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Shipping Internationally With Your Ecommerce Store

If you achieved maximum market penetration in your country, or if you just dream big from the get-go, you might want to start shipping internationally with your ecommerce store. 

But it’s not so straightforward. Not only do you need to find an international courier service, you need to make sure you state shipping times accurately for all locations you can ship to, and in most cases you’ll need to sign a contract with a courier if you’re a registered company. So there’s a lot to take into account before shipping internationally.

How do you go about it?

What’s important to take into account?

Let’s talk about it.

Think The Expansion Through

There are two ways in which you can start shipping internationally. You either create a new version of your site for a different country, or you can just do everything in English and ship worldwide.

The first option can net you the most results. Let’s say you operate out of the US and you want to start shipping products to the UK as well. You can get a .co.uk domain for your site, sign a deal with a UK-based courier, and start targeting people from the UK. It’s also easier to be covered legally, and if everything goes well, you might even want to set-up a warehouse in the UK as well, for express delivery.

On top, if the country you expand to has a different language, you have a much higher chance of getting significant orders out of there as well.

If you just switch to English and start shipping worldwide, it might be a bit harder to get traffic on a global scale, and shipping worldwide is going to be much harder, and you won’t be able to deliver your products as fast. However, you can scale your store much faster this way, and if your market is pretty niched, it’s sometimes a necessity to address a worldwide audience.

Once you settle on an expansion strategy, your website should be updated to match that as well. For example, if you ship worldwide it’s important to accommodate as many payment systems as possible, to make sure all of your potential customers can actually pay you. That’s where we come in, because PaymentsMB is an all-in-one payment processor. 

Starting The Research For Shipping Internationally

This article is aimed at providing you the general guidelines of shipping internationally. However, we won’t be able to fill in all the details for you. Simply put, it all depends on the country you reside in. If you live in Germany and want to start shipping in Asia, you might rely on Asian couriers. If you live in the US and want to start shipping to western Europe, UPS might be your best bet.

And that’s just two examples. Depending on where you operate from, you’ll have a different “best option”. So you’ll have to do your own research. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Draft a list of all the couriers operating in your country, and the rates at which they deliver to other regions.
  • Take into account the pricing of each option. If you deliver heavier objects, you might need a cheaper courier to keep profit margins high.
  • Research the law of the countries you want to ship to. If you just plan on opening up business worldwide it might be a bit harder to predict costs, but keep in mind that specific objects have specific tariffs and customs fees. For example, if you sell high-value products that are pretty light, like expensive jewelry, shipping costs might not be a problem, but customs fees will be. 

Lastly, if you have several headquarters, or warehouses, you’ll have to do all of this research individually for all of them. In that case, you can even segment the regions you’ll ship to based on where you’ll ship from, so you’ll need to sign a contract with couriers accordingly.

National Post Service: A Viable Option?

An option you most oftenly see on Etsy stores, or Deviantart is delivery by national post service. It’s cheap, and you don’t really need a lot of research or signing contracts.

Should you do it though?

Not really. National Post services move slow. Really slow. For reference, let’s say you want to ship a product from the US to Western Germany. With a courier like UPS or DHL, it can take between a few days up to a week or two, depending on your timing and product specs. If you choose to ship with USPS, it can take up to a month, or even more. And those are pre-Covid numbers, so you never know how hard it will be with the pandemic still raging.

So if you have your own ecommerce store, we recommend doing the research and signing a contract with a courier to have products delivered fast. It’s a great competitive advantage, and it’s a very important point for customer retention, especially when you have to compete with Amazon’s 24h delivery.

However, it may work in some cases. Specifically, if you have a small store, or you sell unique items that people can’t get anywhere else. In that case, people may put up with long delivery times. We still advise against it though.

Clearly State Your Shipping Policy

When you start shipping internationally, it’s important that you clearly state the pricing for each region, as well as expected delivery time. You should also do your best to stick to that delivery time. Managing client expectations in regards to shipping is extremely important to stay competitive, so it’s something you shouldn’t take lightly.

Moreover, having a clear shipping policy can help you in a lot of other ways. For example, it’s a good way to reduce cart abandonment and inspire trust in your potential buyers.

But how do you do it?

Follow these steps:

  • Make the policy easy to find in your footer, or on your checkout page.
  • Don’t try to impress your University creative writing teacher. Just state everything plainly and concisely.
  • Mention order processing times, both for domestic and international deliveries.
  • Have a pricing table
  • Mention pick-up options
  • Be transparent of refunds and cancellations

If you want to find out more, Shopify has a pretty good guide on how to create a shipping policy.

In Conclusion

Shipping internationally is a bold move, but if you want to do it right, you need put some work into the expansion:

  • Formulate an expansion strategy
  • Research for the right shipping partner
  • Clearly state your shipping policy on your website

Do all of these, and you’ll see your business thriving.

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