Importing goods for the very first time – web shop joja.nl shares experiences
1 December 2020
Businesses that start importing for the first time will also have to deal with transportation. At Ritra Cargo, we regularly help new importers find their way – like Jocelyne and Jay from web shop joja.nl. What obstacles did they find on their path to importing goods? Ritra Cargo asked them about their biggest challenges, main pitfalls and handy tips for transport.
How it all started
Joja is named after its founders Jocelyne (Jo) and Jay (Ja), both from Rotterdam with roots in Indonesia. Jocelyne’s creativity and Jay’s technical knowledge were perfectly bundled into their idea for Joja: a web shop selling unique and luxury home accessories, imported directly from Bali. Corona afforded them the time to further develop and achieve their idea. Of course, transport was an important aspect. Jocelyne and Jay talk about how they tackled it.
Personal contact creates a feeling of safety and security
EORI number, Incoterms and import duties: just a few terms you will come across when you start importing goods. Preparation is key if you want to make sure you’re off to a good start. Joja: “We found lots of answers through Google, but you really want someone who can protect you from the pitfalls and who knows all the important details.” This is exactly what a great forwarder represents.
Joja: “Even during our first conversation, Marjo took away many of my worries. She told me exactly what to expect when importing from Indonesia. She also explained why importing from Bali is so much more expensive than importing from Java. This was the first time someone was able to explain to me why this is. We later kept in touch regularly via WhatsApp too. I really appreciated this personal contact, it means you get answers quickly!”
Overview of total costs
As a new importer, the cost price of your products may be the most important calculation of all. Joja: ”With regards to transport, our biggest challenge was to create an insight into our costs. What costs are involved in transport and what would this add up to in relation to the entire order? It’s very useful to have an exact breakdown of the costs that make up the total amount for transport.
Suppliers usually offer transport to the port of Rotterdam only, under CIF Incoterms. His Dutch agent then manages the onward processing of the goods. You will only be informed of the costs involved once they are a fact, and they are usually sky-high. Joja: ”The supplier wanted to arrange transportation on our behalf, but his breakdown of the transport costs was very unclear.” Dutch forwarders usually work with Incoterms FOB and EXW, whereby the door-to-door transport is (almost) completely covered.
Joja: “We felt it was very important to have insight into all the costs involved and searched for a Dutch forwarding agent. It makes communication easy and gave us a feeling of security as new importers. Ritra Cargo sent us a clear overview of the cost components. It also included costs that might not spring to mind, like import duties and the certificate of origin that we needed. It gave us everything we needed to be very accurate in our cost price calculations.”
Communication with a foreign supplier can be difficult. Not just because of the language barrier, but also because of cultural differences. It is very useful to have the help of someone who is familiar with the local situation and ensures that the transportation is arranged without a hitch. Forwarders use local agents to make this happen.
Joja: “We were looking for a forwarding agent with lots of Asian expertise and experience. After all, you want limit any risk factors in such a complex process. Ritra Cargo knew exactly which rules and conditions we had to comply with. The information we were given by our suppliers only covered part of what we needed to know. What’s more, Ritra’s local agent was able to ensure our orders were grouped so we could avoid duplicate costs.”
Keeping costs under tight control is often extra important for importers who are starting out. Unfortunately, unforeseen factors will always crop up. Joja: “We paid the invoice amount in two parts. The exchange rate of the Indonesian rupiah proved to have a significant impact on the final amount in Euros.” In addition, the size of the products and the packaging materials had a few surprises in store.
Joja: “The lamps we had ordered required packaging in large boxes. Even though Ritra’s agent filled the boxes with as many other products as possible, there was still a lot of wasted space going unused. This meant the lamps were expensive products to import. Next time, I would like to play around with the size of the products more, and have a discussion with the supplier about the options for filling this wasted space. It would reduce the volume of cubic metres, which would make a difference in the price.”
What is Joja’s main cost-saving tip? Joja: ”Keep your first order small, so you can find out which products are good sellers. After this, the smart move is to scale up quickly, so that your transport costs are not as high, proportionally.”
Are you looking to start importing goods?
Would you like to start importing goods? Please contact the experienced specialists at Ritra Cargo. We have representatives across the globe and we are passionate about helping entrepreneurs like with hassle-free imports.
Would you like to find out more about this topic? Read our most important tips for importing goods for the first time.
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