Getting Started with International Shipping

  •    Shan is the Marketing Manager at Shippo, an API and dashboard that helps eCommerce businesses create, track, and manage shipments all from one location.

There are many reasons to consider expanding your business internationally. There are more potential customers, and you’ll have a bigger marketplace to play with. But have you considered how you’ll get products into the hands of your new customers? ​

To the end customer, it doesn’t matter where the package is coming from. So it’s up to you to manage their expectations for international shipment delivery time and costs.

Some customers may be more cost-sensitive and patient, while others are willing to pay more for better service.

Since international shipping can get expensive and take a long time to arrive, it’s important to give customers the option that best fits their needs when checking out. Not only will that increase your sales and customer experience, it may increase your margins depending on how you decide to charge for shipping.

You can easily do this by diversifying your shipping profile to include multiple carriers to take advantage of the services they’re best optimized for.

For cost-sensitive but patient customers, you may be want to try out USPS Priority Mail International. Especially for smaller, lighter packages, USPS offers the most competitive rates.

But it’s important to note that USPS is a U.S. government-run service. So when shipping internationally, the parcel is handed off to the local postal service provider in that country. Thus, your USPS tracking can be spotty depending on where you’re shipping (check out this thread on USPS E-Delcon Delivery Confirmation for more information). Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your shipment is just stuck at customs or lost.

This will likely be the bulk of your customers. Free shipping is the most important factor when making a purchasing decision during checkout. Up to 50% of consumers will choose a slower transit time to qualify for free shipping, with the average wait time for deliveries being 7 days. 60% of consumers even add items to their order to qualify for free shipping.

For those who are willing to pay for fast service, and want a more accurate, trackable method, consider integrating with a few private carriers like DHL Express, UPS, and FedEx to check out their rates and options. All of these carriers have international fleets that are much more reliable at updating tracking information.

When expanding internationally, remember to take a look at who your customers are and what service levels they are expecting. By giving them the option to select what they need, you’ll be able to increase both your sales and customer service reputation.