Shopify – A Canadian success story

By: Jim Pettinger

Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. It is also the name of its proprietary e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. It was founded by two Canadian entrepreneurs who wanted to set up an e-commerce website, but couldn’t find a decent platform. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, the company reports that it has more than 500,000 merchants using its platform, with total gross merchandise volume exceeding $45 billion. The company’s remarkable success was profiled by Fortune magazine in 2017.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

3PL Third Party Logistics – A Strategic Expansion Partner

Doing Business in the U.S.A.

Successful international business expansion to the United States hinges on thoughtful, well informed pre-planning and reliable cross-border partnerships. Domestic and foreign accountants, immigration and business lawyers, customs brokers and logistics (marketing, warehousing, order fulfillment and distribution) specialists all play key roles in a Canadian company’s export success into the U.S.A. (Cross-border Resources).

Trade laws, regulations and policies dictate financial, business, immigration and import/export options and – under expert council, allow companies a certain level of decisiveness.  Logistics however, due to the nature of supply chain management, makes the deduction of risks and cost variables much more difficult to identify, particularly in a foreign market as large and diverse as the U.S.

Are U.S. Sales Worth the Risk?

The short answer is yes. Americans are back to work and they’re buying. Not only are they buying domestically but they’re buying foreign goods and services in greater quantities as well. In addition to the strong economy, exchange rates always make selling into the states beneficial (Exchange Rate). When the Loonie is low, you can invest Canadian capital more economically, and when it’s high, you can earn a premium on your USA sales. In addition to Americans shopping and favorable exchange rates, foreign manufactures are very anxious to sell into the booming USA economy too. Importing quality goods from Europe and Asia into the USA is another terrific business opportunity to consider. (Read more: “Eight reasons to expand to the USA – today!”)

How Do You Choose the Right Logistics Partner?

With so many 3PLs (Third Party Logistics) to choose from it’s important to match the logistics company’s expertise with your specific requirements. Like UCanTrade, Inc. many companies for example have multiple locations ‘dedicated to certain types of fulfillment’. In addition to expertise and warehousing capabilities the following questions will help determine how a 3PL ‘measures up’:

  • What are their order fulfillment strengths? B2B, B2C or both.
  • Which categories of goods do they specialize in handling? I.e. hard goods, pharma, food etc.
  • What types of shipping/handling methods do they use? I.e. ‘kit assembly, continuation plans’ etc.
  • Does their technology and systems support your fulfillment needs?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • What size companies do they typically serve and how does that compare with your business?
  • Can they manage scalability and growth?

It’s very important that once you’ve shortlisted your 3PL candidates take a team and tour their facilities.

3PL As A Strategic Expansion Partner

An experienced business and logistics service provider (especially one based in the United States) becomes a strategic partner in your international business expansion enterprise weighing in on marketing, packaging, and pricing strategies, as well as planning for order returns/repairs. Their experience will help to mitigate the risks and distribution costs associated with selling and shipping goods and services in the states. The right 3PL will provide your business the ‘platform for growth and efficiency’ necessary in achieving sustainability selling to your US market and beyond.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

(source)

How to Set Your U.S. Prices

By: Jim Pettinger, President UCanTrade, Inc.

For a foreign company entering the U.S. market, setting prices can be a challenge, especially when trying to factor in fluctuating exchange rates. There’s no simple answer, but most companies would do themselves a favor by setting aggressive prices, and then doing the marketing and sales work necessary to make profitable sales. A greet source of ideas can be found through the website of Holden Advisors. In a recent blog, contributor Richard Harrington advises: “Think What Price Can Do, Not What Price Should Be”.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

The holiday shopping season is fast approaching

Are you ready for the 2017 peak holiday selling season?

The bad news is that it has already started. The good news is that it now lasts until February. Whether you are selling direct to consumers, or supplying retailers or wholesalers, your plans should really be already in place.

