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Best Import Export Courses 2019

With many courses to choose from, both online and classroom based, what’s the best import export course for 2019? 

Unfortunately, there’s no single answer for this and much will depend on what you’re looking to achieve, how much time you have and whether you prefer to learn online at your own pace, or with a teacher in a classroom. 

So here’s 12 points to consider as you start your endeavor to study import and export, which will help you get the maximum value for you and value for money.

The Best Import Export Courses Are Validated

Anyone can produce an online course these days and it’s pretty big business.  With the advent of sites like Udemy we can all now record videos share our knowledge and experience and create online courses. 

It’s a great way to both teach and learn but when it comes to what the best import export course is for you, you want to make sure that you’re enrolling in an import export professional course, gaining knowledge from someone who’s qualified to teach and has practical experience.

Check the credentials of the tutor as well as their real-world business experience. What you don’t want is someone who’s read a couple of books and is then just translating that to an online course. They won’t understand the practical issues that you’re going to face and won’t be able to prepare you in any way for when things go wrong.

Supply chain management is going to be the most fundamental part in any import export business so you must make sure that you’re taught this in a way that’s clear, concise and easy to understand.  If you get this wrong, it’s going to impact your profit margins, add significantly to your stress levels and could very quickly force you into negative cash flow.

Ultimately, the best way to be sure that an import export course has credibility is to check if it’s validated or accredited. Ask to see proof of this in something like this and make sure the course has it’s own qualification.

Are You Up-To-Date?

The only constant in life and business is change. Business is constantly changing and therefore the best import export courses are those where the content is kept up to date and refreshed when needed. 

The import export process isn’t something that changes drastically but it does change.  For example, Incoterms 2010 is soon to change, Incoterms 2020. Course content will need to be changed to reflect that when it does.

The biggest issue on the international trade circuit right now is obviously Brexit and all the complications that the UK will have with trading internationally, if it’s to leave the European Union without a deal.  Whatever the outcome, there could well be significant changes to how the UK will import and export goods and this would need to be updated in any course material when the time comes.

The best import export courses are up-to-date and kept refreshed with new content when it’s needed.

Are You Bored Yet?

Admittedly, import export procedure may not be the most exciting study you’ll ever do but if it’s a sector that you’re breaking into, you’re going to need to know and understand the material.

How do you like to learn?  Do you prefer to read, watch videos or a classroom environment? 

Online Import Export Course

Many of us today, prefer online learning as we can focus our studies when it suits us. There’s no need to be in a certain place, at a certain time, we can study an hour per night once the kids are asleep or over the weekend.  Distance learning is convenient.

If you like to read, that’s great but I’m sure you don’t want to waste your time reading pages and pages of information that you’re never really going to use in the practical day-to-day running of your business or job role. None of us have any time to waste in today’s fast moving world.

Watching videos is certainly one of the most popular ways to learn but will you find it particularly engaging listening to your tutor standing in front of a whiteboard for hours on end, perhaps going through subject content that you’ll never use.  Hopefully you won’t fall asleep.

The art of presenting is a skill on its own, one that many of us don’t naturally have. Pointing a camera at someone while they are presenting to a classroom, or an empty room, isn’t always engaging viewing.  The best import export courses taught by video tend to be well scripted, on point and keep to the subject matter.

There’s several international trade courses online so it’s worth comparing them and seeing which suits your individual needs.

Classroom Based Import Export Course

What’s your preferred study method? Online learning for others doesn’t motivate and prefer the face to face of a tutor in a classroom.  There’s many classroom import export courses available so in this case, firstly, choose one that suits your schedule. The other points in this blog are still going to be relevant.

These classrooms allow you to have more interaction with the tutor, answer questions as they arise but there will be other students so you won’t find much one-to-one support.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

How Long Will It Take?

It’s important to find out how long will your export training classes will take you to complete.  I’ve seen courses that will take anywhere from a week, up to two years. 

Make sure the international trade classes that you choose suits your timescale.  If you need to be up and running in 4 weeks, it will obviously be of no benefit to you to enrol in a course that’s going to take you 6 months to complete. 

Make sure you can cover the content in the time that you need to gain the knowledge and put that knowledge to work for you.

Jack of All Trades

Some websites like the International Career Institute offer a wide variety of online courses from life coaching, to floristry, to nursing to import export. 

There’s nothing wrong with these sites and I’m certainly not here to discredit them, I’ve also never enrolled in any of their courses so am not speaking with any first hand experience, purely my opinion.

With so many courses available, my question is, are they able specialise in each subject as there is such a vast array of courses? By enrolling in an online course, are you just a number on a conveyor belt of students, not actually taking the time to get to know you and your business or career goals?

Will the knowledge you gain be transferable to the real-world and have you prepared, proactively and will you be ready to deal with issues when you face them?

These are points to think about, as a mistake in the transfer of your knowledge to your actual business will cost you time, money and stress.   

As the saying goes, a jack of all trades, a master of nothing


What’s the reason you’re looking for the best import export course?

It’s likely to be one of two reasons:

1.         To setup and establish an international business. This could be a brand new startup where you want to import products from around the world and sell, or perhaps you plan to export your products to a global market and need to setup operations.

2.         To gain employment and land the perfect job in international trade, perhaps as an import export clerk, working for a freight forwarding company, as an import export agent or advancing your international career and professional development.

Consider if the course you’re looking at is relevant for your individual purpose. 

Many export import training courses are geared towards established businesses looking to export their products worldwide and don’t cater as well for start-ups and don’t touch on the content needed for those looking to land the perfect job.  Spend some time researching if it’s export import business training that you need, that it will suit your business or career needs.

An All Inclusive Fee

Value for money is of course one of the most important points to consider with the various import export training programs available to you.  Many import export courses are structured on tier levels.  Subjects are broken up into separate courses and you’ll find you have to pay for each course.

The disadvantage to this is that you’ll find yourself spending more as you’re going to need to know import export procedure with a complete knowledge. It’s really no good learning what UCP 600 is but not understanding what a letter of credit is.

Compare and calculate the cost of the entire course and plan on that as the course cost.  You’re going to need all parts of the course, not just the parts you may think you’re going to need.

If you have good knowledge and are already experienced in international trade, then you may just need a certain segment but there’s nothing wrong with refreshing your general knowledge.

Courses on average can cost anywhere from  £200, right up to £2,000.  A higher price doesn’t always not mean you’re getting more for your money.  Check the course syllabus and material included.

Government Import Export Courses

Governments want to promote domestic industry.  Exports are good for a country’s economy and there’s lots of help available to businesses for this and much of it is free. 

This is certainly something that an established business can and should take full advantage of and is an excellent way to get help in taking a business international and there are many success stories with this approach.  

The problem that I’ve seen with government run import export courses is that they’re taught by tutors that have certainly earned their import export degree but tend to lack practical, commercial experience, which really is so important. 

Unless you’ve actually been in business, know and understand the issues that’ll arise it’s difficult to teach how to handle these issues and to be proactive in order to avoid them in the first place.

These tutors are qualified and I’m certainly not suggesting they shouldn’t be teaching, however it’s wise to make sure that your tutor has that commercial experience, not just the “correct” import export qualifications, which was then taken straight to teaching.

The best import export courses really are those that have been developed by those who understand how you have to operate on tight profit margins, where the risks lie shipping your goods and how to minimise these risks.

One-to-One Support

The best courses for import and export include a high level of support, which ideally will be one-to-one support so that your individual needs can be met.

Understanding the course content is vital but if your course tutor can offer advice and support on your career or business goals, this is a huge benefit.

Whether that’s how to find and land the perfect job in logistics, taking your idea from just that, an idea to a start-up business or taking an established business to the international stage, having a tutor to help and advise you is invaluable.

The issue with many courses, like those on Udemy, is that you don’t get much contact with the tutor.

The Final Exam

We all hate tests and exams but the reality is, unless we sit them, how do we know we’ve understood the course content?

All import export courses should include a final exam, which should be graded by your tutor and then any questions that weren’t understood correctly, revised and explained.

Without this, there’s a risk that you’ll go into your business dealings or new job, thinking you’ve understood how to carry out a certain task or procedure when in fact you haven’t and that could cost you.

If there’s no exam and one-to-one revision, it may not be worth the fee.

Tried and Tested

Testimonials as we all know are a great way to see what the experience has been of previous students. 

Unfortunately these days, you have to look a little closely as it’s relatively easy to fake testimonials but you can generally gauge which tend to be legitimate and which have been paid for.

Either way, it’s worth spending a few minutes reviewing these to get a good perspective of the quality and then be able to compare the various international trade training programs available.

Your Curriculum Vitae

If the purpose of your import export course is to land your perfect logistics job, getting some help with your CV is always a good thing. Having your tutor look over your CV and check for spelling and grammatical errors is wise (it’s more common than you might think!).

Also, adapting it for the specific job you’re applying for and making sure it’s not long winded are things you need to check for.  For more advice on writing your CV and interview skills, see our blog.


There’s many good export training courses available, online and classroom based but the as to which is the “best” one depends on your needs.

Spending a little time researching and asking a few relevant questions and using a method or two as I’ve suggested here will help finding the best import export course for you with effective export learning. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or leave a comment below.

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, I run an online course which, obviously I think is the best import export course 😉. Below are a few of the reasons why.

  • 35+ years experience in international trade
  • Owned and sold my own freight forwarding company
  • Regularly lecture for private companies and UN
  • Validated by London Institute of Shipping and Transport
  • Course available online 24/7
  • One-to-One support
  • Streamlined content teaching you need-to-know, no theory
  • Taught with series of entertaining videos (3.5 hours)
  • Approximately 10 – 15 hours of study needed
  • Course targeted for employment in logistics or business (startup or established)
  • Various testimonials and reviews
  • Final exam included
  • Help with your curriculum vitae
  • Voted best trade education provider 2017 by Trade Finance Global
  • Low cost of £199

Go here to check out all the features and benefits.

International Copyright Law

Copyright law is an important part of international trade that must be considered as part of your overall business, if you’re product includes any sort of design. This could be a graphic design printed on a t shirt, to an entirely new product or improvement to a current product.

Either way, you will want to protect your intellectual property so others won’t steal it. We’re all too familiar with the various fake handbags and wallets that are sold in places and copyright theft is unfortunately a problem on the internet.

It’s far too easy for others to right click on your product, trace your t shirt design and start selling your product as a competitor. We’ve recently had a call from a lady where this exact situation happened to her. She had created a unique design for a Christmas sweater, produced these sweaters, selling them on Ali Express and a competitor simply stole the design and made replicas and was selling them for less!

Intellectual Property Rights

Firstly, let’s begin with explaining how intellectual property rights work as there are a few options depending on what you want to protect. These include a patent, a trademark and copyright itself.


Patents are generally for physically products that are brought to market in order to stop others copying that product. For example, when James Dyson invented the bagless cyclone vacuum or when Apple invented the iPhone, patents were filed before their products were released.

Patents need to be registered with the government and it’s a lengthy and complicated process. You’ll have to explain exactly what your product does and what makes it unique. Make sure you’re able to describe what part of the product you patenting and protecting and why it’s different from anything else already on the market.

Using the example of Dyson, they weren’t patenting the idea of a vacuum itself, obviously this is not unique, they were protecting the idea of a vacuum without a bag and their “cyclone” technology which they claim would mean that there would never be a loss of suction from the vacuum.

If you’re going to launch a physical product to market you must ensure you have a patent to protect yourself. You’ll likely need a patent lawyer to help you with the process which as you can probably guess, won’t come cheap but will be well worth it when you’re product is selling around the world.

International Copyright

Copyright refers to anything that’s creative but not a physical product (like Dyson). This can include:

  • Logos
  • Graphic Designs
  • Artistic Works
  • Photos
  • Books
  • Poems
  • Songs

When it comes to exporting products it’s generally a graphic design that you want to protect, something that’s perhaps printed on on a product or clothing, these are the most common.

Copyright Law

There are various international copyright treaties but in simple, non-legal speak, copyright is an automatic right, once the owner or author of the work has deemed content “finished”. You don’t have to do anything and there is no government copyright office (except for in the United States) where you can register your work.

This law is what’s known as the Berne Convention of which there are 172 member countries around the world that have signed up to this copyright treaty and will honor the agreement.

If you’re interested in more of the legal side, in 1996 there was a special agreement made under the Berne Convention known as the WIPO Copyright Treaty that deals with works in a digital environment.

The advantage to this is obviously that worldwide copyright laws are simple and once you’ve completed your design, you don’t have any legal hassle of needing to register it anywhere. You just need to be able to prove that you finished your work on that date…which is where the problem also lies.

Let’s take for example, the new graphic design you’ve just created for your t shirt on your computer. You save the file and the time and date is recorded. The problem with this is, it’s actually possible to change times and dates on computer files so this isn’t solid proof.

Also, if you ever open, edit and save the file, the new time will be saved, overwriting the original time stamp. These is where it gets a little bit messy.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

Poor Man’s Copyright

There was a time when creatives used to take their work and put it in an envelope and send it in the mail, back to themselves. The date stamp on the envelope would then serve as proof for the work being created at that point in time.

The problem with this, was that you would have to keep these envelopes perhaps forever, if you lost them, you could find yourself in some trouble later. There’s also the added problem that if you had to open the envelope to prove the originality of your work, once the envelope was opened, it couldn’t be used it again. What if there were multiple copyright infringements on your work?

Protect My Work

With the digital age, this process of protecting your work has become easier. A copyright protection service like ProtectMyWork.com makes this quick and all your work is held securely in one place.

Protect My Work was actually setup by designers who found their work being stolen and wanted to help stop this as it’s all too common for creative people.

The system is really easy to use:

  1. Register an account for £33 per year
  2. Find your password in the welcome email and sign in
  3. Click on the “Upload New Work” button
  4. Enter a title for your work
  5. Attach your file(s) and submit

That’s it, you’ll actually receive an email immediately with a unique reference number for the work, which you can add to anywhere you may advertise your product, which acts as a great deterrent.

The following is an example of a global copyright notice you can place on the web or any other relevant places:

© Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved. Protected with ProtectMyWork.com registration number XXXXXXX

Lastly, a nice touch is that you can add up to 5 files in one upload. The reason for this is if your graphic design went through perhaps three or four revisions, you could attach all the versions as well as the final, which would be quite compelling evidence, should you need to ever prove your concept from start to finish.

You can add as much work as you want to your account with Protect My Work, you just buy tokens for £1 each, pay-as-you-go. You get 5 free when you join, so all your work can be held in the same digital vault making international copyright registration pretty easy.


Trademark is a different protection again in that it protects your company brand. With trademarks, you can protect a name, a slogan and/or a logo.

Trademarks are filed with each country’s government and as far as names go, there are rules, you can’t register just anything.

In the UK there’s a filing fee of £170 for the first trademark and £50 for subsequent trademarks made in the same application. The time it takes to process is usually around 2 – 3 months.

For full details on how to register a trademark in the UK have a look at the government website. Be aware that trademarks are filed on a per country basis, there isn’t a way that you can file a “global” trademark in one application. That would be far too easy and convenient.


World intellectual property protection is vital if you are going to start trading internationally. The theft of work online is far too easy and it happens far too regularly I’m sorry to say.

Without any global intellectual property organization to speak of, it’s really worth taking the time and making sure to take steps to protect yourself in the ways you can so your hard work isn’t stolen.

Take the time to research international property law in a particular country that you’re going to trade in as there could also be a different copyright act at that international level.

Logistics Jobs

Like any new career path, getting a job at the end of your training takes some time, effort and importantly, your confidence. There’s many logistics jobs out there from a logistics coordinator or logistics manager to a warehouse operative or a freight forwarder. There’s no magic answer to the question of how to get a job in importing and exporting but here’s our top tips to help you on your way to your dream job but more importantly, how to handle it when you’re asked the dreaded question, “Do you have  any experience?”.

Logistics Jobs London

Firstly, decide on an area of jobs in logistics that interests you and you’ve a good knowledge on, for example, “mobile phone accessories”.

Head over to Google and search for, “importers and exporters of mobile phone accessories”. Consider narrowing your search down to a location, if you live in London, add this to your search term or logistics jobs Birmingham, logistics jobs Liverpool, you get the idea.

These days, it’s possible to get a job in logistics and work remotely without issues so you may decide you’re not tied down to a location and search internationally. Remote working is fast becoming the norm, so consider this, there are some great advantages in having the freedom to work from anywhere.

You can also do the same and search for freight forwarders and clearing agents as potential employers.

Create a spreadsheet of logistics companies in your chosen field and enter their contact details (website, email, phone number, location).  At this starting point, create as wide of a net of potential employers as possible, it’s a numbers game, the more companies you contact, the higher the chances of a job offer.

LinkedIn and Facebook are great resources that you should spend some time researching, join groups, search for posts on LinkedIn and connect with companies and people.

You should be attempting to build a network, so make contact with people and join online discussions. It’s so important to start doing this from day one and it really will reap rewards later. Going it alone will be a lot more difficult.

