5 tips for online success with selling internationally

Has it arrived yet?

Shipping abroad at an affordable rate can often take several days so be up-front with the shopper on delivery times to their region. This way, customers will know what to expect before placing an order, avoiding disappointment when their parcel hasn’t arrived the very next day.

It’s important to maintain communication after the order has been placed as this can make or break your chance of repeat business. Send order despatch notification emails to customers so they’ll know that their order is being processed and when it has shipped. Include any tracking references and a link to the courier company’s parcel tracking web page so they’ll be able to keep tabs on their delivery from start to finish.

How much is it in real money?

Shoppers often won’t hang around if they’re unable to see the prices in their own currency as it becomes tedious to work out manually how much it costs “in real money” (i.e. their own currency).

Also, it’s a real turn off after making it through the checkout to find the purchase cost in your own currency is an estimate and you have to complete the final payment in the merchant’s local currency. Make sure you’re online payment processor and merchant account are set up to process transactions in the currencies you’ve made available to the shopper.

Avoid taxing surprises

To comply with international postal agreements, when goods are shipped to outside the EU the sender must attach a customs declaration (form CN22 or CN23) to the package denoting the type of goods and their value. Any customs charges will need to be paid by the buyer when the goods arrive in their country.

If the item is restricted for import into a certain country you’ll also need to attach a special commercial export license to the package with a C&E 83A ‘Exported by post under HMRC Control’ sticky label. This instructs the courier to present the parcel to the Border Force at the Office of Exchange for checks to be made prior to export.

But what if?

Buying from a business overseas is perceived as riskier compared to buying from a local company governed by laws you’re accustomed to. It’s easy for the shopper to be put off and think that they’ll have little come back with an order from abroad if there’s a problem. Therefore, it’s important to have a clear returns policy prominently displayed, that sets out the rights of the buyer and the process to follow. When the customer feels comfortable that they understand your returns policy, they’ll have the confidence to proceed with the order.

Speak the lingo

Customers from countries where English isn’t the first language may encounter difficulties at any point in the purchase process, which will increase the likelihood of an abandoned order. Ideally, you’d have your website professionally translated into the languages of the foreign markets you’re targeting, giving international visitors a native shopping experience.

A quicker, lower cost alternative is to use a multi-language website translator plugin, as long as you’re willing to accept the fact that translation isn’t going to perfect. Google Translate is an excellent free solution allowing visitors to instantly translate your website into over 60 languages.

Simon Horton is the founder of ShopIntegrator, the hosted shopping cart ecommerce plugin solution.

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