• Welcome to DOSBODS

    Please consider creating a free account to be able to access all the features of the DOSBODS community. It only takes 20 seconds!

The Idiocrat

Selling online to the USA

Recommended Posts

I know there are a few entrepreneurs on here who sell online so wondered if I could get some advice. I recently launched an online B2C business (it's a sideline, hoping it becomes full time eventually as I'm getting tired of contracting/consultancy). I've started to get enquiries from the US, although the initial target was the UK. The product is a physical one, so will need shipping out after it is created (it's bespoke, value approx £400). So I have a few questions if anyone can help:

- Do I need to watch out for customs charges if I'm shipping direct to a customer? How should I label the box? Who best to ship with? (I'd ike rapid delivery). It's the size of a large shoebox.
- Is it worth having a US office address with a mailbox or virtual office company? Any recommendations?
- Is it worth having  a US phone number (toll free?) that would take messages or forward to the UK (where I have a 24-hour virtual receptionist that can take messages and text them to me). Any recommendations?
- Are there any issues with US consumer law that I might get snagged on if not careful? (the product is non-electrical/chemical - best to think of it as a work of art).

Any advice and ideas much appreciated. TIA!

Edited by The Idiocrat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, The Idiocrat said:

- Do I need to watch out for customs charges if I'm shipping direct to a customer?

Yes you do. You may be able to add custom charges to the purchase price and remit these yourself. I know a lot of US businesses do this selling into Europe, it is quite annoying for low value items that may not actually attract custom duties.

You'll want to use a courier for delivery with tracking.

I don't know for anything else as I only sell virtual services (which I declare to the local tax authorities).

Edited by davidg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, davidg said:

Yes you do. You may be able to add custom charges to the purchase price and remit these yourself. I know a lot of US businesses do this selling into Europe, it is quite annoying for low value items that may not actually attract custom duties.

You'll want to use a courier for delivery with tracking.

I don't know for anything else as I only sell virtual services (which I declare to the local tax authorities).

Thank you. Yes, was planning on courier. Like DPD in the UK due to their tracking so perhaps will use them. Will check out customs charges. Cheers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, dgul said:

To do it properly you want to do DTP/DDP, where you pay the duties rather than your customer.

Not many of the couriers do this.  I know DHL does it.

Ah yes, DDP. Been decades since I had anything to do with incoterms! Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People that I know that sell bigish (turnover $1m+) in the US:

  • Get a fulfilment agent to do everything (stuff is shipped to their US fulfilment centre directly from China)
  • Don't use Amazon FBA (well, do use Amazon, but then encourage buyers to use their shop -- Amazon is just marketing)
  • Moan about Amazon all the time anyway
  • Don't have a business entity in the US
  • Don't have US mailbox or phone number
  • Do have good insurance
  • Do have major headaches with US business taxes.  Note, this is because they sell from a US warehouse.  I understand that this problem doesn't exist if they ship from the UK.

I just ship to the USA from the UK (duty not paid as each shipment value is < DMT $).  

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, The Idiocrat said:

I know there are a few entrepreneurs on here who sell online so wondered if I could get some advice. I recently launched an online B2C business (it's a sideline, hoping it becomes full time eventually as I'm getting tired of contracting/consultancy). I've started to get enquiries from the US, although the initial target was the UK. The product is a physical one, so will need shipping out after it is created (it's bespoke, value approx £400). So I have a few questions if anyone can help:

- Do I need to watch out for customs charges if I'm shipping direct to a customer? How should I label the box? Who best to ship with? (I'd ike rapid delivery). It's the size of a large shoebox.
- Is it worth having a US office address with a mailbox or virtual office company? Any recommendations?
- Is it worth having  a US phone number (toll free?) that would take messages or forward to the UK (where I have a 24-hour virtual receptionist that can take messages and text them to me). Any recommendations?
- Are there any issues with US consumer law that I might get snagged on if not careful? (the product is non-electrical/chemical - best to think of it as a work of art).

Any advice and ideas much appreciated. TIA!

There will be customs duties and charges to pay on import to the US so you need to clarify who will pay, just make it clear the price is duty unpaid so is for the buyer to deal with

Get paid up front so you avoid any recriminations from the buyer because of this

Have any sort of presence in the US and you will end up with a demand to pay US taxes on your profits, so have no US presence, the duty unpaid terms will underline this as you tell them to go fuck themselves

There will be standards of some sort you need to conform to or your product might not be able to clear US customs

Lots of strange paperwork might be required to allow the buyer to clear the import through US customs (waybill, customs declaration, certificate of origin, commercial invoice), your shipper should advise, they don't want hold ups

I would go for a shipper that can take it all the way to the buyers door, so no potential for shifting blame onto some 'partner' you have never heard of

Edited by Panther

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over the past few years noticed that a lot of Ebay listings now include US customs charges included - so it seems to be the trend. Going the other way may be the same and at least then the total price is known - probably preferable as reduces any buyer issues and filters out those who may choke on import charges and queries regarding them.