Chambers of Commerce And Logistic Careers

Chambers of Commerce are an invaluable resource for anyone in the import and export business and looking for logistics jobs. Leaning on the chambers is something that you should learn to do as they are always happy to help, it’s what they’re there for.

So a great way to start your career is to contact your local Chambers of Commerce and ask for a list of their members who import and export and are in the field of international trade.  Add these companies to your spreadsheet as they’ll be local to you so these are good companies to take a closer look at.

Ask the name of the person you’re talking to and introduce yourself. Let them briefly know who you are and that you’re looking for logistics jobs and try and build somewhat of a personal relationship with your contact. It can go a long way in future to have someone in the chamber that will help you on a slightly more personal level.

Building your network and business relationships will be very important so start from day one.

Recruitment Agencies For Logistics

Registering with logistics recruitment agencies is a proactive action to take. Again, start with Google and search for, ” logistics recruitment agencies london “.

As mentioned before, you may also want to search without location if you are aiming to work remotely.

Make a list of the most credible agencies and contact them, registering your details. Ask them for their advice on what you can do to maximise your chances of finding employment and follow those guidelines.

Contact them weekly and ask if there are any new opportunities that have become available, which will help keep you fresh in the agencies mind when new jobs are listed with them.

Check out job search sites like www.monster.com, online sites that post logistics jobs as well as for employers to search for candidates. Make sure to open an account and add your CV to your profile as employers often look here for logistic recruitment they have a chance to find you and make contact with you.

Logistics Jobs Near Me

Let your friends, family and current network know you’re looking for at careers in logistics and transport, even if just temporary why you get started. Post it to your status on your Facebook page and LinkedIn profile.

You may find that someone in your network sees something and shares your profile with that company or vice versa.  It’s surprising how a friend of a friend can sometimes help you when you least expect it.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

Job Search Logistics Starts Here

A Rock Solid Curriculum Vitae

Consider this, it’s an important point; your potential employer will not be interviewing only you for that one logistic job. This may sound obvious but reflect on this for a moment. Your new potential boss may look at 30 CV’s of more and interview around 10 candidates.

You need to be confident and believe in yourself and your ability to do the job but you’ll get nowhere without a CV.  This is the first real point of contact you’ll have with your new potential boss and remember they’ll look at perhaps 20 or 30 CV’s selecting maybe 5-10 from that pool to interview, so make your CV stand out.

Do not download a CV template from the internet, they’re all the same and more suited for the American employment market (not so much of a problem if you’re in the US!). There’s absolutely nothing individual about them and you’ll increase your chances of falling at the first hurdle.

You May Not Be Quite That Interesting

Be original, compose your CV in your own words and remember to sell yourself. Your CV should be no longer than two pages as believe it or not, your potential employer will probably not find you as interesting as you do, so won’t want to read through 10 pages about your life.

They want to cut to the chase, who are you? What training do you have? Do you have any experience? Why should they consider you for an interview?

Take time, think about your personal qualities and make sure to include them. Don’t just include, ” enthusiastic and driven ”, “ team player ”, and “ always reach the targets set ”, as so does everyone else. Be unique and be individual.

Make It About Logistics

Customise your CV for the company you’re applying for. Think twice about sending the same CV to every company you apply to. If you’re applying for logistics jobs specialising in mobile phone accessories, tailor your CV for this. If you have a particular love or understanding of tech products, express this. If you are perhaps already buying and selling  these products, even on a small scale, mention it.

If you’re applying for a company exporting carpets from Turkey, there’s no point in including how passionate you are about technology, so change your CV to cater for this. Get the idea?


Read carefully and understand the job description and what duties are required and address those duties in your CV .  For example, if the duties include “a thorough knowledge of issuing Bills of Lading is required”, state in your CV that you have an in depth knowledge of Bills of Lading.

Lastly, proof read, get friends and family to proof read for you.  There is literally nothing worse or more incompetent than a CV with spelling and grammatical errors. It’s the easiest thing to do make sure doesn’t happy and many neglect this simple but it’s an absolutely vital part of writing your CV.

Sending Out Your CV

Persistence and determination are what’s needed when looking for logistics jobs. It’s now time to make contact with company’s and send your CV.

At every point of contact with any company and potential employer, you must ask yourself, “what makes me different from the ten other people that will be interviewed for this job?”.  Ask yourself at every junction, how you will show yourself to be different. You need to sell yourself and convince your interviewer to, “employ me because I am the best person for the job”.

Your initial contact with any company, whether by phone or email must be professional and competent. You must show confidence in both yourself as a person as well as for the job you’re applying for. You must believe you’re the best person for the job.

Going back to your spreadsheet, call each company, or if local, it can be a good idea to actually go into the office and introduce yourself.  Whether you call or actually visit, ask for the name and contact details of the person responsible for hiring.  If you’re given those details, ask to speak to that person.  Note their name and contact number and/or email in your spreadsheet.

If you’re able to speak to them, introduce yourself, let them know you’re looking for work within the company and what training you have and why you want a role with them. Try and show some knowledge of their company, even if it’s basic knowledge from just reading their website.

Next, send an email to your contact (or HR department) with a well written email, introducing yourself and attach your CV.  Ask to be considered for any current or future positions and again, show some knowledge of the company and why you’re going to be an asset for them.

Once you’ve sent the email, make contact in a couple of days and ask if they received your CV and if given the opportunity, talk with your contact confidently. Don’t call every day and become a nuisance but showing some enthusiasm and being keen, is a positive and proactive step to take. Not in your spreadsheet when you contacted them so you don’t forget and you can keep track.

Also mark in your spreadsheet, which companies you’ve submitted your CV to and work your way down the list.  Take some time and customise your email for each company, don’t just use the same email for everyone, the same way you shouldn’t always use the same CV.  Take some time and put some effort into what you’re doing, it will show individuality and show you’re assertive and professional.

At some point your hard work is going to pay off and you’ll be asked for an interview.

The Interview

Well done! Your CV has done the trick and you’ve now been asked for an interview. It’s becoming common these days for this preliminary interview to be done over Skype.

So first things first, research the company. Know their core business, familiarise yourself with what they do, where their markets are, what their products and services are. If you know who is going to be interviewing you, do a little research on that person on LinkedIn or perhaps Facebook. If you know their position in the company and what their responsibilities are, you can address how you can help them personally, perhaps by boosting their sales numbers, productivity or efficiency.

Whether your interview is in person or over Skype, prepare yourself. Ask a friend to act as the interviewer and get them to ask you difficult questions and practice your answers. Make sure you’re able to cover the main questions which are always bound to include why you want to work with this company in the export department and what you can bring to the company. Make you know about their export market.

Look The Part

You’ve got to make a good impression so make sure you look good and look professional. If your interview is in person, wear a suit. It shows you’ve made the effort, you’re professional and you’re taking this opportunity seriously. It may sound silly but if needed, get a haircut and be clean shaven. First impressions count and if you look like you’ve just rolled out of bed, you’ll be sent back home, back to bed.

If you’re interview is over Skype, find a quite place, not a coffee house where it’s loud and you’ll struggle to hear each other. Find somewhere that’s bright and portrays professionalism, don’t interview sitting on your bed in your bedroom. Wearing a full suit for a Skype interview may be overkill but at least where a collared shirt and make sure you look professional.

To complete the interview, be confident! Know that you have researched the company, know what you’re going to offer, know that you have the knowledge and skills to do the job. There is no reason to doubt yourself. Make sure you portray that confidence and it stands out in your interview.

Logistics Jobs Without Experience

Inevitably, you’re going to be asked what experience you have. Not a problem if you have experience obviously but if you don’t, it’s the usual problem of how do you get experience if no one will give you a job without experience?!

The issue for an employer is most commonly that they don’t want to invest a significant amount of time training you and certainly don’t want to hold your hand. Companies and employees are busy and don’t have the time to spend with you day after day. A few days training is normal, getting to know company systems and procedures but they don’t want to teach you how to do the job. Thus, companies want experience.

So, here’s the key and here’s what you need to know about the real-world in an import export company.

I’ve been a consultant since 1989 and visited literally hundreds of companies all over the world. I’d say, in my opinion, around 95% of employees have very limited knowledge of importing and exporting but just enough to do their job competently and keep it.

Employers may believe they need to employ someone with at least two years experience however many of their current employees that had that two years experience, in reality only know perhaps 10% of the total import export process. Sitting at the same desk for years doesn’t necessarily make someone qualified.

Experience is not necessarily time spent behind a desk but the knowledge you gained from being behind the desk and that’s what companies believe gives them the momentum to move forward and grow.

Experience is subjective and this is where you can play your advantage.

If you receive this negative reply from a employment agency or company here’s your answer:

Yes, I obviously don’t have the required two years of experience but I do have a wealth of knowledge within international trade, so I can hit the ground running if you just give me the opportunity join your company. I don’t need you to hold my hand and teach me the job, I just need to learn your company systems and procedures which I’m confident I can learn quickly with minimal guidance. With every job there’s a learning curve but I will learn quickly with minimal disruption to you.

Where this will backfire is if you don’t have the knowledge of international trade and you’re faking it, so make sure you’re not!

This approach works, employers want quick results from new staff so show your confidence and that not only you can do the job but you’ll be a breath of fresh air in the company with your up to date training.

What They Don’t Know About Logistics

There are four main areas in international trade which most companies worldwide don’t have a proper or solid understanding of:

Incoterms (latest edition)
Letters of Credit and UCP600
Custom Clearance
Freight Rates (sea and Air)

About 70% of the in-house training I’ve done over the last 30 years is on these subjects. I have delivered these training courses worldwide including China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, UAE, Turkey, Nigeria, Italy, Germany, Holland among others.

In your interview be proactive and let your interviewer know that you have a working knowledge of the above subjects and demonstrate your knowledge of the supply chain. Guide the conversation where you can to these subjects and discuss.

A Quick Case Study

After completing our online course, a young student of ours went for her first interview for a position in the import export sales department of a large trading company based in London.

She answered all the stock questions about custom clearance, airway bills and bills of lading but she very much felt she was just one of many interviewees answering the same questions, almost in a test format.  Our online course teaches you to be proactive not reactive, which came to her in the interview.

She became proactive at that moment and brought the discussion around to the various types of Letters of Credit, in particular how a knowledge of UCP 600 is vital in preparing documents on a Letter of Credit.

Apparently, the interviewers face lit up and asked what UCP 6OO is. Thankfully her confidence swelled and she enlightened her interviewer. As I mentioned, 95% of employees have limited knowledge of the entire import export process.

Needless to say our glowing student was hired and embarked on her new journey.

Logistics Jobs Salary

The next question to answer is, what is a logistics jobs salary?

That’s a difficult one to answer and depends on various factors, including the job itself and which country you’re seeking employment in and where you are to be based.  Obviously the salary of a logistics manager in in India will be different from logistics jobs salary UK.

The only positive answer is that you must be prepared to accept an entry level salary from which it can take approximately six months for you to see if there is a future for you in that company. With most companies, not just in international trade, there’s a 3 – 6 months trial period.

Those six months are really important, don’t underestimate them. Learn all you can from your colleagues within the company, make business contacts with outside companies, constantly work to expand your network and if that job isn’t the right fit for you, your network will be that bit bigger for you to find alternate work if needed.

Got the Logistics Know How?

As with any career or job that you’re going to apply for, it’s fruitless if you don’t have the knowledge to do the job, so make sure you understand the import export process and how this works in a practical manner.  Don’t try and fake it.  It’s not worth your time nor your potential employers’ and all you’ll do is damage your own reputation and credibility.

If you need to either learn from the ground up, or expand your knowledge, our streamlined online course teaches you the practical side of importing and exporting with 3.5 hours of animated video. We cover all the subjects you’ll need to know for your career in international trade giving you the confidence to firstly, get the job and the competence to do that job well. We know your time is valuable so we skip all the needless information that you’ll never use.

Finally, we help our students write their CV on completion of the course so we give you every fighting chance to seal the deal on the job you want.

Check out our online course which streamlines the aspects of import and export that you’ll need to know, for just £199 (approx: 18,000 INR | 93,500 NGN | 4,455 EGP | 1,550 TRY | 360 LYD).

Become An Import Export Agent

When looking to become an import export agent, it’s sold to many as a quick way to make money without having to do much work. Link up buyers and sellers, negotiate a deal and get paid, this is how easy some think it is. The reality is somewhat different. Before we get into our top 10 tips, let me give you a little heads up about the the reality of your new import export business.

Two years ago I was in Dubai  lecturing at a local college and presenting our own import export training course at seminars and to various local trading companies.

I noticed in the hotel lobby, an advertisement for a course entitled “Become a Successful Import Export Agent”.  The title caught my attention and out of professional curiosity I purchased a ticket for $15.00.  The course was a half day course, from 9 am t to 2 PM with a 15 minute coffee break.

There were four very smartly dressed people, presenting the meeting and we were told in rapid succession by all four presenters there was a fortune to be made as an import export agent, with little or no financial investment and minimum knowledge of International trade. We were then told that once we enrolled in the course, we were on our way to success.  As one speaker put it “ The sooner you start the sooner you’ll be rich”.

Each of the four presenters in turn, told us that they were originally working dead end jobs making money for their boss, living the usual rat race, living week to week, hand to mouth.

Import Export Agents Needed

By becoming import export agents, this gave them  the financial freedom and lifestyle independence to do whatever they wanted.  All that was missing was the photos of each of them with a Ferrari.  As you may imagine, this went down very well with most of the paying audience.  Who doesn’t love the idea of making great money with no financial investment, little risk and you don’t have to study!

We were told it was so straight forward, a child could do it. All that was involved was find a buyer and seller, introduce them to each other and “hey presto” we get a big fat commission for little or no work.  For every buyer, there’s a seller and our job is just to match them and then wait for a chunk of money to hit our bank account.  Lovely!

An Import Export Agent Doesn’t Need Money

However…even though there was little to zero financial outlay, virtually no risk to setup our new wonder business there was one small initial outlay that we would have to pay up for.  You’ve probably guessed it, $800 for their course that would teach us the golden secrets of how to get rich quick as an import export agent.

To prove just how simple this process was, we were given a photo copied sheet of paper with a list of names who were apparently “buyers”, of course with all their contact details blanked out, with a corresponding list of sellers and the products they have to sell but again with their contact details omitted.

Once we paid the $800 fee, we would get the full list of names and addresses and even an example letter that we can copy introducing our buyers to our sellers. What an offer, all the work is done for us, we just have to copy a few letters and send them off and we should be in business, ready for our bank accounts to fill up.

I had visions of myself as a dragon on Dragon’s Den, with stacks of cash on my kitchen table as I eat my breakfast each morning, contemplating what I’m going to buy next.

The final clincher was that by paying out our hard earned $800, we would also receive a fabulous “HOT TIPS” guide! Although we were not enlightened as to what any of these hot tips may be.

The audience at this point was not a rush to join up but these four presenters worked their charm for the next couple of hours or so, telling us that it was the best investment they would ever make and if they didn’t do it today, they will miss out forever.

Can An Import Export Agent Be Cut Out?

In an effort to try and shed some light on how this get rich quick scheme may not be quite so easy, I offered a question, “How can I be sure the buyer and seller don’t just cut me out after the first deal and deal directly with one and other?”  In a dismissive tone, the presenter replied, “This very seldom happens, so don’t worry”, then moved on to the next question.  Fantastic, let’s pay the $800 then as it hardly ever happens.

At this point after several hours of being told how easy life as an import export agent is and the riches it will produce, the sentiment of the audience had changed and they were on board. Who doesn’t love the idea of making an “easy buck” as they say.

At 2pm the presenters let us know that this was their last seminar in Dubai for another year so, just for us, they would make a special offer of $600.00 to enroll in this super duper life changing course.  I managed to leave the room soon after 2pm but as I left there was a line of people signing  up for the “special offer”, eagerly anticipating all of the profit they were about to make.

Import Export Agent Training – Realistic Expectations and Honesty

I felt for those people queuing up to make their fortune but first having to spend $600 of their hard earned money.  Not because they’re signing up to the course itself or because being an import export agent can’t bring you excellent profits but because their expectations had been mismanaged.

If you want to become an import export agent, it will take some financial investment, it will take time and effort to build relationships with buyers and sellers, you’ll need to learn to negotiate with them, you’ll have to study and understand the implications of acting as a stockist or commission agent and you absolutely must understand in its totality how to trade on an International level.

You will encounter problems, as you will with any business and you must know how to solve these problems quickly and efficiently. You must know where your risks lie and once you grasp these concepts, then you can run a profitable business as an import export agent with a healthy profit margin.

Spending money on a course that promises you quick riches is probably never going to be a good thing. Sure, spend money on courses and educate yourself but also have realistic expectations.  Any business you setup is going to take some elbow grease, some investment, study and determination.  There is no way to get rich quickly or easily…or we’d all be doing it.

By the way, the correct answer to stopping a buyer and a seller from cutting you out as the commission agent is to include a “circumvention clause” in your contract, which is a fundamental clause in this sort of situation.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

Become An Import Export Agent The Right Way

Firstly, becoming a successful import export agent is what we need to be focused on and for this become a reality, like anything in life, it’s going to take some hard work, time and dedication.  As we all know, any new career or skill that we want to learn is always going to take effort and some form of dedication.  Nothing worth pursuing comes easy or for free.  It’s unfortunately not as simple as working from home for a few hours each evening.

