International shipping can be a smart way to grow your business. However, you might not be sure if this expansion is right for your online store. Fortunately, there are a few key elements that you can consider before you make your choice.
In this article, we’ll discuss the potential costs associated with international shipping. Then, we’ll walk you through four key tips to help you determine if adding this option is worth it. Let’s dive right in!
The Cost of International Shipping
Nearly every type of shipping is going to cost you money. However, the price tends to go up if your products are crossing borders. The exact numbers will vary depending on three major factors: size, speed, and destination.
Based on U.S. Postal Service rates, size tends to be a big consideration. As you might expect, heavier packages will cost more money. You can ship envelopes for as little as $2.60, for example, or pay $28.50 for parcels over four pounds.
Speed is another deciding factor. If you want to provide your customers with deliveries within a week, you could be looking at a whopping $45.95.
Then there’s the destination. Each country has a unique price point. However, this tends to be less dramatic than size and speed, with the lowest range landing between $13.54 and $15.44.
Finally, when it comes to international shipping, you may also want to expect the unexpected. About 20% of businesses experienced supply chain issues due to the coronavirus pandemic. International shipping is a complex web of different factors so it’s important to consider each one before you make your decision.
Is International Shipping Worth It for Your Online Store? (4 Key Considerations)
Now that you know what costs to expect, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why international shipping may (or may not) be worth it.
1. Your Amount of International Traffic
Let’s start with a basic principle: your potential international audience. Having cross-country shopping options will undeniably grow your potential customer pool. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll all be interested.
One way to predict your international audience is with web analytics. These services can clue you into who’s already visiting your site. This could suggest where you may find new potential markets. Google Analytics, for example, offers a global location feature that may be helpful:
Consider using this information as a starting point. In the above example, most international visitors come from India. Thus, you might want to begin by offering shipping to that country only.
We recommend that you keep a close eye on your international analytics. That way, if you start to see a surge in visitors from a certain area, you can more seriously consider shipping to customers there.
However, finding a target audience in a new country isn’t just about adding shipping options. You’ll likely have to be prepared to promote your online store in a new way. That can take time, money, and cultural research.
If you’re just getting your store off the ground, you might not have time for that kind of investment. Your efforts might be better spent establishing your business in the states first.
2. Your Ability to Scale Up Production
As we covered in the last section, opening your store up to new countries helps you reach a wider audience. You could potentially experience a serious boom in your orders. This can be a real blessing for your business.
However, you might not be ready to take advantage of it yet. Higher demand can put a lot of stress on your production line.
For example, let’s say you make time-intensive, hand-crafted items. You might not be able to keep up with a sudden, unexpected growth in orders. That could lead to burnout or unhappy customers.
On the other hand, you might be poised for growth. If scaling up is just a matter of paying a production company more, you could be ready to make that investment.
Additionally, try to remember that demand isn’t static. If you’re heading into a busy holiday season, demand might increase in both domestic and international markets.
If you’re ready to take on plenty of possible growth, the adjustment period might be worth it to increase your profits. However, if you’re not ready to ramp up production, you might want to wait a bit longer before entering the international market.
3. The Ratio of Shipping Costs to Stock Prices
We’ve talked about the potential range of international shipping costs. However, these don’t exist in a vacuum. That’s why comparing those prices to what you’re charging for your inventory is essential.
As you probably already know, it’s typically better for less expensive products to have less expensive shipping costs. Most shoppers won’t blink an eye at being charged $2.60 for a $15 print.
This ratio also means you can probably balance those fees easier. If you’re absorbing half of those low shipping costs, you can offer an even more attractive price for your customers.
The same goes for larger products. Let’s say you’re selling custom clothing that goes for an average of $250. A shipping cost of $28.50 may be intimidating alone, but more reasonable in relation to the garment itself.
This relationship is particularly important for your customers. A huge difference in numbers might seem unfair to some visitors:
Therefore, you may want to consider absorbing some of the cost. It might hurt your bottom line now, but it may be worth it if it causes more customers to buy.
Consider using this approach alongside a paid loyalty program. With a consistent income from international users, you can offer lower shipping prices without losing too much money.
4. Your Ability to Provide Customer Support
If you run a store, chances are you understand the importance of earning customer trust. An essential part of this is providing prompt support if something goes wrong. Unfortunately, international shipping can make things a bit complicated.
One big reason for this is the language barrier. Some international customers may not speak your native tongue, making it difficult to solve any issues that pop up. Different time zones can make things even trickier.
There are a few investments that you can make to avoid these pitfalls and improve the international customer experience. For instance, consider investing in chatbots. These 24/7, translatable resources can help conquer any cultural gaps.
Another way to smooth transactions is to include a shipping estimate before users check out. That way, they know what to expect early on in the process:
Finally, try to include tracking information whenever you can. Not only does this keep customers in the loop, but it may also help avoid any service requests about estimated arrival times.
All of these precautions may be limited by your time or budget. However, they can be the difference between a happy customer and a bad review. If you’re not ready to make a few of these investments, international shipping may not be worth it for you right now.
In our global economy, international shipping can be vital for your online store. However, it may not be the right option for every site. Fortunately, considering a few key aspects can help you make an informed decision about this investment.
Do you have any questions about international shipping? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.
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