These international shipping must-knows make it easier to grow your cross-border sales

Canada Post

Modern technology allows even the smallest e-commerce retailer to reach the entire world. Still, instead of pursuing an entire planet of potential customers, many small to medium sized businesses don’t sell beyond their own borders. Some are deterred by the belief that international sales are too complex, while others feel it’s beyond the capacity of their business.

In truth, the processes and regulations involved in growing your business through international shipping aren’t as complicated as you might think. Here’s a look at some of the high-level issues to consider.

Educate yourself before you expand

Before attempting to target customers in a foreign country, it’s essential to consider any important differences that could impact your plans. 

Know local rules and regulations

First, make sure it’s permitted to export your products to the target market. For instance, horror comic books are banned in the United Kingdom, while Saudi Arabia prohibits stuffed animals and Pokemon toys.

Do your homework! Start by consulting the customs website of each potential target country.

Want more help? Check out Canada Post’s Dangerous Goods and International Destination Listing pages or complete the form at the end of this post to contact our team for more information.

Understand payment preferences

Second, it’s helpful to have some familiarity with your target country’s payment preferences. In North America and many European nations, people are used to paying with credit cards. In China, however, more than half¹ of online purchases are completed on payment platforms such as AliPay or UnionPay. Understanding the preferred payment methods of customers in your target markets will help structure your payment options and avoid shopper disappointment.

Want to know more about selling beyond Canada? Canada Post can help you reach the world.

Contact an expert

Communicate clearly

Communication shouldn’t be a challenge for foreign customers looking to buy from your business. Manage expectations and mitigate confusion by following these four guidelines, and give your customers all the information they need up front on your website.

Second, it’s helpful to have some familiarity with your target country’s payment preferences. In North America and many European nations, people are used to paying with credit cards. In China, however, more than half¹ of online purchases are completed on payment platforms such as AliPay or UnionPay. Understanding the preferred payment methods of customers in your target markets will help structure your payment options and avoid shopper disappointment.

Communicate clearly

Communication shouldn’t be a challenge for foreign customers looking to buy from your business. Manage expectations and mitigate confusion by following these four guidelines, and give your customers all the information they need up front on your website.

The cross-border final mile matters

The e-commerce experience doesn’t end until your product is delivered to the customer. And a positive receiving experience is a crucial driver of repeat purchases. Your chosen international delivery partner should be able to keep costs low while still meeting customer expectations. Look for the following when making your choice.

Ease of integration

Does your partner offer multiple ways to integrate with your order platform or other suppliers? Do they offer support? Are customs documents included in the label generation process? The ideal partner does all of the above – avoiding delivery headaches for you and, most importantly, your customers.

Visibility

Your carrier should allow customers to track shipments and provide other pertinent information, particularly when packages are delayed.

Premium shipping options

Ensure your delivery partner offers a variety of options, including express delivery, signature requirement choices, and coverage against loss should you or the buyer choose it. Make sure to clearly communicate the availability of these premium options.

 

A vast and reliable network

Global shoppers want the same convenience as domestic shoppers. Three quarters of global shoppers prefer home delivery, while the remainder choose alternate methods, such as post office collection or pick up at a local retail outlet. Make sure your delivery partner has the experience and ability to fulfill the demands of customers in your target country.

Whether you’re selling at home or abroad, providing a positive experience to customers is the key to success. Create a convenient, seamless shopping experience for international clients by ensuring you understand their market, providing all necessary documentation for customs clearance, and choosing a delivery partner who connects with customers via a reliable final mile experience.

¹ Source: Acapture — Ecommerce infographic 2015, 2016.

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