Product knowledge is paramount, hard work and understanding international trade are all key parts of making a success of becoming an import export agent. Honing your negotiation skills, understanding international methods of payments and an understanding of international contract law are very wise.

Two Types of Import Agent

The good news is, there’s always companies looking for import export agents.  Below are the import export agent job description for the two types of role you can opt for. You’ll have to decide which one is appropriate for you with the products that you decide to represent.

Commission Agent

A commission agent introduces a buyer to a seller and receives a commission for sealing the deal and continues to receive a commission for any future sales from that same deal.  As a commission agent you’ll be dealing with buyers who want the product but likely don’t have much knowledge of international trade, which Incoterm to purchase under, best method of payment nor custom clearance procedures.  This is where your knowledge becomes invaluable and you’ll be able to hold their hand through to whole import export process and this is where you earn your import export agent commission with confidence, professionalism and the best possible terms for you.

Stockist Agent

As a stockist agent, you will actually buy the goods or products yourself, keep and store those goods, find buyers yourself and sell them to anyone you want.  You could sell regionally, nationally or internationally.  To become a stockist agent you must have an in depth understanding of international trade and the entire import export process from start to finish.

As an example, we had a student who completed our online course and has begun importing very modern home security cameras with motion detectors that record to the cloud.  These cameras are imported from Hong Kong where they are manufactured and being sold online and to various retail shops throughout the UK.  This young entrepreneur now has a small team of sales reps that pick up stock and sell throughout the UK for him once a month.

10 Golden Tips To Become An Import Export Agent

So, here’s our top 10 tips to becoming a successful import export agent:

Step 1: Search For A Product You Want To Represent

Establishing what you want to sell, finding a supplier, manufacturer or a source of products is obviously where you need to start in order to become  broker for them.

One effective method of sourcing is by contacting the embassy of the country you wish to source from.  For example, if you are sourcing products in China, contact the commercial section of the Chinese Embassy in your country and ask for a list of Chinese manufacturers and suppliers of the product you want to represent.  This is an effective way to source products internationally.

Another effective way to source products is to contact overseas trade fairs and ask for a list of companies exhibiting at the trade fair.  For example, if you were looking to become an agent for children’s clothing, try Google’ing “children’s clothing trade fairs in China”.  You’ll be able to put together a list of dates, locations and contacts.  If possible, visit the trade fairs that you can and get talking to people and start to build a network.

If you can’t attend the trade fairs, contact the organiser and ask for a contact a list of all exhibitors which they are usually more than willing to give you.  Then you have a pretty comprehensive list of manufacturers you can contact and add to your network.

I have personally used the methods over the years and they have thankfully brought me some great results.

Step 2:  A Range of Products

Develop a range of products from either your chosen supplier or consider finding a range products that fit well together, from multiple suppliers. The big advantage to this strategy is when you are in front of a potential client, pitching your main product, it can convince them to buy from you if you can back it up with a range as they may see more opportunity to sell the range, therefore earn more profit.  The other advantage is, should your potential client not be interested in your main product, you may find that they are interested in another in your range.  By having a range of products, you’re increasing your chances of a sale and expanding your sales network.

Step 3:  Product Knowledge

Do you have sufficient knowledge of your product? You’re not necessarily expected to know every single detail about your products and be able to answer every question but you do need to have a good understanding of the product, how it’s manufactured, cost of production, wholesale price, retail price, profit margins etc.

You must be able to pitch your product with confidence and a depth of knowledge. If you then don’t know an answer to a specific question, you can always reply “I’m not 100% sure of the answer, so I’d like to check that and come back to you.”  You can then make sure to get the correct answer and answer the question in a follow up email the next day, maintaining contact and dialogue.

However, this only works if you’re unsure of the odd question or two.  You won’t be able to give this answer for all the questions, or you’ll look completely unqualified and make your products look weak.

Establish what product education and knowledge you’re going to receive.  Training videos, webinars, video calls etc. are all great ways to get yourself up to speed.

Step 4. Research, Research, Research.

Know your market – this is so important.

  • Who else is importing and wholesaling your product(s)?
  • What’s the wholesale price of your competitors?
  • Who’s retailing your product(s)?
  • What is your product(s) retail price?
  • What can you do to make your pitch better or different from your competitors?
  • How can you make your service better that your competitors?

With this basic information, as yourself, “can I compete as a stockist or commission agent on price and delivery?”.

Run your numbers, do the numbers add up and is there a profit margin that you can work with?

Find your niche, find something that you can specialise in, become the leader, the expert, in that area and build a solid foundation from here.

Step 5:  Safety Regulations

This is an important step that many overlook and can be very costly if not considered.  Does your products comply with health and safety regulations in the country that you’re selling?

Imagine finding your products, pitching to clients, negotiating a deal and importing your products to find out they’re not compatible with health and safety regulations, can’t be sold and are held up at customs. This will likely add substantial cost and untold stress and there’s a decent chance that your profits will be wiped out or worse, you’ll make a loss on the deal.

Do not neglect this step, it’s not worth it.

Step 6:  Mark Your Territory

Establish what territory you want to represent, perhaps become a national import agent UK or maybe International. It depends on what your goals are, what capital you have and to a large extent, how big your network is.

If you’re starting out, have limited capital and a small network, just work within your region. As you grow in all aspects you could start to look at a national network.  Take it a step at a time but you may be surprised how fast your network grows.

Step 7: Circumvention Clause

Make sure a circumvention clause is included in your contract, which is a legal means of stopping the buyer or seller excluding you from future sales as the commission agent.

Step 8: Samples

You’ll likely need samples to promote and demo in your pitches and meetings.  It’s much harder to sell if you don’t have a working version of your products to demo.  So, establish if your supplier will provide samples to you free of charge, or at what cost.

Step 9:  Promotion Material

What promotional material, if any, does your supplier have?  Product images that can be emailed to you so you can add them to your website and advertise on Facebook.  Be sure these images are clear, professional and represent the product and your brand well.

Videos are an effective way to show your product if professionally produced so find out if there are any available to you.

Product brochures are good to leave with potential clients after a meeting, with a breakdown of costs, prices and profit margins.

Step 10:  Your Commission

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, what rate of commission will you negotiate? Your commission obviously has to make it worthwhile to you so it’s important that you know all your costs and what your bottom line is.  This is where knowing how to export is so important as if you get this part wrong, it can obliterate your profit margin.

Ready To Become An Import Export Agent?

If you think you may be ready to start your import and export business and become an agent, we have a student of ours that is looking for commission and stockist agents.

Arslan Wood Designs is a Turkish manufacturer of high end, top quality wooden products for hotels and the catering industry.

Becoming an import export agent for this prestigious product may be the perfect starting point for you. It offers an excellent opportunity to represent a first class company with over twenty five years trading experience and a proven track record.

See their full range at their website www.arslanwooddesigns.com.

Arslan Wood Designs are also looking for import export agents in USA and are just one of many, many import and export companies around the world looking for agents. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss.

Import Export Training Course For £199

If you want to learn how to become an import export agent, you’ll need to know and understand the import export procedure.  Check out our online course which streamlines the aspects of import and export that you’ll need to know, for just £199 (approx: 18,000 INR | 93,500 NGN | 4,455 EGP | 1,550 TRY | 360 LYD).

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on multiple sites and let us know if you have any questions.

Direct Export

How To Import Export

Knowing how to export or import is important knowledge to have for many businesses for obvious reasons.  If you’re selling products nationally and want to expand, the international market is available to you and the globe is a much smaller place today than it once was, which is where there is an advantage of direct export.  Finding international buyers for your products now, isn’t as difficult with such a connected world. It’s actually possible to find buyers using a laptop, a few well written emails, some key negotiation techniques and importantly, your confidence.

Importing and selling products is an obvious business that many successful entrepreneurs begin with and build sizable companies as their experience and business network grows.  As with anything, the more you do it, the more you learn and the easier it becomes.  We are often asked, what’s out there so here’s 12 ideas from 6 different countries that we researched as far as some ideas for what you can import and sell.

So, the next question to answer becomes how to export, or import? This guide is going to touch on the basics that you’ll need to know. There’s a lot of content to cover if you want to import export as a career but this will get you started.

Meaning of Direct Exporting

Direct export is very simply the process of selling your products directly to your customers or a middle man (such as an import export agent) in a foreign country.  There are advantages to direct export, such as keeping complete control of your logistics operations and direct communication with your customers, allowing you to offer the level of customer service you want rather than entrusting this to a third party.

Now that we’ve established a direct exporting definition, lets look quickly at the disadvantages and advantages of exporting in this way.

Direct Exporting Advantages and Disadvantages

As an example, Zappos in its early days entrusted its logistics operations to eLogistics, which took away the hassle of dealing with warehousing, scanning in their products when they arrived, dealing with customer orders, returns and shipping. The advantage was that they were able to focus on the business itself, marketing, growth and the many other things that are involved in running a business.

However as with everything in life, using export intermediaries had its problems. In short, eLogistics were not able to keep up with the level of shipments arriving at the warehouse nor customer orders. Customer service suffered and people became unhappy. Zappos took control themselves and went the route of direct export with their own warehouse and shipping operation using UPS.  For the entire story, I recommend the book, “Delivering Happiness” which will clearly explain direct exporting pros and cons.

How To Export Direct

Even as a small business, learning the information about how to export and create a strategy to direct export to markets worldwide will give you some massive advantages. You’ll have control over your logistics operations which is important for your global market entry strategy.

Methods of Payment

Within international trade there are various methods of payment used.  There’s obviously cold hard cash where banks and wiring transfers work well for “smaller” manageable budgets. However, what happens when contracts become larger, perhaps even into millions of dollars? How can you safeguard being paid and what if you have to buy stock or materials when you’re strapped for cash? The limitations of exporting is more often than not, cash!

One method for this is through the use of letters of credit.  We have already written an in depth blog on this so we won’t repeat it all here but knowing what methods of payments are available to you and how to use them is very important. Letter of credit are one of the pros of exporting.

Other methods of payment are documentary collections or consignment but we will leave these to be discussed at a later date.  One of the most important things to really consider when it comes to payments within international trade is that if you’re exporting products, a sale isn’t a sale until you get paid and for an importer, you haven’t bought the goods until the moment you receive them. Keep that in mind!

Your EORI Number

In the UK if you are going to trade internationally, you’ll need an EORI number.  This is particularly relevant at this time as we are on the verge of leaving the EU, at the time of writing, without a deal.  This means that while trading with the EU, before Brexit was relatively hassle free, it will adversely change and trading with any EU country post Brexit (as it stands) will be like trading with one outside the EU, for example Brazil.

This is a much more complex process and if you want to know more about this, see our recent blog, “How To Prepare Your Business For Brexit“.

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Direct Export Using Freight Forwarders

Eventually you’re going to need to the services of a freight forwarder.  These guys will be the guys that actually move your goods from the source to your destination.  Using the post office is only so good as it only works for smaller packages that you can take to the post office and send. You obviously won’t be able to drive forklift trucks there and leave them with your pallets of amazing products.

There’s always Fedex and UPS but these can get expensive so it’s best to be aware of freight forwarders and how they can help you.  Luckily, we also have a blog on that so we have you covered, “What’s a freight forwarder and how to they help me?“.


Insurance is never the most interesting subject and one that we would all like to skip over but it’s super important for direct export.  If your goods don’t arrive at their destination, who’s fault is it? Who has to suffer the financial loss?  How will it all be rectified? Being insured takes care of those issues, accidents happen and things get lost.  Make sure you’re not on the wrong end of that scenario.  As you’ve probably guessed, check out a recent blog on marine insurance to learn some of the details involved in covering yourself.

Pack It And Book It For Direct Export

Simple enough, when you’ve got your order, you’ve packaged up your products safely, got all your documentation together, it’s time to book it with your freight forwarder for direct export.  Always best to get a few quotes as with anything, to make sure you’re paying a fair rate. By this time, you should have already nominated your freight forwarder and it’s time to get it booked in for shipping.

Document It

There’s a lot of documentation that’s required for moving goods internationally using direct export so make sure you know what you need and that it’s all correctly completed and processed. Airway bills, bills of lading, certificates of origin all need to be in order. It’s a little too much to go into detail here but we do offer an online course if you want to sign up and learn more about this important side of learning how to export.

Feel free to print out our handy guide as a reminder to these important 6 steps.

How To Export

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Import And Export Top 10 Tips

Now we’ve got the basics, and they are just the basics, it’s a good idea for us to give you our 10 best tips for importing and exporting so you can become a direct export expert. This comes with years of experience and the pain of sometimes getting things wrong and having to suffer the financial loss of those mistakes so hopefully our top 10 will help you avoid doing the same:

1. The Tariff Book

If you’re importing any products, you must be aware of the tariff book and consult with this before you place any orders.  The tariff book is the bible of international trade and tells you the rate of import duty, if you need a license to import the products you’re buying or if there are any restrictions on quantities that an enter the country. This is very important so don’t neglect to check the tariff book before you place any orders.

2. Get Written Quotations

It may seem obvious but it’s still worth stating, get written quotations from any third party that you’ll be doing business with.  This can be freight forwarders, transport company’s or clearing agents for example.  Once you’ve got a written quotation there can’t be any argument later on about what the cost was or what it was supposed to be.  Make sure you have that written confirmation for a much more stress free direct export process.

3. Do NOT Estimate Costs

Estimating costs is painful lesson to learn in learning how to direct export. There is no place for estimating any costs for the simple reason that at times, you may find yourself working with very small profit margins. Deals can still be worth it and some good profit realised, even if the profit margin isn’t exactly what you want but by estimating the costs and getting it wrong, it can wipe out any profit and even leave you at a loss.  Don’t do it.

Take the time to get quotations, get them in writing as mentioned in the previous point and open a spreadsheet and input all of your actual costs.  From there you can do the numbers and see if the risk to reward is worth it.

4. Use Incoterms For Direct Export

When shipping your goods, it’s vital to use Incoterms 2010. If you’re not familiar with these, check out our blog on, “What are Incoterms and how are they used?” and it will hopefully become clearer to you.

Think of Incoterms as code words used within the shipping industry that let the parties involved know their exact responsibilities. We won’t go into it again, just check out the blog.

5. The Terms and Conditions

None of us really have any interest in reading the terms and conditions and the small print in anything. We’ve all got better things to do but a big lesson in learning how to export is to read the terms and conditions.  In fact, read them and then re-read them.

You do not want to be caught out on something that you weren’t aware of that ends up taking a chunk out of you later. As boring as it is, read the terms and conditions!

6. Make Your Terms and Conditions Solid!

As boring as it is to read someone else’s terms and conditions, make sure your terms and conditions are solid and fulfill all the conditions that you need.  You can always negotiate the terms with a particular client individually if they aren’t happy and it’s worth it but start off with everything in order and as you need.

If you can afford it, it’s worth consulting a lawyer just to make sure everything is legally water tight.

7. Understand Freight Rates

Understand the rates that you’re paying and shop around.  In our blog discussing freight forwarders, we have an example of a client who was being heavily over charged for a long time by his freight forwarder.  Had he have understood and done a little research he could have saved such a lot of money. Ignorance costs you, no one else.

8. Direct Export Costs

Understand all of the costs involved in sourcing, buying, shipping, duty, how long it will take, marketing and selling. You need to know your costs before you can figure out how much to sell your products for, whether anyone will buy them at that price and what your profit margin will be.  Be precise.

9. Question Invoices

Don’t hesitate to question an invoice if it doesn’t look right. Don’t worry about coming across as rude, you can be polite but make sure you get an explanation if the invoice isn’t correct.  This is where you can always fall back on your written quotation and show that the invoice amount is not in line with the amount you were quoted. If you got your quotation in writing there won’t be any arguments or problems and the invoice will be amended.

10. Don’t Be Blind

Knowing how to export is a fairly complicated process. There’s lots of parts and you must be aware of what you’re doing.  Whatever you do, don’t wing it…it will cost you.

Keep this guide handy to remind you of our top 10 tips for importing and exporting:

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Direct Export Common and Costly Mistakes

So in this short journey of learning how to export, we’ve gone through the basics and you’ve got our top 10 best tips for importing and exporting.  There’s much more to learn but this gives you a good foundation to spring board from.

Now it’s a good idea to run through the 9 most common and costly mistakes made by international traders, so you hopefully won’t!

1. Understand Sourcing

If you don’t know how to effectively find products you’re massively limiting your import business.  You must know how to find the products you’re looking for, from price, build quality, working relationship with your supplier, reliability and credibility to name just a few of the aspects that are important.  Knowing how to source goods internationally is huge.

Our blog goes into some ideas on how to do this to give you a head start so check it out. It’s going to be key to a successful importing business.

2.  Not Identifying All Your Costs

Don’t cut corners, don’t guess, don’t estimate. Make sure you have the entire import or export process covered and you know your costs from start to finish, to the last penny. Keep track in a spreadsheet. If you don’t know your costs, you don’t know what you need to sell your goods for and you won’t have a clue what your profit margin is.

