Editor´s note: Bruce Wahl is an IT expert with years of experience working for Technivorz.com.
One of the reasons why the world of ecommerce business is so attractive is that it opens up the world to the people who sell. Instead of staying closed in within your area, you can look to customers all over the world, market to them and try to sell them your product. Unfortunately, if you decide to go outside the borders of your own country, you will soon find out that things get much more complicated than when you are shipping inside your country. This is why ecommerce newbies and those who have yet to make their first international shipment have to learn as much as they can about the challenges of shipping abroad as soon as possible.
Shipping prices skyrocket
One of the most important decisions that ecommerce business owners need to make is how to handle shipping costs.
The positive effects free shipping can have on the number of sales cannot be exaggerated as customers become more and more demanding, almost expecting to have their products shipped for free and in matter of just a few days.
Unfortunately, for many ecommerce business owners, especially new ones, covering all of the shipping costs can eat too much into their profits, making the whole business model unsustainable.
When we are talking international shipping, things get even more serious. Namely, international shipping can cost a lot. A lot. Depending on how far away your customer lives, shipping costs can become so high that there is no way in which an ecommerce company could cover them and still make a living.
Do not expect to be able to cover the costs of international shipping on your own as an ecommerce business owner. Instead, let your customers know how expensive shipping abroad can be and explain to them that you cannot hope to cover it yourself. They will understand, as long as you are transparent about this. There are always options.
By the way, these are a few calculators that will give you an idea of what we are talking about:
Customs officers can be brutal
When you ship your products exclusively within your own country, you do not have to deal with customs officers who can get quite aggressive, especially in certain parts of the world.
Their job is to ensure nothing illegal gets in or anything that is not listed in the shipping manifest. In certain cases, this can lead to them being quite rough with the shipments, often destroying the packaging and mishandling the contents.
This is especially true if you are selling products that bear resemblance to certain illegal products. For example, if you are selling tea or any kind of powdered product, you can rest assured that your packages will get opened and analyzed with extreme prejudice.
Do not be surprised if your customers abroad start complaining about the state of their packages (especially if you are proud of your packaging). Some ecommerce businesses that rely on the customer experience have found it all but impossible to do proper international shipping, exactly because of this.
While we are on the subject of customs, you should always make sure that you have done your homework when it comes to the customers’ country, the laws and regulations, as well as all the other legal stuff you need to keep in mind. Certain countries prohibit entering of certain products or do not allow foreign sellers of certain products and you need to make sure your product will be able to pass the customs in the first place.
Fraud is more common
Fraudulent orders are an integral part of the ecommerce arena and while sniffing out such orders is relatively easy when you are shipping within your country, shipping abroad comes with a whole other layer of danger.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to ensure that you do not get scammed. For one, make sure you have very clearly defined order and shipment policies on your website. For example, you will not accept orders from unconfirmed PayPal accounts. You will make sure to check and double-check credit card details for each and every order. You will check the address and the IP address from where the order was made. You will also want to add a signature service to your shipments.
It would also be a good idea to learn more about the countries that are notorious for ecommerce fraud and how you can help the local law enforcement deal with scammers. Another thing you might want to research are fraud protection and monitoring companies like Kount or Riskified. Their services can be on the costly side, but sometimes it is worth it.
Scaling up is complicated
The goal of every ecommerce business owner is for their company to grow and move from relying on the postal service to ship a product or two every day or even week. Almost all ecommerce business owners go into business with hopes of expanding their business and eventually scaling up.
Scaling up will involve (among other things) reaching out to a third-party logistics partner who would handle your warehouse and delivery since only the biggest companies do all of this on their own.
When you start scaling up and you happen to also do international shipping, you need to expect things to get really, really complicated. The reason for this is that you start involving international shipping companies and partners around the world.
In addition to this, certain countries tend to be really complicated when we are talking international shipping and customs on this scale. One such country is Australia and if you are either operating from Australia outwards or the other way around, you will most likely need the help of a company like CTS Australia who will handle the customs and logistics for you. In fact, you will want the help of a company like that no matter where you operate from or to.
Shipping abroad has its challenges; there is no doubt about that. However, by avoiding it altogether just because you fear the challenge, you will deny the primary principle of ecommerce – being free to sell anywhere.
Do your research, crunch your numbers carefully and do not be afraid to ask for help.
Before you know it, you will be growing your international customer base and your company along with it.
Author´s Bio: Bruce Wahl is an IT expert with years of experience working for Technivorz.com. He covers all aspects of IT like programming, photoshopping and other effects. He has spent some time in the field of security and is still helping other companies with the same. In his free time he loves to enjoy nature and his two German Shepherds.