Tag Archives: ecommerce

8 Ways to Simplify Your Checkout for Cross Border Customers

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  January 29, 2019
cross border shipping

So you’ve decided you’re going to ship cross-border. You have your shipping network in place. Maybe you’ve even localized your website to attract shoppers in your target market. Your analytics show that potential customers in your new market are definitely clicking around your store. But conversions just aren’t there. What’s the deal? It could be your checkout process.

This post will go over how to simplify checkout for your cross-border customers.

Before they “Add to Cart”

Simplifying check out for your cross-border customers shouldn’t start when they hit “Buy Now.” Instead, you want to start by offering your future buyers an optimal experience when they are still merely browsing your store.

Don’t ship certain products to certain countries or regions? Then use geolocation to prevent potential customers in that country from picking a product, choosing their options, and trying to pay, only to be hit with, “Sorry, we don’t ship our jet skis to Peru.”  Or worse, the confusion of trying to enter payment information only to be presented with zero shipping options and no explanation.

ShipperHQ is working on a feature that will prevent disappointed customers at checkout by allowing you to restrict the product pages they can access. Contact us for early access.

During Checkout

1. Promote Trust

While cross-border purchasing is gaining steam, your customer may still be antsy about buying from someone in another country. In a PayPal study, U.S., German, French, Mexican and Japanese buyers all mentioned “suspicious checkout” as a top concern when it comes to buying from an international merchant.

Promote trust by keeping customers on your branded site during checkout. Sending them off to a vastly different page when it comes time to enter payment information can leave a customer skittish about parting with their vital information. They want to buy from you, not a generic checkout page.

On that note, a study by PayPal and Magento found that simply adding a security icon to the checkout increased mobile Revenue Per Visitor by 17.37% percent against a control group of the same websites. RPV increase by 7% with desktop and tablet shoppers.

Also feature symbols of trust such as customer reviews, trust seals, and a clear way to contact you should your buyer have questions or issues.

2. Minimize Form Filling

Require that customers provide you the absolute minimum amount of information to complete the order. In most cases this is email address, name, shipping and billing addresses and payment information. After all, you probably don’t need to know your customer’s birthday and nickname in order to get their product to them. Minimize friction and keep your forms simple.

3. Don’t Require Account Creation

Don’t interrupt the flow of the checkout process by requiring that your customer enter a password and create an account. If this is their first experience with your store, they may not know if they want an account with you yet. There’s plenty of time to encourage them to create an account after the transaction has processed.

However, do obtain an email address as early in the checkout process as possible. This will allow you to later send abandoned cart notifications or discounts to try and win the customer back.

4. Simplify Entering Addresses

Addresses around the world come in different formats. For example, a 9 digit US zip code is all numeric and looks like this: 30348-2129. And a UK postcode features a combination of letters and numbers and looks like this: NR14 7PZ.

If you require all numerics in your postal code field, you’re going to run into a problem when your UK customers try to enter an address. And customers who encounter errors entering shipping and billing addresses during checkout are likely to abandon the confusing cart and take an easier path to purchase.

Or, they might take a stab at an address and hope for the best. A study by Loqate found that 80% of customers don’t realize that their failed delivery was caused by entering their own address incorrectly. Instead they blame the merchant or the courier. Ouch.

But you have some options here. You can localize your checkout so that each customer sees the correct address fields for her country. Or you can use ShipperHQ’s Address Auto-complete feature that autofills addresses based on information the customer enters.

You can also minimize the amount of fields a customer has to fill out by automatically copying the billing address they entered over to shipping address fields (or vice versa), then giving the customer to option to change the shipping address if needed.

5. Offer Multiple Payment Types

Buyers in different countries prefer different payment methods. For example, a Pitney Bowes study found that buyers in Spain prefer to pay with credit cards like Visa, Mastercard and American Express. But only about 30% of German eCommerce buyers prefer to pay with credit cards. Mobile shoppers, an increasing percentage of online shoppers, may find it easier to pay with mobile wallets rather than typing in a credit card number. And many customers in India and Central Europe prefer to pay cash on delivery.