Include the products themselves, the shipping costs, the import duty, warehousing, cost for distributing to your customers, VAT and any other cost you can identify.  You will lose money if you don’t do this.

3.  Not Understanding Import Regimes And Correct Tariff Number

If you don’t understand how to correctly import your products, it’s likely to cost you more than you need to. You may end up paying more import duty than you should have for example. Take the necessary steps to ensure you understand the import regime and tariff number.

4.  Not Understanding Air or Sea Freight Structure

Take the time to get to know how freight rates work and get a variety of quotes to make sure the company you want to use is competitive. Our blog on freight forwarders give you some good advice so make sure you check this out.

5. Not Understanding Methods of Payment

Whether you are paying your supplier or you are to be paid, make sure you understand the methods of payments available to you. A sale is not a sale until you’re paid and things can and will go wrong in between. Letters of credit is one such method of payment that all international traders should know how to use.

6. Not Doing Your Homework

We’ve all seen Dragon’s Den where the entrepreneur thinks he’s got a world changing product which is promptly shot down by the dragons after a little digging.  You may think you’ve got a great product that’s going to sell like hot cakes but you need to know others think the same thing and want this product before you part with any cash.

If you don’t do your market research that container load of yo-yo’s that you were sure would be the next big thing may be stuck in your garage and spare bedroom for years to come.

Find your customer base for the products you’re selling and don’t limit that audience.

7.  Not Identifying All Sales Channels

Not finding as many sales channels as you can is a waste.  If you can sell your product directly to retail shops in the high street, wholesale to distributors or online globally, take advantage of all those opportunities.

Get out and make sure to meet people, go to meet ups and conferences and get your products out there.

8.  Not Understanding Terms of Delivery

If you don’t understand the terms of delivery you could be charged for costs that you’re not actually liable for, further reducing any profit margins. Knowing exactly what your responsibilities are is important and can save you hard earned money.

9.  Lack of Negotiation Skills

Negotiation skills are a massive part of international trade and business in general.  You need to hone your skills and make sure that you are able to always get the best deal you possibly can.  If you can crack this, you will very likely make it as a successful international trader and be able to run a very profitable business. Negotiation skills will increase with each deal that you seal and with that, your confidence will also grow.

how to export from the uk

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Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Obviously like any new business or career there’s a lot to learn and as you can see there are pros and cons of direct exporting but one of the best pieces of advice we can give is to be proactive, not reactive.

By being proactive, you will firstly make sure that you have gained the knowledge you need to import or export your products globally and really understand the issues that you’ll face. You’ll take all the necessary steps to have a streamlined import and export process, you’ll have done all your research and homework and your process will be organised, efficient and you will have all your costs to hand. You’ll be able to analyse your risk within the process and foresee any problems or issues and develop any contingency plans to handle  these problems.

By being proactive it will save you a lot of time, stress and ultimately money, keeping your profit margins healthy and your work life relaxed.

Being reactive is usually the exact opposite. Not being fully prepared, not having a good understanding of what you’re doing, estimating costs and when there’s problems and issues, trying to deal with them at the time and figuring out how to handle on the fly. This obviously leads to hugely increased stress levels, valuable time been taking from you and of course, in many cases money being lost or wasted, which is critical, especially when working on on tight profit margins.

There are advantages and disadvantages of import and export and making sure you are aware of exactly what they are will be the difference.

How To Prepare Your Business For Brexit

UK import and export businesses need to know how to prepare for Brexit, urgently. At this stage, we had hoped to know much more detail on how the UK is going to exit the EU but still, no one quite knows where we will be on the 29th March.  Call it what you will but the one thing we do know is, that without a deal, trade with the EU will bring about very major adverse changes.  UK traders will of course, want and need to continue trading with their established EU partners and EU traders will want to strengthen trading ties with their UK counterparts.

Until now, inter EU trading has been a very easy process, with minimal customs involvement, open borders, unimpeded deliveries, largely paperless and declaration of VAT post delivery just to mention some of the advantages we had as a member of the EU.  This could be about to completely change.

Life After Brexit and International Trade

With a hard Brexit, this frictionless trading will come to an end and as we’ve been seeing on the news, the UK will be thrown into the world of International Trade, with all its impositions, rules and regulations trading under WTO rules and tariffs.

Our EU trading partners will have the same status as any of our other international trading partners outside the EU such as Russia and will have to follow the same customs procedures such as declaration on the new CDS system, which is replacing the old CHIEF system.

This means that consignments will need to be given specific statuses of route 1, 2, 3, or 6, all of which are time consuming. This could cause severe delays at the UK border for EU member consignments, with some predicting up to six hours.

What Could Be The Impacts Of Brexit At Customs?

Again, right now, no one knows for certain what the full impact of Brexit will be but without a deal, something that is looking increasingly likely and only 6 weeks away, we’re highlighting some the unknowns that should be considered for your import export business.

The impact of Brexit on international customs and trade compliance is not yet clear but the following factors are something that must be considered at this stage.

What will happen without an agreement?

  • 48% of UK shipments go to EU countries
  • 54% of UK arrivals come from EU countries

…without customs clearance and duties to be paid.  This would change over night.

Those movements will become third-country imports or exports, including the need for customs declarations and duties due to a missing agreement. Export control regulations will be affected as well.

Just two minutes more for customs inspections per truck, could result in approximately 27 extra kilometers of traffic jams with an obviously massive impact on the supply chain.

Additional custom specialists will be required.

The administrative burden could increase from five minutes before Brexit to more than one hour of workload per export! 185,000 UK traders could be making their customs declarations for the first time.  This is not going to be a smooth or streamlined process so you must know how to make a customs deceleration if you are going to prepare your business for Brexit.

Customs declarations in the UK are expected to increase from 55,000,000 to 255,000,000 per year. It could be very, very costly, with an estimated €50 or more per declaration.

The OECD estimates that inefficiencies relating simply to the process of customs clearance could result in additional costs of up to 10% of the value of the goods.

Beyond this, increased duty rates on imports to the UK, from non-EU countries due to the UK losing access to EU free trade agreements will apply. New free trade agreements need to be negotiated with all relevant countries which could take 5 to 7 years per free trade agreement as they have done with several countries already.

Lastly, more questions still need to be answered that we just don’t know the answers to right now:

  • Will the new customs authority system CTS be ready?
  • Will support systems be ready?
  • Will there be enough capacity and customs brokers?
  • Will the companies export control management be ready?

There are many questions to be answered but it is important to understand what is at stake and how your business will be affected. Take the time now to understand how Brexit could directly effect you and research what changes you need to make, so you are not caught out and your business does not suffer come March 2019.

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What You Should Be Asking Yourself

As a business owner, you should really at this know how to prepare your business for Brexit and grasp this as a great opportunity to become part of a global explosion in trade. UK businesses must identify how international trade post Brexit will affect their trading position within the EU and beyond and be prepared to meet the new challenges.

The following are a set of questions that is advisable to ask yourself and research, pre-Brexit. Be proactive, no reactive and prepare for a worst case scenario and how a hard Brexit will effect you. Waiting for the 29th March 2019 may well be too late.

1. Understand how to export. How will the new import export regulations impact upon my business?

2. Will I have to change my Terms of Delivery (Incoterms 2010)?

3. Will I now have to employ the services of a freight forwarder or clearing agent and at what additional cost?

4. Does my company have the necessary import export training to work alongside the new rules and regulations?

5. Am I registered for EORI status (see below for more information on this)?

6. Do my goods attract an import export licence?

7. Can I identify a customs regime which may help me reduce my import costs?

8. How will VAT be collected on inter EU trade (see below for more information on this)?

9. Do I understand the new Customs Declaration System CDS for imports and exports?

10. Can I provide the relevant information for inputs into CDS (i.e. new tariff changes as introduced in Volume 3 of the Tariff Book)?

11. Have I subscribed to the Government Gateway Account (See below on how to do this)?

12. Will my existing supply chain timing be affected? What adjustments do I have to make to counter any extra delays?

13. Will I have to make changes my company terms and conditions?

14. Will Post Brexit rules affect my competitive edge? If so how can I retain my competitive edge?

15. Will my existing EU customers impose a different method of payment other than the one currently in use?

16. Do I fully understand the methods of payment associated with International Trade (ie. Letters of Credit, CAD, Bills of Exchange)?

17. Have I arranged for an AWARENESS COURSE for ALL members of staff to attend pre-Brexit 29th March 2019?

Check out our top ten tips on on importing and exporting to get you started.

Two Simple Actions You Can Take Right Now

Importing and exporting within the EU could be vastly different with either a Hard or Soft Brexit. With only 6 weeks left, now is the time to prepare. We address two simple action points to get you started.

The Guardian has reporting that two thirds of British businesses had made no preparations at all for Brexit. I’m not aware if that figure is still the same today but if it is, it’s very unwise to be leaving your preparations this late.

Should the UK does leave the EU on the 29th March 2019 without a deal, the EU as far as trade goes, will become like any other “foreign country”, take for example Venezuela.  British companies will need the same documentation to trade with the EU as you would Venezuela.

Currently, trading with the EU is very easy, there’s no major documentation required, no customs, any import export documentation that is required is filed remotely after the import or export is completed. That same export to France will be much harder.

Be proactive, not reactive, have everything in place before the end of March. If you trade solely with the EU, you are running at this point, a very high risk of being completely caught out and your business potentially coming to a halt if you don’t know how to trade outside of the EU.

Prepare for Brexit – A Checklist

  1. Do you have an EORI number?
    If not, go and get one. If you’re trading outside the European Union already, you’ll have an EORI number, so you don’t need to worry about this. If not, depending on whether you’re registered for VAT or not and whether you’re importing or exporting, here’s how to get your EORI number.
  2. Customs Clearance will be using the new CDS system, we’re told by the end of 2018. You will need an EORI number to access this system.
  3. Delivery Times: Without a deal, delivery times of goods coming in and out of the EU will be delayed with some estimating very severe delays as shown above in our infographic.  Analyse how your business will cope if this becomes a reality and goods you’re importing are held up for days before you receive them and equally, how this will effect your shipments outbound to your customers. If you’re offering guaranteed delivery times, you may well want to rethink this.
  4. Brexit Risk Assessment: Perform a risk assessment on your entire company, from the warehouse to the managing director . Where is your company vulnerable, what will need to change, where are your biggest risks and how can you minimise them?

ABTS Training can help should you need it.  For more information on our Brexit Breakdown membership, please feel free to contact us.

How Could A No-Deal Effect VAT Procedure?

Below is our quick guide on how a no-deal Brexit could effect VAT procedure. Make sure you understand how this will effect your imports and exports from the United Kingdom as you will have to understand these changes if you want a streamlined import export procedure:


  • Postponed accounting for EU imports
  • Importers will account for import VAT on their existing VAT returns


  • Retain your evidence that goods have been exported to EU member states
  • Remember that the customs declaration system will be paperless
  • Exported goods to EU will be zero rated on commercial invoice
  • EC sales list will no longer be used to declare exports to EU
  • Make sure your company’s export software is adjusted to reflect changes
  • Register for AEO for imports and exports
No Deal Brexit and VAT Procedure

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The Brexit Breakdown

A new subscription service where we do the research, contact relevant agencies and get to the bottom line on Brexit import and export.

We cut through the complicated web of information to give you need-to-know facts for your business, post Brexit, keeping you informed through webinars, videos, email alerts and printable fact sheets.

See The Brexit Breakdown for more information.

Letter Of Credit For Import Export

Knowing how to use a letter of credit is an important part of international trade as it’s a very versatile instrument and when used correctly, a very import method of payment to have in your trade finance arsenal.

A letter of credit definition: under a letter of credit the issuing bank guarantees the seller will receive payment on time and for the correct amount. Should the buyer, for any reason, be unable to make payment on the purchase contract, the bank is responsible for the payment. In addition to this, a letter of credit can allow the seller to receive funds before the goods are delivered, which can be advantageous if capital is needed up front.

Letter Of Credit – The 4 Common Types

Firstly, lets start with the four most common types of letter of credit and when to use them.

IRREVOCABLE:  An irrevocable letter of credit, once it’s born, cannot be changed or amended without the consent of both the buyer and the seller.

RED CLAUSED:   This clause is very useful when the seller needs to raise funds from the letter of credit, for example to buy raw material for a building contract. The amount available is usually printed on the letter of credit in red ink, hence the name “red claused”.

TRANSFERABLE:  This can used by the seller  to purchase goods needed to fulfill the contract from a third party. For example, steel, concrete and brinks to complete a building contract. This is extremely useful when the seller may not have available funds to purchase the goods to complete the contract, so could use this method to raise those funds by guaranteeing payment to the third party supplier.

CONFIRMED LETTER:  This is used when the seller is unsure of the buyers’ bank’s ability to honour the letter of credit perhaps due to political or financial unrest in the buyers country. The letter of credit is confirmed by a second bank which usually the sellers bank. The confirming bank becomes the prime payer and seeks reimbursement from the buyers bank.  This is a little complicated but will be made clear as we dive into the detail.

Types of Letters of Credit

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A Letter Of Credit, Make Money Without Money?

A transferable letter of credit enables the seller (or beneficiary) to buy products to fulfill the sales contract from a third party without using their own funds, instead using the funds from the contract itself. Think of it as an advance on the payment that will be received on completion of the contract.  Once this “mother” letter of credit has been born, it can be split up and transferred to as many parties as needed as long as the total does not exceed the amount of the original “mother” credit.

Transferable letters of credit are often successfully used to purchase high value goods without having to dip into company funds where cash flow may be tight and the company may not be sitting on bundles of cash and need to receive payment before delivery of the goods or project.  Be warned however, they are not as simple to obtain and use as some would like you to believe.  It certainly should not be a way to make money, without money.

A Letter Of Credit Should Always Be Used?

Letters of credit as you can see are a versatile method of payment and an excellent way for the seller to deliver a contract even if they don’t have the needed funds to hand.  However, as with anything in life, there’s advantages and disadvantages to doing business this way.  Here’s some of the pitfalls that you would be wise to be aware of:

  • The buyer may not want to give you a transferable letter of credit as they can be very expensive to establish. As we all know, banks seldom do anything for free and establishing a commercial letter of credit is no different. The bank will charge the buyer a letter of credit cost for this service, something that the buyer may not be willing to pay.  This could be where your negotiating techniques will come in very handy in convincing your buyer that this is the best course of action.
  • If you are not familiar with a bank letter of credit and do not have a good track record of trading under a letter of credit, you can make costly mistakes. Make sure you know what you’re doing.  There could be a lot of money at stake and you you certainly don’t want to chance it.
  • Some third party suppliers take a lot of persuading to release their goods against a transferable letter of credit, especially when they have no previous experience of trading under such a credit. It could take some time and reassurance explaining why a transferable letter of credit is a guaranteed payment and trust between you will have to be established.
  • You may have to do a lot of “hand holding” with your third party supplier and allow them gain their confidence in you and your ability to successfully negotiate the original “mother” credit and ensure that their “child” credit is a guaranteed payment. One way to establish confidence is by explaining once the contract is delivered, it is the bank themselves that will pay out all the “child” credits to the debtor, so there is no need to chase any payments.
  • You must be confident in your own ability to utilise a transferable letter of credit which really only comes about from hands on experience and training.
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Standby Letter Of Credit

There is one other type of letter of credit which is not actually meant to be used, which is known as a standby letter of credit.

This is a last resort or safety net for the seller reducing the financial risk within the contract. It’s basically a guarantee of the payment from the issuing bank on the behalf of the seller.

If the buyers business for some reason was to declare bankruptcy or was just unable to make the payment, this would make the bank pay but the intention is that it will never need to be used.A standby letter of credit is usually issues in good faith providing proof that the buyer’s credit is in good standing and that they will be able to make the payment without any issues.

Standby letters of credit are usually issued in good faith providing proof that the buyer’s credit is in good standing and that they will be able to make the payment without any issues. The buyers company will undergo a credit check before the bank issues a standby letter of credit giving security that the company is stable and not under any financial trouble.

What’s The Difference Between A Standby Letter Of Credit And A Letter of Credit?

A Standby Letter of Credit is different from a Letter of Credit in that a standby letter of credit is paid once the conditions of the contract have not been met by the buyer and payment has not been received by the seller.

A Letter of Credit is a guarantee of payment when specific conditions are met and documents received from the seller.

UCP 600

Something else to be aware of is that there have been a set of rules created and agreed by the International Chamber of Commerce, known as the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (commonly called “UCP”), which banks and financial institutions that issue letters of credit are subject to.

The regulation was put in place in order to standardise international trade finance and reduce the financial risks associated with trading goods and services and govern international trade.

UCP 600 is currently in the 6th revision which is where the “600” comes from.

We won’t go into any further detail on this as it’s a subject on its own but for now, it’s something to to know.

See below for a handy print guide that we have developed on letters of credit:

Letters of Credit

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A Real World Example

Using a real world example, we can hopefully show you more clearly the letter of credit process and just how does a letter of credit work.

