Sending your cargo overseas with unclear, incorrect or inconsistent export documents is the best way for you to turn a profitable sale into a major problem for you and your importer.
Incorrect documentation causes freight forwarders to spend more time making corrections (which costs you more money) and often results in delayed or even sometimes quarantined cargo – which is the official way of saying ship it back or we are going to destroy it.
A good set of export docs should not be difficult or overly onerous. It’s just a process and one a business should seek to confirm early in their export adventures.
Over the years, we have worked with a range of companies, from some of Australia’s largest brands to small start-ups with global aspirations, and what is common across all of them is that they see export documents as a significant challenge.
We often hear comments like:
- Export documents take me so much time.
- I am forever going back to make corrections to my export documentation.
- I export to 3 countries and each destination wants something different.
International trade is well……. International, and to help facilitate that, there is one very important organisation that works to unify the trade in goods and services. It’s the ICC, otherwise known as the International Chamber of Commerce. In the interests of getting to the point, let’s just say these guys set the rules we play by and, for this discussion, specify exactly what constitutes good export documentation.
It’s all but guaranteed you have come across the acronyms EXW, FOB, CIF etc. in your export dealings. These acronyms are known as Incoterms. That’s from these guys and they are internationally accepted and legally enforceable trade terms spanning as many different legal systems as there are countries.
Why is this important? Because the ICC also sets the standards for exactly what information should be included on your export documentation and how they should be presented.
For an exporter this is very important. No longer do we have one invoice template being created for China and a different template being used for Taiwan.
“But my customer says that it must be done this way.”
We have heard this many times before and we will confidently tell you, it’s more likely that this importer has misunderstood some instruction at some point and they are now giving you directions on how to draft your export documentation.
If you’re in a position to accommodate different document templates for different markets, then that’s fantastic. But, it’s more likely that your margins have been squeezed, you have spent way too much time arguing why you can’t modify your packaging and the amount of emails your team have sent back and forth to get this deal over the line has killed any profit you thought you were going to earn. You’re now starting to think, Export……is it really worth it?
It definitely is but you have to be smart from the start.
Introduce a document set that is ICC compliant, accepted internationally and includes all the information that even the most fastidious customs officials in your destination market could be seeking. There will always be a buyer that needs a small change and we are not saying that you don’t accommodate, but you should limit what you are willing to do. Especially when it leads to your team making errors as these are costly.
How do we simplify docs for our clients? We subscribe to a software program called intertrade docs. Its compliant, extremely versatile and most importantly, ensures consistency.
Who is CVEN?
CVEN is an Australian based export consulting business. We work with some of Australia’s newest exporters to our largest national brands. Every day we build leads, negotiate contracts, collate documentation and send things overseas and the pathways we build for clients are the direct result of our international trade experience.
CVEN is different – we export.