Preferred payment methods are as varied as your buyers. Ensure you’re not losing customers during checkout by providing the payment options they feel most comfortable using.

6. Be Upfront about Shipping, Taxes and Other Fees

You’ll find many occasions when selling cross-border where either your or the customer are required to pay import duties. If the customer is required to pay these duties, be sure to warn them upfront so they aren’t met with a nasty surprise before they can pick up their package.

You can also choose to show or hide fees strategically. Do you cover duties? Then you may not want to include a line for customs & duties at checkout. For example, say you are selling on a fully localized site. A customer who didn’t realize their item is shipping from overseas could get antsy and pull the plug on a sale.

7. Show Pricing in Local Currency

According to PayPal, 75% of cross-border buyers say they want the option to buy in their local currency.  And 62% say they check prices in local currency before placing an order. Anytime your customer navigates away from your site during checkout, you potentially lose them. Showing prices in their local currency keeps them in your checkout flow.

8. Optimize for mobile

Forty percent of mobile shoppers abandon their cart because they have trouble entering information. All the checkout options we’ve mentioned above will help mobile shoppers enjoy a seamless checkout experience, but you can do more.

Design your checkout with large, easy-to-see and press buttons, highly visible fonts and a fixed navigation bar so your customers can easily navigate your site and checkout on mobile.

Conclusion

Because on average of 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned at the checkout, you have to give customers delivery options that fit their individual needs while also showing them upfront when to expect their items.

Well guess what? Both are possible with ShipperHQ’s new Enhanced Checkout.

With the Enhanced Checkout, you have access to out-of-the-box support for options like click and collect, estimated delivery dates and date and time selection. Meaning your odds of keeping customers on your site and adding to their cart just got better. Sounds like a win / win right?

New and existing Enterprise Customers can sign up for ShipperHQ’s Amazon-style Enhanced Checkout through our Early Access Program for launch in early 2019.

 

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The Beginner’s Guide to Cross Border Shipping

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  December 12, 2018
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As an online merchant, shipping products outside your home country and region can be a little terrifying. What’s up with customs? Why is shipping across a border so expensive? Where did these zillions of shipping carriers come from?

It can be tempting to stick to shipping to customers within your own borders and call it a day. But if you’re not shipping cross-border, you’re likely missing out.

Not long ago, we went over a whole slew of reasons why you should be shipping internationally. This includes all the usual suspects like “the market is out there,” and “your competitors are doing it,” but we think the whole list is worth a read.

And now if you’re sold on shipping cross border, but have no idea where to start, we’re here to help.

Choosing Your Products and Market

Much of your cross-border shipping experience is going to depend on where you are shipping and what products you are sending to customers. It’s a good idea to test your international shipping strategy by dipping a toe in the water before diving in.

Choose your market
Chances are you already know where your products are in-demand. Online shoppers are not always shy about attempting to have an order shipped internationally or writing into support to ask you to support their country.

Take a look at your store’s analytics. Do you get a lot of traffic from a certain country? Is your support team constantly fielding queries asking why you don’t ship to Region X? Then start there, where you know your products are already in demand.

Offerings like ShipperHQ can provide you with detailed analytics on the conversions you are not making internationally, which can give you some insights into the size of the opportunity.

Alternatively, you can choose to test the waters with a close market with long established cross-border shipping routes. In the U.S., that could mean Canada or Mexico. In the UK, that might mean the EU/Continental Europe.

Choose your products
Once you’ve chosen your market, your next step is to pick the products you want to ship internationally. We recommend starting with small, light and durable items. These types of items are less likely to run into snafus when making stops in the international shipping process.

But before you pack up a shipment of lithium ion batteries wrapped in U.S. postage stamps and send them on their way, there are a few things you need to know.

