Covering these three aspects of global shipping will help close the sale.

When international online sales are falling flat, it’s natural to question every aspect of the effort. But before you disrupt what may for the most part be a winning formula for cross border e-commerce, the culprit might just be the way you’re setting global shipping preferences. How you display this to the buyer can make a huge difference.

That final step of the online purchase can make or break the sale. A sudden price shock, confusing language, or limited shipping options for the shopper can end it all right there.

Further, shipping across borders makes the process even harder. Taxes, duties, customs, shipping costs, and other fees vary from country to country. Trying to single-handedly manage all the variables can put a strain on the e-commerce operation. And worse, the customer could start to notice.

By dialing in a few of the right technical controls on your e-commerce platform, you can retain more customers in the final stage of purchase. Just like the rest of the retail experience, communicating all the information related to delivery of goods must be clearly outlined for customers. These three areas are the main differentiators when it comes to optimizing your global shipping:

1. Shipping Tiers

Shoppers might not like to wait for their package but they do like having options for how it’s sent. Presenting more than one shipping option provides a range of speed and pricing that increases the likelihood of matching their comfort level.

When you analyze shipping to global markets, think about which options will give the best choices to your customers for arrival date and means of delivery. Do they prefer One-Day shipping? Two-Day? What about a preference for Ground or Air? One way to figure out the right recipe is to A/B test different shipping options for different markets on your site to see how shoppers respond.

Words can also be important. The terms “Express” and “Standard” are two of the more popular ways to describe shipping tiers in the U.S.  However, in other markets, online retailers may use different terminology. Some markets refer to Standard shipping as “Economy Service” or “Regular Mail,” and  Express is sometimes used interchangeably with “Priority.” Oftentimes the terminology carriers use isn’t ‘user friendly’ on a website, so it’s important to research and A/B test the carrier service offered to local customers as well as the terminology you use on the site to figure out what resonates with shoppers in that market.

2. Carriers

The core of your shipping tier strategy is the carrier. Each shipping tier needs a carrier that can provide the services that best meet the buyer’s needs. Make sure your “Express” carriers have the capability to provide fast delivery, paying close attention to the criteria for sending items “Overnight.”

Beyond the more notable carriers, there are many companies around the world that can provide last-mile delivery to more remote areas or regions where the big players have not yet developed fulfillment capacity. Picking the right international shipping partners will enable you to optimize your shipping tiers and rules of engagement. If speed is more important to the customer, make sure the option is there for quick delivery. If the customer prefers the lower cost, make sure you offer them a less expensive shipping option.

3. Landed Cost Settings

Duties and tax can be an afterthought but are crucial to the buying experience. Depending on the region, these fees will be included in the price, displayed next to the price, broken out as separate line items at checkout, or not addressed at all on the website. In the United States, customers are used to seeing the sales tax show up right at the final tally. But in the European Union, the VAT is sometimes included in the price depending on the country. If you don’t display duties and taxes in the manner a local shopper might expect, this can rattle the buyer and negatively impact conversion rates on your website.

Based on where your customers are located, make sure you’re displaying the landed costs in a format they expect and understand, including the correct currency. Any confusion around taxes and other costs could increase shopping cart abandonment not to mention hurt your brand’s reputation.

Indeed, managing these controls and settings across all locales is a big task and the ability to comply with local and regional duties and tax may be complex. A next generation e-commerce solution can help walk you through defining and presenting your shipping tiers in a way that works for your business, while providing your customers the best delivery options for them at a cost that meets expectations.  

Cloud-based, SaaS systems like Flow can simplify the operation by providing flexible, customizable options by country or market for landed costs and shipping so that your business can compete with local ones. If you’re ready to solve your international shipping problem, schedule a demo of the Flow console today.