Watch Out For These Trade Nightmares

Watch Out For These Trade Nightmares


When asked, “What do you fear most about importing or exporting goods?”, many things come to mind. But, the two nightmares most first-time importers or exporters dread are damaged cargo and fraudulent suppliers.

The following two nightmares should be on your ‘Watch Out For’ list.

Nightmare 1: Damaged Cargo

There are a few ways cargo can get damaged during shipping. The most common reasons are that either the goods were improperly packed, or the containers got damaged in the transportation process.

Losses from improperly packed containers add up to $5 billion a year worldwide. Traders should ensure that containers are properly packed and that no damaged goods are stored in a container.

Containers aren’t invincible and experience a variety of extreme weather conditions. For this reason, goods need to be packed in such a way that they won’t get damaged in transit. Guidelines on how to pack cargo to survive international shipping is available here.

Related: What insurance does an importer or exporter need to take out?

What do you do when you receive damaged goods?

1. Inspect the container before opening

Check the container and seal numbers against the documents to make sure that the correct container arrived at the destination. Note any damage or seal number discrepancies on the container.

2. Sign and date the note with details of the damage or discrepancy

3. Contact the carrier immediately

Request that a representative is sent to inspect the damage.

4. Notify all parties who handled the container

As well as the marine insurer of the problem and the possibility of a claim. It will be sensible to always apply for cargo insurance.

Very important: Do not open or unload the container before the carrier’s representative arrives.

Nightmare 2: Fraudulent Suppliers


The ease of purchasing goods on the Internet for trade purposes has made finding international suppliers fairly effortless. Unfortunately, with the increase in international sales has come an increase in international scammers targeting uninformed, optimistic buyers.

Some of the most common scams include the disappearance of the seller after payment or substandard goods have been supplied.

The buyer is not, however, totally vulnerable as there are a number of options that he can employ in order to protect himself from being scammed.

Related: How to Accurately Cost an Imported Product

1. Research the Seller

Do your homework. Get reviews on the supplier and check whether he has a registered address, company and legitimate contact details.

2. Make use of a reputable business to business trading platform

Most trading platforms have a method for rating sellers and a section where previous buyers provide feedback. Look for established sellers with a reputable rating and a history of successful transactions from happy buyers.

3. Use a payment method that offers buyer protection

Aim to never wire money directly into a seller’s account unless you have an established trust relationship with the seller. Rather choose a more secure payment option.

4. Take control of the freight and use insurance

A common scam is for the seller to send damaged/substandard goods and blame the damage on the shipper. To protect yourself against this scam arrange the freight yourself and use freight insurance.

More detail on how to protect yourself from fraud is given here.

Related: 4 Ways to Source Quality Products for Imports

If you stick to these steps and properly manage the import and export process, keeping your finger on the pulse, things will go according to plan. A seamless and stress-free trade process is possible, if all necessary arrangements are made to avoid falling into any traps.

Tracy Venter
Tracy Venter started Trade Logistics after being frustrated by the difficulty of trying to find accurate, up-to-date information on how to import and export goods. Trade Logistics, is an online platform offering all the information, basic services and personal assistance needed to start or grow an international trade business. Having strategic partnerships with established experts in the industry including an internationally recognised training provider gives Trade Logistics the edge to be able to serve both emerging businesses and large multi-national companies.