Other route is to have a distributor in the US, cut a deal, ship over in quantity and give them a cut, but they may want too much. Could be worth the reduced hassle though if they handle US  enquiries.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your comments everyone. Yes, my concern with a US postal address is then getting asked for US taxes beyond import duty so I'll stick to UK contact details I think. I'll try to find out how much duty will be as I'd prefer to make it an all-in-one price as I know I hate it when I have to pay duty. Cheers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, The Idiocrat said:

I know there are a few entrepreneurs on here who sell online so wondered if I could get some advice. I recently launched an online B2C business (it's a sideline, hoping it becomes full time eventually as I'm getting tired of contracting/consultancy). I've started to get enquiries from the US, although the initial target was the UK. The product is a physical one, so will need shipping out after it is created (it's bespoke, value approx £400). So I have a few questions if anyone can help:

- Do I need to watch out for customs charges if I'm shipping direct to a customer? How should I label the box? Who best to ship with? (I'd ike rapid delivery). It's the size of a large shoebox.
- Is it worth having a US office address with a mailbox or virtual office company? Any recommendations?
- Is it worth having  a US phone number (toll free?) that would take messages or forward to the UK (where I have a 24-hour virtual receptionist that can take messages and text them to me). Any recommendations?
- Are there any issues with US consumer law that I might get snagged on if not careful? (the product is non-electrical/chemical - best to think of it as a work of art).

Any advice and ideas much appreciated. TIA!

Insurance, insurance, insurance

I know a few that have stopped selling to the US due to not being able/to expensive to insure themselves against litigation via UK insurers, the US was just a small part of there turnover so they could not justify the extra cost

Edited by Long time lurking

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, The Idiocrat said:

I know there are a few entrepreneurs on here who sell online so wondered if I could get some advice. I recently launched an online B2C business (it's a sideline, hoping it becomes full time eventually as I'm getting tired of contracting/consultancy). I've started to get enquiries from the US, although the initial target was the UK. The product is a physical one, so will need shipping out after it is created (it's bespoke, value approx £400). So I have a few questions if anyone can help:

- Do I need to watch out for customs charges if I'm shipping direct to a customer? How should I label the box? Who best to ship with? (I'd ike rapid delivery). It's the size of a large shoebox.
- Is it worth having a US office address with a mailbox or virtual office company? Any recommendations?
- Is it worth having  a US phone number (toll free?) that would take messages or forward to the UK (where I have a 24-hour virtual receptionist that can take messages and text them to me). Any recommendations?
- Are there any issues with US consumer law that I might get snagged on if not careful? (the product is non-electrical/chemical - best to think of it as a work of art).

Any advice and ideas much appreciated. TIA!

Ha! You have started an artisanal dildo company!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, eight said:

 

That business all seems a bit 'look how normal we are, this is all totally normal, good clean harmless fun for well-adjusted people, nothing pervy did we mention how totally normal this all is?'

One sex toy business related tale I've heard of is they had a huge batch of faulty dildos so chucked them all in the waste compactor skip, kept cycling it, and filling it with more then left it but had stored so much energy in the compressed rubber dildos that the whole inch thick steel side of the skip blew off and landed 50 feet away - sounds like the sort of tale that probably got exaggerated with each iteration but suspect some dildos did destroy a compaction machine at some stage.

22 minutes ago, Carl Fimble said:

Ha! You have started an artisanal dildo company!

What like a butt plug for Rolf Harris, or something?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back on topic, the purchaser (Importer) is responsible for paying Customs charges but £400 is below the US personal allowance, compared to £15 for Treasure Island, so they shouldn't have to pay anything extra before delivery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, MrPin said:

The buyer will be liable for import duties.O.o I have sold and bought things in the USA

America is riding high. The dollar is good now, but with the tax ,it might not be worth their while

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, SNACR said:

That business all seems a bit 'look how normal we are, this is all totally normal, good clean harmless fun for well-adjusted people, nothing pervy did we mention how totally normal this all is?'

 

I've known Richard since he was editor for PC Format. :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Kilham said:

Back on topic, the purchaser (Importer) is responsible for paying Customs charges but £400 is below the US personal allowance, compared to £15 for Treasure Island, so they shouldn't have to pay anything extra before delivery.

Thank you, that might work. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.