Knitting in the Rockys wrote:
Most small businesses don't get into shipping inte... (
You are right about the red tape and documentation. It gets worse every year and that is for both import and export. Every item has to have a specific number, some items require a totally different set of documents, we have to employ a customs broker these days because it's so complex, and still import is never smooth. Export is easier, but you have to stay with the bigger shipping companies to get the service you need to make it easier for the customers, that costs more, too. We had to establish ourselves as a reputable business and we have to maintain that reputation to keep things doable. Just being reputable isn't enough, you have to continuously prove it, it seems.
We ship internationally frequently and our products and supplies for building are usually from India, France, and Germany. Already import shipping is so high that we have to keep our prices higher than we would wish to.
We have some really excellent customers down under and they usually wait until they can make a large order to make the shipping have less impact.. Overseas customers often do not have us build custom instruments for them because the shipping costs more than the instruments. Our Canadian customers often combine a custom instrument with a class because they can pay less for fuel and lodging to stay several days than it costs to ship over a border. (I am not speaking of duty and customs, that costs the same regardless of how you move the product across the border.)
Customers these days want free shipping, the only way we can do that is to raise our prices to cover shipping. That doesn't seem fair to our customers who are very near - shipping to them is much less expensive than to those across the country. So we keep the prices down and only give free shipping on higher dollar amounts, and that only in the contiguous US and almost never for very heavy or very large items. It is just not possible for international shipments. I am hoping that customers are aware of the shippers price hikes and don't think we've gone nuts. Already the Post Office has converted to dimensional weights, that has raised shipping on a lot of our items, too. It is really disappointing to see an abandoned cart from a customer in the UK who cancelled when they discovered how much the shipping would be.
The upside might be that this might encourage local factories to tool up again. We try to buy as much as we can locally but a lot of things we need are no longer made in this country. I will be interested (and concerned about) how this will affect the economy. Cheap imports have led to a lot of US factories shutting down, unemployment is really high.
If shipping goes up too high it could just stall everything out, there's not much use in importing things to sell if nobody can afford to buy them.