Everything you need to know to deliver outside the US
If you’re looking to grow your eCommerce business, selling outside the United States could be a great next step. BUT: that means you need to figure out HOW to ship internationally. International eCommerce shipping has a lot of parts, but is possible for everyone.
To ship internationally right, you need a strategy that works for you and your business. You don’t need to know EVERYTHING about shipping internationally, but you will need to understand your available options and find a process that will make it make sense for your business.
There are a lot of reasons you may not be shipping internationally right now. Maybe you’re just starting to look into options. Or, maybe you’ve tried it before and you’d rather stick to shipping within the United States. Shipping internationally can be a scary idea to a young or new eCommerce business, but it doesn’t have to be if you put the best strategy for your company in place.
Selling beyond your own borders can be an important area of growth for your eCommerce business, even if you only ship a few things internationally a month. It’s definitely worth grappling with the logistics side of it first.
Consider this for international eCommerce shipping:
- One out of every four people is an online shopper. (Oberlo)
- Retail eCommerce sales have seen 5 years of growth in 2020. There’s definitely a new normal for shopping. (TechCrunch)
- The average order value of an international sale is $143USD. That’s 17% higher than the average domestic sale. (DHL)
- Retailers who offer express international shipping grow 60% times faster than those that don’t. (DHL)
Online shoppers have come to expect international shipping, and as a result, eCommerce companies are running to meet their expectations. Shipping internationally gives a company like yours to sell to a larger audience.
But what do you do first? Here are a few things you’ll need to think about:
Build an international eCommerce shipping strategy
Where you’ll ship:
Start small, and close.
By keeping your shipment closer to home (say Canada), you’ll be able to set realistic expectations for customers with delivery times and shipping rates. Starting small and close will give you a better idea of what it takes to expand your shipments.
Track current demand
Use your shop’s analytics to see which markets and countries are already visiting your online store. You can also look at direct requests to expand into a certain country. These areas that show repeat visits or high traffic will help you decide where to look first.
Think about how your product fits that market
Dig into consumer trends and tastes for each market. Remember, a gift that means congratulations in the United States could have an entirely different meaning in China. Don’t be afraid to do some research into global markets. Do you feel there are a few target markets that would suit your products better than others? Go for them first!
Being able to communicate with customers is essential. Think about the languages commonly used in your prospective markets and how you will communicate in markets that you are not fluent in.
What you’ll ship:
- What items appeal to the international markets you’re looking to ship to?
- Lightweight and smaller items will be cheaper to ship and easier to package.
- Invest in sturdy packaging. Remember, proper packaging decreases the risk of your items being damaged in transit.
Knowing a Country’s Rules & Regulations for your international eCommerce shipments
Once you have an idea of where you’ll ship and what items you’ll be shipping, it’s time to check those countries’ rules and regulations.
Some countries prohibit items outright, while others put restrictions on how an item is handled or labeled. In addition, being informed of the rules and regulations of each country helps you form the best international shipping strategy for your business.
There are a few ways you can get this information:
- First, DHL has a tool that shows country-specific rules and regulations by the origin and destination countries.
- Secondly, check out eGlobalUSA’s post here on what you can’t ship internationally.
- Thirdly, check each destination country’s restrictions.
- And last, talk to your eGlobalUSA team member for more information.
How to ship for international eCommerce with eGlobalUSA
eGlobalUSA offers merchants in the United States access to discounted rates with multiple carriers. Our platform integrates with your Shopify, WooCommerce, or other merchant sites so you can offer these rates in real-time to your customers. We can even integrate multiple systems, so you see multiple stores’ inventory and shipments in one place.
When creating international shipping labels through eGlobalUSA’s platform, the correct customs forms and documentation will be generated as well and can be printed on any standard printer. When you choose DHL Express for your shipping option, this documentation is electronically transmitted to customs – no additional paperwork is necessary. Finally, when you’re ready to send your shipments, you also have the option to schedule pickups with DHL Express.
