Going global with your eCommerce site can be a great way for you to increase product sales, as well as your bottom line.
Because of the fear of the unknown, many eCommerce businesses elect to avoid shipping internationally. To help with these fears, here are 10 things to do before and after you expand to the global market.
- Investigate Your Site Capabilities: International eCommerce is not supported on all eCommerce solutions. If your eCommerce platform cannot support international eCommerce, third party international checkout providers such as iGlobal have solutions in place to accept these orders without having to change your ecommerce platform.
- Look Hard at the Cost to Benefit Ratio: The number of total sales generated from going global is often difficult to determine due to unknown differences in the international marketplace. The costs can be determined much more accurately, but there can still be some uncertainty based on the number of international sales you receive.
- Ship Internationally, Fulfill Internationally: At some point, it will make sense to open an international fulfillment center. Shipping times, shipping cost and customer service can all be improved by fulfilling internationally, even if it is through a third party, but make sure you factor in the cost.
- Understand Local Duty, VAT, Tax, Etc.: Each country has its own taxation schedule. This not only varies by country but also by the product that is being imported and the product’s country of origin. This is extremely important to understand due to the importance of landed cost to international customers. You will see an increased conversion rate when you are able to inform international customers what their landed cost will be. ( Landed cost = Product + Shipping + Duty and Tax )
- Use Local Payment and Shipping Methods: JCB is the only international credit card brand created in Asia. JCB branded cards are accepted in 190 countries and territories. JCB currently has over 64 million card members. Purolator is Canada’s largest courier company. They currently handle over 1 million Canadian shipments each day. While they may be unfamiliar to you, it is critical to understand the nuances of each country you plan on expanding to and support how they pay and ship.
- Inform International Consumers: Questions about shipping should be addressed early and often. Place a banner on your home page stating that you are now shipping internationally. International shipping can be complex, so be sure to give a detailed explanation in order to calm the fears of international shoppers. Explain possible delays, as well as customs fees the customer can expect to pay.
- Don’t Require a Login to View Shipping Costs: The fewer hoops that customers have to jump through, the better. Customers should be able to see what their shipping costs will be in the shopping cart. When you add extra steps to the checkout process, you increase the chance of losing a customer.
- Don’t Make International Shipments a Profit Center: Customers are very sensitive to high shipping prices, so don’t jack up your rates just to make an extra 1-5% on your margins. This will help to avoid sticker shock and losing potential customers. 20% of something is a whole lot more than 30% of nothing.
- Use Trackable Shipping and Take Responsibility for Lost Shipments: When an eCommerce business begins shipping internationally it is hard for them to not use the USPS due to their low international shipping rates. While using the USPS comes with a good price tag, in some instances it can end up being more costly than other international shipping options. A lot of this cost can come from customer frustration due to transit time, lack of trackability and lost shipments. While you were not the one who lost the package, in the eyes of your customers, you’re the only one who can resolve the issue. If a customer calls about a package that was supposed to be delivered by the carrier and was not, take the matter into your own hands and mediate between the customer and the carrier. If the package cannot be found quickly, re-ship the merchandise regardless of whether the carrier will take fault.
- Under Promise, Over Deliver: Under promising and over delivering is important in all aspects of ecommerce, not just international. To ensure that you don’t promise unrealistic delivery times, you may want to add a day or two of padding on to your delivery time estimates due to customs clearance and other possible delays.