  • Country or Territory Regulations – International shipping between countries is highly regulated, and for all kinds of reasons.  Before you lovingly plaster a label on your first international shipment, read up on the rule. UPS has a handy resource where you can look up shipping regulations and restrictions based on point of origin and shipping destination. Some countries may require that you obtain a license or other special provision before importing goods. For example, you need extra permits to ship meat to Mexico, so they probably aren’t the ideal market to test out your new Steak o’ the Month subscription box.
  • Restricted items – Like the aforementioned lithium ion batteries, some items are universally restricted and/or require a lot of extra hoop jumping to ship internationally. This is because they can be dangerous, like high-powered magnets on an airplane, or illegal, like ivory. ( …Or because they’re postage stamps. UPS will not ship U.S. postage stamps outside the U.S.) But never fear, some restrictions are carrier-specific. So if one carrier won’t ship your product, another may answer the call. Don’t give up!
  • Keep it Simple – Cross-border shipping is more involved than domestic shipping, we suggest you start with high profit margin items that you can afford to lose if your first experiment doesn’t work out. In other words, consider testing the international shipping waters by sending books, not hot tubs.

Once you’ve chosen your products and market, don’t be surprised when things change up on you. Tariffs and treaties and other changes may suddenly mean that a new market opens up, or something that you happily shipped to your customers in Country X yesterday is suddenly prohibited today.

It can be extremely difficult to keep an eye on changes, especially with the current tariff unease worldwide. It’s essential that merchants use software to help them keep an eye on changes, not only  to the cost of shipping, but changes in what can and can’t be shipped.

Nail Down Shipping Logistics

Choose your carrier(s) – You have a ton of options when it comes to shipping items cross-border. Postal mail, like the United States Postal Service (USPS) or Canada Post is cost-effective, but often excruciatingly slow. Express carriers cost more, but can be much faster and offer perks like insurance and tracking that will give you and your customers peace of mind that the purchase is on it’s way.

Understand customs and duties – Think of customs and duties as taxes or tariffs on the items you import. Depending on things like what the product is, what it’s made of, it’s value and quantity, where you’re shipping from and the origin point of your products, you (or your customer) are likely going to have to pay extra as a cost of doing business for importing goods into a country.

You have a couple of options here:

  • Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) – This means you, the merchant, pay all the taxes and fees associated with shipping internationally. You are generally billed by your carrier for these fees. In some cases you may not know the fees until after the order is delivered.
  • Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU) – This means that the customer is on the hook to pay all taxes and fees associated on the package. If you choose this route, be sure to let the customer know up front that they will be responsible for duties, otherwise you could end up with an angry customer.

The other option is to use a 3rd party custom and duties calculator to do all the work for you, and then choose to either pass all, some or none of that cost onto the customer.

Optimize Your Customers’ Experience

Offer varied delivery options – Some of your customers will want their purchase immediately. Others may be more price-conscious and defect to a competitor if the total price climbs too high. One way you can please everybody is by offering up choices. The price-conscious customers can save some money with slower shipping options, while the people who forgot their mom’s birthday can shell out extra for express shipping.

These days, many online shoppers have come to expect free shipping, even on international orders. Check out our guide to offering free shipping without busting your budget here.

Be transparent about shipping costs – The last thing you want to do is surprise your customers with an enormous grand total when they’re about to hit “Buy Now.”  Or worse, shipping something around the world only for the customer to refuse to accept the shipment because of the high duties.

Shipping management software can help you give customers the whole shipping price story up front so you don’t end up with a bunch of products sitting in abandoned carts.  

Are you ready to ship internationally? Do you have any international shipping questions? Tips & tricks? Horror stories?

Let us know in the comments!

