Are you an international food-shipping entrepreneur? Your awareness of common pitfalls that would devastate and deny your business an extra mile ahead of your competition is key. To stand out as a reliable partner in shipping food internationally, here are ten mistakes to avoid.
1. Wrong Import or Export Timing
Timing is crucial for shipping food internationally. For the inexperienced entrepreneur, you may fall into the trap of over-promising your customers that goods would be delivered soon, only to find out the transit time is longer than anticipated. Another timing problem is where you get a freight rate quote, wait and then set up the shipment only to realize the quotation has expired.
Food prices fluctuate from time to time and your understanding of the best time to buy and sell internationally saves you from losses. For international shipping, consider time for loading, transport to ports or terminals and cutoffs at the terminal. To avoid this mistake, do some online research on shipping times and schedule your delivery based on specific timelines for each step of the process.
2. Failure to Insure Appropriately
Your cargo insurance is important simply because stuff happens. Food containers get damaged, ships crash, goods get stolen, temperatures can soar to triple digits and fall under freezing points, among other hazards. Don’t bypass properly insuring your goods. Learn about and discuss your insurance options with your shipping company or freight forwarder.
3. Choosing the Cheapest Freight Rate
Lowest prices can be a trap since it holds the promise of maximum profits. But hold on. The rate is not the most important matter when getting an international shipping company or freight forwarder. How long your service provider has been in the business, their responsiveness to your concerns, their knowledge about your specific shipment regulations and requirements and their problem-solving model are important factors to consider when choosing your service provider.
Check customer references for a good track record and consistency in delivery of value for money. An experienced freight forwarder or shipping company is your best option, even if at a higher freight rate.
4. Inappropriate Packing
Faulty packing is a leading cause of damages when shipping food internationally. You need to identify packaging options that fit the size and shape of your food product to avoid damages and losses. Proper cushioning and reinforcement are necessary to support the weight of heavy food items.
Note, your customers are not liable for damages that occur during shipping. Insurance providers don’t cover damages where the packaging was not done by professional packing entities.
5. Failure to Automate the Shipping Process
Automating your shipping process is a sure way to be in charge of your shipment. You can monitor the process from your office and update your customers on the state of their consignment. Failure to do this leaves you both in the dark and compromises your reliability. If you don’t have an automated system for shipping food overseas, consider a freight forwarder or shipping company that has automated services.
6. Wrong Shipping Address
Be certain about your shipping address. A slight change in the country code, state code and ZIP code can cause devastating delays and losses. Customer dissatisfaction can cost you loss of business. Your food products can expire before they reach consumers due to delays. An automated filing system and business processes can easily flag anomalies in the shipping address.
7. Incorrect Shipment Weight
Shipping carriers don’t charge estimated weight of products but the actual weight. If your declared weight was based on estimates, you may pay more than your budget where the actual weight is higher. Measure the actual product weight after packing to ascertain the actual cost of your shipment based on freight rates.
8. Reliance on One Shipping Carrier
Your dependence on a single shipping carrier is a big mistake. Doing business in a multi-carrier environment gives you the shipping options necessary for your food items. Your flexibility to choose your preferred carrier should be informed by expertise, economies of scale, and geographical zones covered by the carriers. Consult shipping experts for guidance on the best options for your budget.
9. Failure to Keep Delivery Receipts
In the event that damages occur, delivery receipts help you to know when and where it happened in the shipping process. This facilitates the accountability process and making claims in case of damaged items. When delivering food products to a shipping company or freight forwarder, ensure the status of the products is recorded on the delivery receipts. Keep the receipts during and after the shipping process as reference points and vital data.
10. Lack of a Sound Return Policy
Make sure your shipment service provider gives you a tangible return plan in case your goods are not delivered as planned. The shipping charges, damages covered, paying entity, etc. should be laid bare to you for easy management of the return policy.
Avoiding these mistakes should make your business efficient and attractive. Your cost of doing business will decrease as your profits rise.