If you’ve received your first export order, these are the main things to consider:
Did this come from a quotation or from your website
If you quoted do you have terms & conditions on your website that impact on this order? (we can check later whether they are internationalised once you’ve sent this order)
Has the buyer accepted your offer but sent his own T&Cs? (The last T&Cs to be exchanged are the ones that dictate the contract of sale.)
Was the result of an email exchange? If yes, do print the trail and make sure you haven’t committed yourself to anything you cannot do.
If this is the result of a conversation – it may be as well to confirm your understanding of the commitments, you have both made and share it with your customer to be sure that there are no problems later in the process.
Can you fulfil this order on time?
Make sure that you haven’t over-committed or over promised – check the deadline or due date and be sure you let the buyer know if you can’t stick to it – better now at this stage of the order than disappointment later in the process.
If you need to do overtime to make this order on time – how does that impact on your costs and breakeven calculations – is it still viable?
Transporting the goods
What have you agreed? Is there an Incoterm®2020 quoted that you can use to understand what your obligations are as the seller and those of your buyer?
Check order received from the buyer to see if they have stipulated any specific transport routes or carriers that must be used.
Do you know how large your consignment is?
Make sure you have a reliable packing list for the goods.
Are there any special packing arrangements or marking the consignment needs?
Check with the carrier/freight forwarders amount the cost of the freight and that if you are paying for this or it was included in the quotation that you can still make a profit – if not go back and talk to the buyer
What insurance cover do you need?
Basic in-transit – from a-b in the UK
Marine or cargo insurance if travelling from a port or airport
Product liability for when your product is sold in the new market – what would happen if anything were to go wrong?
Have you offered any advice with this product you may need to look at professional indemnity insurance?
You may even want to insure the invoice debt to make your first order secure in payment terms
Documents you need
A commercial invoice showing full commercial value
A packing list (if more than one carton) must be clear on the contents of each carton.
A shipping note, or transport document evidencing shipping instructions
Certificate of shipment/Air waybill/Bill of lading
Any certificates of origin EU or Arab British Chamber
Any food/drink, military dual use/antiquities works of art all need special export licenses or certificates of health or perhaps providence.
What are the terms of payment?
This should be clear at the outset especially if you are dealing with 2nd or 3rd world markets where the banking systems may regulate payment in foreign currencies like sterling or dollars. Sometimes, if the country you’re dealing with has a non-convertible currency you may have to wait for your buyer to get clearance from their government through their bank.
Remember there is a cost of collecting money, cheques are relatively cheap here in the UK but can cost more internationally – so check that this is not going to impact on the margin you hope to make from this sale.
Payment and shipping
If you haven’t charged VAT but made sure you have the VAT (or equivalent local tax) registration number and checked that it exists, they make sure that you have evidence that the goods have left the country for HMRC audit purposes.
Certificate of shipments need to satisfy the customer if any issues should arise so check what they consider acceptable for this first order.
Make sure you have complied will all the customers required paperwork, they may need additional papers to get things through their customs or local banking regulations.
Take the money to the bank or enjoy reading your bank statement with this new customer sales revenue in place!