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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 your exporting process.  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.

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. 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.
How Many and What Are They?

There are 11 Incoterms that are divided into 4 categories.  There are new Incoterms due to be developed for 2020 so this may increase but these are currently the 11 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 (Delivery Duty Paid)
Which One 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 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 your 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.

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.  This very much changes the work involved from the sellers point standpoint:

  1. Place of Delivery:  On board the 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.

Import Export Training Course Online

We’re currently offering our online import export training course for just £99 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 and How Do They Help Me Export?

Knowing what a freight forwarder is and how they can help you with your exporting process is really importing 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 company for many years so I am well qualified to answer all three of these questions and I hope it will become clear to you the advantages of using a freight forwarder.

Exporting Isn’t The Same As Going To The Post Office

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.

However, if you don’t have the time to study as you’re juggling what may feel like a million things, there’s freight forwarders. A freight forwarder will take care of all these tasks for you and will likeley 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 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 vessel sailing for your 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 the entire process for you. But as you know, when there’s an advantage, there’s many times, a disadvantage.

A Little Knowledge Weeds Out The Bad Eggs

The big disadvantage of completely relying on a freight forwarder 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 What It Costs Or It’ll Cost You!

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 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 Forwarder

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.

We All Have A Wish List

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 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

How To Export And Sell Online To A Global Audience

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

The Big Idea

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 they’re selling. The next question now is, how to sell to more of your products and how to sell to a global market?

It’s Not Easy But You Already Know That

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.

Buy A Domain

A domain 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. 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 and 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.

Build Your Site

It’s obvious but the best thing you can do is build yourself a website. 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 website platforms out there, the most common being WordPress. You will 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.

Keep It Simple

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 it 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

Add 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.

Speak Their Language

If you want to be global with clients worldwide, 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 Is All That Matters

Lessons 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.

Analytics

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.

Why No Traffic Jam?

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.

Blogging

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.

Take 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. 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!

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?!)

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How to Export and Sell Globally

Starting a Successful Import Export Business

All businesses have a degree of risk. About 50% of new businesses fold within the first year of trading. In other words, only 50% of start up businesses are SUCCESSFUL. What factors contribute to their success? We can start with a raw skill set such as determination, self belief, a desire to succeed together with the desire to determine your own future as well as the will to build your own business. 100% of start up business owners have these attributes so what makes only 50% successful?

As well as these qualities, it’s vital to have the right knowledge of the industry. Offering the right product, having the right product knowledge, having the ability to foresee potential problems and make suitable provisions and have the ability to understand the details of your business as well as understanding finance and cash flow and of course the ability to ‘balance the books’.

You’ll need all the above raw skills plus the specialised knowledge particular to an export import business.

This knowledge is a requirement before you start trading. Learning on the job is fatal, as too many mistakes will put you out of business very quickly. You must have these skills BEFORE you start up your Export Import business or you’ll find yourself as part of the 50% of unsuccessful businesses very quickly.

So what knowledge is needed? Let’s look at just a few of the international trading terms and subjects you will need to understand:

  • Understanding terms of delivery
  • Ability to prepare a contract
  • Ability to understand customs procedures
  • Sourcing worldwide
  • Shipping procedures
  • Market research
  • Methods of payment

Remember, this is just a part of the knowledge you must learn and understand BEFORE you start trading. They are the tip of the iceberg.

ABTS Training will be holding a FREE webinar on Friday 26th June which will address some of the problems associated with starting up your Import Export business. The webinar will also identify and explain some of the points above that you will need to understand to help you kick start your business.

Sign up now and get a kick start to starting your business.