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Looking to grow your online business overseas? Internet shopping is becoming increasingly popular, and retailers who offer international shipping grow faster – but to get it right, you’ll need to understand the options and use an effective strategy. We’ve created this guide to walk you through global shipping, to make your ecommerce business even more of a success.

Where and What Should You Ship?

First, you need to decide where you’re going to ship, and which products. Consider the countries visiting your online store to gauge demand, and the consumer trends of those markets. Once you’ve narrowed down the opportunities, check country-specific rules and regulations. Customs websites should outline restricted (or potentially prohibited) items, such as alcohol, food, plants, and seeds –and even the shipping of artwork. Some countries also require more documentation (e.g., India), and some impose a wide range of taxes and duties on imports (e.g., Brazil).

You’ll also need to factor in item size and weight, as smaller, lighter items are cheaper to ship and easier to pack. Products classed as “dangerous goods” (goods that if not handled with care could cause harm, such as flammable liquids and batteries) require specialist care too. Be aware that some couriers may not allow them to be shipped, or may charge extra fees to deal with the additional restrictions.

How to Choose a Shipping Carrier

There’s a range of shipping solutions available, and some work better for different countries – but to avoid overspending, you may choose to work with multiple carriers. Make sure you compare providers based on service quality, delivery timeframes, and of course, price. Again, this should be tailored to your customer base – some want products quickly, some with a lower budget are happy to wait, some want to track their goods – it’s important to have a balance and/or mix of options to suit who is shopping with you.

Do You Need Insurance?

International shipping insurance is affordable and easily attainable – so it’s worth investing to protect against any loss or damages, especially if your products are valuable. Some couriers offer it by default, but it depends on the provider, and the service level you choose. Just make sure you check the small print, to add peace of mind to you and your buyers.

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Be Clear About Costs

Did you know that 25% of consumers abandon their purchase due to unexpected shipping costs? It’s best to offer dynamic rates at checkout (whether that’s free, carrier rate, or flat rate shipping), as this will provide shoppers with optimised shipping options based on their country. You could also offer a website policy page which outlines how you ship items internationally, and the costs attached. Keep in mind hidden surcharges such as for fuel, remote/extended areas, or oversized/heavy items.

Pack Your Products Properly

Quality packing supplies are vital for successful international shipping. Make sure to stock up on different box sizes to accommodate multiple product types, and protective materials to keep items safe, such as bubble wrap, cushioning, and stuffing. Sturdy but simple is a good mantra to follow when it comes to ecommerce packaging.

Factor in Duties and Taxes

Duties are charged on goods and transactions, and are a tax payable to the government. Sales taxes are obligations levied on activities, goods, and income. It’s important to research duties and taxes to factor into your product pricing, as they do vary between countries, and make imported goods more expensive. By default, the customer is responsible for these (DDU – Delivered Duty Unpaid), but you can choose to be responsible for paying these fees (DDP – Delivered Duty Paid), which makes for a smoother customer buying experience.

Check Customs Paperwork

When you ship products internationally, there is more paperwork required – but you can use apps that automatically generate this for you. Though the documentation varies globally, typically, the two documents required are 1) a commercial invoice, which proves ownership/payment, and 2) an export packing list, which contains information about transport/the carrier/package type etc. Sometimes, a package can get stuck in customs, so be aware of procedures you need to follow if this arises, such as contacting the courier, settling any outstanding taxes, or recovering any missing paperwork.

Automate Your Shipping Journey

Why not try streamlining your logistics with automation tools? Whether you’re looking to import all orders into one platform, generate labels, pre-fill documents or schedule online pickups, this could save you time and money, so you can invest in building your online business faster.

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Think you’ve got your international shipping strategy in place? Prepare to grow your business worldwide, and let us transport your products safely with our dedicated commercial shipping service. Get in touch with Andrews Shipping today.