In our increasingly globalized world, one area of business that’s doing exceptionally well is eCommerce. Global B2C transactions are reaching trillions of dollars per annum. These figures are only set to grow in the next few years. eCommerce is perfectly positioned to take center stage when it comes to doing business online.
If you own an online shop and the number of your international clients starts increasing, you’ll want to consider extending your offering to an international clientele.
But when doing so, you need to consider costs and legislation related to international shipping. Although it may seem like a daunting task, there are ways for you to scale your eCommerce business while shipping internationally.
Going global can be a bit scary. After all, you’ll need to be well-prepared for a worldwide audience and customer base. This is why research into destination countries is so crucial. But apart from this, research into international shipping will be one of your top priorities as you embark on this venture. Let’s see what other aspects you’ll need to take into consideration.
6 eCommerce International Shipping Best Practices:
1. Local Customs and Culture
The destination country to which you’ll ultimately be engaged in international shipping will dictate your product offering. Each country has its specific customs and cultures that you need to be aware of. Customize your website for the target audience accordingly. You might need to change colors. Or avoid using symbols that might offend. Also, using the local currency when indicating the customer’s shopping cart’s total price is a must.
2. Local Laws and Regulations
Many countries have strict laws for what you can and cannot import. For example, Saudi Arabia prohibits importing US art, while Algeria prohibits imports of dental products. This is why you need to make sure that the product you sell can be exported to your destination country. Items that are considered dangerous or prohibited goods will not be accepted in the destination country. You need to check if what you’re selling complies with the local laws.
3. Effective Communication
Tailoring your marketing message to your international audience will be another requirement, too. This will entail significant localization and translation services. Many companies make the mistake of using Google Translate to translate their product offering and marketing message directly. Often this leads to offended clients, poor communication, and the conveying of ineffective messages.
4. Check Duties and Fees
When your client reaches your website’s checkout page, you need to be as transparent with the shipping costs as you can be. The absence of such information often results in abandoned carts, and this is something you will want to avoid.
In the international shipping costs, you need to consider taxes, customs fees, duties, VAT, and other similar costs that customers often pay while ordering a product. If these prices are not apparent on your website, you’ll have a customer on the other side of the globe who may be surprised at the high costs included in the package. This could result in returns, which you will again want to avoid. Paying Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) upfront can help save you and your customers’ many hassles down the line while you factor this cost into your final shipping price.
5. Select the Right Carrier
Choosing the right international shipping partner will require further research, too. Luckily, there are many sources online which can help you select the best one. Some options you have include using a domestic carrier, a regional carrier, or an international carrier. Sometimes, a combination of all three will be worthwhile for your business. Their costs and delivery times will vary. What’s more, you need to check whether they will offer insurance on your products. As a final thought, make sure that you can offer your customers effective tracking, leading to more transparency and fewer unhappy clients.
6. Choose Your Payment Provider
As a final point, you need to make sure that you’re partnering with the right payment provider. Go for the one that will best cater to your online business’ payment needs. Remember that not everyone on the other side of the globe uses the same credit cards or payment methods as you. This is why you may want to invest in online payment solutions and shopping cart plugins so that your site caters to a wide range of different international cards and payments.
Pros and Cons of International Shipping
As with any business, there are pros and cons to scaling up, growing, and expanding. However, as mentioned earlier, eCommerce is on the rise and is here to stay with the trillions of dollars worth of transactions taking place globally each year. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of scaling your eCommerce business using international shipping:
Business expansion: Your business can expand exponentially with a multifaceted product offering. If you start small selling one or two items, you can quickly increase your offering by scaling up and offering a plethora of associated products.
Improved revenue streams: eCommerce is a profitable venture that can improve your revenue streams and ultimately, your profits.
Costs: International shipping is not always cheap, and this is why you need to think about your carrier, the associated duties, and taxes involved, as well as the insurance and packaging.
Time and delays: Sometimes, products might get stuck at customs causing unnecessary delays. In such cases, you should contact your carrier immediately and see whether any paperwork is missing from the submitted documentation or whether any fees remain outstanding.
Taking your online store to the global stage can be an exciting endeavor if you attempt to go at it incrementally.
There will be a need for thorough and comprehensive research into the destination country, cultures, and customs, as well as whether your product is genuinely “sellable” there.
In addition to this, you need to consider all the aspects related to international shipping to ensure your product gets to the right person at the right time and at the right price.