Not so long ago we were asked to work with a small London based building company who had been awarded a nicely sized contract to build a brand new, modern sports facility in the United Arab Emirates.

The high end sports facility would include a swimming pool, saunas in the changing rooms, two basketball courts, a full size gym with aerobic equipment as well as a lounge area complete with table tennis and pool tables and health bar.  As you can imagine, this type of facility doesn’t come cheap and the contract value was negotiated and agreed at just over £1.6 million (GBP). This included the raw materials, exporting of the required materials that could not be sourced within the UAE and the construction of the facility.

How To Raise £1.6m

As you can probably imagine, most businesses don’t have £1.6m sitting in their company bank account so raising the funds to complete the project was something that needed to be handled.  This company took the traditional avenue and approached their bank for finance but for one reason or another weren’t granted the entire amount.  They subsequently approached other finance companies who offered them funds but the terms of repayment weren’t suitable.  At this point, the project looked to be in jeopardy and the contract had to be reconsidered.

On contacting ABTS Training, we suggested that they ask their client in the UAE for a transferable letter of credit from their bank.  What this meant was that the client approach their bank and ask them to issue a transferable letter of credit for the value of £1.6 million, which is passed to the UK building company.  This assures that funds are available and that the payment will be made if the correct documents are presented by the UK company, such as invoices, bills of lading, packing list and others.  The bank is guaranteeing the money and becomes responsible for the payment.  Negotiation skills need to be on point with this as, as mentioned before, there is a cost to the client in the UAE to issue this transferable letter of credit.

The Transferable Letter Of Credit Broken Down

As this is a real-word example, lets break down what was actually included in this letter of credit and the inner workings of it.

This particular letter of credit was issued from the clients bank in the UAE via a bank located in the UK, so it was this UK bank that was ultimately responsible for paying out the £1.6m.  This UK bank was unknown to the building company in the sense, they had no relationship with the bank, so in order to minimise their risk, they asked their bank, Natwest to “confirm” the letter of credit.

What this means is, Natwest confirms the letter of credit exists (taking away the risk of any fraud, which unfortunately does happen) and that they (Natwest) will honour it on the presentation of all the relevant and correct documents.

As you may have guessed, Natwest do not do this for free and charge our building company a fee for this service but it’s a fee that gives our building company peace of mind.

A transferable letter is a letter of credit that simply means the building company can “break up” the letter of credit and use it to pay who they need to pay, for example, steel suppliers.  As mentioned earlier, a transferable letter of credit can be broken up from one “mother” credit, into “child” credits and distributed as long as the combined value does not exceed the mother letter of credit.


As mentioned above, a “red clause” allows a stated percentage of the value of the credit to be received by the building company, effectively in cash and be used for immediate expenses, such as paying staff during the building period.

In this case of the UK builder requested a 5% red clause and used this money for up front costs such as architects fees and plans, staff costs and engineer’s site visits.

Letter of Credit vs Bank Guarantee

Letters of credit and bank guarantees are similar in function in that they give confidence to the parties involved and reduce financial risk. However, we have to dig a little deeper to see the difference.

A letter of credit ensures that the seller will be paid eliminating the risk that the buyer will not pay at once the contract has been fulfilled, ensuring that the contract can proceed. A letter of credit is proof that the bank is happy with the buyers credit score instilling more confidence.

A bank guarantee is usually taken by both parties in a transaction helping to reduce the risk of both sides. If one side cannot pay after the agreed terms have been met, they can trigger the bank guarantee.

It’s generally used as a way for both parties to show they are both financially stable and their credit is in good standing.

Letters of credit are used within international trade whereas bank guarantees are more often used in real estate and infrastructure contracts of a high value particularly in the United States.

Letters Of Credit Explained

Almost half of letters of credit received in the UK are unworkable according to some research, the buyer requests documents which the seller is unable to produce, so be aware and be proactive, not reactive.

As you can see, letters of credit are a great way to fulfill projects when cash is tight but it’s really important to know what you’re doing as they can be complicated. If you get it wrong, you could be left holding the can and unfortunately there are many horror stories of contracts going desperately wrong due to people not understanding how to properly establish and use letters of credit.  Don’t be one of them!

Check out our online course which streamlines the aspects of import and export, including letters of credit, for just £199 (approx: 18,000 INR | 93,500 NGN | 4,455 EGP | 1,550 TRY | 360 LYD).

Sourcing Products Internationally

Product Sourcing Definition

The definition of sourcing is very simply, “Finding products to sell for your business.”

Sourcing products around the globe is obviously a very important factor in supply chain management and thankfully a much easier task than in years gone by. Jumping on to Google, makes the sourcing process much easier and quicker and is certainly the first port of call for global sourcing but there are still other avenues that shouldn’t be ignored when learning how to setup your import export business.

Sourcing Strategy

As an example, we once helped an importer and retailer of pine furniture who had signed up to our online course as he wanted to learn other methods of sourcing and procurement and increase his options of suppliers and not be limited to his sole supplier in China.

This entrepreneur had seven furniture retail outlets throughout the UK and his business was growing. He felt he was vulnerable having just one supplier and for security needed to look at other options potentially in other parts of the world, building a more strategic sourcing plan. At the same time, he wanted to gain a competitive edge being that all his competitors were purchasing selling the same furniture designs as him, so all he could compete on was price which was squeezing profit margins.

After some consideration and research with his customer base and examination of his inventory compared to his competition, the data showed him that he needed to develop bespoke designed furniture, which he felt would give the needed edge and these designs would be marketed as exclusively his. After listening to his customers and establishing what products and services they wanted, he catered for their needs and desires and went about drawing up a range of furniture.

He approached his Chinese supplier and manufacturer and inquired about producing this range of bespoke pine furniture but they were unable to accommodate this request because of the large cost involved to them in retooling their machinery for a comparatively small order.

Supply Chain Sourcing

With this, we advised on product sourcing alternative manufactures and to look closer to home. On doing some initial research, we suggested Cyprus as a first point to finding new sources as we found it to be a pine furniture manufacturing base and pine wood was in abundance, lowering the price of the raw material.

The next step was of course to find a supplier and manufacturer there, one of the types of sourcing we decided to tap into was contacting the Cypriot embassy in London and ask them if they would be able to recommend any reputable and established companies. They were very helpful and of course, pleased with their sourcing involvement as they’re happy to promote the Cypriot manufacturing industry, in this case, furniture makers and we were pleased to receive credible recommendations.

The Embassy asked if we would like to be introduced to a local sourcing company but actually made several introductions to manufacturers that were fit for purpose and eager to win the contract. Our entrepreneur discussed his needs for his bespoke pine furniture to be manufactured and exported to the UK which were well received and two reputable and established companies submitted quotations, both within the same ball park figure.

Both companies invited our entrepreneur to visit and have a tour of their factories, see firsthand the quality and craftsmanship of the furniture and discuss his final requirements.

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Reactive Sourcing

After reviewing both proposals, further negotiations and being impressed with the manufacturing process of both companies, the order was actually split between the two companies giving our entrepreneur further security in having two reliable manufacturers but also being able to gain an air of competitiveness between them, ensuring that price would remain competitive.

The Chinese supplier was kept and continued to ship furniture and was offered to customers as a lower priced range, keeping this target market but putting our entrepreneur in a position to up-sell the bespoke range when possible.

All Your Eggs

The saying goes, “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” and in this case it was great advice to follow. The result was an increase in customers, sales and profits due to people being unable to buy this range of furniture anywhere else and the retail business has gone from strength to strength.

The Internet is without doubt the easiest and fastest way to find suppliers and manufacturers but there are alternatives. In this case, it was beneficial to make contact with people that we were able to trust in the Embassy and use their knowledge and credibility to find these reputable manufacturers.

Chambers Of Commerce

Another option is to contact the Chamber of Commerce in the country or area that you’re looking to source products from.  Like the embassies, the Chamber of Commerce also wants to promote their businesses and attract foreign trade, so making a contact within the Chamber can be a good move.

Contact and let them know what you’re trying to achieve and ask if they will send you a list of their registered businesses in the sector your looking at.  They will only be too happy to help.

Trade Fairs

Another great way to source products is to go to trade fairs.  Trade fairs happen all over the world and simply Googling trade fairs in your country/city will like bring up results that you won’t have to travel too far.

Check these out and subscribe to ones that are of interest to you so you’ll know when there are more upcoming. They’re usually free to attend and you’ll have a chance to check out some great products and in some interesting niche’s.

Facebook Groups

Facebook is a great tool to find suppliers offering their products. There’s hundreds of groups out there with particular niches that you can search and join. Get chatting to suppliers as well as other importers and exporters.

ABTS Training has a group recently setup which all are welcome to join.

Keep Thinking Outside the Box

When starting of growing your business, it’s worth keeping your options open and checking all avenues as well as continuing to ask yourself, how can I keep my edge?

Travel The Globe

So if you’re ready to start looking for products around the world, the best and most fun way to do it is to start travelling! We’ve done this ourselves so have a few tips for you as far as how to make your way around.



AirBNB is a global leader in accommodation and we’ve all heard of it. Very easy to use and you can find some great deals as you’re renting from individuals much of the time, not hotels. We’ve used Airbnb many times without any problems so sign up here.


Agoda appears to have cornered the market in South East Asia and offers the cheapest rooms between all the various booking and compare sites. If you’re heading to Asia, it’s certainly worth signing up and installing their app on your phone and signing up for an account. It could save you some good money.


If you’re planning on sourcing in Europe or the America’s, it’s worth comparing prices with Booking.com.  These guys seem to have very reasonable rates so again, install and open an account and keep the app handy.

Getting Around

Ride sharing apps are a clever bit of software and are massive business in the travel sector now for good reason.  They’re easy to use, you get a price before you ride and unlike taxi’s they can’t drive the longest possible route to your destination, raking up time on the meter. If you have a complaint you can file that with the ride sharing company and make a dispute.

Below are the three top ride sharing apps you’ll need to travel the world.


Grab is the ride sharing app in Asia.  Download the app and create an account. Ride rates are very good and you can even get around on Grab Bike, which puts you on the back of a motorbike, gets you to where you have to quickly with a bit of a thrill!


Uber is in many countries worldwide and probably the biggest name in ride sharing.  Wherever you’re going, sign up for an account with Uber and download the app. It’s good to compare prices with other ride sharing apps.


Lyft is available in the US and Uber’s main competition there.  You won’t need any more than these three ride sharing apps to find your way around the world. Sign up and download Lyft here.


International Transfers

Once you’ve sourced your products and you’re ready to make your first order (and all subsequent orders for that matter), you’ll need to transfer money.  Using your bank for this, will probably come with a hefty fee.  By using Transfer Wise, you’ll save about 85% in fees and get a great exchange rate, adding to your profit margin.

You can register from most countries in the world so wherever you are,  sign up here and start saving on international transfers.


Revolut is a fantastic credit card, giving you almost spot rates and low fees.  It’s not a “credit card” as such, you top up your card in your home currency, then convert it to the currency of the country you’re travelling to and use as you would any normal credit card.

You don’t have to worry about going over your limits as you can’t spend more than you have on the card.  It’s a super convenient way to handle your finances on the move.

At the moment it seems to be only available in Europe but keep an eye because they are going global soon.

Sign Up Here and get a free card (they’ll waive the sign up fee for you).


So there you have it, there’s nothing stopping you from getting out into the world and seeing what’s out there, find your niche and getting your own import export business off the ground.

Import Export Business Startup

The story of Lord Alan Sugar is a great one, from selling radio aerials for cars and other electrical goods out of a van, to a market stall, to multimillionaire. Starting an import export business really isn’t rocket science and can be hugely rewarding and make you financially successful but of course, is going to take time, dedication and some hard work.

Import Export Business Opportunities

As with any small business venture, sometimes we need help getting ideas together as a kick start to moving things to the next level. In setting up export businesses, the first question is always, “What can I import and sell?”. Finding a niche or a gap in the market takes some time and research but there’s generally a market out there for everything.

There’s literally a world of opportunity within international trade and the best part about it is researching what’s out there to import and sell at home, is the chance to travel and discover amazing products from other cultures and countries. Before you know it you’ll be an international trader running a successful business selling quality products from every country!

Well, let’s take one step at a time, so pack your bags and grab your passport, here’s some ideas to get you thinking from six countries. Once you’ve figured out what you want to sell, check out our guide on how to find buyers for your products.


Leather Products

Leather is a prominent industry in India with leather also being one of the most widely traded items in the world, always in demand and can be considered ageless. Shoes and coats never go out of fashion and can last for years, so becoming an export merchant for this niche may not be a bad idea. Leather purses, bags, briefcases, belts, wallets, gloves, the list goes on, there is a huge range of products to import.

There are more than 1000 leather exporting companies in India, making it arguably one of the best import export business in India.  Some of the prominent players are Prara Leathers Private Limited, Rahman Industries Limited, Farida Prome Tannery Private Limited, Tata International Limited, Super Tannery Limited and Blue Diamond Leaders.

ABTS Training also has a contact in India that has joined our Facebook group offering leather goods and handicrafts.

For more information and data see IBEF.

Jewelry and Precious Stones

India has long been considered to be the hub of the global jewelry market because of its low costs and and highly-skilled labour. India is the world’s largest cutting and polishing centre for diamonds. The gems and jewelry market in India is home to more than 300,000 players, with the majority being small players, so this is a great opportunity to go to India experience the culture, speak to jewelry dealers and see what opportunities are there.

Jewelry is such a huge market in India with a market size of US$75 billion as of 2017 and is expected to reach US$ 100 billion by 2025, there’s no reason why you can’t take a piece of the pie and start trading in jewelry.

For more information and data see IBEF.



Egypt is famous for having the highest quality cotton in the world and is always in demand, worldwide. Production using fine Egyptian cotton includes  shirts, fabrics for trousers/shorts, worsted wool fabrics, denim, fleece, jersey, flat/woolen knits and much more. Apparel production includes active sportswear, outerwear, underwear, suits, socks, infant wear etc. Production of arguably the most famous use of Egyptian cotton includes a wide variety of bed sheets and bath towels.

Perfumes and Cosmetics

Egypt was once the prestigious center of the international perfume industry. Perfumes were created and mass-marketed elsewhere in the ancient world but it was Egypt that was most renowned and identified with the international perfume trade.

80% of the world’s natural jasmine products, come from Egypt, where specialists in this ancient art extract the aromatic oils from a profusion of flowers, leaves, roots and herbs and export them to perfumers in Paris, London, New York and even Moscow. Egyptian perfumes is a huge export market with some great opportunities.


Locally Made Weaves

According to some estimates, Africa’s dry hair market, this being the market for weaves, wigs and hair extensions, is right now worth over $6 billion a year and growing rapidly. Western countries, particularly the US and UK are in high demand of weaves and will pay top dollar for real human hair.  Incidentally, Thailand is also a great source for real human hair, sold in many of the markets for very reasonable prices.

Ginger, Garlic, Sesame Seeds and Nuts

Nigerian exports of nut related produce including oil seed, oleagic fruits, grain, seed, fruits is massive. Sesame seeds are in much higher demand too being that Sushi restaurants are now so popular.  Ginger is one of the most traded spices in the world and Nigeria has an abundance. Starting a Trans-Sahara or Trans-Atlantic trade with these products will be profitable but take some research and time to find buyers for your exports. Garlic is also on top of the list and is easily exportable from Nigeria.

In our Facebook group we have suppliers in Nigeria offering tigernuts, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and palm kernal oil.

If you’re getting a taste for an importing business and serious about import and export, sign up to our free training, ” How to start import export business. ”

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.



Exports from Turkey are exploding with 2018 setting a record year of $168.1 billion, demonstrating the high level of demand for Turkish products.  Turkey is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of knitted fabrics, having the largest share in Turkish industrial production and being one of the first established industries in Turkey.  Turkish knitwear is known to be of the highest quality with worldwide competitive pricing making it an ideal product to import.  The potential for solid profits within this textile is huge.


One of the world’s most prominent carpet manufacturers, Turkey is continuously expanding its global market share with increasing exports year-on-year. The Turkish carpet industry is renowned  worldwide due its superior-quality products and advanced technology in production. Turkey currently holds a 15 per cent world market share in carpet trade and ranks in the number two spot behind China who takes the top spot.

In our Facebook group we have supplier offering carpets from Gaziantep in Turkey.


Mobile Phone Accessories

In every mall, high street and market stall, there are shops selling just mobile phone accessories. From unique looking earphones, crazy and cool phone cases, to selfie sticks and battery packs the appetite for the latest, coolest phone gadget is is enormous, worldwide. Importing these products  is a great opportunity and the cost of these products in Thailand are significantly lower than other countries worldwide, coupled with quality craftsmanship.


Shoe shoppers love Thailand! There are a gazillion varieties of shoes available in Thailand and at great prices. Importing shoes is a relatively safe investment as demand is stable and profit margins are solid.  Street markets and local retailers are a good place to start when it comes to finding buyers.

