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How Can Small Businesses Streamline Global Shipping Processes?

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How Can Small Businesses Streamline Global Shipping Processes?

The international shipping process has faced a number of disruptions over the past few years, with political issues affecting the ease of moving goods around the world. But, just because sending products abroad is a little trickier doesn’t mean it’s impossible. 

Small businesses can maintain streamlined global shipping and build a multi-national brand, using smart logistics to make the process simpler.

Optimize your global operations with these tips for efficient overseas deliveries.

Understanding the Difficulties

Before looking into how you optimize global shipping for small businesses, it’s a good idea to get to grips with current situations that are making it harder to ship overseas. 

This isn’t essential, but it can help you plan for disruption and better inform your customers of why they may experience later shipments. 

One of the major issues involves the Red Sea, where unrest is causing shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal and take longer routes to their destination. This can lead to delays of up to 14 days.

There are also problems throughout the Panama Canal, impacting delivery speeds both into and out of the West Coast of the US and the West Coast of Latin America.

There are port strikes, rising fuel costs, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, too, all of which are affecting shipping.

Though it’s a somewhat turbulent time for deliveries, it shouldn’t put small businesses off expanding their market to other countries. Instead, we recommend looking into ways you can streamline global shipments taking into consideration current events, making for smoother deliveries around the world.

Streamlining the International Shipping Process

Logistics are a key part of successful global deliveries and the better you plan the more efficient your shipments will be. Get started with these top tips.

Set-Up Global Payment Systems

If you’re branching out into the global market, it’s important to set up a payment system for international deliveries. For small businesses already using a card reader, check to see if your device is linked to an online account that accepts global digital payments. This will ensure all overseas transactions are tracked right alongside in-person payments for simple cash flow management.

It’s also vital that you charge your customers accurately for global delivery to avoid losing money. Before setting costs, ensure you’ve received quotes from suppliers and have a good grasp on import and export fees. There are tools available, too, that will automatically calculate shipping fees based on the customer’s location, making it easy to generate accurate fees. 

Get to Grips With International Shipping Laws

The international shipping process relies on rules and regulations, making it important that your small business keeps up with compliance. This can be time-consuming, but it’ll make your deliveries much smoother and more likely to reach the customer without an issue. 

Maintain a knowledge of the import rules for any countries you ship to. Most governments will have a detailed guide of their shipping laws, like the UK’s guidelines, which state the steps you need to take to avoid your goods being seized.

If you’re struggling to understand the rules, speak to a government official or consultant. They’ll be able to check over your plans and guide you on ways to improve compliance for efficient shipments. 

Automate Compliance, Documentation, and Reporting

There’s a lot of paperwork involved when shipping internationally. Luckily, though, your small business can take advantage of advanced digital tools to automate a lot of the laborious processes.

Automating software is available for compliance, making it easy to arrange the correct classifications for your products and adhere to global regulations. You can also use automated software to correctly fill out documentation and reports, inputting relevant information based on data already in your systems.

According to a survey by Deloitte, almost all global trade professionals were using a global trade management tool to make cross-border operations simpler. As more industries turn to digitization, it’s smart to switch paper-based operations to high-tech software to keep up with your competitors.

Find a Reliable Shipping Company

Choosing a trustworthy, credible shipping company to deliver your goods will make all the difference to your logistics. They’ll offer services that go beyond moving packages from A to B, including:

  • Updating you on delays and maintaining good communication
  • Handling your goods with care
  • Answering your questions regarding compliance and delivery
  • Offering great customer service
  • Dealing with lost parcels swiftly and effectively

Finding a shipping company that helps rather than hinders your efficiency will have numerous knock-on benefits for your business, too, from improving customer satisfaction to increasing loyalty among your audience. It’ll also impact your brand image, making it well worth the search.

Plan For Delays

A shipping company that currently reports no problems or delays is a red flag. These are tricky times for international freight, and some of your deliveries will likely be delayed on their route to your customers. But, by preparing in advance, you reduce the impact they’ll have on your business.

Smart logistics is proactive, and planning a schedule that avoids bad weather, political events, and seasonal delays is a great way to keep your shipments arriving on time. For example, if you’re shipping at Christmas, anticipate slower deliveries and higher demand by sending earlier.

Even with great logistics, though, you can still experience delays. This is why it’s important you have a good line of communication with your supplier. A credible company will update you on any changes to the estimated time of arrival (ETA) quickly, and provide an explanation as to why they’ve occurred. 

Once a delay is registered with your small business, inform the customers. Send an email updating them that their shipment will be delayed, along with any additional information, including the cause of the delay. Be sure to let them know of the new ETA, too, and offer an apology gift if necessary – like a discount on their next shop – to bolster your brand image.

Manage Customer Expectations

Marketing your global shipping as quick and reliable might be tempting, but if there are delays this will only end up hurting your credibility.

Rather than leading with the ideal situation, manage customer expectations by being honest. People would rather know their package is likely to be delayed, and a realistic delivery time is far better than the disappointment of a late shipment. Give your ETA some wiggle room and you’ll have happier, more loyal customers.

