According to data published by Statista, global retail e-commerce sales were $1.3 trillion in 2014, $2.3 trillion in 2017, and projected to be $4.88 trillion in 2021. What’s more, according to the same report, global B2B sales for 2017 were $7.7 trillion. Those numbers are hard to ignore. International sales are the fastest growth areas for most U.S. based sellers. International e Commerce shipping used to be a process fraught with roadblocks. Not anymore. Thanks to technology and a few good partners, navigating the waters of international e-Commerce is easy.
Why are U.S. e-commerces so appreciated by international consumers?
Have you ever thought about why international consumers find U.S. e-commerce sites so cool? There are several reasons: the vast assortment of items, brilliant, generally unique merchandise, and the dearth of accessibility in other places. I asked a Canadian colleague why Canadians buy from the U.S. and Americans don’t buy from Canada. “Very simple, he said, we don’t have anything that you want.” Americans take for granted the easy access and the vast array of goods. Naturally, most countries don’t have the same choices and consumers naturally turn to the Internet to find what they want. That’s when international e Commerce shipping solutions are important.
Together, all of these reasons compel buyers to purchase from U.S. e-commerce retailers. Whatever the particular fascination is for an individual, it’s true that U.S. brands are sought after around the world. And, the variety of items purchased online is astounding. International customers are buying clothing, shoes, books, games, and even food and bottled water!
As a U.S. based online seller, there is an enormous opportunity to expand your business by presenting the world with great products and, at the same time, creating a fabulous customer experience with your e commerce international shipping solutions and policy. Very often that experience is the key competitive advantage when compared to other sellers. You want to use every tool at your disposal; from the time they find your site, to the minute your package arrives at their door.
Think of the whole e-commerce experience as a chain of events. The last link in the chain, shipping and delivering products, represents one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. So how do you make international e Commerce shipping easy and cost effective? Delivery of their parcel, the last part of the process, is the one that remains with them the longest. You’ve all seen “unboxing” videos. People find it particularly gratifying when their goodies finally arrive. Don’t disappoint them by causing unnecessary delays and providing unsavory surprises.
The cons of international e Commerce shipping
Surprises upon delivery are one of the greatest annoyances for foreign customers. Lack of visibility, long delivery times, and unexpected delivery costs can cause undue angst at a time your customers should be feeling elated! At the top of the list of potential disappointments are issues with customs. When an order is sent DDU (duty and tax unpaid) and its value surpasses the threshold where customs charges can be levied, the customer will probably get a postcard in the mail, telling them there are charges due before they can retrieve their shipment.
Sometimes, their parcel is miles from home at a local post office or customs depot. Even worse, this inconvenience is compounded in locales that charge an extra fee for duties and tax collection. That fee is an additional $10 in Canada and about $12 in the U.K. Some EU countries charge as much as $25 per collection! Suddenly, your customer winds up in a very unpleasant situation.
Imagine waiting for your order, you have paid the seller, the parcel doesn’t show up. Instead you find a note in your mailbox. The note says you owe more money AND you have to travel 10 miles to pick up your parcel. Should they refuse to pay and have then parcel returned? Or, do they bite the bullet and pay up? What are the chances they will place another order? So, think carefully when deciding how to ship.
What you should do to improve your international e Commerce shipping
I usually recommend shipping DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) to countries where it is available. DDP means that your customer’s package will clear customs more smoothly. DDP shipping helps avoid delays, reduces the total cost, and is almost as easy, for your customer, as buying something locally. There are no surprises and no unexpected costs. AND, the customer doesn’t even have to be home to receive their package. Since all fees have already been paid, the delivery agent can just leave it at their door. How does that experience compare to the former scenario? Which would you prefer?
Including a fully landed cost option to your shopping cart enables your international customers to see what they will pay in full, in advance, so they can decide whether, or not, to complete the transaction. Some seller may worry that this transparency could affect their conversion rate.
If purchasers can see the total cost of acquisition versus the item ce commerce international shipping solutions without D&T, won’t that make their products appear more expensive? I advise that it’s smarter to have the shopper cancel the sale before the package is shipped and is waiting at their local post. Everyone loses when an international customer refuses to pay the fees (it happens all the time) and the package gets returned.
Like that, your international e Commerce shipping gets hurt. When that happens, the shipping cost and loss of profits, and even lost packages, can be very costly. It takes a little more work to manage a DDP shipment, but the benefits far outweigh the additional work.
So, make it easy. You have choices. Find an effective partner who can guide you to the best practices. Include a landed cost calculator at your shopping cart. Ship using a DDP service. Your customers will be far happier, and you will make more money.