South Africa


South Africa’s wines are held in very high esteem but South Africa is not taking full advantage of and could export more wine to the rest of the world. With a weaker currency, South African wines are comparatively cheaper to those of other countries with stronger currencies. South Africa is currently the 12th biggest exporter of wine, with wine exports of SA bringing in $661.6 million. However, South Africa’s wine exports was the 2nd cheapest of the top 13 wine exporting countries in the world. This is an export market waiting to be taken advantage of and will likely see comfortable profits.

Gems and Precious Metals

South Africa Exports of Pearls, precious stones and metals was US$14.9 billion in 2018. Needless to say there is always a demand for diamonds and gold around the globe. The nations with the highest demand are Japan, USA, UK, Hong Kong, Germany, UAE and Belgium.

Your Own Import And Export Business

Hopefully this have given you some ideas to starting up your own import export business and before long perhaps your company can be doing some big international business.

Some reports state that around 70% of us are unhappy in our job. This being true, it’s always possible to change career and take the plunge and start up your own international trading business.

It’s scary but for those that do it and are willing to take the time to learn a new business, do their research, create a business and marketing plan and have the guts to take action, it’s well worth it. Nothing’s easy in this world but once a few sales start to come in, it’s a very rewarding feeling seeing something come to life that you’ve built.

For a little inspiration, here’s a story of how one of our students did exactly that and is now exporting Spanish wine to China.

Minimum Investment For Import Export Business

Other than knowing how to start an import export business, the next question is inevitably, how much will it cost?

Import Export Agent

The answer to that question is, it depends how you go about it.  Generally speaking, setting up as an export and import agent can be the way to go if you’re looking for minimal financial commitment as it requires less financial exposure, so this is something to definitely consider. Check our in depth blog post on how to become an import export agent for some great tips.

Freight Forwarders

One other big part of the business of import and export is know how to use a freight forwarder.  Eventually, you’re going to need to use one, you’ll outgrow the post office, the bigger your shipment size of your import and exports, so it’s worth understand how they can help you and what to be aware of.  We’ve written an in depth blog on what freight forwarders do and how they can help you.

The blog also includes some tips of what to be aware of and how you can protect yourself from being over charged.  Most freight forwarders are there to help importers exporters and run an honest game but as with everything, there’s always one or two bad eggs, so it’s worth being aware.


One of the key skills of any import company is the ability to effectively negotiate.  You’re going to need to negotiate not just the price of your goods but potentially the method of payment, such as a letter of credit, the terms of shipping (using Incoterms), as well as then negotiate the selling price with buyers.

Negotiating like most things, becomes easier and you get better with experience but a great start is to checkout or negotiation techniques and tips in our in depth blog. This should get you started in the right track.

Import Export Business Plan

Hopefully this blog has given you some inspiration into starting your own import export company so find some time and write a business plan.


The first place to start is identifying what you want to sell, so get out there and find the products you want to sell or represent.  Our in depth blog on sourcing will help to get you started as you can explore the globe for some cool products.

It’s best to perhaps pick an industry that you are familiar with so there’s less of a learning curve, if you’re into mobile technology and already know and understand a lot in this field, it can be a good idea to follow this road.

You’ll already understand the products that you’re looking at and probably know pricing already so these are a few advantages to sticking to what you know.

Also decide if you are going to act as an import export agent for this company or direct export.

Visit The Company

Make contact with companies and see what they can offer you and at what prices.  If you’re able to take a trip and go and visit manufacturers or factories, this is always time and money well spent and shows you’re serious.

You’ll also have the added advantage of seeing the product yourself, check the quality of the materials and the workmanship.  Nothing really beats physically seeing it as photos and video really can’t show this.

Global Exporting

Once you’ve sourced your products and established your product range, consider how you’re going to sell your products.  Check our blog post with some ideas and suggestions to finding buyers but also consider using the web and setting up you’re own website to export globally.

Your own website has several advantages as you can cut out the middle man from any direct sales and also acts as a shop window for your company for any new suppliers you’ll contact making you serious and professional.

These days it doesn’t have to cost a fortune but we go into much more detail in our blog post on how to export globally.

Your Import Export Business

There’s more to learn to fully run your own import export company but this should give you some good ground work. Once you’ve thought about these points and written down your ideas and made notes after doing your homework, you’ll be in a much stronger position to get going.

It’s hard work but the challenge is rewarding once you start the get the first coupe of deals done. You’ll grow in confidence and be able to streamline each part of your supply chain as well as learn the best avenues for selling your products.

How to Find Buyers For Export

One of the most common questions we’re asked by entrepreneurs thinking about getting involved in importing and exporting is, “how to find buyers for my exports”. There is no single or straight answer to this question, as you can imagine it depends largely on what your exporting and to what country or region.

It’s wise to spend time researching the market online for your export in various countries and areas before you take the leap. Ask questions on forums, Facebook groups and any other ways of getting some opinions from local people. This will be valuable as you can’t beat the feedback from local people who live and work in your target area. Asking about pricing and even product opinion can be very beneficial feedback.

We recently wrote an blog on how to sell globally from your own website so we won’t go into any detail on this avenue in this blog but there are plenty of other ways to find buyers for exports to think about.

Do It Yourself

With so many websites now online that allow you to sell your own products, why not consider listing your products? The biggest and most well known are Ebay, Amazon and AliExpress and as they’re international this is a great place to start. Register an account and add your products to these sites and see if you place any orders. If you do, you can be more confident about demand for your product in that country or area.

There are many smaller but well known sites online that specialise in smaller retailers and handmade goods such as Etsy and NotOnTheHighStreet. A small amount of research for your target country I’m sure will reveal others.

Best Practice

If you take this approach, it’s worth spending some time studying the best practices for listing your products so that you can take full advantage. For example, make sure photos of your products are well lit and show enough detail. Take photos from various angles so potential buyers can clearly see all of the product and consider even developing a short promo video. Write a descriptive title and description and answer any of the most common questions about the product so users don’t have to contact you and wait for a reply in order to get the answer to their question. When they’re ready to buy, you want to make sure there are no obstacles in the way and they “Buy Now”.

Customer Service

Make sure you offer an excellent level of customer service. Answer questions promptly, when you have your confirmed orders, ship your goods quickly and don’t delay. Update the customer with shipping and tracking codes so they can keep track of where the delivery is. Zappos has sold over a billion dollars in shoes and it built this off the back of excellent customer service. There is a lot to learn from Zappos and how they made customer service their priority and in return their customers gave them loyalty.

We All Read The Reviews

In return for great customer service, ask for a favorable review which are obviously important for credibility. This gives your next potential customer confidence, not just in your product but your service. With some good reviews, they may not hesitate to click the “Buy” button.

Bringing It Together For Wholesale Export

Once you’ve sold some products and built up a base of customers and good reviews you can use this to a second advantage. Contacting wholesalers and having a credible track record can be a big advantage. To be able to say that you’re already selling your products in the local market reduces risk to the wholesaler. If you can say that you’ve already sold “X” number of products in their country and you have “X” number of positive reviews that your potential wholesaler can verify, this is a great way to begin a pitch of your products and will no doubt get the attention of both wholesalers and retailers.

This begs the next question of how to find wholesalers and retailers for your products?

Google Search

It may sound obvious but Google as we know is the king of search so start here. For example, if you are exporting rugs or carpets from Turkey, perform a Google search on “rug wholesalers in UK”.

You’ll get plenty of wholesalers that you can contact and see if you can generate any interest in your products. Wholesalers received many emails and calls, being offered products all the time, so try and stand out from the crowd. A well written email, with clear and professional photos of your products is a good start. We will write another blog on the best approach to contacting buyers and wholesalers.

Follow The Kompass

Kompass is an online business to business directory, with more than 20 million companies, in 70 different countries. This is a great business resource and have a good chance of finding buyers for your exports within its listings. The information is not free and you have to buy lists of companies but the contacts are a great place to start.

National Embassy’s

This is more of an old school approach but still relevant. National Embassy’s want to promote trade between their country and the world and are there to help create these links. Contacting the commercial section of a country’s embassy and asking if they can provide you with a list of wholesalers of your export product is well worth doing.

This also works in reverse, if you are looking to source particular products from a country, contacting the embassy of that country is a good idea. For example, some years ago, we had an entrepreneur looking to source pine furniture to import to the UK and sell. He contacted the Cypriot embassy in London, where he was based and asked if they could help. Cyprus has many pine trees and is well known for its furniture so this was an obvious place to source. The embassy was happy to help and promote its exports and give a list of reputable and well established factory wholesalers and our entrepreneur went on to negotiate some great deals and setup a successful business.

Chambers of Commerce

Chambers of Commerce (e.g. British Chamber of Commerce) are another good resource to make contact with, much like national embassy’s. The Chambers want to promote international business and commerce and have close links with many industries and companies in local areas. They can offer advice and help and often support businesses by offering training so are able to certainly push you in the right direction.

ABTS International Trade Facebook Group

Lastly, ABTS Training has recently setup a new Facebook Group free to join, where we hope we will be able to match up buyers and sellers worldwide and answer any questions on international trade as well as any tips and discussion.

Feel free to join our group.

Import Export Training Course Online

Hopefully this blog gives you a few ideas on how to get started with your import export business and in particular how to find buyers for your export products. There is one more option which is to find stockist or commercial agents but we’ll save this for another blog, so make sure to follow us.

We’re currently offering our online import export training course for just £199 so now’s a good time to get stuck in and get to grips with all aspects of international trade, particularly trading under WTO rules. Learn how to streamline your import export process and keep your profitability as strong as possible.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on multiple sites and let us know if you have any questions.

Shipping Insurance Explained

In order to try and steer away from Brexitmania, we thought we would take a break and address shipping insurance for your cargo.  Whilst any form of insurance is never the most riveting subject of discussion, we all know it’s still very important for your import export business.

Take the following news story for example, 277 containers washed overboard this container ship:

Freight Insurance

This footage clearly illustrates that accidents do happen and cargo ships loose containers perhaps more often than we may think. The seas that these vessels sail can get extremely treacherous so understanding how marine insurance works really is vital to any direct export business.

It’s obviously not as simple as the usual post or parcel insurance that we can buy down at the post office. It doesn’t take much to understand if your goods were to go overboard and you have to cover the financial value of the cargo shipment yourself, it will likely lead to a serious dent in your cash flow and in some cases can be fatal to your business itself.

International Shipping Insurance

Two simple but very important questions come to mind when seeing this report of shipping consignments being lost overboard:

  1. Were the containers insured?
  2. If so, was there adequate insurance cover to cover all the financial losses involved and would the shipper be able to make successful freight claims with their insurance company?

So, the first question, “were the containers insured?”, might sound like a silly question to ask but many shippers falsely believe that their cargo is automatically insured  by the shipping line against loss or damage once the goods or containers are onboard.

It’s important to note that this is not always the case! You as the shippers should very carefully read the terms and conditions and contained in the shipping line contract of carriage and make sure you understand the services offered. As much as we all hate to read the small print, it really is vital, as if you neglect this, you are taking a massive risk should there be any unforeseen circumstances.

The Contract Of Carriage

The Contract of Carriage is printed in plain speak, on page one of the Bill of Lading and is there for all to read, including you.  Make absolutely sure you read this and pay attention to all parts.

The contract of carriage will clearly set out the shipping lines liabilities under many different circumstances. Without going into the full detail of the many clauses that there can be, it’s very important to understand, you as the shipper WILL NOT receive full compensation for loss or damage of your UNINSURED cargo, except under certain circumstances, such as a General Average clause.  The scope of this clause and others is a little too much to delve into with this article but we do cover this in our online import export training course.

Adequate Shipping Insurance

Having “insurance” alone, as you may have guessed, may not be enough.  If you’ve taken the key step to have your cargo insured, you must go the extra mile and make sure that your containers have adequate insurance.

As with car insurance, you would not want to insure your lovely, brand new Ferrari with just third party, fire or theft, you would need to make sure you have adequate insurance, fully comprehensive to cover any damage in an accident or any other circumstances.

Your ABC’s

Container shipping insurance rates obviously vary but your insured shipping with either be Clause A, B or C.

If you as the shipper have Clause A insurance cover, you are insured under “ALL RISK” insurance. Therefore, were they your containers washed overboard in the above news story, your goods would be covered and you would be able to breathe a sigh of relief! All you would need to do is contact your insurance company and ask them for a claim pack and start the claim.

If you had Clause B cover, you would also be covered as containers being washing overboard is covered.  Again, take that sigh of relief, go and make a cup of tea and then call your insurance company!

However, if you as the international shipper had Clause C Insurance cover, you would not be covered and you would have to suffer the financial loss of those containers being lost.


In addition to you shipping insurance, it’s also worth mentioning that you must understand Incoterms and their roll in in international trade. You must take the time to understand these so we’ve written quite an in depth blog on what Incoterms are to get you started.

Shipper Insurance Is Your Responsibility

Hopefully this story illustrated that cargo insurance whilst it may not be all that interesting to talk about, it’s really very important that traders fully understand what is and what isn’t covered by their shipment insurance policy. Even if you’re using a freight forwarder, never leave it to in the lap of the gods and certainly never ask a third party to ”Insure my Cargo”.

You must take the responsibility for your own goods and be specific, making sure you have the correct shipping insurance cover for your cargo, otherwise you may well be throwing the cost of your insurance premium overboard to the bottom of the sea with those lost containers!

Start Wine-ing And Get Exporting

Importing and exporting doesn’t have to be rocket science. Sometimes a simple idea can kick-off a successful career and doesn’t need to be over complicated.

In November 2017 a young lady, 23 years of age, enrolled on an online import export training course, which she completed and had  confidently learned how to export.

To Or From China?  Research Is Key

This young entrepreneur had been looking at China, as many do, to import goods to sell to Europe and on doing more and more research, came across an idea where she saw a gap in the market.  This gap however, was in the reverse direction, rather than import from China, she believed that exporting to China was more advantageous, in particular, exporting Spanish wine to China.

A simple product, a simple idea and something that can be relatively easily filled. Sometimes we don’t have to find some far out there, brand new product that no one has ever seen.  Keeping an open mind and let your research tell you what’s needed. Then trust your research and your gut feeling!

With alcohol sales increasing significantly year on year and China’s middle class expanding, finer wines are more in demand. Also the explosion of Chinese tourism across the globe means that Chinese are travelling further abroad and finding a taste for quality wine and spirits.

With further research, our entrepreneur selected 3 wine producers in Spain and was grounded in negotiation techniques, therefore able to negotiate a solid and successful contract with them.  The wine supplier as you may imagine, was  only too happy to help her penetrate the Chinese wine market and was very helpful.

Stockist Agents

In China, after talks with several potential stockist agents, she selected one that fit her personal criteria and potential future expansion plans.

The first deal was agreed and signed and the stockists agents terms of delivery were CFR  Chinese Port subject to Incoterms 2010.  Our entrepreneur was familiar with and understood these Incoterms and able to make the necessary arrangements for the delivery.

She promptly contacted a freight forwarder in the UK and negotiated a freight rate for collection from the Spanish wine supplier and delivery to the specified Chinese port.  Her knowledge of Incoterms 2010 and the research she had conducted ensured she accepted a fair price for this delivery therefore maximising her profits.

Method Of Payment

The final part of the contract was to negotiate with her Spanish wine supplier,  a 60 day payment against a Bill of Exchange, availed by her bank and a 30 day bill of exchange, availed with her stockist agent thus enhancing her cash flow, giving plenty of time to receive funds from her stockist agent and make the payment to the Spanish vineyard.

The initial trial order was for 4 pallets of wine by LCL service, with the bills of lading to be produced and forwarded to the stockist agent, together with other commercial documents as a Cash against Documents Transaction.

Bring in a Range

After this successful shipment, the first consignment was sold to one outlet by the selected Chinese stockist agent and a partnership has now been agreed and contracted to jointly finance and purchase a Full Container Load (FCL) of Spanish wine.

With the potential to supply a range of products, negotiations are underway to bring in more related products to maximise this business relationship as joint profit margins.

 Lesson Learned

You can turn a relatively simple idea into reality if you follow some simple rules:

  1. Identify the product(s) you wish to buy or sell through solid research.
  2. Research the market you intend to sell to.
  3. Research and find several suppliers. Just one is risky as if there are any issues or problems, you may find yourself with no stock to sell.
  4. Negotiate commercially and legally sound contracts.

No business and making profit, doesn’t come easy.  Be prepared to put in the hard work, stay focused and keep yourself driven. Once you’ve navigated your first deal and made your first delivery, you’ll continue to learn and it will get a little easier each time.

Above all don’t “wing it” get trained in the practical aspects of importing and exporting or the risks of losing money are significantly higher.

What are Incoterms and How Are They Used

Knowing what Incoterms are and why they are so important is to going to be the foundation of learning how to export.  Think of Incoterms as code words that are used within international trade that make it 100% clear where everybody’s responsibility lies as far as the place of delivery, the division of cost and where the risk passes to the buyer.

Incoterms 2010 A Definition

Briefly, as this can be a little dull, Incoterms are a pre-defined set of three letter codes created by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) which were established so there would be clear international commercial terms, as far as where costs and risks lie within each party (the buyer or the seller) when making an agreement in moving goods from the source to the destination, hopefully reducing issues within a supply chain.

