One of the most significant contributing factors to the growth of eCommerce in the last couple of decades has been easy access to global brands and products. No matter how big or small your eCommerce business is, your customers might expect you to offer international shipping especially if you have a loyal customer base.
International shipping can bring a lot of success to your business, but it is not as easy as it sounds. You need to have an efficient, well-thought-out shipping and order fulfillment strategy in place. The first step to developing a shipping plan is to find out why you haven’t thought about shipping until now. This is crucial because, even though you cannot perfect any strategy, you can take maximum advantage of them to overpower these reasons.
Whether you are planning to start offering international shipping or just learn more about it in the future, read on to find out how to develop your shipping strategies.
Your current marketing and promotional strategies should be based on the local customer base or specific to the region you are focusing on. When you plan to expand your customer base internationally, you must conduct thorough market research. Culture and traditions play an important role in how the new demographic would perceive a product and thus how likely they are to convert into actual customers. You don’t want to invest tens and thousands of dollars into entering a new market only to end up with profit loss. Learn about the history of the place, the current trends they follow, the present competitors, etc.
The Product and Location
You may choose more than one product to ship or just one, depending on how you want to enter a new market. Regardless, one of the essential factors to consider is where you will ship the product to. Are you going to offer global shipping services or just to selected regions? Many countries have specific regulations when it comes to the manufacturing place of the product or from where it is shipped. While deciding what to ship and to where to consider the following points.
Start with shipping in small quantities and closer to your headquarters. This will help forecast and perfect delivery times, shipping rates, and how the customers accept the product. Starting small also helps in creating demand as a limited quantity product.
Learn the current market trends of that specific region. Rather than making the product available at once, wait for the direct requests from the customer and slowly build the momentum.
Seek out a local expert who can help you reach the customers in local languages. One of the best ways to start this is by reaching the customers who speak the same language as you.
Rules, Regulations, and Limitations
Each country has a different set of rules and regulations regarding import, export, or availability of foreign products. Your product might be legal in your country but not acceptable for inbound shipments somewhere else. This usually happens with cosmetic, wellness, or beauty products containing certain ingredients. Some countries might outright prohibit your development, and some might have a specific set of rules, documentation, and processes you need to follow to sell the product. Just like how the US has Section 321, you could also check different provisions in your target countries that would allow you to cut down on export duties and taxes.
Start Small and Test the Waters
It’s always better to start small and then expand. Of course, there are multiple ways to do it—introducing limited products, or limited quantities, or making the product available only to a specific region of a country. Usually, it’s advised to introduce the product in the capital cities or the metropolises of a country where you know the target demographic is already aware of the product and more likely to purchase.
Pick the Shipping Carrier
Every international carrier has specific limitations and rules when it comes to shipping. It’s not just the shipping costs you should consider but also how the shipping strategies of the carrier align with yours. It’s impossible to get every criterion checked, but you can find the carrier that gives you the most advantage in shipping costs, delivery time, and more. Partnering with a third party logistics (3PL) fulfillment provider can help you identify the best shipping carrier options.
International shipping means your product will be in transit for a longer time. You need a packaging that is safe, aesthetically pleasing, and one that does not add on to the shipping costs. If you have a 3PL fulfillment partner who offers packing and shipping services as part of their package, you can rest assured knowing your product will be delivered with little to no damage or packaging problems.
How ShipBots Can Help Streamline Your International Shipping
International shipping can get challenging if you are just starting and getting to know how it works. With the help of a 3PL fulfillment partner like ShipBots, you can ensure that you have the right strategies, tools, and resources to ensure a smooth transition to being a global eCommerce business.
ShipBots not only has multiple warehouses and fulfillment centers across the US to help you with your order fulfillment services, inventory management, packaging, and shipping, but we also partner with Passport to offer international DDP services. We can help you find the best shipping carriers at competitive rates for your business.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help your eCommerce business in global expansion.