HOW TO START AN IMPORT/EXPORT BUSINESS
There was once a time in India that foreign trade was regulated on the basis of exploitation during the colonial regime of Britishers. Good god, we are past that and have evolved and found a firm ground on which we built how we are going to manage our foreign trade policy. We have strict jurisdiction and regulations, but like any business, it involves risk and hassle. The ripe fruit of profit is the main attraction for many of the investors in this business who are leading a wonderful life and have built strong connections foreign and local and have facilitated this channel of trade and made resources of countries available to one another. The Indian import-export (both combined) business is almost half a trillion-dollar industry and is growing steadily as the income of the middle class is increasing and they are ready to buy imported products. Just like that the demand is increasing and the risk of getting into this business, decreasing.
If you are interested to start your own import-export business, here are a few things who should keep in mind:
Do your research
The import-export business is not an easy venture to open. You have to do a lot of research about how the market functions and what is the demand and supply chain in this business. The business requires your understanding of not just local but the global market. You must know what are demands in your countries and in the other where you are exporting, the quality of goods, shipment, taxes. There are many factors that you have to consider before opening this business. Do your research about this market and then delve into the business.
License and Permit
To start an import-export business in India, you need to have legal permission sorted beforehand to avoid any hassles with government officials. You’ll need to get yourself registered as a business person, get all the necessary approvals. Get the Import Export Code (IEC) issued, obtain a PAN card for the business, Service Tax registration or VAT registration, obtain the Registration cum Membership Certificate (RCMC). The list is long, so make sure you have all the legal and get all the documentation handy
Decide on products
There is an array of products that are available in the market and the range is huge! You have to first decide what are the products you want to sell. As time is changing design, trend, requirements of the items change accordingly. They may include big or small, expensive or cheap, heavy. Find out what are the most demanded imported products and get your self into it. Any business will expand and the list can always increase but decide first what is your introductory range and how influential it is for the public and will it get enough attention.
This is amongst the first things to do. You are setting up any business. It will require a principal investment. Even though it is a small scale business. Get yourself sponsors who are willing to support a local business and have your back in tough times.
Before you think of setting up any business, you keep in mind your target audience. This is one of the major factors that you should keep in mind. Your import or export is all for your customers and their demand. Focus on the needs of your customers. Follow the pattern of what are the products which are demanded by them the most and keep in mind the variety of products they would like to have. Keep the stocks up and the quality of your products intact. Provide them with the service they demand and listen to their queries and concerns. There are many businesses in which people don’t shy away from buying fancy products so go overboard if you are one who wants to sell them, make sure some prospects will be willing to buy them too, or else you’ll never be able to gain profit.
Find the right retailer
Once you have imported the product you have to bring it to the market. For that, you must have the right retailers who are popular and know the local market and advertise your product accordingly. they should regularly make you aware of the demands of the customers and should procure items timely from you.
Find the right distributor
When you import any product from a foreign country, you should do market research and make sure you are buying the product at the right bargain. There should be no compromise in the quality and you should not entertain any damaged product. Arrange a legal contract and agreement, failing which, the company should be interdicted from the services from the distributor.
Setting up any business requires a strong local connection and communication so that the business can propagate but with the rise in the use of e-commerce, things have become a lot easier. Make a website for your import-export business and set delivery options according to yourself. Arrange your products in different categories and use various models and tools which are available online to make your website catchier and more attractive. This will help distributors and retailers to locate you easily and it will be easier for you to expand your business.
Find a delivery system
Shipment of goods to and fro is the backbone of your import-export business. Make sure you choose a reliable one. It’s so crucial that it can make or break your business. The delivery service you choose should be prompt and should have a strict contract and punctuality regime to follow. A dealer will prefer to trade with you only when there is a seamless delivery system. Your investment is based on this.
Get the Manpower
Have in-house staff that will carry out tasks like billing, loading, shifting, etc. You will need managers, quality check experts, delivery persons. Once you have started the import-export business and you desire to build it bigger, have a trusted group of people who will help you on each level as this is not a task that can be handled alone. Build a team you can trust.
With the delivery system, this makes in the list of most important arrangements you have must have arranged well in advance. Before shipment or after the import, you need to store the products that you are exporting or importing. The place should be big enough and should have all the safety arrangements. Make sure you also keep it free from pests and insects and maintain hygiene. Your storage space’s location should be near your distribution area so can save on shipment from one place to another.
Marketing on different platforms
Be ready to do a lot of marketing. Social Media is used by almost everyone around the globe. It is almost certain that at least one person in a household must be using any social media platform. Putting up pages on Facebook and Instagram, developing a strong SEO, and investing in marketing offline can bring great audience attraction to your import =-export business. Putting up ads with discounts and amazing offers are always a plus. Along with online, spending on offline methods to propagate business is necessary. Since you already have an offline business and most customers who have done business with you will keep your number saved, you can invest in WhatsApp Business and use its marketing tools to propagate your business. It is convenient to use and digitally provides a personal touch as the medium is one to one messaging which has become one of the best provisions of converting prospects to customers.
Starting any business takes a good amount of planning. If you want your new business to succeed, understand the risks that come with entrepreneurship. It often takes a few years to get a business off the ground even with the best-laid business plan and advanced marketing. To open any business, one should be ready to work hard and show a lot of perseverance and determination. Any business will have good and bad days but it depends on the owner how they want to go about it. All the best!