Learn how consumer habits drive delivery, find the right vendors, understand customs and determine your effective shipping strategy.

Getting your product to an international customer requires choosing a shipper; dealing with tariffs; knowing the regulations; and calculating the total landed costs. Here are some questions to consider and interviews with industry experts around logistics further below.

What are the first steps I should take when selecting a new market?

To start getting a handle on the requirements for your product in a given market, you should identify tariffs and other rules of entry, and explore customs clearance times and costs to import into different countries and ports. This research will impact your potential for profit in each new region.

What should I know before setting my shipping fees and return policies

Setting your shipping fees involves knowing something about your customer – are they motivated by free shipping for example, but less so by speed of shipment? For example, in Europe consumers have lower expectations around timing and free shipping. This is changing due to growing exposure to services such as Amazon Prime. You should also consider your competition, and finally determine these policies based on your margins and cash flow.

What are some of the laws and regulations I need to know for different markets?

There are an array of trade policy and compliance issues to navigate when shipping goods overseas. Some of these start at home, and others start at foreign borders and vary greatly regionally. Many companies use compliance professionals in order to avoid penalties and costs, or create a company compliance policy to ensure obeisance of all tax, duties, export control and other regulations. Our partner, the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Assocation of American (NCBFAA) runs education workshops and webinars you may want to check out.

What are the models for international fulfillment?

You have choices as to how you want your product shipped overseas. Choosing a centralized model — whereby orders are received at and shipped from a single global hub to customers everywhere in the world — or a decentralized model, whereby the seller ships orders to its foreign customers from overseas regional or in-country fulfillment centers in its key foreign markets — will largely depend on the product you’re selling and number of regions you are targeting.

How should I evaluate carriers/fulfillment companies by region?

While it may sound simple enough to choose a partner to put your products in a box and ship them, 3PLs skills-sets are critical and vary wildly. Some are running large warehouses for multiple companies in several markets while others are more domestic but claim cross-border capabilities. Always ask for references before committing to a 3PL and confirm that their expertise link directly to the market you are planning to enter.