Tips for Accepting International Payments on your Ecommerce Site

The internet, and by extension online shopping, is without borders. Often, fast-growing ecommerce companies are eager to extend their business to the international level, but it's more challenging than the openness of the internet would have you believe. In addition to logistical considerations, there's also the matters of foreign exchange and payment processing. If you plan on increasing the number of international transactions on your ecommerce site, be sure to consider the following tips to provide your new customers with a user-friendly billing experience.  

Tell everybody

Research from Ingenico, an international payment processing company, has shown that 25% of shoppers will leave a website if their preferred local currency is not offered. If your ecommerce site accepts more than one type of currency, clearly mention it next to product prices, on the cart/subtotal page, checkout pages, etc.

Add conversion features

If an international shopper reaches the checkout page and doesn't see the cost of their order in a currency they're familiar with, they will most likely visit a currency converter website to understand how much they're paying. If you're trying to reduce cart abandonment, then this "checkout distraction" scenario is one you want to avoid.

Remind consumers about banking policies and fees

Many consumers aren’t aware that banks and other credit card issuers charge fees for currency conversion and/or international payment processing (and any conversion features you provide are unlikely to account for those extra fees). Additionally, transactions involving foreign currency can be flagged as potential fraud by credit issuers and blocked. To help prevent returns, billing-related customer service calls, and cart abandonment, inform your customers of these and other potential payment issues that may affect them. One way to do this is to provide the information in detail on an FAQ page, then offer to direct users there at key junctures – like when they are using your currency converter or when your checkout system detects foreign billing information.

UPS & FedEx's Seasonal Surcharges for 2017

UPS and FedEx have both announced pricing changes for holiday season 2017. Typically, these two shipping providers adjust their pricing in tandem - when one announces a change to their shipping & handling rates, the other announces a similar strategy soon after. But this year, that's not the case.

Effective 11/20 through 12/24, FedEx's holiday season rates are pretty straightforward. Essentially, there will be no increased residential holiday season surcharges, except in the case of packages that are oversized (increased to $97.50 per package), unauthorized (increased to $415 per package), or that require additional handling (increased to $14 per package).

UPS on the other hand, is taking a very different approach by implementing peak season surge pricing for all packages. This pricing (+$0.27) goes into effect for Ground Residential packages from 11/19 to 12/2, stops for 2 weeks, then resumes from 12/17 to 12/23. Peak season pricing for Next-Day Air residential (+$0.81), 2nd Day Air residential (+$0.97), and 3-Day Select residential (+$0.97) will only be in effect from 12/17 to 12/23. On top of that, UPS plans to add peak surcharges to packages that exceed maximum size and weight limits.

The goal behind UPS' peak season pricing is to offset the costs of increasing their fleet's cargo capacity, opening temporary facilities, and hiring additional sorting and delivery staff. However, this strategy is not only different from FedEx - it's different from UPS' past tactics. Traditionally, UPS has handled seasonal cost overruns by negotiating the level of volume discounts with a limited number of major retail shippers. For 2017, UPS is basically passing these costs on to their clients by spreading general surge pricing across all shippers. We’ll be looking forward to hearing about the effectiveness of UPS’ pricing strategy once the holiday season ends.

Shipping Strategies to Improve Customer Satisfaction

“Shipping” is more than just an added cost at the end of the checkout process. Speed, cost, communication, logistics – all of these and more combine to form the shipping experience your business is known for. If you can improve on these areas, you can turn your shipping options into a competitive differentiator that attracts more customers. In order to make effective improvements, be sure to consider the following:

Total Cost to Customers

It’s no secret that ecommerce customers love free shipping. However, it's important to remember that the reason customers love free shipping is because it's a discount. If customers can find the same product with a cheaper total cost elsewhere, it no longer matters whether or not the shipping is free. When using shipping discounts as a selling point, make sure that customers aren’t just absorbing the shipping costs through inflated product pricing or other charges.

Outbound vs. Inbound

If you are having trouble finding an effective way to provide your customers with discounted shipping, consider the benefits of reducing the cost of returns instead. Many customers decide to commit to a purchase based on the seller’s return policy. If the return’s policy is customer-friendly, customers are more likely to purchase from a seller – but not necessarily more likely to return their orders.

Order Fulfillment

The order fulfillment process is mostly invisible to customers. But if you do your due diligence here, it can make a big impact on customer service. For example, don’t limit yourself to only one carrier. By negotiating with multiple carriers (or working with a 3PL who can negotiate on your behalf), both you and your customers can save a lot of money on shipping.

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