Around the world, online shoppers are increasingly comfortable making cross-border purchases. More than a third of consumers in 12 countries surveyed by logistics firm Pitney Bowes said they’ve bought from merchants abroad. Demand for offshore goods was particularly high among Chinese and Indian consumers. That good news for cross-border merchants is tempered by the fact that in many markets, shipping costs and times can impede cross-border sales. Systemic improvement will come from industry and regulatory advancements in each market, like the proposed shipping cost and transparency changes in the EU. Until then, there are steps your business can take to make your shipping options more cross-border friendly.
Find ways to reduce shipping costs
Most online shoppers, especially in mature markets, expect free shipping with most purchases. But 64% of the consumers Pitney Bowes surveyed said high cross-border shipping costs discouraged them from making purchases. Free shipping for international parcels may not be possible, but it’s well worth your time to identify the lowest-cost services for each market you serve and offer them as an option.
Offer options for shipping cost and speed
Delivery times are a pain point for cross-border consumers, too, especially when they are shopping for holidays and special occasions. In an ideal world, you’d be able to work with a high-speed, low-cost service in each market, but most of the time, delivery speed and cost are trade-offs. In addition to offering the best-priced shipping you can, give your shoppers the option to pay more for faster delivery. You may have to partner with more than one carrier to accomplish this.
Another option to consider offering is shipping with parcel pickup. Analyst firm Forrester has found that in France, the UK, and some other markets, many consumers prefer to pick up their purchases from a shipping service counter at their leisure rather than timing package arrival at home or work. The South China Morning Post reported that UPS plans to expand the package-locker system it uses in Singapore and Taiwan to mainland China. The lockers will be placed in stores and offices to provide more places where people can pick up parcels.
Make costs clear and show why they’re reasonable
Experienced cross-border consumers already expect to pay more for shipping, and those who are new to your site are less likely to abandon their carts if you spell out your international shipping options clearly and early in the process. Shoppers who are surprised by high delivery costs at the end of checkout are less likely to complete their purchases.
Global shipper UPS has found that online shoppers in the US are willing to pay higher shipping fees when they shop with smaller merchants. If your business is in the SME category, emphasize that. If your business has a compelling story to tell, that may also encourage customers to look past shipping costs.
We’ve mentioned before that product costs and shipping are not the only cross-border costs to repel shoppers. Spell out clearly the currency conversion fees, customs duty and VAT or other taxes that customers in each market can expect to pay. If it’s possible to ship delivery duty paid into your markets, work with a shipper that supports that service so your customers don’t owe money when their parcels arrive.
To learn how BillPro can help you reach more cross-border customers with secure multicurrency payments, local payment options, and multinational expertise, contact a member of our specialist team by emailing [email protected] or calling +1 844 794 1122.