The Challenges of Overseas Shipping and How To Solve Them

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Overseas shipping can be a daunting prospect. It’s no secret that it’s a highly complex and costly procedure, but these shouldn’t be reasons to be turned off by this fantastic delivery option. The key is to understand its fundamental challenges and how to solve them before planning your international delivery. Preparedness and organisation are the most important qualities when it comes to successful overseas shipping.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean choosing the quickest and cheapest option. It means carefully considering your requirements, being transparent with your customer, organising any relevant documents and fees, localising the process, avoiding bottlenecks, and considering insurance. Covering these fundamentals will ensure that you overcome the most common challenges when it comes to overseas shipping and will better prepare you for solving any potential problems.

Without further ado, here are some of the key challenges you will likely encounter:

Understanding the Requirements for Your International Delivery

The most important step when it comes to overseas shipping, and the area which causes a lot of problems, is proper planning. This isn’t limited to double-checking shipping times and writing dates in diaries because proper planning actually begins way before any dates have been selected. our key factors must be carefully considered in relation to one another to get the correct balance:

Destination: Exactly where is the delivery going? Part and parcel of this factor is that it’s important to understand all other delivery options to the destined country. For example, in general, overseas shipping costs more to countries with fewer daily incoming flights. Therefore, if a country has fewer delivery options, shipping will likely cost more so you may wish to compensate for this increased price elsewhere.

Type of Goods: The nature of the goods being shipped is a key consideration because larger items or perishable goods cost significantly more than smaller items that need less time. It’s also important to think about whether the actual goods being shipped could cause any problems as the delivery passes through various countries and continents.

Overall Distance: It goes without saying that travelling more distance, along with the fuel and labour this uses, only increases the overseas shipping cost. Plus, as fuel prices continue to rise, this is increasingly being reflected in shipping prices to companies and clients so that international shipping providers are ‘heading the cost’ less and less.

Shipping Speed: In a direct interplay with overall distance, the speed at which the delivery covers that distance is also a key consideration. Obviously, a faster shipping time increases the cost and, in a world where consumers are increasingly becoming used to fast delivery times, it can be hard for smaller businesses to keep up.

Communicate These Requirements With Your Customer

If the first step is to understand the requirements for your delivery and to consider how these requirements fit the above four key factors, then the second step is to communicate this thought process with the customer. Transparency is of utmost importance when dealing with a process as complicated and potentially unpredictable as overseas shipping.

Being transparent with your customer will also benefit your company in the long run. If you’re clear from the outset then your customer doesn’t need to worry about any unexpected bumps which could’ve been avoided. The end result is higher customer satisfaction and potentially lower costs as there will be a lot fewer last-minute changed minds.

Organising the Relevant Documentation and Fees

Where many people go wrong when seeking international delivery is underestimating just how problematic it is to not have the relevant documentation and fees properly organised. For sea freight, a Bill of Lading designates a party to receive the goods at the destination port and a Packing List (or ‘Customs Invoice’) details the contents and value of your delivery. Then the Shipper’s Letter of Instruction acts as a sort of overall export paperwork summary.

Where many companies and individuals fall short is with the delivery duty paid surcharge – specifically when they don’t provide for this overseas shipping cost and expect the customer to cover it instead. Often the customer is made unaware of this cost and chooses to leave the surcharge unpaid so that the item is in a ‘custom limbo’ for 8 weeks, after which the seller can only hope that it’s returned safely.

It’s also important to consider that rules and relations between countries are ever-changing so keeping up with these changes is crucial. For instance, the confusion surrounding the Northern Ireland transitionary period following Brexit hinged on a widespread lack of relevant documentation for custom duties. This was problematic for the deliverer, the customer, and the average individual doing their weekly shop as supplies of perishables sharply declined. It was also tricky for international services like removal service and furniture movers as they had to wait a lot longer than usual to cross borders.

Localising the Delivery

Localising your international delivery is a sensible way to streamline the overall process and there are multiple facets to this concept. For example, you may wish to directly translate your website and business materials to the relevant languages or you may want to translate your checkout into the local currency.

Localisation is useful because any problems which may arise in other countries can be rectified locally rather than requiring endless phone calls and translations. For instance, if there are customs issues then having the relevant documents in the correct language and paying for duties in the local currency is a time-saving endeavour for everybody involved.

In fact, the process of localising your overseas shipping begins before the buyer has even visited the website. It’s not uncommon that shoppers become confused with a website, or that they get the wrong idea regarding shipping times when purchasing something because the relevant information isn’t available in their language.

Avoiding International Shipping Bottlenecks

Earlier in the year, Evergreen became jammed in Egypt’s Suez Canal for 6 days before it could be safely unstuck. This created a global bottleneck as a backlog of over 100 ships were waiting to get through the canal or had no option but to travel around the southern tip of Africa instead. This created a knock-on effect to the extent where, for instance, liquified natural gas prices have soared as supply in Asia is quickly decreasing amid a particularly cold season. Obviously, this was an unforeseen circumstance but it demonstrates how detrimental bottlenecks can be in both the long- and short-term.

There are a number of factors that ought to be considered when avoiding bottlenecks. Firstly, although it seems like an obvious point, a global perspective on overseas shipping is very important. Taking perishable goods as an example, some markets are heavily seasonal so it’s important to have a lot of foresight and to have realistic predictions based on data from the previous year/season.

Secondly, if you’d like your delivery to travel through a canal to reduce shipping time then it’s really important to book your passage well in advance. Some ships face either a 9-day wait or a long South African passage if they don’t book their passage through the Suez Canal.

Insure Your International Delivery

It should be made clear that in the event of an accident, theft, or damage to your delivery then most overseas shipping companies are not liable to pay you the full value of your items. Instead, they usually pay you a sum up to the amount specified in their trading conditions.

Whether you need international removal services or even furniture movers for moving abroad, ensuring that you’ve chosen the most appropriate form of insurance can save you an eye-watering amount of money in the long run.

Pick Your International Delivery Company Carefully

As the above advice indicates, overseas shipping is a very complex and costly process. From beginning to end there are a plethora of potential complications and problems that can cost a lot of money to rectify. It’s of paramount importance, then, to be fully confident in your choice of shipping company because they are the people who will need to solve the sorts of issues which have been discussed.

At Dunbar Removals & Storage we pride ourselves on providing our customers with absolute clarity. Even if you have no clue where to start, it’s our job to help you make an informed decision. As one of the best international shipping companies in the UK, we can boast a wealth of experience in the field which makes for a very streamlined and confident service.

For any further questions about international shipping and deliveries, or to discover our other domestic and commercial storage and removal services, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today by calling 01620 880 213!


Posted on

October 27, 2021

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