They were very first created in 1923 but over the years they’re updated and amended. So far, they’ve been updated 8 times since 1923 and we’re now using Incoterms 2010. There’s due to be an update in 2020 in which case Incoterms 2020 will become the current standard.

Why Do We Need Incoterms?

When we buy something from eBay, we expect the seller to receive our money and send us the product that we’ve paid for to our named destination (usually our home address). If we don’t receive this product, we can contact the seller and address the problem or should that fail,  contact either our credit card company and/or eBay and they will act on our behalf and settle the dispute.

Obviously in buying something on eBay the process is pretty simple but the seller may say once they put the product in the post and have the proof of postage, it’s no longer their problem.

If the package is lost in between, it could be the fault of the post office or maybe it was delivered to a neighbor.  There are variables that come into play and if something goes wrong, the responsibility of the buyer and seller is not so clear. However, on this small scale it’s usually reasonably easy to resolve.

Incoterms, or these “code words” were developed to clear up any issues on exactly who is responsible for what and make sure that there cannot be any misunderstandings.  The prime purpose in developing Incoterms is to identify where the buyers and where the sellers responsibilities lie under three main areas:

  1. The place of delivery from the seller to the buyer.
  2. The transfer of risk from the seller to the buyer.
  3. The division of costs between the seller and buyer.

Essentially it stops any confusion for what the buyer and seller pays for.

How Many Incoterms Are There?

There are 11 main Incoterms that are divided into 4 categories.  There are new Incoterms due to be developed for 2020 so this may increase but these are the 11 current Incoterms in use on the international logistics stage today:

  1. EXW Ex Works
  2. FCA Free Carrier
  3. FAS Free Alongside Shipping
  4. FOB Free on Board
  5. CPT Carriage Paid To
  6. CIP Carriage and Insurance Paid To
  7. CFR Cost and Freight
  8. CIF Cost, Insurance and Freight
  9. DAT Delivery at terminal
  10. DAP Delivery at place
  11. DDP Delivered Duty Paid

Which Incoterm Should I Use?

It’s beyond the scope of this blog to go into detail on each Incoterm as it would take quite some time but as you’ve probably guessed, which Incoterm(s) you should be using depends on  various circumstances. Not least, your customer may ask you to deliver under a preferred set of Incoterms, so it’s wise to be well informed on what all 11 Incoterms mean and how to use them.

In my experience, the majority of companies that I deal with, tell me that they try to trade under EXW as its ‘Easy” and requires the minimum involvement in the logistics of delivering to their overseas customer.

Two Very Different Incoterm Examples

Using the following two examples, you can see there are two very different ways to achieve the same thing, namely getting a delivery of your goods to your customer.

Scenario One Using EXW

Here’s an example of what’s needed if you as a seller were to export under the Incoterm EXW (Ex Warehouse):

  1. Place of Delivery: The sellers warehouse door
  2. Risk Passes: At the sellers warehouse door
  3. Cost: Cost of production plus profit (or the price on the invoice)
  • Export packing (if required)

As you can see, by using EXW, you have very little work to do other than preparing the goods, boxing them up and have the shipment waiting at the named place (usually your warehouse door) ready for collection.

Delivery Ex Works is great if you can agree on that with your customer but what if they request any terms of delivery? This is where you’ll need to know and understand Incoterms rules.

Scenario Two Using CFR

Now let’s say that you’ve negotiated and landed a large order, that’s a profitable deal with a new customer and they’re potentially going to make many more orders in the future.

They don’t want to organise the logistics of collecting their order from your warehouse but instead want you to organise the delivery to them.  They ask you to complete the order under the Incoterm CFR and expect in this case, the you as the seller delivers.  This very much changes the work involved from the sellers point standpoint:

  1. Place of Delivery:  On board the vessel at named port (or inland waterway transport vessel)
  2. Transfer of Risk:  When goods are placed on board the vessel
  3. Division of cost:  Cost of production plus profit (or the price on the invoice)
  • Export packing if required
  • Export Entry Declared to HMRC
  • Weight Certificate
  • Transport to dock of Export
  • Terminal Handling Charges
  • Security check if required

Contrary to EXW, by trading under CFR there is much more work to do in preparing the order for export and transferring the shipment to the dock in order to be transported, not to mention you as the seller are extending your risk because you’re not “off the hook” until the goods are on the vessel.

There may also be a cost implication as you’ll have to cover transportation from your warehouse to the dock and the various documentation as listed above.

As a seller, EXW is preferable of course but there will be times where a buyer asks you for something different, so be prepared.  In this case you would need to know that trading under CFR will require the following:

  • You as the  seller must have a basic knowledge of the export procedure
  • Obtain Export Licence IF required
  • Arrange transport to port of loading
  • Make an export entry to HMRC
  • Register for EORI status
  • Obtain freight quotation from Freight Forwarder or direct from shipping line
  • Issue Bills of Lading Instructions
  • Arrange for Bills of Lading to be forwarded to the seller according to the method payment involved in the contract between seller and buyer

There’s much to understand in exporting your orders around the world and if you really want to grow to a global scale, you must have an excellent grasp of export procedure.

2020 Will See Radical Changes to Incoterms

International Chamber of Commerce

Since the first edition in 1936, The International Chamber of Commerce( ICC )has always reacted to changes in international trade and reflected this in their Incoterm revisions.

What’s Changing?

It looks like our old friend and much loved EXW is on the way out, which will make it a harder for the passive exporter who relied on EXW to free themselves from the logistics and paperwork involved in International trade. If you’re one of these guys, you will need to get to grips with the required documentation.

FCA looks as if its going to be split out as FCA land and FCA marine.

DDP is looking like it may also be on its way out to be may be replaced by two new terms, of which we don’t know yet but we will keep watching.

Lastly, just as we thought it wouldn’t get anymore complicated, the ICC may introduce three new terms:

DTP delivered paid to terminal
DPP delivered paid to place
CNI is just a proposed term that would fill the long overdue gap between FCA, CFR, CIF

It’s rumored that Incoterms 2020 will also address transport security and the relationship between Incoterms 2020 and the international sales contract as well as the regulations on transport insurance.

So there’s a lot in the working at the moment and seems like the new Incoterms 2020 could be quite a change and a step up. As soon as the ICC confirm the new terms, which they we expect to be around September 2019, we will be updating you with exact information and how it will effect you.

Import Export Training Course Online

We’re currently offering our online import export training course for just £199 so now’s a good time to get stuck in and get to grips not just with Incoterms but all aspects that you need in order to streamline your import export process and keep your profitability as strong as possible.

We were voted Best Trade Education Provider in 2017 by Trade Finance Global and our course has been validated by the London Institute of Shipping and Transport.

Check out our reviews on multiple sites and let us know if you have any questions.

Profit From Britain’s Greatest Export For Next To Nothing

Britain is a country of innovation and excellent quality products. There’s so many incredible exports the United Kingdom has to offer that the opportunities are literally endless.

“Can Do”

I’m a big believer in the “can do” mentality. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Walt Disney all started with an idea. They took that idea, believed in it and never stopped running with it. Here’s a reality check, the photo on the left was Jeff Bezos office in 1999.

He is now the world’s richest man and he achieved it in less than 20 years.

Britain’s Visiting Tourists Will Spend £26.3 billion In 2018

A friend recently asked me to help him think up a business importing exporting. As I got to thinking, I realised his biggest advantage is where he lives, Oxford. On doing just a small amount of research, the figures show that Britain’s tourism industry is huge and only getting stronger. Here’s a few facts from Visit Britain:

  • 2017 set a record for inbound tourism to the UK in terms of both visits and spend. There were 39.2 million visits to the UK in 2017, up 4.3% on 2016, with these visitors spending £24.5 billion, an 8.7% increase on 2016. The growth in visits was in line with the trend seen over the past five years. The growth in spending was the highest since 2013 and the second highest since 2006; spend per visit rose by 4.3%.
  • Our revised forecast for visits for the calendar year 2018 is for continued growth. We are forecasting 40.9 million visits in 2018, an increase of 4.4% on 2017. Our forecast for spending by visitors in 2018 is £26.3 billion, an increase of 7.1% on 2017.
  • London obviously receives the most visitors but Oxford is already 8th on the list

A very interesting article in The Guardian gave interesting statistics on the amount of Chinese tourists that are now travelling the globe and the UK.

The Back of Your Hand

£26.3 billion is more than enough to go around so why not take your slice? My friend has lived all his life in Oxford and knows it like the back of his hand. His whole network is there so rather than think too far afield I suggested he start at home. Why not create tours of Oxford with your own flare. Sure there’s people doing it already but there’s no market in the world that’s untouched and without competition. He knows Oxford better than anyone and can take visiting tourists not just to the usual sites but his favorite places.

He can try and negotiate deals with local businesses, many of which he already knows, offering his tour groups a discount if brings them.

Home On The Range

One of the points we teach in our free import export training tips is the have a range of products. Always easier to come away with a sale if you offer a range of products opposed to just one. Our Oxford tours idea is no different, which could offer several tours to cater to different audiences:

  • The Pub Crawl: Who doesn’t love a pub crawl. Take your guests on a tour of some of the best local pubs, try some of Britain’s best beers and ale’s!
  • Food Tasting: Tour Oxford’s tea rooms, fish and chip shops, bakery’s, the many places that my friend knows and loves. Ask if they will cater for a group offering smaller portions as a few hours of eating at different places means you can’t eat the usual full size plate.
  • Movie Sets: There’s many movies and series that have been filmed in part in Oxford, running a tour visiting these and giving some local insight is something tourists love to see.
A Captive Audience

Once the tour group is in front of you, there’s a captive audience. Personality will make a difference so interjecting this would make the tour more enjoyable, interact with the group and this builds levels of trust. Building on trust then look to sell products to the group. We all love a souvenir, so negotiating with local businesses that offer fine, perhaps hand made products and these can be offered to the group.

I suggested my friend also makes sure to get the groups contact email and any other details as many tourists will return to a holiday destination. They may want to take another of the tours or hear about newly created ones.

Get their feedback and make changes as that feedback suggests.

Export Britain

Perhaps another piece of the jigsaw is to then get an online ecommerce site and promote this to the same audience and export Britain around the world. See our blog post with practical advice on how to go about getting online and exporting globally, without having to have a huge budget.

Offering tours as well as fine British products online is a double income stream.

You Won’t Know Until You Do It

As you can see, setting up this business really won’t cost a fortune and all you’re doing is taking the knowledge you have and using it to build a business. Take what interests you have and stick to what you know, this is key. Focus on one thing to start with, then grow your business organically.

Once you start to get the audience, you can market to them. The UK has some fantastic products and places to see and millions of people from around the world come here to experience it every day.

Creating your own import export business isn’t rocket science, it just takes a thought and a little imagination.

What Is A Freight Forwarder?

A part of knowing how to export is knowing what a freight forwarder is and how they can help you with international shipping and logistics transportation, as at some point you’re very likely going to need to work with one.

When it comes to freight forwarding, there’s three main questions to answer:

  1. What is the role of a freight forwarder?
  2. How do I select a freight forwarder?
  3. How do I find a freight forwarder?

I ran my own freight forwarding small business for many years so I’m well qualified to answer all three of these questions and I hope it will become clear to you what the advantages of using a freight forwarder are in your supply chain.

What Does A Freight Forwarder Actually Do?

So let’s dive straight in and answer the question, “what is a freight forwarder?”.  When exporting, the most important thing to know is how to move your goods from the warehouse to your destination.  Unfortunately, once your exports get to a certain size, it’s not as easy as going to the post office or Fed Ex, paying the fee and sending.

Exporting larger loads is a multi-step process and that involves knowing how to find the most competitive freight rates, booking that freight for shipping, having to complete all the export documentation which can include an export entry, Certificate of Origin and Bill of Lading to name a few.

Gaining the knowledge for this is wise, so that you can understand, manage and control every step of the process yourself and therefore know firsthand where problems may lie in your export process and fix them in order to constantly streamline that process and become as efficient as possible. ABTS Training offers an online import export training course that will do exactly that; help you streamline your export process and get your cargo shipment through customs clearance and to it’s final destination.

However, if you don’t have the time to study as you’re juggling what may feel like a million things, there’s freight forwarding companies. A freight forwarder will take care of all these tasks for you and will likely offer other services such as export packing, warehousing and local transport. They become your adviser and hopefully someone you can trust.

What Can I Ask A Freight Forwarder?

In short, anything you want about freight and how to get your goods from your warehouse to your destination.  For example, if you need to get your products to China, you may want to ask them:

  • When is the next ocean freight vessel operating to Shanghai?
  • How much is it to ship a FCL to Shanghai?
  • What is the air freight rate for 40 kilos to Hong Kong?

A phone call or email to your freight forwarder may answer many of your questions and you’ll likely get  some free advice as you only pay when they undertake an export consignment for you and send you the invoice. As you can see, the advantage of using a freight forwarder is they are a one stop shop and will take care of your international freight needs for you. But as you know, when there’s an advantage, there’s many times, a disadvantage.

A Professional Freight Forwarder

The big disadvantage of completely relying on a freight forwarder for all your international trade needs is that, like in any industry, some freight forwarders can take advantage of the fact that you have little or no knowledge of exporting and charge you accordingly, you didn’t think freight forwarders work for free did you?

I stress only SOME, there’s bad eggs in every industry and the vast majority of forwarders are very professional and eager to help you. It goes without saying that a freight forwarder has to make a profit but that’s very different from ripping you off.

My advice is, by all means use the services of a freight forwarder BUT understand export procedures yourself so you have a working knowledge of freight rate structures and the real cost of producing export documentation. Once you know these facts you can work successfully with your freight forwarder and be sure you’re not being taken advantage of and working towards a solid long-term, professional relationship.

Know Your Freight Rates

Not knowing your costs has real consequences.  We had an exporter that joined our training course in order to gain the knowledge he needed to understand his export process from start to finish.  Until then, he had given all his exports to a freight forwarder and had never known what questions to ask or what the real-world cost was of exporting his goods.

He had worked so hard with suppliers, negotiated deals with them, found a market for his products, got the deals done to sell but at the last hurdle, he was taken advantage of.

As he had little to zero knowledge of freight rates or customs brokers and blindly trusted his freight forwarder this particular forwarder could see his lack of knowledge and as a result charged £7.06 per Kilo while a commercial rate was £2.60 per kilo. This ended up costing him thousands in extra fees that he didn’t need to pay and would have obviously given him a much, much healthier profit margin had he had that knowledge.

After completing our course, he fixed that problem and went on to build a very successful business.

The point of this example is to emphasise that it’s very wise to have a working knowledge of exporting, not to insinuate that all freight forwarders will overcharge the innocent. As I mentioned, I was a successful freight forwarder for many years without overcharging my clients. All my colleagues in the freight forwarding business gave a good service for a fair price.

Finding a Freight Forwarding Company

Finding a freight forwarder is as easy as searching for one on Google.  Finding one that’s going to work well for you, is slightly different.

Follow this very simple rule: make sure that the freight forwarder can give you the service YOU require not what they WANT to give you.

For example, if a freight forwarder is strong in sea and airfreight to South America and Australia and that they can offer you very competitive rates to these destinations but your market is the Middle East, this is not a well fitting partnership. This may sound obvious but many times I’ve seen savvy exporters use suppliers in one way or another that aren’t a good fit for them, just because a friend uses them or they have a good name in a certain area.

What To Ask Your Freight Forwarder

Before agreeing any business or contracts with a freight forwarder, you should make out a wish list with the level of service YOU require from a freight forwarder. Here is an example:

  1. Can you offer UK collection from my local suppliers (here name your suppliers address)? If so please quote.
  2. Can you offer competitive air freight rates from the UK to (your destination)? If so please quote up to 1000 kgs.
  3. Can you offer competitive rates FCL/LCL rates to (your destination)? If so please quote. (This is where a knowledge of Incoterms 2010 is needed).
  4. Please quote to prepare the following documentation: Bills of Lading, Certificates of Origin.
  5. Can you offer local warehousing and export packing? Please quote.
  6. Please name the contact person responsible for servicing my account.
  7. What are your terms of payment?
  8. Please send me a copy of your trading terms and conditions.

The above is just indicative of questions you should ask in order to get the service YOU require for your particular exports.

Finding A Freight Forwarder?

This is an easy answer thanks to Google. Just type in “freight forwarding in (here mention you town or city)” and you will be swamped with local contacts.

You can also check the BIFA or the International Freight Association website and they will supply you with a list of all Freight Forwarders who are members.

If you want to go it alone or use the services of a freight forwarder, either way you need to understand the business of exporting so take the time to get yourself up to speed.  You won’t regret it and it really will streamline your business and add to your profit margin.

Quick Guide

Hopefully our handy guide will help you.

What Is A Freight Forwarder

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How To Start Your Own Freight Forwarding Business

I setup up my own successful freight Forwarding business and eventually sold it after many years.  There’s a wealth of knowledge that I accumulated in that time and I became aware of all the pitfalls and problems so can advise on the best way to not only setup a freight forwarding business but also how to run it efficiently and profitably.

