Published March 10, 2009

How to Start an Online Import and Export Business

Build and Advertise Your Website

Your import and export business website must be both informative and attractive if you are to build a solid customer base. Link it to major search engine sites, so that the name of your business appears in every related search.

You also need advertise your new import and export business website. Advertise not only on the Internet, but also in other media outlets such as newspapers and magazines. Mention your website address prominently in these advertisements.

You may also have to advertise in the countries where you plan to export to or import items from.

Plan Your Product Range

To start an import export business and make it successful, you need to decide well in advance the types of products you wish to import or export. You can expand your product line as you see that certain types of products are more popular - this way, you will eventually increase your business.

You should also include a link on your website that will allow customers to ask questions about specific products or services that your business offers.

Deal Only With Reputable Vendors

When procuring your customers' orders, deal only with reputable suppliers who can and will deliver their products on time. After all, your reputation is "online" too.

Make sure that you secure any details concerning warranties and replacement products in writing.

Know All Import Export Rules

You will have to employ a knowledgeable team of professionals who are well versed in commerce rules and regulations with respect to the countries in which you plan to do business.

When it comes to importing and exporting products, you need to know the duty structures well before you quote your final selling price to customers - otherwise, you risk losing profits in the process.

Apply for all required licenses and permits before executing any sales transaction.

Avoid Logistical Errors

On the back end, even though your sales office might be a virtual one, you will need a warehouse to store your goods before they are shipped to your customers. You might need warehouses in different countries as well, depending on the scale of your import and export business.

For small businesses, an international courier service might be sufficient to deliver your products.

Never Underestimate the Power of Communication

Communicating effectively with all members of your team is very important. Your online import and export business needs to operate efficiently in order to be successful. Customers will expect that their questions will be addressed promptly. Not doing so will cost you valuable business and lost profits.

Make sure your customers are satisfied with the products and the service that they have received.

Offer Unique Products and Services

When you start an import export business you should be able to offer products that are not available elsewhere. By creating demand for a product or service, you will increase your business' sales. Remember that customers who are satisfied with your services will spread the news to others - word of mouth referrals are priceless.

Make the most out of every sales opportunity. Follow up every sale with a phone call or email. Offer additional discounts to repeat customers - this sort of marketing will increase your business.

It's easy to start an import and export business on the Internet, provided you have done the research necessary to be successful in the first place. There are endless possibilities to increasing sales and profits - but only if you can deliver to your customers.