Though the Internet can open up business opportunities for SMBs -- helping them market their goods and services to the whole world instead of just a small corner of it -- new business can bring with it unexpected complications.
A case in point: Getting goods to and from buyers can be a real hassle. International shipping can still be a surprisingly complex and labor-intensive process, as detailed by a couple of directors of product development at UPS, interviewed by ZDNet blogger Dana Gardner for a sponsored podcast discussion. (The link is included for those who want to listen to the whole thing.)
UPS is using its shipping expertise and Web-based technology to simplify the process for SMBs. In January it will begin offering a service it calls UPS Paperless Invoice that will remove much of the paper -- and potential for error -- from the documentation process required for international shipments.
Even domestically, shipping is no picnic for SMBs (as even the most casual eBay seller can attest). Amazon created a service called Fulfillment by Amazon that allows SMBs to offload pretty much the entire shipping process by essentially renting out space in Amazon warehouses and having Amazon employees prepare their packages for shipment.