As we go through this pandemic, businesses face ever-increasing scrutiny to carry out their operations, especially those involved in international trade. Importers have to tackle many new kinds of challenges to enable their business to import products.
Moving goods in a safe, quick, and compliant manner has often been overlooked by businesses in the past. Now that the situation has worsened, businesses need to know and adopt the best practices for importing products and continuing their operations.
The process involved in importing products has become a matter of confusion and frustration for all stakeholders involved, which results in even more delays at the international borders. If you want to know how to import products in these challenging times, make sure you read this post until the end.
If you do not follow the best practices of importing products, you might cause a loss of revenue, time, and ultimately, your customers. We’ll be discussing how to import products in the best possible ways, but before that, let’s talk about a few challenges businesses face in importing products nowadays.
Challenges Faced by Businesses to Import Products Nowadays
Below are the reasons that will show you why you need to think again if you plan to start importing products in these days’ highly competitive and locked down world.
The capital budget required to import products in this global lockdown season will potentially be very high.
You will be entirely liable for your choice of products to import. This means if you are suspected to be selling something harmful or illegal, you could even get sued.
You will have to commit to your selection of products to import. This means if one of the products, for instance, does not sell well, you won’t be able to back off from it at the last minute.
Scammers could trick you, which can delay deliveries, leading to a loss in your finances as well as in your brand image.
You could possibly face a situation where you have products to import that cannot be loaded.
It might take months before the products you have to import can get to you. This stands true if you plan to get your products manufactured by a third party manufacturing firm, instead of buying ready-made goods to import.
The purpose of sharing these points is not to intimidate you too much. It is still possible to sell imported products, but you do need to be aware of the risks involved before you start to import products.
10 Best Practices for Importing Products
Below are 10 best practices you can follow to minimize the risks involved in importing products these days.
1. Conduct Proper Research Before Starting
It is always a good idea to do thorough research before starting a new business or starting a new business area, such as beginning to import products or sell imported products along with local goods. The best way to do this research is to conduct a SWOT analysis. You will have an idea about your internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as the competition in your surroundings. You will be able to analyze your risks better if you are aware of other players importing products in the same industry. It is beneficial to also look into your competitors’ pricing strategies and see if you can penetrate the market and make a good profit margin by offering the same or lower prices than them.
2. Find Out About the Lockdown Policies of All Relevant Countries
Since we are going through a pandemic nowadays, the travel restrictions, lockdown policies, and other relevant regulations keep changing from time to time in different parts of the world. These changes in policies are often quite unpredictable, even to the residents or citizens of their respective countries. That’s why when you decide to embark on international trade, it is essential to be aware and updated on these regulations.
You wouldn’t want to prepare everything, invest all your money, have your customers lined up, and then your products to import to get stuck due to a tightened lockdown suddenly imposed in the country you are supposed to import products from.
3. Review All Your Import Data Regularly
It is important to periodically analyze and review your import data to avoid missing out on any supply chain opportunities when you import products. You really wouldn’t want to face situations where you run out of stock.
By keeping an eye on your import data regularly, you can also keep looking for ways of reducing your import duties. You might want to prefer sourcing in countries that have favorable free-trade agreements.
You also need to keep an eye on the transportation modes you can use, ensuring that you meet all the transport requirements. During this process, you can come up with opportunities to further reduce your supply chain costs as well.
If you work with a customs broker for the non-restricted products to import, you can build a paperless entry process using Electronic Data Interchange feeds. If you try to manage all the information you get from multiple vendors simultaneously all by yourself, it could get quite daunting. It is better to get a customs broker to do the job instead. This will expedite your entry processing and ensure data accuracy.
However, when you use a broker to import products, it is crucial to provide your broker with a database of your imported items, with the following information for each item.
Its part or item number
Its detailed description
Its classification number
Your broker will utilize this information to make proper classification declarations during shipping and importing products.
5. Centralized Processing For Nationwide Goods
If you centralize the processing for all your nationwide entries, you can consistently process your entries at whichever port you receive your goods. You can do this via remote location filing. This will give you a central point of contact to provide customer service and mitigate any risks about compliance with the regulations.
6. Conduct a Compliance Assessment
For identifying areas of potential risks, it is best to conduct a compliance assessment. When you import products, you focus on the exact locations that you do this assessment for. It can cost you significant amounts of money if you fail to comply with CBP and might trigger CBP to do regular inspections of your firm’s shipments.
7. Join a Customs-Trade Partnership
It is a good idea to join an anti-terrorism customs-trade partnership when you import products. This will categorize your company as a low-risk entity for importing products. This will reduce your custom exams and speed up the delivery of your products to the market. CBP audits will scrutinize you less and won’t be held liable or susceptible to penalty actions.
8. Continue Selling Local Products Too
While you sell imported products, you also need to maintain a plan B if your business line to import products does not work out for you too well.
If it is part of your expansion strategy to import products, you might want to reconsider and revise your strategy quarterly. If you are making good revenue by importing products, you can continue on this line and import even more. But if you are facing losses due to the imports, you can take a break and seek business expansion through other means, such as introducing a product line extension for the locally manufactured goods.
10. Have a Professional Website For Your Business
Whether you are selling local goods or expanding your business and importing products, you need a professional website to represent your products and services.
It is quite a simple process to build a website these days. If you do not have a website yet, sign up for a free account on Strikingly, and use one of the ready-to-use website templates available on our platform to create a quick and appealing web design.
Image taken from Strikingly
Add in the basic information about your business using our drag-and-drop feature. You can easily upload your product photos and add videos to promote your business. Without having to write a single line of code, your website will be up and running in just a few hours. Whether you import products and sell or only sell local goods, this website will help you reach a larger audience.
We have users from different parts of the world and operating in other industries who have successfully built a solid online presence for their brand by creating a complete website or landing page with us.
You do not need to hire a web developer to build a website with us. If you would like to ask us any questions regarding our tools and features, you can contact us anytime through our live chat support, which is available 24/7.