and regulations so you won’t unknowingly violate one of these laws. Some good organizations to look to are the U.S Small Business Administration, export.gov, the Foreign Agriculture Service (if you are importing/exporting food) and the Federation of International Trade Associations.
- Software Programs””Whether you plan on setting up e-commerce between yourself and traders in other countries, or you just need something to keep you organized, there are many software programs to choose from. Some are: Open Entry International E-Commerce, Oracle E-Business Suite, and Perfect Commerce. Another thing to consider is looking into an IP phone system as this can cut down on long distance fees dramatically.
Besides things you need to do, there are also things you should not do when importing and/or exporting goods. Make sure you educate all employees of the rules and regulations on how you need to handle your goods. If your employees miss handle the product in anyway you could find yourself looking at a bunch of costly fees. Also make sure you are studying up on insurance rates for your products. Many first time importers/exporters do not factor in all risks and are actually under estimating their coverage costs.
Decide how to keep track of all of your credit card processing if you are processing transactions both online and offline. Many people often oversell a product if they don’t have a system that can monitor both online and offline sales.
Starting an importing/exporting business can be an exciting challenge. Just don’t forget to research all aspects before leaping into your new venture. There are many factors to consider, so it is important to be very knowledgeable on all aspects of the trade and keep up to date on all industry news.
Shannon Suetos is a writer based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs.