How to build an income stream while living overseas
Do you have or wish to open business to earn an income? If you live overseas and can access some unique products and items, you can build a successful business selling online in the US. It’s quite easy- all you need is a good partner that can distribute your products in the US as you sell them.
Why sell in America: The United States is the world’s largest economy with a GDP of 18 trillion dollars! With a very affluent populace and a strong dollar, it makes perfect sense to sell in that market.
How to sell in the US: You will need a fulfillment/distribution company that will act as your partner to ship your items locally. Because when the orders start coming in, shipping each piece from your country to the US is a headache and pretty expensive! Plus you don’t want to spend all of your time filling out shipping forms or rushing to the Post Office to ship an item.
What is a forwarding company– these are businesses who manage and stock your inventory, then ship it to your customers as you sell it. They will ship like you would if you were in the US – with your name as ‘sender’. The forwarders will also give you a US address which you can list as your business address, and will also handle returned items for you. A US address on your website allows you to market items to people who wouldn’t normally buy from outside the country.
How they work– you sign up for an account with a forwarding company and get a US address to send your items to. Ship your inventory, and when a customer makes a purchase from your website, you send an electronic notification with product information and customer’s shipping choice (for e.g. 2 day, priority mail etc.) to the forwarder. They will pick the items you sold, and ship them according to your instructions.
Why it makes sense to use a forwarder– so you don’t have to spend international postage on shipping your items, and your customers feel better knowing they are dealing with a local company. The forwarders will also accept returns on your behalf which can then be relisted for sale or shipped back to you. You can leave the hassles of the back-end post sales operations and focus on what is really important – running your business and selling your products!
What to look for in a forwarder–
- Reputation– how long has the company been around; what is their BBB rating? (BBB is an independent organization in the US that rates businesses on ethics, customer service etc.)
- Cost would be an important factor as some fulfillment companies can charge an upwards of $500 per month! Starting with a smaller, stable company will offer you the best value.
- Service– look for answers to questions such as: is the provider willing to work with your requirements? Do they have an online system for you to verify inventory easily to keep track of sales and returns? How quickly will they ship your items once you place a shipment request?
- Additional Benefits– will they let you receive mail at the same address? If you use their address for your business, you can also use it for your US mail, for buying any items you may wish to get from the US and for any official mail you may receive.
- Additional Costs– many forwarders will charge you a small fee per item when you ship and also when they handle returns for you. Most forwarders will also charge a storage fee on your items. These are common practices but it’s best to ask about these and any additional charges up front.
- Transparency– it is important that all fees charged by the forwarder be listed clearly on their site so you can make a good comparison. If there is any confusion, ask! There are companies out there that show very attractive prices up front but have a lot of hidden fees once you sign up. Ask for pricing details in email if anything is unclear.
In general, you should be able find a good company for about $100/month with all the forwarding services included, except any per item fees and shipping fees.
Here is a good company that we recommend: US Global Mail for Small Businesses