When choosing an international shipping carrier, here are some things to consider:
Using multiple carriers is one way to save on your shipping costs.
For instance, postal carriers are often more affordable, but may not offer much by way of tracking and delivery times. However, express carriers are faster, can take larger and heavier packages, and provide more service options, but are more expensive.
Moreover, with eGlobalUSA’s platform, you’ll have the option to extend several different options to your customers from Express to Economy. We work with couriers and carriers worldwide. Bringing you the most cost-effective service without sacrificing tracking and delivery confirmation is our goal.
You’ll know your costs upfront, and so will your customers.
In order to compete with retail giants like Amazon and Walmart, offering express options with your economy shipping options will be a smart choice for your international eCommerce shipping strategy. Although Amazon has spoiled all of us with 2-day delivery, sometimes a customer will be willing to wait for their order for the right price.
To better serve your customers, offering a good mix of delivery options and providing a range of choices might be the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.
Tracking and insurance
eGlobalUSA’s platform offers full tracking and delivery confirmation on each order. As a result, your customers will easily be able to see up-to-date shipment statuses.
If you are worried about a package becoming lost or damaged, insuring your shipments is the best way to alleviate those fears. Insurance is offered by most carriers, and your eGlobalUSA team member will be able to help you put together a plan for your shipments.
Whatever you decide, adding insurance to any shipment over $200 being shipped to another country will add peace of mind for both you and your customer.
Be transparent about shipping fees and costs
This might be the number one consideration for any international shipping strategy: Be as clear as possible with your customers about shipping costs, and don’t surprise them with an unexpected total cost at checkout.
Nearly 50% of the cart abandonment on eCommerce sites in 2020 was due to extra shipping fees and costs. But, studies reveal that a store’s shipping policy that clearly states who pays duties and taxes builds more trust and wins more sales with new international shoppers.
So, one place you can state these costs is in your policy pages. Clearly lay out how and where you ship your products internationally, and what costs may be associated.
Duties and Taxes:
International shipments can be subject to duties and taxes because of several different rules and regulations. It’s important to do your research and think about how duties and taxes will factor into your pricing strategy, especially for any market you are targeting.
Taxes are based on a fixed percentage per destination country.
Duties, however, depend on:
- item values
- The country of origin
- The type of items being shipped and things like materials used to make them
By default, your customer is responsible for any duties and taxes on the shipment and will need to pay them before they can receive their order. This is called Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) or Delivered At Place (DAP). It’s very important to communicate this to your customers and avoid returns or chargebacks. Make sure to set up a clear return policy on your website.
The correct customs paperwork required for international shipments can vary by country, but these two documents are typically always required: commercial invoice and export packing list.
This is the bill for the shipped product from the seller to the buyer that proves ownership and payment. This is used to determine the true value of the products being shipped and help the country assess customs duties and taxes.
You should always include:
- The merchant and customer’s names and addresses
- The price, descriptions and quantity of the products included
- How the sale was made and terms of payment
- Shipping method
Depending on which carrier your customer has chosen, this information may be in the shipping label. Shipping with DHL Express means your information is transmitted electronically, making it unnecessary to print extra documents.
Typical information included on a packing list includes buyer, seller/shipper, invoice number, date of shipment, etc. but also includes information such as:
- Mode of transport
- Carrier info
- Weight and dimensions of package
- The type and quantity of packages
Time to ship internationally for eCommerce
The first step to international shipping is to have a strategy in place. From what and how you’ll ship to where and at what cost – thinking about these things will better prepare you for selling your products globally.
Still lost on where to start? eGlobalUSA is here to help! From your first international shipment to your 100,000th, we set you up for international success.
Selling cross-border is a great way to boost your revenue and get more international customers to buy your products. eGlobalUSA’s international eCommerce shipping platform provides simple, easy to use tools that help you set up your store for international visitors.
Director of Marketing & Media
Kristin loves coffee and reading, in that order! She drinks the coffee and makes the things for eGlobalUSA.