 

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The Mini Guide to Subscriptions and Bundles, Brought to you by ShipperHQ and eBridge Connections

Author: Liz Van Hoose  |  December 11, 2018
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Subscription boxes and kits are king, and they are here to stay

The journey from milk to Kanye
To make life easier and to keep up with trends, consumers have always had a soft spot for the concept of subscriptions and bundles. Take milk, cosmetics and music. The first home glass milk bottle deliveries occurred in 1785 in rural Vermont. Mary Kay started selling in-home to consumes, season after season, going back to the 1960s. And, Columbia House had a significant market presence in the 1980’s and 1990’s with monthly mail-order music.

While the concept of the subscription boxes and personalized kits is not new, its recent popularity is outrageous (and down right interesting). There were plenty of kids in college in the 1990s not getting CDs sent to their dorms every month, but you’d be hard pressed to find a millennial who hasn’t signed up for an online subscription box this year.

The research behind subscription box trends speaks for itself. According to Forbes, “The subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100% percent a year over the past five years, with the largest retailers generating more than $2.6B in sales in 2016, up from $57.0M in 2011.”

Read the full mini guide here.

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5 Reasons You Should Offer International Shipping

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  December 7, 2018
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When it comes to the problems with international shipping, we’ve heard it all – it’s expensive, international customers are demanding, our products are restricted, we can’t figure out customs.

Simply put, those are not good enough reasons to avoid shipping your products cross-border. Here’s why:

Your customers are out there

You have the supply, but is there demand? Survey says: Yes.

The Pitney Bowes 2017 Global eCommerce Study found that 70% of online shoppers shop internationally. And DHL found that every 7th online purchase is now a cross-border transaction.

Demand is only growing. Forrester reports that cross-border shipping will make up 20% of eCommerce by 2022, with sales equaling $627 billion. This is in part because eCommerce giants like Rakuten in Asia, Flipkart in India, and Amazon all over the place are rapidly introducing new populations and markets to online shopping. Familiarity with eCommerce, along with streamlined payments processes, mean more and more consumers all over the world feel comfortable shopping online.

If you’re curious about expanding into a new international market, you can first head over to Export.gov and see a frequently-updated overview of economic conditions in the country or region where you’re planning to sell.

Your competitors are doing it

DHL surveyed 1,800 retailers and 71% of those expected their cross-border sales share to increase.

Pitney Bowes also found that a third of the 1,200 online retailers surveyed considered international selling their top growth lever. In the same report, 93% percent of online merchants either already offered cross-border shipping or planned to by 2019.

For U.S. merchants, going international only makes sense because the U.S. share of global eCommerce sales is steadily decreasing as new markets emerge.

You have the data

The key to your first cross-border market may be hiding out in your website’s analytics right now.

According to the same DHL report, a large-scale analysis run in cooperation with SimilarWeb of the top 1,000 shopping websites in each European country showed that more than 1 in 4 of them had significant international traffic, even in smaller, less-connected markets such as Ireland or Croatia.

Fashion and electronics were the top cross-border sellers, but up-and-coming product categories included beauty and cosmetics, pet care, food and beverage, and sporting goods. Tools like ShipperHQ can provide analytics showing you where your customers and potential customers are located.

It’s getting cheaper and easier

When we talk to eCommerce merchants about international shipping two major concerns crop up over and over again: the cost and the hassle.

When in the U.S. you may be accustomed to shipping a parcel from Massachusetts to California for a few bucks, international shipping costs can appear staggering. And that’s without the addition of customs and duties. Further, unless you’ve nailed down relationships with carriers and set up shipping methods, your items can slip into a sort of a transit black box, with neither you nor your customer knowing exactly where the parcel is nor when it will arrive. Further, online shoppers now demand that their packages arrive quickly after they click “Buy Now.”

Fortunately, as cross-border commerce becomes more common, carriers are meeting the needs of both eCommerce sellers and customers. For example, premium or express shipping solves both the problem of parcel tracking and delivering the order to the customer within the expected time frame after the purchase.

Or, to let numbers do the talking, DHL’s survey found that online retailers offering premium cross-border shipping were growing 1.6 times faster than those who did not.