We will soon be launching a new  online course detailing how to setup and run your freight forwarding business which will be a very personal course leading you through vital stages of setting up and running your business with the minimum financial  outlay and achieving the the maximum profit.

If you are interested please contact us and we will let you know when we launch.

Sell Products Online

Once you know what is selling and how to export, the bigger question becomes, how do you sell products online to an international market?  The Internet is the obvious way to reach a global market and start selling without needing millions in advertising budgets through traditional advertising.  Our simple guide below explains the basics of getting your website online and key points to marketing.

How To Sell Online

That idea that began in your head, you acted on, you’ve found a way to take it and turn it into a reality. Congratulations indeed, you are part of the minority. For many, taking the risk, working that hard, probably your current job in the day, then getting home and working another shift on your own company is too much for the majority. Putting up your own money to finance your new company, keeping the motivation and drive can be difficult but you’ve not given up, what you’ve achieved is admirable and you’ve proven yourself braver than most.

You’ve achieved so much, you’ve sourced or are manufacturing your products, importing them to your warehouse and now you need to start selling online.

Online Marketplaces

Selling is not rocket science, you have to sell your products at a higher price than you buy them. However, especially in this day and age where competition is fierce, it’s easier said than done. It’s not easy but you already know that coming this far. You’re obviously up for the challenge. Selling globally is something that we can all do these days thanks to the Internet. That idea of making money and taking orders while you sleep is reality, potential customers can find your site any time of the day, enter their credit card details and buy your products.

Buy A Domain

Before you can think about selling any products, a domain name is where it all starts online – www.mysite.com. Registering one is easy enough, go over to Go Daddy, search for your name and register it. Two quick tips:

1. Think about registering a domain name with your main keyword in it can help with rankings. You can register two names, one being your company name and the other more keyword friendly. You can promote your company domain on business cards, letterheads etc. but promote the keyword rich one within Google and online.

Don’t overdo the keywords though, keep it simple as even a small business still has to look professional.

2. The longer you buy the domain for, it could help your ranking in Google. Google ranks websites on many hundreds of points so buying a domain for 10 years won’t get you to the top on it’s own but it’s something that Google does measure.

Google’s logic is simple, if you spend the money to register it for a long period of time, you plan on being around, opposed to someone who is taking it year by year.

Your Ecommerce Website

These days you can build yourself a website with an online store builder. Years ago this used to be an expensive and time consuming project but now it’s really become much more simple.

There are “open source” free ecommerce platforms out there for your new online business which will of course include a shopping cart, the most common being WordPress. You’ll need a little tech knowledge but there are so many free tutorials on Google for WordPress that at every step you’ll be able to fall back on some video help.

Magento is a second step up, more powerful as a ecommerce platform but you’ll need more tech knowledge.

Shopify is an option as somewhere you can setup shop quickly and easily but doesn’t give you all the control you may find you need.

WordPress may well be the best place to start. It used to be that you had to find a designer that would create your design then a coder to implement that design. Now you can simply go to a site like Template Monster and search for WordPress templates. Buy one, grab some hosting and install.

That is a little tricky and will take some time but here’s a quick guide on how to start . Check out Woocommerce as this is what you’ll need to install to actually run the ecomm side of your site but these days with a little study it’s entirely possible to create your own online store.

Selling Products Online

The temptation when building your shiny new website is to put everything you can think of in it. There’s literally thousands of free plugins and features you can add. Best advice, keep your own ecommerce website simple.

The advent of the internet has made us much less patient. If we can’t find what we’re looking for in a few seconds, we hit the back button and bounce off the site. The same will be true of your website; your competition is one click away. Keep things simple, clear, to the point and quick.

Search For It And Make It Snappy

A major part of online ecommerce is including a site search or a product search, especially if your site has many pages and/or products. Allow people to find what they want quickly. Quick being another key point for Google, as something else it looks for in the site speed.

If your site take a long time to load, Google penalises you. “Long” on the internet is measured in seconds. So keep your site light and make sure it loads quickly, especially on mobile as I’m sure you know, most of us access the web through our mobiles more than desktop now.

We’ve become especially impatient with the rise of the internet so make sure that if you really want to sell products online, your site and all pages load quickly.

Credit Card Required

In order to make money, you’re going to have to take money.  So obviously credit card payments are a necessity.


The latest and greatest way to do this in our opinion is with a company called Stripe, the best service for online selling sites. Their payment processing is fast, easy to integrate, their customer service is excellent and fees are very reasonable.

The way Stripe make their money is for each transaction they process, they take a small percentage.  Once the transaction is approved and in your Stripe account, they’ll automatically send the money to your bank account however many times per month you set in your Stripe account.

This could be once a month, once a week or even every day if you need that for your cashflow. They offer WordPress plugins to make it even more easy to integrate into your website.


The other alternative that’s been around for a long time is PayPal. PayPal isn’t as slick as Stripe and probably needs some updating but for those that have a PayPal account (and there are many that do), this can be a convenient way to pay.

PayPal allow users to enter their card details into their account and when they want to make a payment for a product, if they can pay by PayPal, they simply need to login and select that payment method.

The advantage to the user is that they don’t have to go and get their credit card and enter the details because it’s already setup.

Our advice is to have both available on your website so your customer can choose the most convenient payment method for them.

FREE Import Export Training
Learn how to start your own import export business.

Speak Their Language

We all want to sell products online globally to clients worldwide but remember you’re  going to have to speak to them. Translations of the site will be needed.

You can try and sell to Spain in English but your sales will inevitably be stronger if you sell in Spanish. You’ll also have to consider what you’ll do if you have a Spanish customer that has an issue and can only talk in Spanish, a problem if you only speak English.

Customer Service Will Sell Products Online

One of the biggest lessons in knowing how to sell products online, can and should be learned from Zappos. Zappos has sold a billion dollars worth of shoes so if there’s anyone to learn from, it’s these guys. Customer service wins loyalty. When we call a company, we want to speak to a human, we don’t want to dial more numbers to get there, we want a response quickly.

If we have a problem or a complaint, make it right. The best way of keeping customers loyal is to deal with problems and issues, quickly and to fix the problem. We all understand that there are problems in life, it’s how you correct them that can make a disgruntled customer, a happy and forever loyal customer.

Make that happen. Have a read on Forbes about Zappos customer service. This is something that needs to be in place from the very beginning and should not be outsourced.  No one outside of your company is ever going to care as much as you.


Install Google Analytics on your site, it’s free. Setup goals and study the data. Without knowing what your audience is looking at on your site, what’s working, what’s not working, you won’t be able to progress. Analytics offers a wealth of information for you to study. Without using this, you’re blind.

Selling products online successfully means analysing data. Where are your users coming from, how long do they stay on the site, what are your most popular pages?  You’ll need to study these metrics and keep refining until you have good conversion rates.

Where’s The Traffic?

After all this, you may find yourself wondering why you’re not getting any traffic or sales. Well, there’s around 645 million websites online today. How are people going to find yours if you don’t tell them about it? Means more work but we already know you’re not scared of that! Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking.

Google Adwords

Getting a high ranking in Google is what we all want but it’s no easy task. It takes time and a lot of work. A quick way to Google is using Adwords. Pay to appear at the top of Google. Yes it means you have to find more funds but it’s a quick way to get off the ground. The other advantage is that it will give you an idea of traffic, whether your site is working well, if you have customers calling you you’ll understand their needs better.


WordPress is actually a blogging platform so use it. Create blogs that are interesting and relevant to people. I hope you are finding this blog useful and that you’re benefiting from the information. The next post I write, you will hopefully be interested in and continue to read. Over time, I hope you’ll become a loyal follower and share the information I’m writing about with others that will find it useful. The same applies to whatever you’re doing.

Don’t write blogs where you’re simply trying to get people to buy what you’re selling, drive people to your site with interesting and relevant content, then they may visit your site and look deeper, perhaps taking the plunge and buying something.

For example, if you sell cakes, don’t just try and sell your cakes on your blog. You can write recipes, make a few videos of how to make the best brownies at home, what are some of the best ingredients to use in cakes, what are your favorite cakes, whats the best cake tin…you get the idea. These subjects will be more interesting and if you post them out on social media, may get a lot more interest than, “Please Buy My Great Cakes”.

Be Social

Once you’ve written those great blogs or created a few great videos, send them out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and all the networks. Use hashtags to gain more exposure.

The main thing to remember is not to get bored and give up. Blogging and gaining traffic takes time, you need to think of this as a 12 – 18 month project, it won’t happen over night. Be consistent and you’ll get there.

Sell Products Online With a Piggyback

Another idea is to use sites that allow you to sell but take a commission. This may not work for you if you’re working off tight commissions but in the long term it can still work, so consider it. Sites like Not On The High Street, Etsy and even Amazon and Ebay can really work to springboard some product awareness.

By adding your products to these, you’ll have to pay a commission on sales but you’re products may start to get exposure and any sales, means you’ll have the details of that customer to market to in future. Rather than looking at it as a commission on sales, you could look at it as paying to gain the customer.

Email Lists

Last point is to make sure you’re creating an email list of users. It’s an old form of marketing now but it’s still effective. It’s easier to sell products online to people that have shown an interest in what you’re offering and made an effort for you to keep in touch with them.

Offer something for free on you’re site, a discount, an ebook, a free cake! Get the user to leave their email and you’ll be able to keep them up to date with new products, discounts and other exciting bits and pieces!

Download our Quick Guide:
How to Export and Sell Globally

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Creating your website, marketing and learning to sell products online is it’s own is a full time job so eventually, once your online business really takes off you may find yourself needing at least one dedicated person to working on this.

Nothing tends to happen quickly when it comes to the web either, there are so many platforms and browsers that to get a website to work on everything can take some fiddling and therefore time.

Make an overall plan for your website and stick to that and get it launched.  You can and will continue to tweak it after that until you find the recipe that works for you.  Perseverance is what will be needed so don’t give up and be ready for the long term game.

I hope this information helps get you off the ground towards finding your global market place and if it did, perhaps share it with others! (See what I did there?!)

Negotiation Styles And Strategies

Negotiation is a fundamental part of business itself and international trading.  You’ll negotiate every part of a deal from sourcing your products from suppliers, dealing with wholesalers and retailers, negotiating price and therefore your profit margin as well as the terms of delivery.  Understanding negotiation styles is one of the cornerstones to making any business successful not just importing and exporting.

Negotiation Skills

Deals come in all shapes and sizes but they are really only effective when both sides are happy and create value.  Making a deal where you get everything but the other side comes away with nothing, in the long run won’t prove to be effective business negotiations as you could find yourself dealing with someone who’s unmotivated and doesn’t care about losing your business, therefore gives you a terrible or non existent customer service, won’t address your concerns and perhaps cut as many corners as possible to save on their budget, giving you little value.

Effective negotiations works when both sides gain and there’s a compromising style. Both sides are then motivated and want to work together for the long term, working toward conflict resolution and continually trying to better the service and relationship.

Personal Negotiation Strategies

This is really important to understand: Many deals are negotiated based on matching personalities and a collaborative style, not cost alone. If you can find something in common and personalities work well, this can seal the deal and is a much more effective negotiating style.

Negotiating a deal is much easier when you like the person you’re dealing with.  Think about how much sense that makes for a second.  If you’re negotiating with someone who’s hard headed, stubborn or arrogant and wants only what they want, you probably won’t be that interested in getting the deal done. You’ll see them as someone who’s probably going to cause you a lot of stress and grief as time goes on, which no matter who much money may be on the table, you’ll really have to consider if it’s worth it.

On the other hand, if you’re meeting with someone who’s relaxed and friendly, someone  you can meet for a beer and discuss business, this is a much more likable scenario. They still know and understands business but you can see they’ll be good to work with, understanding when things go wrong and someone that will work with you for a solution, this type of person or relationship is much more appealing.  Money will always be important but may not always be the priority.

Getting to know the person your negotiating with a little can go a long way.

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The Art of Negotiation

Imagine you’ve got a great idea, you’ve spend months researching it, you’ve spent hard earned money getting the idea off the ground. This is now your baby, you’re excited, you love seeing this idea that started in your head, grow and become a reality.  The next phase is to meet two suppliers for example.

Approaches to Negotiation

The first is a guy who sits across the desk, asks what you want, looks it up, tells you he can do it, gives you a good price and leaves you to it.

The second is someone that takes the time to grab a coffee with you, wants to hear about how you came up with your idea, what steps you’ve taken to get the project to the point it’s at and wants to know about some of the obstacles you’ve faced. They show an interest in your baby, they show some enthusiasm and excitement and understand your project.

Perhaps they ask what other companies or people you’re working with as they may have a relationship with them as well something that could be a mutual benefit.  They ask how you plan to move the project forward, perhaps suggesting they introduce you to a couple of people in their business network that would benefit you as well as ask what problems you foresee in the future to see if they can help combat some of these which already shows and understanding of conflict management.

The price they give you is higher than the first but still just within your budget.  Which of those negotiation tactics do you think are better?

A comparison of different negotiation styles but being enthusiastic, taking the time to learn a little goes a long, long way.

Negotiation Training

Negotiation Styles

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Step 1:  Defining Objectives And Targets: Start with preparing your “L-I-M”.

1. Recognizing the objectives you would LIKE (L) to achieve. What does the perfect deal look like to you? Be realistic with this and make sure it’s not totally one sided. As mentioned, you don’t want anyone unmotivated on the other side and this is a key part of negotiation skills training.

2. Identify what objectives you INTEND (I) to achieve. Knowing what your objectives are will keep you focused, don’t lose track of these and make sure these are the prioritised in case you have to sacrifice one or two.

3. Finally, recognize the MINIMUM (M) you’ll accept. Know when you’ll walk away. If you cannot achieve what you need minimally from the deal, there will be no point in continuing the discussion.  In these cases, don’t burn your bridges as you never in in future if you can’t do a deal again but be prepared to walk away.

Step 2:  Setting The Negotiation Strategy

Are you working towards a Win-Win or a Win-Lose strategy? A win-win leads to collaboration, mutual interest, flexibility, joint problem solving and harmony between the parties, a good strategy for a long term relationships.

A win-lose strategy can lead to conflict, inflexibility, competition, one side beating the other and adversarialism. This strategy can be used effectively in one-off deals but be careful as if you need to come back and do another deal, you may find yourself with the door being shut in your face.

Of the two different negotiating styles, the first will produce a better deal.

Step 3:  An Active Listening Negotiation Style

Concentrate on what is being discussed. Don’t answer back or interrupt. Try to understand the other persons point of view and don’t jump to conclusions. Understand what you’re being told and put yourself in their position, try and think from their side how you can bridge the gap.

Collaborative negotiators find more success in achieving what they want with an accommodating negotiation style.

Step 4:  Methods Of Persuasion

One or several of the following 5 styles of negotiation can be used, depending on the circumstances:

  • Logic:  A simple strategy, laying our the facts, the positives, the negatives and talking them through.
  • Bargaining Style: We’ve seen this many times on Dragon’s Den! Back and forth trying to find the acceptable middle ground.  Using a collaborative negotiation style in general works well as it shows your willingness to work with the other party.  Know what you will give up, and feel out what will the other person give up to make a deal. Be realistic with what you’re going to bargain with or the other side may not take you seriously and that could kill the deal.
  • Emotion: Someone that likes you will want to work with you. Find what you have in common, sometimes even ask about their family, do you have kids the same age, family that live in the same town. These things can help to find common ground.
  • Threats: Not perhaps the best or first course of action but it threats have their place as a conflict negotiation styles go and obviously a competing style to bargaining. If you are the client, you can threaten to take your business elsewhere unless they give you some kind of a better deal. Sometimes there is only so much the other side can do, they cannot sell to you at a lost for a sustained period obviously so use this tactic sensitively and realistically.
  • Compromise and Negotiation: Of these five styles of negotiation, find the compromise through dialog is likely the most effective. Chat back and forth, listen and compromise.

Five negotiation styles for you to consider and it’s up to you to select the correct one(s) for the particular situation you’re in.  Make sure you have a very good idea of what you want and what you’ll sacrifice before you go into battle but remember, compromise and negotiation is the attitude to have.  Winning the battle does not mean you’ll win the war!

Step 5:  Style It Out

Find your own style; warm, a little humorous, tough, logical, all business? Negotiations are personality driven and a key leadership skill that you need in business. Personalities will either get along or clash. Find a way to get along and recognize these personality traits in the other party and respond accordingly.

Hopefully some of these techniques will help you put together a collaborative negotiation strategy. These probably aren’t Harvard negotiation styles but they are styles that have come from doing practical business day-to-day with international traders.

Bare in mind, that traders know their business, they know their figures and they know what they can and can’t do and negotiation styles in different countries can vary somewhat, so be open to this. You’ll come to understand this the more you negotiate deals in any particular country.

We’re all out to make a profit, we all need to make a profit so look to negotiate a deal that’s ultimately fair on both sides. This is what works best and will generate longer lasting business relationships.

We would love to hear how you get on or what tips you have for a successful negotiation, so feel free to contact us in the comments below.

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