This first shipment has taken me much longer than I had anticipated for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have never labeled or prepped anything for Amazon so this was a huge learning curve for me! This is probably strange for many of you who have sold anything through FBA. However in my case, I have sold over 1000 units by FBA but never printed a single product label myself, let alone poly bagged anything!
For shipping, I used EMS which is a global mail system linking the national postal services in most countries such as USPS in the US and Singpost in Singapore. The one risk with EMS is that if my parcel is stopped by UK customs for duties, it will not make it to the Amazon Fulfillment Center and will be returned at my expense. This is because the EMS postal service does not act as a customs broker to pay duties unlike courier services like DHL, UPS or FedEx. However it seems that small shipments of less 20lb or 10kg are seldom subject to customs duties...will have to see what happens!
So why didn' I use DHL? I went to their website and used their rate calculator which came up with a sum of over USD500 to send 10kg (22lb)! However I have opened a corporate account with DHL and received a corporate rate chart with rates that are about 1/3 of the published rates or almost 70% off. This will probably be a better option in future, plus DHL should provide free boxes.
Even with the corporate rates, it still costs almost $200 to send 10kg which is very expensive. To make this work, what I will really be looking into is ocean freight. Of course this will take much longer from Singapore to the UK. 45-70 days instead of 2-5 days by air. Also I have zero experience with shipping by sea which is a whole lot more complicated with all kinds of technical terms and it's own set of regulations.
Another related milestone is that I received my VAT and EORI numbers on May 1, 2014. This will make it possible to clear all my imports safely through UK customs! The application process took just over a month and was submitted by Accordance who will also be handling my quarterly VAT returns. This also means I HAVE to make enough of a profit in the UK to cover their accounting fees!
VAT compliance is necessary to sell in the UK and while registration is free, filing the returns can be complicated and I really should be focusing on sourcing and selling rather than tax matters which would take up all my time if I tried to do it myself.