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overseas suppliers - Informed Compliance for e-Tailers - 3 Ways to Minimize Your Importing Risks

by Chris Malta

If you're apprehensive about sourcing inventory from overseas, you're not alone. Many online retailers shy away from importing because of the legal liability associated with it. But by dismissing importing offhand, you're losing out on both substantial overhead savings and access to goods that aren't yet domestically available.

The concept of "informed compliance", according to Kelby Woodard, principal of import consulting firm TradeInnovations.com, isn't as frightening as it sounds. It's really just a term that means the U.S. government is legally responsible for making all necessary information on Customs regulations available to importers. And importers are, in turn, legally responsible for educating themselves on those regulations and abiding by them.

Importing Resources
Importing products safely, then, is just a matter of covering your bases. Your first and most important step is to do your research and find out what guidelines apply to the goods you're bringing in. There are numerous online resources you can use to find this information:

    • Customs and Border Patrol's official website, CBP.gov, provides a great deal of education regarding import regulations.

    • TRGDirect.com can help you learn to file your Customs entries directly.

    • TradeBridgeInternational.com and TradeInnovations.com focus on aiding small to mid-sized importers.
A good Customs broker can also help you understand what to expect, and walk you through the various steps.

While you can't outsource your liability, you can get expert help with the process.

Easy As 1 2 3
Besides doing your research, Woodard also recommends a few additional tips you can use to protect yourself and your eBiz:

1. Start close to home. When you first begin importing, you may find it easier to start with a country that's geographically close (for example, countries in Central or South America or the Caribbean basin). Often, the logistics are much simpler than those involved in importing goods from Asian or Pacific countries. Additionally, many nearby countries (like Canada and Mexico) have free trade agreements with the U.S., so your imports will be duty free.

2. Diversify. As your importing grows, and you begin bringing in larger quantities of product, you may want to consider using suppliers from more than one country or area of the world. That way, if political events or quality assurance problems in one area interrupt your product supply chain, you have other sources you can fall back on.

3. Get it in writing. You need to maintain thorough, accurate records, and have those documents available anytime Customs asks for them.

Besides protecting your business, in a legal sense, this will also serve to expedite the process of clearing your products through Customs.

A Worthwhile Venture
While informed compliance may sound intimidating, you shouldn't let it scare you away from enjoying the incredible deals importing offers. States Woodard, "You can mitigate your risks by just taking some common-sense measures. Perform your due diligence, and you'll be fine. The benefits you'll gain with importing more than make up for any extra efforts that you'll put into it."

 
Archive List

ARTICLE ARCHIVE LIST

 

What is Drop Shipping?

Sell what Sells, NOT what's Cool

The Wholesale Misconception

Don't Get Taken by a Fake Suppli...

Wolves in Wholesale Suppliers' C...

Working Within the Process

Is Santa's Sleigh Big Enough for...

Beware of Drop Shipping 'Agents'...

Direct From The Factory?

4 Strategies for Seasonal Sellin...

3 Tools for Product Sourcing on ...

Tradeshows the Right Way - How t...

Tradeshow Sourcing - When the Sh...

Preparing for the Holiday Season...

What a Wholesale Supplier Expect...

Product Sourcing Using Trade Pub...

Tips for Finding and Getting Goo...

Storage Units Auctions - Buying ...

Starting an Antiques and Collect...

How EBay PowerSellers Source Pro...

How to Build Your Online Consign...

Dangerous Mindsets - Changing th...

Sourcing Customer Returns - Buyi...

Product Sourcing Strategies - Ne...

6 Common Product Sourcing Questi...

Increasing Your Profits through ...

Importing Basics - What You Need...

Selecting and Changing Your Prod...

The Inside Scoop on Trade Shows ...

How to Make Product Liquidation ...

Shopping with Uncle Sam - A Brea...

One Man's Trash... Could Be Your...

Our Town - Sourcing Products Loc...

An Intro to Closeouts - A Produc...

How to Find Authentic Suppliers ...

Beyond Borders - Sourcing Overse...

Heads or Tails? - How to Find Yo...

Five Holiday Trends - What Every...

Seeing the Whole Picture - A Who...

Drop Shipping Pros and Cons - th...

Far From Home - 4 Keys to Succes...

Product Sourcing Strategies for ...

The Ins and Outs of Importing - ...

How to Choose Your Product Lineu...

The Fine Art of Product Sourcing...

Sourcing The Secondary Market - ...

Local Sourcing Techniques - Prod...

Global Sourcing - Importing for ...

A Foreign Affair - Preparing to ...

Choose Wisely - How to a Pick Pr...

Made in China - Importing Option...

The Color of Money - How Color T...

The Nuts and Bolts of Liquidatio...

How to Break Into Importing - An...

Trend or Fad? What to Ask Before...

What Your Country Can Do for You...

Opportunities Abroad - China Sou...

Trade Shows Year-Round - What Pe...

5 Product Trends for 2008 that E...

Successfully Negotiating with Yo...

5 Strategies for Safely Sourcing...

Informed Compliance for e-Tailer...

Locate Qualified Drop Shippers f...

What is Product Sourcing? The So...

Where Do I Find Products to Sell...

Tips for Finding and Working wit...

A Beginner's Guide to Buying Dir...