The U.S. and Canadian economies are strengthening and consumer confidence is high. The loonie is still relatively weak against the U.S. dollar, so the USA should probably be a primary target. However, it’s not all gravy – competition will be more fierce than ever, and shipping costs may be higher, especially since UPS has recently announced “surge pricing”, or what it calls a “peak shipping charge”. This will affect package shipping charges for the peak periods November 19th to December 2nd and December 17th to December 23rd. The per-parcel surcharge in 2017 will be nominal while they assess the results.

There has never been a better or more exciting time to broaden your market to take advantage of the newest trends in marketing and logistics.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

The Loonie – A Hindrance or An Opportunity?

Whether it was to catch a cheaper flight from Bellingham to Las Vegas or to shop at an I-5 outlet mall, since 2013 many British Columbians were flocking to the nearest lower-mainland border crossing and travelling to the states in search of a good deal.

Canadian dollar the loonieHowever, a weakened Loonie curbed many Canadian shoppers who’d been making the trip south of the border to stay home. Indeed throughout Washington State’s Whatcom County, retailers in border towns like Sumas, Blaine, Lynden and further south to Ferndale and Bellingham have seen dramatic drops in Canadian shoppers since 2013 (BPRI Winter 2017 Brief: Changes in Canadian Shopping Visits in Northwest Washington, 2013 to 2016).

Interestingly though the loonie has rallied in value to a little over 80 cents to the American dollar. Will we see a surge in cross-border activity again here in Whatcom County? We hope so! However, even in light of recent news, there’s more to the ‘cross-border currency’ story than shopping. Like SELLING! CADUSD20yrs

Historically the USD has dominated over the Loonie as reflected in this 20 year chart. (Source)

A paradigm shift. Can Canadians consider the exchange rate between the Canadian Dollar (CAD) – USA Dollar (USD) not as a hindrance, but rather as an opportunity? They should! Here’s why.

Assuming all the proverbial ducks are in a row, ‘I’s dotted and ‘T’s crossed, the savvy B.C. business owner and entrepreneur stands to earn at least 20% more on their U.S. sales in part due to the favorable exchange rate.

“Here are the simple facts” says UCanTrade, Inc. president and dual citizen, Jim Pettinger: “(1) most U.S. land border crossings have been upgraded and are fully open for Canadian goods and people, (2) each sale you make for US$100 nets you C$120 or more, (3) your business presence in the U.S. can lead to a green card and dual-citizen status if you wish , and (4) American buyers (a) love Canadian goods, (b) have double the available money of their Canadian counterparts and (c) make their buying decisions at least  three times as fast.”

If history is an indicator then a long-term outlook is for a weak Loonie. Canadian companies need to immediately seize the opportunity to stake a position in the lucrative U.S. market. With careful planning, the initial cost can be minimal, but the payoff could be enormous.

Interested in learning more about doing business in the USA? Attend our next DBUSA Seminar &/or download this whitepaper “Ten Tips for Better Border Business”.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

Private business ownership is on the decline

Private business ownership is on the decline (with one possible exception – boomers and seniors)

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

According to many sources, private business ownership in the USA (and likely everywhere) is declining. Many reasons are cited, but our experience indicates increasing complexity and risk in two areas: technology and legal burden/liability. The former requires greatly increased up-front investment in people, education, equipment and software, all of which quickly depreciate; while the latter means more government and higher insurance premiums plus various other related costs. Both also require a greatly increased share of management time. Our favorite bastion of free enterprise is Texas, which has published this related article, Entrepreneurship on the Decline.

One possible exception to this trend is the number of boomers and seniors forming businesses, not only because they have the know-how and desire, but also because most feel they will need the extra income to “retire” and pay for medical expenses. One supporter of this trend is Wendy Mayhew who organizes the Wise 50 Over 50 Award and also provides other services for Canadian “Seniors in Business”.

One quibble we have in this context is with the deliberately confusing use of politically correct or misleading/misdirecting terms. “Entrepreneurs” don’t have legal liabilities; business owners do. And related, we would like to see more encouragement of “wealth creation” and less of “job creation”. We would also like to see the increasingly used term “Free Market” share the stage with (and not supplant) “Free Enterprise”. As President Reagan titled his famous 1977 speech at Hillsdale College, Whatever Happened to Free Enterprise. Let’s call it like it is!

