Five simple steps to improve international shipping

With a purchase through your online site or via an online marketplace you have limited points in the journey to make a great impression and give your buyer a lasting experience.  One of these, one of the more important, is the shipping experience.  It’s always important to get this right but with cross border eCommerce there is the added uncertainty for your buyer about how long it will take and what condition the product will be in when it arrives. So you need to spend extra time getting this right.   A good experience with delivery is the first step to a repeat buyer.

Here are the five simple steps to improving the international shipping experience for your cross border buyers.

1. Ensure the cost of shipping doesn’t feel excessive.

Sending products abroad can be a lot more costly than a domestic shipment. If the price of shipping is more than around 20% of the price of the product then consider adding some of the shipping cost to the product price.  Obviously the actual cost of shipping remains the same but the buyer will likely be happier to pay a bit more for the product than pay for a comparably expensive shipping cost.

2. Give the buyer options. 

You don’t have to decide the best shipping experience on your buyer’s behalf, you can instead provide multiple shipping options. Many retailers provide this these days with the options of standard. fast track and courier being normal.

3. Correctly set expectations about how long it will take. 

It’s more important that your customer gets the product they want when they need it than that you get the sale.  If they need it in two days but you can only get it to them in four they you’ll likely get it sent back if they don’t know that will be the case.  It isn’t necessarily lost, you may still end up with the sale if they simply can’t get the product in the time they would like it. Provide a clear timeline and one you can deliver to.

4. Provide a strong returns policy

We’ve discussed this in more detail here but to summarize, a strong return’s policy is a way to instill trust in your service to your buyers.  It helps them answer the question about whether or not to buy from you.

5. Make sure it arrives in one piece and looking good.

We have all received a parcel wrapped in a black garbage bag held together with too much sticky tape.  Don’t EVER do this to your customers, bin bags are for rubbish.   It may be easy for you but it’s unprofessional and needs to be avoided. The packaging is the first physical element they will see from you, make sure it’s well packaged and ideally has your brand and contact details on it. It doesn’t need to be expensive, only to have had a little thought behind it.

If you are sending something fragile or easily damaged, make sure it’s packaged in a secure way as well as one that gives a good impression.

There’s some more information about this in our eBook which you can find in the resources section of this site. Just add your email address to our newsletter to get access.

About Mark Ellis

Here on CBT Pulse Mark shares his knowledge and recommendations for International eCommerce and will shortly be releasing a manual for retailers on the subject. He is a specialist in helping grow retailer's sales overseas and has been leading international selling programs for marketplaces, SaaS companies and directly for retailers over 15 years. He started his career as a freelance software developer building eCommerce shops and marketing websites and has been involved in product development/delivery throughout his career.

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