Next Stop: The World
With the Internet transforming even the smallest catalogers into worldwide marketing companies, virtually every business at some time or another will be forced to handle international orders. While the process certainly is more elaborate than it is for domestic shipments, it’s not rocket science: Do your homework, avoid unexpected costs.
“Today, it’s relatively easy to market and ship overseas,” says Richard Miller, managing partner at North Chatham, Mass.-based Market Response International, an international direct marketing consulting and research firm, and also executive director of the International Mailers’ Advisory Group.
Mailers’ ability to communicate quickly with customers, acknowledge receipt of orders and address problems “has become almost instantaneous,” Miller says. International address correction, while still not perfect, has grown a lot easier. “When it comes to shipping, you still have to wrap the package, put it on a plane, train or boat, and get it there.”
Area of Confusion
Miller notes that the biggest area of confusion is landed costs, which are the processing fees, tariffs and ancillary charges that are applied once the package arrives at its country of destination. “This is one of the biggest problems; people don’t always understand the various factors that go into the pricing of the product, as well as the cost of delivery,” he says. Your pricing should cover these expenses up front. “Some of the more sophisticated catalogers factor that in to cover their unexpected landed costs. Those who don’t are frequently in for a surprise.”
To prevent these surprises, several elements must be considered:
■ the duty or tariff;
■ whether the product being ship-ped is subject to tariffs;
■ whether or not customs processing fees will be applied; and
■ the shipping costs themselves.
“When a package arrives in France, for example, and the person is faced with paying customs processing charges, that can be a big shock,” he says. “There shouldn’t be any surprises along the route.” Because tariffs vary, catalogers should research what regulations apply to their goods.