Shipping guide for Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)

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The rise of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam marks a significant milestone in the country's entrepreneurial landscape. These SMEs, now integral to economic growth and job creation, are exploring new horizons beyond domestic markets through international shipping.

The pivotal role of SMEs in Vietnam's economy is evident in a 2021 report released by the Ministry of Planning and Investment Portal. The report states that of the 800,000 enterprises operating in Vietnam, SMEs account for 97%. These SMEs contribute to 45% of the GDP, provide 31% of total budget revenue, and employ more than five million individuals.

These SMEs, now integral to economic growth and job creation, have already been exploring new horizons beyond domestic markets through international shipping. ​​However, venturing into overseas shipping can be complex, with challenges ranging from understanding customs regulations to managing logistics and tracking shipments. This guide aims to simplify these complexities, offering small businesses and SMEs in Vietnam a roadmap to successful, cost-effective international delivery.

1. Understanding the basics of international shipping

International shipping involves transporting goods from one country to another, encompassing several procedures. Each step is integral to successful overseas shipments, from packaging and labelling the goods accurately to preparing the necessary documentation for customs clearance in Vietnam as well as the destination country. Some of the essential documents required for export as well as import clearance include (but are not limited to): 

  • ​​​​​Air waybill

  • Commercial invoices

  • Other supporting documents if required by local authorities 

2. Selecting the shipping method most suited for your business

In considering your shipping method, the type of delivery service is a key factor. The freight forwarding method may offer some initial cost savings, but responsibility for the initial and final delivery falls on the shipper and receiver respectively, and so there may be itemised costs for pick up, airport handling, customs clearance and delivery etc. For freight forwarding, transit times may take up to a week in air freight and up to 50 days in sea freight, while capabilities like door-to-door service and shipment tracking may not be available in all cases.

Express delivery and door-to-door, notably for air shipping, is often a preferred choice for businesses needing to transport important, time-sensitive goods.  Statistics reported on Meteor Space indicates a strong preference among overseas business partners and end consumers for faster deliveries. Catering to this demand, many logistics companies, including DHL Express, offer a variety of time-definite options, catering to varying timelines and budgets, helping SMEs meet their commitments promptly.

3. Choosing a reliable shipping provider

Choosing the right international shipping provider can greatly influence your overseas shipping experience. A reliable shipping provider ensures not only the safe and timely delivery of your goods but also provides valuable support and advice throughout the journey. In the realm of safety and security, certifications such as the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) Class 'A', the highest level of TAPA certification, are crucial. DHL Express, for instance, has achieved this certification for its 100th site in Asia Pacific in 2022, demonstrating its commitment to the highest security standards, especially for high-value goods. This is a testament to their resilience and dedication to secure operations.

Furthermore, as we navigate in today's digital world, the importance of protecting customer information cannot be understated. Companies like DHL offer advanced security features such as DHL eSecure, which prevents unauthorised use of your DHL Express Import account. This advanced feature includes automated approvals for trusted partners and automatic rejections for untrusted ones, ensuring that only authorized individuals can process shipments online.

In addition, choosing a provider that prides itself on excellent customer service guarantees assistance and guidance through the shipping process — resolving any issues quickly and efficiently. 

4. Ensuring compliance with customs regulations 

Accurate labelling and comprehensive shipping documentation are the cornerstones of successful international shipping. Detailed and correct information can expedite customs clearance in Vietnam and the destination country, preventing unnecessary delays. Global shipping providers like DHL play a significant role in ensuring a faster clearance process. DHL has optimised its procedures to simplify and expedite this process. Even before your packages are loaded onto planes, DHL sends your customs invoice details electronically to customs authorities for security screening and to initiate customs clearance.

DHL's familiarity with global customs regulations helps navigate the complexities of the process. To ensure a smooth and speedy clearance, shippers must provide complete and accurate descriptions of their goods and submit shipment details electronically.

Packaging and labelling best practices include ensuring all labels are clear and visible. Providing all necessary documents, listing each commodity separately with accurate descriptions, checking for consistency across all documents, providing as much detailed information as possible, and confirming that all associated costs are correct, are all vital steps.

In short, to help ensure faster customs clearance, be sure to:

  • Provide all necessary documents
  • List each commodity separately with accurate descriptions
  • Check for consistency across all documents
  • Provide as much detailed information as possible
  • Confirm that all associated costs are correct

5. Tracking your shipment

Once your shipment is en route, keeping tabs on its progress is more than a luxury – it's a necessity. Efficient tracking tools, such as DHL Express’ tracking for air, provide real-time updates on your shipment's status and location. This transparency not only gives you peace of mind and offers an opportunity for proactive communication with your customers.

With real-time tracking tools, you can anticipate delays, manage expectations, and ensure a positive customer experience. DHL Express provides a swift and easy tracking process which can be accessed via their website, mobile app, or through customer service agents. You only need the 10-digit air waybill number(s) to check the status of your shipment. The tracking results offer real-time details of your shipment's progress through the DHL network, including each specific location and the reason your shipment is being handled at particular timestamps. Furthermore, it provides additional shipment details like weight, number of pieces, and the DHL Express service you selected.

This transparency helps maintain customer trust and reinforces their confidence in your business. For cross-border e-commerce business owners in Vietnam, DHL's On Demand Delivery (ODD) offers additional benefits. ODD allows customers to manage their deliveries, choosing when and where to receive their shipments. This level of control and flexibility can greatly enhance the overall customer experience. For e-commerce sellers, this means happier customers, fewer returned shipments due to failed delivery attempts, and the potential for increased repeat business. By providing customers with options and flexibility, you can effectively cater to their unique needs and schedules, ultimately supporting the growth of your cross-border e-commerce business.

6. Shipping with DHL Express

DHL Express makes international shipping straightforward and hassle-free. With DHL Express Vietnam, your SME can enjoy our all-encompassing range of international shipping solutions, curated to facilitate a smooth and effortless export procedure:

  • Leverage user-friendly shipping tools: – Enjoy fast, easy and reliable shipping with DHL Express’ solutions. For instance, with MyDHL+, our one-stop shipping management tool,you can streamline the process of creating shipments, tracking parcels, and managing deliveries, all in one place.
  • Enjoy attractive shipping rates: DHL Express tailors pricing to fit your shipping volumes, providing rates designed specifically for your business needs. As you ship more, you can enjoy even greater savings and benefits. 
  • Select convenient pick-up or drop-off options –  With DHL's pick-up and drop-off services, you can work around your own schedule, ensuring maximum efficiency. Additionally, you can choose to have your goods delivered to a specific location or opt for collection at a DHL Service Point, offering unparalleled convenience and efficiency.
  • Track your parcels in real time: Keep your customers informed every step of the way with DHL Express' advanced shipment tracking feature, enhancing their overall experience.

As a trusted international courier service advisor, DHL Express has more than 50 years of experience serving international shipping needs across 220+ countries & territories including Vietnam. Rest assured that our services ensure a smooth and efficient process for shipping goods overseas,  freeing you to focus on growing your business. Open a business account with DHL Express today and embrace the benefits of seamless international shipping.