You are an entrepreneur and you have decided to import products from outside the EU – smart move! You take advantage of the low production and labor costs in some parts of the world. Despite the long journey that the goods have to make, there is a nice margin to make by selling these products in the Netherlands. But make no mistake, there are some drawbacks you must be aware of before getting started. Let’s go over them.
Get started on the right foot
You shouldn’t pass up on good ideas. Do something about it or live wondering – what if? But the world of international trade is complex. You have to deal with legislation in different countries, borders, customs controls, carriers, manufacturers, the domestic market, technology and of course people. And what do we humans have in common? Right, we make mistakes sometimes. Mistakes can always happen, but when it comes to your business they can be costly. Do the research and spend time drafting a thorough logistics plan. If you don’t, things are always bound to go wrong with the production, transport or administration of your goods. Or they arrive well in the Netherlands, but you can’t sell them. Prevent this by doing thorough market research.
Every culture has its peculiarities
Doing business is largely a social process. You make contact with people from another part of the world. How do you address each other? What can and cannot be asked for? How should you ask questions? Western thinking dominates worldwide, but it is still wise to read up on the other business culture. Perhaps you find success precisely because you know exactly that one form of interaction that your business partners prefer. Being informed will make you appear respectful and prepared. The last thing you want to do is offend or embarrass a potential business partner. In certain regions, communication in a business setting is more subtle than you may be used to in the Netherlands.
Even if you’re just getting started as an online store owner, you should already try to look into the future of your business. What if your trade is a resounding success? Consider the scalability of your product(s) and company. If your company is growing at a tremendous speed, can you handle it? Come up with plans to improve the logistics chain to avoid delays. Customers don’t like to wait for their products. Keep communicating with your customers and be transparent. There is nothing more annoying for a consumer than unreachable customer service.
China is huge, almost as big as all of Europe. Is a factory located in the interior of North China? Then the transport first has to go hundreds of kilometers over land to the port, and then 31 to 36 days at sea before it reaches Rotterdam. Anticipate this by ordering on time and avoiding dissatisfied customers.
You cannot just simply launch products on the European market. The products must comply with EU directives. The labeling must be clear and in the correct language, and the products must be safe according to CE standard. Check the general product requirements that apply here.
Be aware that, in the absence of the manufacturer, in the EU you are responsible for the quality and safety of the goods you sell. This means that if (injury) damage occurs as a result of a faulty product, you are liable. Cover yourself up and purchase product liability insurance.
At the beginning and end of the route, goods are subject to customs inspection. All paperwork must be correct to avoid delays. You need at least an invoice, packing list and bill of lading. But for many product categories, specific rules apply and even more documents are needed. Import duties and VAT must be paid on goods from outside the EU. There are calculations for this, based on category and origin. The classification is extremely detailed and difficult to fathom if you are not familiar with this matter. A customs broker is, certainly one with 40 years of experience such as Ademar BV from Rotterdam. Ademar can guide your cargo from start to finish. This way you as an entrepreneur have your products without any worries in the Netherlands. Call or email Ademar for more information.