PARCEL International 2021

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(even hundreds) of carriers through a single integration. APIs are a one-stop solution to help overcome multiple pain points in cross-border shipping. Difficult Returns Your international customers may feel hesitant to order a product from overseas if the returns process is a nightmare. Imagine waiting seven business days for your overseas order to arrive only to realize it doesn’t fit properly, it wasn’t what you expected, or you received the wrong item. You’ll now have to repackage the box and coordinate a return by going to the post office or scheduling a pickup. As a business, you have two choices: cover the costs of the return or let the consumer be responsible to pay for the return. If you sell low-value items, you can consider writing off the item and refunding the customer before you have the returned item back in your hands. Other businesses don’t have the luxury to do this and instead utilize parcel forwarding services despite the vast majority of them being slow and costly. You should also consider including a prepaid shipping label for your customers to simplify the returns process and prove that you value a streamlined customer experience. Slow Delivery Times International deliveries can be as fast as one to three business days and as long as 10 business days, depending on specifics. These timeframes were undoubtedly extended during COVID19 and will likely remain skewed until after peak shipping season has subsided. The sole addition of customs can mean border delays, complicated paperwork, additional costs, and overall delays. All of these additional factors have the potential to directly impact customers’ perceptions of your brand. It’s essential that your operations team is fully aware of all processes and requirements in cross-border shipping to keep delivery times reasonable. If necessary, consider establishing a dedicated department to navigate regulations and compliance. As an additional takeaway, always add parcel insurance to your international shipments to cover your bases in the case that packages become damaged or lost. The Takeaway: Cross-Border Shipping Is Here to Stay International shipping can be a huge asset to your business as long as you conduct the necessary research, plan ahead of time, and temper your customers’ expectations. Utilizing technologies such as third-party logistics (3PLs), transportation management systems (TMS), and APIs can help your business thrive in the international shipping arena. Shipping is incredibly dynamic and you should constantly be evaluating and re-evaluating strategies, operational procedures, operational capacity, and consumer demand as we head into another peak shipping season — and beyond.

Jarrett Streebin is CEO and Founder of EasyPost. INTERNATIONAL 2021  13