Thinking of Opening an Online Shop? How a Customs Broker Can Help
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Thinking of Opening an Online Shop? How a Customs Broker Can Help

E-commerce has broken down barriers and made it easier for consumers to shop around and find the right product, at the right price. More and more, it feels like a store's actual location means less and less. 

When you shop online, you can compare prices and shipping rates quickly and easily on sites like eBay and Amazon, and you can be confident you can find what you need, at the price you want to pay.

As a small business owner, this trend poses a significant shift in the way you do business. Now, It’s more important than ever to build a cross-border client base to help get your goods across the border quickly and cost-effectively. But where can you get the know-how you need to reach those clients in the most cost-effective manner? And how do you manage the requirements of cross-border trade in addition to all of your other day-to-day tasks?

That’s where a customs broker can help.

What Does a Broker Mean to Your business?

The most recent Industry Canada statistics tell us that more than two-thirds of Canadian small businesses rely on local markets for sales of their highest selling products, and that only 10 per cent of small and medium businesses exported goods and products. That’s a dangerous trend in today’s marketplace. 

A customs broker can help you break the mold and be a trendsetter when breaking beyond the local market and going global. Here are two ways a broker can help you maximize your exporting opportunities:

  1. Ensuring the correct Harmonized System (HS) codes for your goods. This means smooth sailing when your goods reach the border, and that you’re paying the right duty amount – meaning you won’t have to recuperate overpayments or make up underpayments later on.
  2. Gaining preferential tariff treatments and free trade agreements. If your goods meet the required criteria you can see significant reductions on the amount of duty you pay. For example, under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), if you can properly determine that your goods are manufactured in Canada, the U.S. or Mexico, you’ll see your duty rates significantly reduced or even completely eliminated.

What Does Your Broker Mean to You?

For you, a customs broker means saving time. As a small business owner, chances are you’re wearing a lot of hats – owner, sales, customer service, purchasing officer, the works. Managing customs requirements and navigating difficult trade regulations are simply additional tasks taking away your time – time you need to focus on core business operations.

Running a small business is often a 24-hour  job. Anything you can do to ease your workload to spend more time with your family, more time to hit the gym or catch a movie, can be worth just as much to you and your long-term success than anything else.

The right customs broker can be a major asset to your business, and to you. They can become an extension to your business, offering you relevant advice and resources, and can be a time-saver that helps you re-focus on the things that matter most. 

About Stéphan Galarneau

Stéphan Galarneau has been with Livingston since 2001, and has been leading the overall management and performance of the company’s small business services group in Canada since 2011. He ensures that the group delivers high-quality client service to small businesses and clients with lower shipment volumes, helping them move their goods quickly, efficiently and compliantly. With more than 20 years of industry experience, Stéphan is well-versed in all aspects of importing, exporting and logistics.