…And more profitable

According to Statista, the average order value of an international sale is $147 USD, which is 17% higher than an average domestic sale.  Further, DHL’s survey found that around 20% of cross-border purchases were worth over $200 USD. Perhaps savviness around shipping charges has your international customers demanding more bang from their buck (or Euro or yen) in each transaction.

Are you exploring cross-border shipping? ShipperHQ has over 10 years experience with thousands of merchants large and small in the international space.

Contact us to discuss your needs, or to start a 30-day free ShipperHQ trial today.

 

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6 Clever Ways to Offer Free Shipping to Customers

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  December 4, 2018
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More and more, online buyers have come to expect perks like free shipping. And many will shop around if your store doesn’t offer it. In fact, a PayPal study found that 43% of shoppers abandon carts because they feel shipping charges are too high.

On the other hand, offering free shipping can eat into your already slim retail profit margins.

Thankfully, there are clever ways to configuring your eCommerce shipping strategy to alleviate the cost of free shipping. You can get all the benefits – and the competitive advantage – of offering free shipping to your customers, without jackhammering your profits.

Here’s how:

1. Limit Free Shipping to Certain Locations

Limit your free shipping by geography. Shipping to Alaska, Hawaii and across borders for example, is generally more costly than shipping to the contiguous 48 states, so you may want to save your free shipping offer for the people in your country or region.

How to limit free shipping to a certain zone: You can easily set a Carrier Rule in ShipperHQ to limit free shipping.

Read our guide on “How to Set Free Shipping for a Specific Zone” here.

2. Set Promotional Thresholds

As shoppers, we’ve all run into online stores offering “Free shipping on purchases over $50.” Why not be that store? The threshold persuades shoppers who may have visited your store for one thing to add extra items to their carts, and ensures you make enough profit on the sale to cover the cost of free shipping.

How set promotional shipping thresholds: In ShipperHQ, you can set promotional thresholds in just a couple minutes by adding a new Filter and Carrier Rule.

Find out how either by checking out our step-by-step guide on “How to Offer Free UPS Ground Shipping on Orders Over $X” or by watching this quick walkthrough.

3. Limit Free Shipping to Certain Products

Offering free shipping on a refrigerator is likely going to cut into your margin on said refrigerator, and on other sales besides. Be sure to limit free shipping to lightweight products.

How to limit free shipping to certain products: Login to ShipperHQ and create a “Shipping Group.” From here, you can exclude any product(s) you want from any free shipping promotions your store offers.

Read all about “How to Exclude Certain Products from Free Shipping on Orders Over $X” here.

4. Offer Free Shipping to Certain Customer Groups

They say you’re not supposed to pick favorites. But honestly, segmenting customers can be a great way to reward frequent buyers, long-time customers, big spenders, customers in a certain geographic location, or any other customer group to whom you’d like to offer free shipping.

How to offer free shipping by customer group: Most eCommerce platforms allow you to segment customers into Customer Groups.  Once you’ve segmented your customers in the backend of your preferred platform, you can then set up a Carrier Rule in ShipperHQ.

Find our step-by-step guide on “How to Set Free Shipping for a Specific Customer Group” here.

5. Delay Free Shipping and Incentivize Faster Shipping

Chances are your customer wants their order yesterday. One strategy to keep shipping costs from getting out of hand is to offer free shipping on slow and low cost methods like economy and ground (and even delay the dispatch on these goods), but charge as usual or even add a surcharge for two-day or next day shipping.

Why a surcharge? Keep in mind that many customers need their item as quickly as possible, and adding a surcharge to faster shipping will help defray the cost of offering free shipping to customers who don’t mind receiving their items at a snail’s pace.

How to add a surcharge to certain shipping methods: ShipperHQ allows you to easily set surcharges on certain shipping methods.

Find out how in our “Use a Carrier Rule to Mark Up a Specific Shipping Method” guide.

