Overcome your international shipping headaches with information and automation
We understand the importance of shipping internationally. It presents a significant opportunity for online retailers as it opens your market to a potential three billion additional consumers.
For many online retailers, the task of shipping a package internationally and understanding all the associated rules, regulations, and risks can be overwhelming. So before you create an international shipping strategy, you should determine if it is right for you and your product mix.
Regardless of the growth opportunities that shipping internationally presents, many eCommerce merchants are reluctant to try it. The key reasons holding merchants back include complex shipping regulations, the cost of shipping, understanding foreign markets and currency fluctuations. If you get it right, there is great potential to grow your reach and with it, your profits.
Even the best products in the world aren’t always eligible for international shipping. Whether you know it or not, some countries strictly limit what goods can be transported from outside their borders, leaving you with an inventory full of products that are only good for customers at home. These categories of goods range from reasonable, like aerosol cans and ammunition, to questionable, like nail polish, but the fact still remains: not all products can be shipped overseas. If you are a tobacco retailer, for example, it may not be worth your while to get the global ball rolling, but for most standard products, like clothing and accessories, it can make for a great investment.
If you are shipping perishable goods or large items, you may want to keep these items solely available to your domestic customers. It is also important to be aware of any import and/or export restrictions subjected to the product and specific countries.
IS THERE DEMAND FOR MY PRODUCT?
Before you invest in shipping internationally ensure that there is demand for your product. Investigate who your competitors are and what your point of difference is. Start out small and maybe target one international market to begin with. Looking at who is selling similar products on eBay and Amazon can give a good insight into if shipping internationally is a viable option.
MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE ADDITIONAL COSTS
Shipping internationally often requires a significant investment, as the resources required to fulfill orders are much greater. Most companies pass these expenses on to the consumer, but straight shipping costs aren’t your only concern. Shipments between countries are subject to additional rules and regulations, in addition to duties, taxes, and tariffs. What looks like a quick jaunt across the sea may not be so easy, especially when other fees are imposed. Prior to launching an international operation, be sure to do research into other associated costs, and build these into your expectations and business case.
Simply being able to ship overseas is a good first step, but being able to do so in a timely manner is also important. In most cases, international shipping is much slower than domestic shipping, requiring an international carrier or third party conduit to get the job done. Before promising delivery time-frames you can’t meet or saddling customers with extreme wait times, do some research to determine how quickly you can ship at a reasonable price point. Pay particular attention to the customs process, ensuring all paperwork can be filed properly and efficiently before international shipments can make their way to customers. One service does not fit all. Know what international shipping service is the best fit for you and your customers’ needs.
AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE!
One of the biggest headaches online retailers face when shipping internationally is the amount of paperwork required. As well as the courier labels, customs require information around the contents and value of orders, and often this takes the form of a signed declaration.
Needing to complete 2 sets of customs forms for every shipment and entering all the specific details around addresses, weights, declarations, signed etc can be very time consuming – especially when you are shipping 10 or more orders a day.
With StarShipIT and DHL Express, for example, you can simplify the process with an electronic lodgement of the customs declaration, leaving just the label to be printed. If all the information is imported from your eCommerce platform, this can become a fully automated process saving countless hours on laborious paperwork.
Choosing a shipping automation software that supports international shipping is the best decision you can make and will greatly reduce the overheads associated with shipping internationally. From address validation (which becomes doubly important when shipping in foreign countries) to creation of customs documentation and a returns solution, a fully-automated solution will take care of the end to end process when fulfilling international orders.
StarShipIT will offer address look up at check out, carry out automatic correction of incorrect address, automatically create all the customs documentation (including commercial invoices) cater to the different rules associated with shipping to different companies as well as comprehensive returns functionality for international orders.
As well as the courier labels, customs require information around the contents and value of orders, and often this takes the form of a signed declaration.
For more information on StarShipIT and how you can ship internationally, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or get started with a free trial today!