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Selling overseas: The experiences of real world internet retailers

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Shipping internationally

One of the things that worry ecommerce traders who haven’t exported is the fulfilment side. But if you’re methodical it isn’t an issue.

It’s important to use an ecommerce platform which allows you to create multiple, customised shipping plans. These will need to vary by country, weight or order value, meaning a merchant can choose different delivery companies to suit each option (if required).

Free shipping is a powerful marketing tool, though you may want to restrict it to certain countries where it makes financial sense to offer it.

Peter Kennaugh Snr of Three Legs Cycling sells exclusive indoor cycle training DVDs and digital downloads featuring his son, 2012 gold medallist Mark Cavendish and other world class riders. This is his experience: “Slower shipping times for international orders can be a real problem, so we make sure customers are made fully aware of delivery lead times upfront. To offset the slower delivery we started offering free worldwide shipping, which has made a huge difference to customer satisfaction.”

You need to consider pricing your products to factor in losses from problem orders. The further the order has to travel, the greater the possibility for things going wrong.

For example, Adrian Henry farms an olive grove in Italy called Casa Margherita and he sells his single estate olive oil overseas despite the weight issue.

“For delivery I rely on standard postal services which can occasionally let me down, but I cannot charge for a courier as olive oil is a low value but heavy item,” he says. “If there are problems, it’s more cost effective to replace lost or damaged items.”

International pricing and payments

Selling abroad isn’t just confined to physical goods. Ken Holmes is principal consultant at Public IT, providing information security, business continuity and IT service management solutions. He says: “We started out using PayPal as our main payment method, but have now added WorldPay as an extra option as this allows customers in countries such as Nigeria to make purchases too.”

An ecommerce platform with integration for different payment providers makes it easy for a merchant to switch payment processors as their needs change.

To achieve real sales volumes internationally, it’s essential that customers can see prices and pay in their own currency. Customers don’t want to work out currency conversions and pay in a foreign currency incurring additional exchange rate charges.

Holmes’ experience endorses this: “As a UK company selling internationally, we do believe there is a real benefit in being able to offer payment in a choice of currencies, particularly as the US is a key market for us. Many organisations in the Far East prefer to pay in US dollars too.”

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