International shipping doesn’t have to be stressful – with a few simple tips, you can easily expand your customer base across the globe.
From giving you exposure to new markets to increasing the commercial lifespan of your products or services, there are many benefits to exporting. Make sure that before you look to expand your operations overseas, you’ve read up on our top nine secrets to exporting success.
Communication about your international delivery services is key. Failing to disclose which countries you do and don’t deliver to is off-putting for a customer, and will mean they have to begin shopping without knowing whether their order will be accepted or delivered. Make sure overseas customers can clearly see on your site what their options are.
It's essential for your back-end systems to be able to cope with the address data overseas shoppers enter on your site. Some of the best systems can be purchased off the shelf and are capable of providing multi-national address look-up.
If you’re planning to target consumers in non-EU, English-speaking countries such as Australia and the US, make sure you’ve clearly included details of the customs charges buyers will need to pay. That way, they are able to make an informed decision before their purchase. Fortunately, sales within the EU incur no customs charges at all.
One of the main things causing customers to abandon online purchases is high delivery charges. Therefore, it is vital that retailers offer affordable delivery to overseas customers, otherwise they may not make it to checkout. Research suggests that the cost of carriage shouldn’t exceed a third of the price of the goods, and that free delivery is preferable.
Most UK retailers offer at least two delivery options for domestic deliveries, including a standard service and an express service that costs more, but offers faster delivery. However, this is rarely the case for international deliveries, despite the fact overseas consumers, like UK shoppers, prioritise speed some of the time, and affordability at other times. Catering to both attitudes will help businesses to attract more online sales from overseas.
If you’ve provided a customer with a specific time frame for delivery, stick to it. Timings may vary across Europe, but it is important that at the time of purchase, customers are given a realistic delivery date or, failing that, a clear window of delivery. Consistency is key to fostering loyalty and giving the consumer confidence to buy with you again.
Translating your website for multiple languages is no mean feat. Some of the more successful businesses host a primarily English language site, and only use banner ads in the local language. There are 422 million English speakers across six countries (Republic of Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) – a huge market for online retailers based in the UK. This isn't to say that retailers shouldn't target non-English-speaking countries, just that this is a good place to start.
Online transactions should be simple for both the customer and the retailer, and function properly. In order for all sales to go through, retailers must ensure the payment process is running smoothly.
Shoppers don’t just want to see prices in their local currencies – they also want to pay in them. Many firms build an exchange rate calculator into their website, while others limit their currency availability to pounds, euros and US Dollars, before expanding into other currencies.
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