International e-commerce is a tricky subject, and it’s so crazy these days. Everyone seems to be going global, and how are all the logistics managed? How do you take care of it? How do you simplify it? You need the right return policy, you have to make sure you have the right languages and the right pricing, and you also need to make sure that you have the right back-end and logistics. It can be difficult to figure out how to compete with the bigger players that are shipping internationally. As a small business, you want to make sure that you can build scale in that capacity, and do it the easy way.
1. Implement a Robust Return Policy.
Make sure you have a robust return policy. Simply put, if customers are shipping items back, maybe they get a refund. However, the people who return to you internationally, they must pay for that shipping. It’s too much of a burden on you, the small business owner, to make sure things get cleared through customs, and to make sure it comes back to you. Also be sure the item includes tracking.
Make sure you actually have a very strict return policy for international shipments so you don’t get somebody sending something back to you many days later. Fourteen days is plenty. The next thing you want to do when you’re thinking about your return policy is to use language that’s very easy to understand. I have some clients who state, we do international shipping, but we don’t do returns at all. While it may seem like a tough policy, it’s actually pretty smart. If someone really does want the product, the liability is on them. Of course, if you want to be growing your policy and you want to be growing your business, then your policy has to be a little bit more expansive; think about the ways in which you can work in tandem in order to grow your overseas business.
2. Get to Know the Markets.
It’s crucial to make sure that you know what markets you are going to be spending advertising dollars in. If you take a look a look at a lot of high end luxury brands and high end labels, when you log on to their sites, they’ll ask what country you’re in, and where you’re shipping to. They have a lot of different kinds of information available to you. You can customize what the price point is, the conversion rate and the language. Personally, I think it might be a little too much to make sure that you’ve got all the languages, and that you have all the different price conversions.
However, if you know that there’s a particular market that you’re going to be marketing to, then you definitely want to make sure that you at least have the verbiage in that country’s language, and specifically in countries that are not predominantly English-speaking. For example, if you want to be shipping to Japan, make sure you have Japanese copy available. When it comes to the currency conversion, make sure you’ve got the right APIs and the right plug-ins, so the conversion is really simple and easy for you.
If you see brands like Chanel, for example, they charge different prices for different products all over the world. The reason is obviously customs, shipping and imports. When you are shipping, make sure that you have the right information there to indicate to your consumer exactly how much they’re going to be paying for those duties and taxes. There are some applications out there that really help split the difference. However, I think it’s really important to be upfront and clear how much you’re going to charge: a flat fee, or free shipping over a certain amount of money. Find out what’s best for your customer, but also do your best to protect your business.
3. Master Your Logistics.
When it comes to shipping, the logistics part is critical. Personally, I’m a huge fan of UPS. I also love DHL. They actually require signatures upon delivery. You wouldn’t imagine how difficult it is when you send a package over that does not require a signature, and all of a sudden your international customer starts to complain that they never received the package. This can happen in different markets, so make sure that the carrier that you’re working with does require a signature, and make sure that you find out exactly what their shipping rates are. I highly suggest doing a sample package, weighing it out and getting some quotes on what markets you’re going to be shipping to.
If you have any questions about going global, make sure to head over to ScalingRetail.com. We’ve got an amazing e-book that goes all over the different areas of going global and how to do that most efficiently. Also, feel free to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, especially if you want to start to expand your business and are wondering about the best processes.