6. Pay Attention to Dimensional Shipping

Size matters. The size of the box you ship your product in, that is. To save money on dimensional shipping, instruct your pickers and packers to use the smallest box or packaging unit available for the order. And try to pack multi-item orders into one package whenever possible. You’ll automatically save on shipping when you use the smallest size boxes and the least amount of cartons.

How to maximize savings with dimensional shipping: ShipperHQ’s Dimensional Shipping Advanced Feature can guide your pickers and packers to the right box for every shipment, a feature that most eCommerce carts built-in shipping lacks. Turn on Dimensional Shipping in your ShipperHQ account to achieve more accurate shipping rates especially when getting rates from carriers like UPS and FedEx or when using USPS Flat Rate boxes.

Read our “Setup Dimensional Shipping/Box Packing” guide to find out more.

Are free shipping costs battering your margins?

Try a 30-day free trial of ShipperHQ and let us get you back in the black.

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2018 Holiday Shipping Cutoff Dates

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  November 29, 2018
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For online retailers, ’tis the season of good cheer and record profits, but also of stressed out gift-calendargivers who want to make doubly sure their packages arrive by December 24th.

To help you plan your holiday shipping strategy, we’ve compiled this list of holiday shipping cut off dates to ensure that Santa’s gifts don’t accidentally show up on December 27th.

Please note: This blog post should be used as a guideline. Shipping cutoff dates and transit may vary depending on factors like origin, destination and product mix. These dates apply to U.S. to U.S. shipments only. Delays may apply to shipments to Alaska or Hawaii.

UPS

UPS recommends shipping by these dates for your shipment to arrive by December 24th.

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
UPS Ground Monday, December 17- December 21 (depending on shipping zone)
UPS 2nd Day Air Thursday, December 20
UPS Next Day Air Friday, December 21

You can download the full UPS holiday shipping schedule here.

USPS

The USPS recommends shipping by these dates for your shipment to arrive by December 24th.

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
USPS Retail Ground Friday, December 14
USPS Priority Mail Service Thursday, December 20
USPS First-Class Mail Service Thursday, December 20
USPS Priority Mail Express Service Saturday, December 22

For shipments to Alaska and Hawaii, the USPS recommends shipping by December 20th when shipping First-Class Mail Service or Priority Mail Service, and shipping by December 22 when shipping by Priority Mail Service. You can read more about the USPS holiday shipping cutoff dates here.

FedEx

FedEx recommends shipping by these dates for your shipment to arrive by December 24th.

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
FedEx SmartPost Monday, December 10
FedEx Home Delivery Monday, December 17
FedEx Ground Monday, December 17
FedEx Express Saver Wednesday, December 19
FedEx 2Day and FedEx 2Day A.M. Thursday, December 20
FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight and FedEx First Overnight Friday, December 21

You can find the full list of FedEx shipping cutoff dates here.

Frequently Asked Questions about 2018 Shipping Cutoff Dates

Will UPS, the USPS or FedEx deliver packages on Christmas Day 2018?

UPS Express Critical Service is available on December 25th. FedEx SameDay City Direct, FedEx SameDay City Priority and FedEx SameDay are available on December 25th. The USPS will deliver Priority Mail Express on Christmas Day.

What are the 2018 holiday cutoff dates when shipping internationally?

This depends on factors like carrier availability and the country or region to where you are shipping.

What are the 2018 holiday cutoff dates to ship to someone in the military/an APO address?

Dates vary, but the latest cutoff date listed by the USPS is December 18. See the USPS page on military shipments for a full list of 2018 holiday shipping cutoff dates to APO, FPO and DPO addresses.

Need shipping help?

ShipperHQ calculates dispatch and delivery dates right in checkout, so your customers will always know which shipping option to choose to ensure their delivery arrives on time. This cuts down on abandoned carts and anxious customer service requests from shoppers who want to create the right holiday memory. Try a 30-day no-risk free trial of ShipperHQ today.

We wish you good luck and swift shipping speeds this holiday season. Do you have any other questions about the 2018 holiday shipping cutoff dates? Let us know in the comments.

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