Make a Profit Shipping Overseas for Auction Houses
Fourteen years ago, Boston-based Global Pack Ship got an opportune offer from Skinner Auctions, a nearby auction house. “They were looking for a company like us to pick up items purchased by their customers and ship them out,” says Tony Punjabi, owner of Global Pack Ship. Many of these customers came from overseas, meaning the shipments would be largely international.
Punjabi agreed, and Global Pack Ship was added to Skinner Auctions’ list of shippers. When other local auction houses and art galleries found out, Global Pack Ship’s international business began to grow.
These days, roughly 40 percent of his business comes from international shipping — and that’s great news, Punjabi explains, especially from a value standpoint. “By the time you do six or seven domestic shipments, one international shipment is equal to that.”
Along the way, Punjabi has gained valuable insights on how to successfully run an international shipping operation.
Punjabi notes that many international customers are nervous or overwhelmed at the idea of shipping their valuables to another country. There’s paperwork involved — which can vary by country — and if the documentation attached to the outside of the package is lost, incomplete or inaccurate, there can be customs delays.
Staying organized and following up on each shipment is crucial, Punjabi says.
“As long as we are able to continually follow up on those shipments until they properly reach the destination, then we find that it goes smoothly,” he says.
"By the time you do six or seven domestic shipments, one international shipment is equal to that."
— Tony Punjabi
Owner, Global Pack Ship
Punjabi says the main concerns customers have when it comes to shipping internationally are budget and timeframe. “The best thing about FedEx® international shipping is that they have two options: FedEx International Economy® and FedEx International Priority®.
“In most cases we find that customers are OK with transit times being a couple of days longer, and they’re able to save money with the economy service. We use that a lot. If someone is in a real hurry to get the item and wants to pay a little extra and go with the priority service, that option is also available.”
Given the high value of international shipments, Global Pack Ship is willing to go the extra mile for the customer — sometimes literally. “We have an associate who goes to the customer’s office or businesses or homes to pick up items that they need to have shipped,” Punjabi explains. “This is a free service that we offer in our local area.”
Providing free pickups for international shipments is a great way to make the customer’s life easier — and generate that all-important word of mouth.
When customers need to move large pieces of furniture, Global Pack Ship also provides pallets. Punjabi remembers one case in which Global Pack Ship employees drove to the condo of an executive who was relocating to India, blanket-wrapped the entire contents of the apartment, and then packed and shipped everything to the customer’s new home.
On another occasion, after the death of a well-known author in Boston, Punjabi and his team picked up the property from her estate and shipped it all to her nephews and nieces in Australia, Europe and Canada. Recently, they shipped a 91-piece artwork collection to Ireland.
Spread the Word
Global Pack Ship does some online marketing, but there’s nothing more value-effective than talking to the customers they already have. “Every customer who comes through the door, we inform them we do international shipping,” Punjabi says. “It’s a good service to provide, and it’s profitable.”