8 considerations before exporting your product to the world

Looking to export something from Australia and need help understanding the process?

If you’re a producer of a particular product and you’d like to expand to different markets, you might not know the hurdles you’ll have to jump over to get it out there successfully.

The last thing you want is to have your product sitting in a dock in Hong Kong, all because you missed a key piece of paperwork that will set you back weeks, and sometimes, months. As a result, there’s the missed opportunity of lost revenue that will frustrate you to no end.

Below is a helpful checklist to ensure that your product gets from your base here in Australia to your overseas market seamlessly.

  • If you’re exporting your product overseas the first and most important part is your packaging. Not only do you want to make a good impression, so they continue to purchase from you, but why not make their job easier in the process? If you’re sending a full container, will they be able to unload it easily at the other side? You can always photograph each container to make sure they understand what they are receiving? Put heavy cargo on good quality pallets that won’t break apart or collapse under weight. If you’re sending LCL (Less than a container load) good quality pallets are a MUST! Make sure you use either plastic or ISPM15 treated timber to avoid any potential issues with local quarantine.
  • Confirm if the commodity is safe to transport. If you’re sending Dangerous Goods, you will need to provide the appropriate documentation and packaging. Check with your forwarder regarding the specific requirements.
  • Complete an SLI! Many forwarders don’t ask you for a Shippers Letter of Instruction, however based on experience, having clear written instructions for your forwarder is essential. An SLI template can be found here. This template includes instructions on Contact Information, Documentation, Collection, Handling, and any special notes for the importer. It’s far better to have too much information than being left in the dark!
  • Know your Incoterms. Make sure your commercial documents clearly state who is paying for what. The most common term for exporters is CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight), however your client could have different requirements. Make sure you clarify this prior to shipping.
  • Make sure your customer can legally import the product. In some cases, you need an Import Permit for specific commodities. make sure this is obtained/confirmed prior to the time of export.
  • Do a packing list! Clearly mark the Length, Width, Height, and Weight of your cargo. Even photograph each piece to make sure the forwarder has the correct dimensions. Once you have obtained these, include a copy with the SLI.
  • Get Paid! Make sure your forwarder and their overseas agent does not release the cargo to your customer without payment.
  • If you’re sending and Original Bill of Landing, make sure you keep an eye on the transit time to destination. On the flip side, any delays in receiving the documentation can be costly for your customer.

We hope the above checklist is useful next time you export goods overseas. If you have any helpful tips or suggestions please, let us know!