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade
 

Another reason to expand/relocate your business to the USA?

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

According to a recent article in Business in Vancouver, a minority government in BC could be the “Worst fear for BC Business”. Besides creating more uncertainty, they indicate that the “Future of some major resource and infrastructure projects would be in doubt under a government dependent on co-operation of opposition parties.”

If they hadn’t already made plans based on the continuing weak loonie and increasingly strong U.S. economy, savvy BC business entrepreneurs will view this additional news as a strong signal to seek business and marketing opportunities in the USA. And, for those worried that the new president will close the border, our advice is GET OVER IT! While some trading relationships will obviously be reviewed, U.S. businesses and consumers will continue to consume foreign goods and services in even greater volume. Start planning right now to earn your fair share of the predicted extra-heavy fall and holiday buying season.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

 

Doing Business in the USA – Seminar

Canadian companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs who attend this ‘fast-paced’ seminar will learn from cross-border experts how to ‘determine an export strategy’ and ‘understand their responsibilities’ to U.S. government agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration.

Professional veteran cross-border immigration and business lawyers, accountants, customs brokers and logistics providers will guide attendees through the steps of exporting into the U.S.A., as well as be on hand to answer questions and offer consultation.

Date: Thursday, April 27, 2017
Time: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm Pacific Time
Place: Hyatt Vancouver, 655 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2R7
Fee: $75.00 CAD plus GST (per attendee)

Questions?  Contact us at (360) 380-6900 for more information or,

CLICK FOR EVENT INFO / TO REGISTER

The Doing Business in the USA seminar is presented by:

dbusa

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

‘The Beat Goes On’

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

sonnyandcherRecent reports about the continuing slow Canadian economy and increased consumer optimism in the United States lead to one simple conclusion – the beat still goes on for Canadian exporters and traders wishing to earn extra valuable greenbacks. With the U.S. Christmas selling season now starting on Labor Day, there is no time to waste. According to www.xmasclock.com you have roughly 100 days to still cash in. (Sonny and Cher – The Beat Goes On – circa 1967)

Link: Canada Economic Forecast
Link: US consumer confidence in August highest in 11 months
Link: U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Jumps To Post-Recession High

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

Optimize For Customers. Optimize Your Business.

So much more than business analysis or software upgrades, optimizing your business means taking a global approach to reviewing the processes required to satisfy your customers’ needs.

By definition, to optimize, is to make the best or most effective use of (a situation, opportunity, or resource).  “It is not something only for the big companies,” says Casian Glavce, General Manager at Hewitt Material Handling, “if you do not optimize, you’re not going to be in business.”  This is particularly true for small and medium exporters where the supply chain process is very involved and oversights can cripple a business.

Packaging optimization for example, which is often overlooked, can significantly impact a company’s transportation costs which ultimately impacts pricing, one of the most important decisions a business owner has to make.  Inefficient order fulfillment can also be costly.

UCT Ops Mgr, Terry Dickey, handling costly odd-length package.

UCanTrade’s Operations Manager, Terry Dickey, handling costly odd-length package.

JR White, director, solutions engineering at KNAPP explains, “With the ecommerce orders … items can’t just be dumped into a shipping carton willy-nilly. There is a logical order to the packing that prevents damage and ensures the order arrives neatly presented to the customer. In other words, the shoes are not on top of the shirts.  That’s the first thing the customer sees and if you screw that up they’re not going to like it. They’re going to complain about it online and then ten other people aren’t going to shop here—all because of one missed order.” Accurate, considerate order fulfillment dramatically impact a company’s sales and market sustainability.

Through an ‘export lens’, trade experts and government organizations can provide invaluable assistance to help you outline your ‘best, most effective’ plan, to both optimize for your customer’s needs while simultaneously optimizing your business goals and returns on investments.

Interested in doing business in the United States?  Learn more at our upcoming seminar, October 19, 2016 in Richmond, B.C. Canada.  (Click HERE for more information.)

(Related: Six Eyes On Every BoxHow Much Should I Charge My U.S. Customers? )

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

(Source article)