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International trade is one of the hottest industries today; however, it isn’t a new business sector. A few good examples would be the biblical age, caravans carrying spices and silk, and Marco Polo.
Whatever example you think of, the import/export business will exist as long as a country or group has a supply of merchandise or commodity in demand.
However, as our world becomes more and more technologically savvy, international trade will undoubtedly become more and more attractive, both in terms of personal satisfaction and profitability.
That said, the import/export business is not just for the adventurous folk who survive solely based on their wits alone. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the trade industry moves around $1.2 billion worth of goods annually.
Moreover, everything from toilets to beverages to a growing list of other products can be bought, sold, and distributed anywhere in the world, day in and day out. So, if you’re a savvy businessperson looking to sell your products worldwide, then the trade business is the right choice for you.
That said, let us look at a few steps you should follow to start an import/export business of your own.
Hire a freight forwarding company.
Hiring a recognized freight forwarding company is crucial for aspiring import/export business owners to run their company successfully. Moreover, such a company will help you make international cargo movements hassle-free.
These companies cover shipping documentation, negotiations with shipping companies, delivering your products, customs clearance, and even booking cargo space.
But before hiring one, consider doing research and shortlist a handful of options. Then look at the services every forwarding company offers and go with the one that gives you the best bang for your buck.
In the end, hiring a freight forwarding company should handle all the usual shipping woes faced by traders globally without putting your company’s reputation at risk and ensuring your products reach international customers.
Pick a product you wish to import or export.
When setting up an import/export business, you must decide on a product(s) you want to import/export and stick with your choice(s). That said, the product you wish to import/export can depend on two things; you like the product, or you know it will sell well. Hopefully, you can select something that meets both criteria.
However, you will improve your chances of picking a winner through market research and spotting marketplace trends. After all, knowing if a particular product sells well in a specific country will help you make better selections as to which product you should import/export., this is how to motivate yourself to start a business.
Price your product well.
Your trading business model should rely on two crucial elements; the number of units sold and the commission on those units. However, your goal should be to price them so that your commission is not more than what the customer is willing to pay.
Generally, trade businesses set ten or fifteen percent markup over cost, which the product manufacturer will charge when purchasing a product.
The more product you sell, the more money you’ll make. Furthermore, keep logistics separate from your product pricing, as this will help identify a landed price per unit when you combine both of them down the line.
What’s more, an excellent transportation company can prove invaluable here. So, whatever happens, don’t let the product pricing intimidate you!
Set up a business blog or website.
Running a trading company will be challenging without a business blog or website. So, consider developing and growing your online presence to take your business to the next level.
That said, the goal of a business website or blog is to build a customer base and drive profits. However, the first thing you need to do is choose a business name and register it with a Webhosting service.
After all, your business name is something potential customers will use to search for trading companies online.
Furthermore, don’t forget to create a business blog to keep the flow of communication going. Moreover, you can also use your blog to share industry-related news, updates and share deals & promotions with your potential customers.
Look for customers.
Considering you’ve utilized SEO best practices on your business website or blog, customers will start pouring in, in no time. However, don’t rely solely on your website or blog. Instead, contact your local chamber of commerce, trade consulates, embassies, and other trade organizations to acquire customers.
After all, they typically know who is doing what in the international trade market. Furthermore, consider participating in local trade shows and seminars to connect with new businesses and potential customers more efficiently and quickly.
At the same time, utilize social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to post information about your business and answer customer questions.
Provide excellent customer service.
There is no doubt that the relationship between your business and international customers should never end after an order is closed. Instead, be in constant touch with your customers and consider after-sales follow-up to collect feedback.
Not to mention, excellent customer service should always be a crucial part of your product offerings. That said, the first thing to do after customers make a purchase is to thank them for their business.
Next, ask them if they have any suggestions on improving your business. In the end, valuing customers’ feedback and incorporating it into your import/export business will make them feel valued.
There is a lot to consider when setting up an import/export business. So, don’t forget to do your due diligence throughout the steps mentioned above and take things one step at a time.
If you don’t take things slowly and don’t have a birds-eye view of the entire process, your chances of making a mistake or missing a crucial step will increase tenfold.