Mastering your cross-border shipping is crucial to delivering your customers’ orders on time, and to anywhere in the world. However, picking the right cross-border shipping solution is one of the crucial decisions you have to make for your ecommerce business, and there are a number of factors you need to consider when doing so.
Here is a summary checklist of four must-consider factors when choosing your next cross-border shipping solution.
CUSTOMS & DUTIES
One of the major difficulties faced by ecommerce brands while moving cross-border shipments is duties and taxes. Ecommerce shipping, either direct to customer or bulk shipments, involves goods moving from one country to another that will have to pass through the customs before reaching their destination.
Each country has its own rules that determine the duties and taxes that are due when the goods are imported. When it comes to paying these, we have two options: Your customer pays for them (DAP), or you pay for them (DDP).
Choosing to use DDP can help to mitigate the risk of customs delays as the customs authorities will not need to wait for your customer to pay the duties and taxes before releasing their order to be delivered. Under DAP, whilst the seller would not be directly responsible for any delays related to import clearance at the destination, the added time and money the buyer needs to commit to clear their purchased products can damage the relationship between the buyer and seller. This can often lead to the buyer’s search for competitors that offer a more streamlined shopping experience. This is one of the most important points on why ecommerce sellers prefer to use DDP for cross-border fulfillment.
Online retailers face a return rate of over 20%. This makes product returns a crucial element for any ecommerce business. With such a significantly high return rate, you should ensure that you have an effective strategy in place to handle returned products. A good strategy needs to address both the cost associated with the returns (such as shipping costs) and the return handling time (the time taken to process the return). Notably, the strategy should ensure that you have a simple returns process to avoid further delays and guarantee customer satisfaction. 92% of customers today will buy again from you if you have a friendly return process in place.
Offering free returns is generally an effective solution to increase customer satisfaction. With 79% of customers preferring free return shipping, you should go an extra step to ensure your customers have the best experience possible. Whilst taking the hit on your profit margins, the potential benefits of repeat purchase and word-of-mouth marketing shouldn’t be overlooked.
REAL TIME PARCEL TRACKING
When implemented well, tracking can go a long way in helping you to offer your customers a better purchase journey. Keep in mind that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
Real-time tracking allows you to monitor your delivery status at any point during the shipping journey. In case of a delay, the best practice is to get alerts and use them to adjust the expected delivery date of the parcel and update your customers. Concurrently, your customers get full visibility and status of their packages and are able to self-manage the shipping process, thus reducing the workload placed on your customer service team.
With numerous track and trace systems on the market today, you can be sure to find a solution that will work well for your business. Your 3PL should be able to provide a free track and trace parcel solution that shows the delivery status from the moment it is picked up by the carrier to the moment it arrives at your customer’s front door. Alternatively, most tracking services offer a free trial period, allowing you to experiment and decide which is right for you— make sure to leverage it.
Some of the main points to consider whilst choosing your carrier for your cross-border shipments are transit time, service level, and cost. You need to make sure that your carrier selection is most suitable for your business strategy.
Whilst Express couriers generally offer the fastest transit times and best service, they will invariably come at a higher cost. (Although with some higher weight brackets this is not always the case). With standard and postal services, although the transit time is often longer, this will usually be a more cost-effective option. An important factor to bear in mind here is the tracking services offered by each carrier. Generally, Express couriers will offer the most comprehensive and detailed tracking information.
Cross-border shipping can offer the flexibility to ship to multiple destinations worldwide. However, the geographic spread of your customers will mean that you will likely need multiple carriers, each focusing on a different region, to leverage each one’s speed and price advantage.
Whilst working with multiple carriers gives you greater choice on time and cost, it is important to make sure that you have the capacity to manage them. Two to five carriers may be easier to manage, but when you have more than ten, it can become more difficult to monitor and optimize the performance of each one. So, as much as working with multiple carriers seems appealing, try to maintain a number that you can manage easily.
Of course, you can outsource this to a 3PL that is able to offer customized shipping solutions tailored to your geographic, shipping, and delivery time requirements.
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