When your business is importing or exporting goods, an obvious question is how long products take to ship. Are there certain types of products that generally take longer to ship internationally than others? Should that determine which industry or products you choose for your import/export business? Shipping times are definitely a factor when selecting which products to import or export, but it’s not the only thing to consider.
Shipping times depend on the carrier, not the product
Unless you’re dealing with prohibited or restricted items (see below), shipping times aren’t necessarily determined by product. Rather, it’s the carrier you choose who will influence your shipping times. Once you have an idea of the products you’d like to ship, you should research options for carriers who can move those products, and their typical shipping times.
When you’re looking to start an import/export business in Canada, you may specialise in a certain product or industry. Unless you want to ship products that are restricted or prohibited at the border, the length of shipping times shouldn’t be the main factor in your choice of product.
If you’re new to shipping products across borders, you can also consult with a customs broker, who will have a better idea of which carriers will be suited to moving your products.
Restricted or prohibited items
The following items are either prohibited or restricted at the Canadian border. They’re more likely to produce longer shipping times by getting stopped and inspected as they travel into Canada.
- Animal skins
- Articles of exceptional value
- Perishables (i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables)
- Human or animal remains or parts
- Ivory and ivory products
- Pornographic materials
- Seeds and plants
Some restricted items can move in and out of Canada if you have made prior arrangements with the carrier, such as alcohol and tobacco products. It’s possible one carrier may completely prohibit a product while another may allow it, so researching carrier options should be one of your first steps when starting an import/export business.
How to choose the right product for your import-export business
Shipping times may not be the most important factor in choosing an industry for your import/export business, but it’s still worth some consideration. There are also other, more reliable ways to choose the best industry or products for your import/export business, such as looking at market trends or finding a good niche.
1. Choose your market
One way to determine the best products for your import/export business is looking at your market. If you’re exporting to another country, which goods are popular there? What will buyers in that country be most interested in? If you’re exporting to the U.S., for example, you can easily find U.S. market trends and the biggest import industries if those are industries you want to be in.
2. Study the market trends for your potential product
When you have a general sense of the import or export trends in your market and you’ve narrowed down your product choices, you should study the trends for your particular products. If you’ve chosen to export to the U.S. or Mexico, for example, then looking at these countries’ major exports can help you eliminate choices for your import/export business. You can also look at Canada’s biggest imports to see what kind of products are in the highest demand domestically.
3. Appeal to the right niche
Looking at market trends are a great place to start when choosing products for your import/export business, but appealing to a certain niche can help you choose as well. A niche would be a market that’s small enough to target certain consumers, but large enough that you can still be profitable importing these products.
4. Have a passion for the product or industry
If you dislike a product or don’t care about it, you’ll have a hard time running your import/export business around it! You will have to talk up your product to buyers and get them interested, so choose something you’re passionate about. If you’re importing products that consumers can get locally, you’ll also have to convince them why your imported goods are a better choice.
5. Understand the paperwork
There will always be rules and regulations to follow when shipping goods across borders. The products you’ve chosen may have restrictions, such as quantity limitations, tariffs, or required permits and licenses. After researching the logistical requirements, you may learn that the product you wanted to import will carry too many restrictions to be profitable and you may have to choose something else. And when it comes to paperwork needed to clear your items through customs, a certified customs broker can help you stay compliant.
Working with a customs broker
Understanding shipping times, trade restrictions, and market trends can help you identify the best products for your new import/export business. When you’re ready to move your goods across borders, BorderBuddy can lend you our expertise as a customs broker and help you stay compliant with border authorities. If your business needs advice on customs clearance, call us today.