It’s also a good idea to include some information on your website about why global shipping can experience delays. This keeps your customers informed, shows you’re taking delivery logistics seriously, and builds credibility for your small business.

Enable Product Tracking

A great way to keep both your business and your customers up to date on global shipments is with tracking. Many international freight companies will offer an option for tracked deliveries, giving you real-time information on where the product is and when it’ll be delivered. 

This transparency improves the customer experience and reassures them that their delivery is on the way, with 90% of people actively wanting to track shipments. It’s likely to boost their view of your brand, too, as you prioritize their knowledge of the delivery over the potential savings of untracked deliveries.

Final Thoughts

The international shipping process isn’t always easy to navigate, with regulations, compliance, and delays making global business deliveries a lot of work. But, once you’ve got the right logistics in place, reaching customers around the world becomes a lot easier.

To stay on top of global shipping news or learn more about logistics, be sure to keep up with Global Trade.

Author Bio

Harvey Holloway is a digital marketing specialist, with a 1st class honours degree in Digital Media Design. Harvey is now looking to connect with leading publications and share his experience with a wider audience. Connect with Harvey on Twitter: @HarveyTweetsSEO.

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4 Ways Startups Can Boost Sales

As a small business owner, finding ways to increase profit and your audience reach efficiently is key. Entrepreneurs need to understand the sales process and know the ways to manipulate it in their favor. 

Luckily, there are ways that small businesses can generate leads and boost sales on a budget, to grow and achieve business targets. In this article, we look at four ways you can boost sales for your new startup.

Create a detailed content marketing strategy

Developing an engaging content strategy will help you generate leads and also build authority in your industry, whether it’s an informative eBook, regular blog content or user-generated videos or images that can be shared easily. But beyond creating great content, you need to know how and where to distribute that content to ensure it gets seen by a wider audience. 

To get more out of the content you develop, you can find ways to repurpose it for social or email to promote it to new and existing audiences. A blog post, for example, can be turned into graphics for Instagram or made into a video for your YouTube channel.

Having a detailed content marketing strategy that has been designed with distribution in mind will make sure your brand draws the attention of the right customers and directs them back to your business.

Provide convenient payment options

The logistics of accepting card machine payments can be a hurdle for startups, but if you want your business to be a success and increase revenue, you need to provide convenient payment methods for your customers. The payment process for your business needs to be easy to use, so as not to alienate customers, and should also be multifaceted for convenience – you want to capture every sale possible, which requires choice for your audience.

Today, most consumers take it for granted that businesses will offer card payments, whether it’s in-store or online. In fact, the UK is the world’s third most cashless country, so neglecting to offer card payments could negatively impact your bottom line and result in you capturing a smaller percentage of potential sales. Being able to accept card payments is vital in order to avoid risking lost sales. 

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Cultivate a positive reputation

The internet enables us to be more informed than ever before, and this can be both a blessing and a curse for businesses trying to generate sales. Startups have the opportunity to foster a positive brand image and reputation from day one, which can be put to good use in influencing future customers. 

In prioritizing a great customer experience and encouraging customers to leave feedback and reviews, businesses can cultivate a great reputation that will serve them well in terms of sales and customer loyalty. 

There are various ways that small businesses can make a good impression, from asking customers for feedback and then taking appropriate action to improve where necessary, to asking for testimonials when a customer has a positive experience or when their expectations were exceeded. 

Entrepreneurs should take the time to respond to online reviews too, which demonstrates that the business cares about its customers and their experience with the brand. 

As consumers, we rely on reviews and testimonials to forge our own decisions when it comes to making a purchase or using a new service, so in taking the time to cultivate these types of social proof, you can increase the likelihood of bringing new customers to your business. 

Utilize social media

Social media can’t be ignored, for its ability to build a community to the different avenues it provides, and for businesses to reach a wider audience. For startups, however, the main appeal of social media is how cost-effective it is for such big rewards. So many consumers are spending a lot of their time on these channels, so it can be an enormous boost to sales when it’s used correctly. 

Most social media sites have a wealth of data on their users, which businesses can use to get their messaging in front of the right eyes. And while not everyone uses social media to buy, it can be a highly effective way to promote products and services, especially if you can offer giveaways, discounts or special deals to grab your customers’ attention for more sales. 

For startups, developing a social media marketing strategy early on can be a great way of marketing the business on a budget while still enjoying great results. 

Final thoughts

Startups often need to get creative with their strategies in order to keep budgets low while still enjoying growth as a business. Focusing on finding high-impact yet cost-effective methods to build brand awareness, and consequently, sales should be the aim. 

Startups should use a combination of these tips and then analyze how each impacts sales to determine where efforts should be placed for better results in the future. 

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Harvey Holloway is a digital marketing specialist, with a 1st class honours degree in Digital Media Design. Harvey is now looking to connect with leading publications and share his experience with a wider audience. Connect with Harvey on Twitter: @HarveyTweetsSEO.