How should we start? Do we need to convince you that it is in your best interest to start selling internationally? Alright, here are some numbers.
The average value of international orders is 17% higher than US domestic ones
⅓ of online retailers rate ‘international shipping’ as a top growth engine
70% of online shoppers shop internationally
*Stats by Pitney Bowes & Statista
Oh, we have another one: US population is 325 million, global is 7.5 billion.
Still, if you’re reading this it means you are not selling internationally, something is holding you back. A few things probably, since selling internationally has its own risks and obstacles, especially for less-than-huge online sellers.
Let’s see what these risks and obstacles are and how we can remove them for you.
Obstacle 1: Emotional
We’re not going to get too psychology 101 here, but we hear from many online sellers in the domestic market that they are “anxious” about going global. It is understandable; breaking out of your comfort zone (and your country is most definitely your comfort zone) can be scary.
Hipshipper’s Solution: To Get It
We get it.
Obstacle 2: Logistics
The difference between selling domestically and internationally is mostly about shipping.
Shipping domestically is simple as American pie. If you’re big enough, the carrier picks up the packages from you. If not, you take the packages to the post office. Either way, that’s about it.
Shipping internationally is a whole different story. You need to integrate with different carriers and negotiate rates, you need to be aware of international shipping regulations, to deal with customs charges and be able to provide customer support to foreign nationals and deal with international returns and refunds.
Hipshipper’s Solution: Hipshipper
If you ship internationally with Hipshipper you won’t need to worry about all this. All you’ll need to do is get your packages to our domestic US center and that’s it. We’ll do product inspection and repackaging if needed, we’ll put on the international shipping label on and we’ll deliver the package to your customer on time at a competitive rate. And if anything goes wrong, we’ll solve it. You won’t have to do anything.
Obstacle 3: Customer Service
When selling internationally the customer service aspect of your business will need much more attention - more customers means more issues to solve and with cross-border transactions these issues tend to be more complex. To handle all these issues professionally requires acquiring knowledge and maybe even training others in your operation to take ownership of this. Basically, it requires investment of time and resources. For smaller businesses, this can be a deal breaker.
Hipshipper’s Solution: Taking It Off Your Hands
The vast majority of cross-border customer service issues revolve around tracking, shipping and returns. The way we see it, we are perfectly positioned and equipped to handle these issues for you. Since we are the shippers it only makes sense we’ll find the best and quickest solution. And we do. We are known for resolving all tickets, all of them, and in a timely manner.
On top of that, we have a unique Hipshipper tracking number and an online interface for your customers to view in real-time the status of their package. We use straightforward language in our tracking dashboard, making it super easy for buyers to understand what’s going on with their package and if there is any action they need to take at any stage.
Risk 1: International Returns
Returns is without a doubt the most glaring risk online sellers see when they consider selling internationally. We’ve heard this so many times “If I need to pay for a return from overseas not only I don’t profit from this sale, I lose my profit from the next few sales as well.”
Completely understandable and specially true for lower-cost, slim-margin products.
International returns are especially harsh burden on online sellers. Of course it depends on your niche (fashion & shoes are at the top of the list) but consumers can be fickle and are used from the brick-and-mortar world that returning an item to the store is totally acceptable; most stores won’t even ask for the reason.
Hipshipper’s Solution: Free International Returns
Since this is the thing we’ve heard most from sellers that’s holding them back from going global, we wanted to remove this risk in the most complete way we could think of: Free International Returns. Free for you, free for your customers. Just like that. From any destination, for any item, for any reason - international returns are on us.
Risk 2: Hurting Your Seller Rating
This relates to the previous point. If a customer wants to return an item, there must be a reason behind it. Whether the shoes are too small (because she misread the size-conversion table) or the blouse’s shade of turquoise is darker than she thought (because she purchased the blouse on her phone while riding a poorly-lit train) or the eye serum bottle broke (because these things do happen.)
Now no matter what the reason is, the customer isn’t happy and when customers aren’t happy they vent. Online, and in marketplaces especially, buyers are quick to leave a bad review, or complain to the marketplace - both are bad news for the seller.
How’s this relates to the previous point? With international sales, these complaints tend to escalate to disputes exactly because of the high cost of returns.
Hipshipper’s Solution: Proactive, Seller-Centric Customer Service
As we see it, one of our main roles is to protect our sellers’ reputation and keep their marketplace ratings intact. As opposed to the marketplace, we don’t see customer satisfaction coming on the expense of your seller reputation.
We’ll proactively work to prevent cases from being open and if they do open instruct you what you need to say and do in order to ‘win’ the case. If we suspect escalation is coming or that the claim is going to close against you, we will fully refund the buyer in order to avoid a bad review against you and downgrade of your seller rating by the marketplace.
To get the bigger picture of your options for international shipping read our eBay Global Shipping review and comparison to Hipshipper.