Doing business in a global economy requires successfully navigating the often complicated waters of international business mail operations. The process is expensive and complex. Rapidly changing rules, regulations and the often confusing array of factors based on contents, destination and international trade requirements all make charting a successful course a daunting task.
Whether you are a small internet retailer looking to grow your business across the pond or a large business with busy overseas shipping and mailing operations, understanding the rules and your options can make all the difference between a truly successful operation and one that barely meets your company and customers’ needs.
No matter the size of your business, there is a solution for you. If you have a small operation with limited mailing activities, the best option will likely be to rely on the same shipping services that you are already using in your business. These companies (USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.) are familiar with the rules regarding both the items you are shipping and the destination. One choice is the USPS, which offers an international flat rate service that should easily serve the needs and budget of a small business as well as bulk mailing options, should you require them. If you have more extensive mailing activities, there are many services available to support large international business mailing operations, including customized solutions specifically designed for your business needs.
Regardless of the size of your international mailing operations, there are some key points to keep in mind to manage a successful international business mailing operation:
Know the rules before you send.
When sending packages outside the U.S., it’s important to check details such as weight limits, addressing standards, lists of prohibited or restricted items and to know which customs forms you might need to use. Your service (or the software they use) may take care of these details; if not, be sure to keep these rules in mind. UPS has an easy to use online tool available to help you with this.
Get the address right – the first time.
Check and confirm the delivery addresss. International mail is expensive and lengthy. Returns double your costs and can take months to resolve. This is a costly, and generally avoidable, error.
Choose the method that fits your budget and customer needs.
International delivery schedules range from a few days to well over a month, depending on the method chosen. Prices vary widely based on delivery times; faster is more expensive, slower is more cost-effective. You must carefully weigh cost with speed and reliability, and then determine which options are best for you and your customers.
Beware of making promises you cannot keep.
Delays are common. Expect delivery at the later end of any given range. Avoid disappointing customers by promising delivery dates that you cannot keep.
Cut postage costs by utilizing a bulk mailing service.
Using a service that bundles mailings from multiple high-volume mailers allows you to take advantage of discounted postage that would otherwise be unavailable. Some companies that provide this service option report savings of up to 60%, so it pays to do your research.
Use a full-service provider whenever possible.
Using their tools (which can often be integrated into your website, if desired), such as address verification, sorting, processing, tracking and delivery guarantees provides you and your customers with top-quality delivery service at a cost-effective price.
Meet your customers where they live.
In other words, know the culture of the country you are sending mail to, and if possible, try to send mailings in a format they recognize. Many mailing companies will bulk ship (or print mailings) within the destination country and mail directly from local postal services. This often saves on postage and will ensure that the look and feel of the mailing will be familiar to the recipient. This has a proven positive effect on the overall success of a mailing campaign and can offer significant cost savings.
If possible, avoid tying up cash flow in prepaid postage.
Regularly moving large quantities of international shipments and mail? Avoid prepaying large sums in postage by identifying a mailing provider who may be willing to offer terms for high-volume customers.
Assurety Consulting is ready to assist your company in successfully navigating the high seas of international business mailing. Contact one of our experienced staff today for more information on our services.