PARCEL International 2021

Page 12

By Jarrett Streebin

BARRIERS TO CROSS-BORDER SHIPPING FOR ONLINE RETAILERS… AND HOW TO OVERCOME THEM

F

rom the moment consumers click “complete purchase,” they are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their package. There’s no denying that speed is of the essence when it comes to today’s shipping and logistics landscape, something that is even more difficult to achieve with cross-border sales and shipping. In reality, your consumers don’t care where your business is based; they only care about receiving their package as quickly and affordably as possible. As more than 80% of US imports are goods, there is a massive demand for overseas products and purchases. For example, more than 67% of apparel shoppers have completed a cross-border purchase in a 12-month period, while 62% of international buyers still expect free shipping. Let’s not forget about tech giants like Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and even Facebook (Instagram) that are transforming online marketplaces as we know them. Smaller companies may use these marketplaces to gain an international reach, while other more established companies prefer to sell directly to consumers to maximize profit margins. With an international market comes an international customer base. By and large, the main benefit of cross-border sales is gaining access to more customers. Cross-border e-commerce strategies can also give your brand more control over branding and pricing while solidifying your company as an international force. However, the rapid growth of international shipping markets is equal parts exciting and challenging for businesses of all sizes. Here are only a few examples of pain points that may accompany cross-border shipping strategies — and what you can do to combat them.

12 PARCELindustry.com  INTERNATIONAL 2021

Excess Fees & Costs Cost is at the forefront of many shipping-related decisions, and it’s no different for the international market. You’ll want to consider cross-border e-commerce sales as a separate entity of your business with a separate budget and resource allocation. Many countries implement a Value-Added Tax (VAT), General Sales Tax (GST), customs, tariffs, and other fees that quickly rack up. Some customers may be happy to pay a premium to receive your products internationally, while others refuse to purchase anything without free shipping. Decide whether or not to pass along these costs to your customer. To keep fees and costs to a minimum, consider diversifying your carrier mix by utilizing the four major national carriers in addition to local, regional parcel carriers whenever possible. You can also negotiate shipping rates with carriers and optimize your package item dimensions and weight to ensure the cheapest possible shipping options. Slow Onboarding of New Carriers “Carrier onboarding” refers to the process of adding a new carrier to your mix. If your business is integrating with carriers individually, this means your developers will spend precious resources integrating and maintaining the necessary connections. The more carriers you add to your mix, the more time this will take. This means that customers in certain regions will feel the effects of a slow integration process if you don’t already have an established carrier in this region. How is it possible to both diversify your carrier mix and ensure the carrier onboarding process doesn’t slow your international packages down? Modern shipping technology such as multi-carrier shipping APIs can give you access to handfuls