Retailers can experience multiple pitfalls when expanding into new markets. Delays at customs, limited tracking information, cultural differences in terms of delivery preferences, and integrating with new carriers, are just some. These issues can all disrupt smooth eCommerce shipping operations, and ultimately, harm the customer experience.
The potential growth opportunity overseas is undeniable (cross-border eCommerce currently accounts for 22% of shipments of physical products). However, without an efficient eCommerce shipping management process, expansion into new markets can put a strain on your domestic operations.
We’re sharing seven stress test questions that will help you determine if your current eCommerce shipping process can handle cross-border pressure.
How long do you spend booking labels?
Generating and printing shipping labels is one of the most time-intensive tasks for brands when managed manually. A mid-sized brand could spend up to 90 minutes booking labels for domestic orders each day.
If you’re shipping internationally, you’ll likely use a different carrier, which will have its own distinct label template. This could mean having to manually enter customer data into multiple carrier systems, and reconfigure printer settings for each shipping label. If labelling is already proving to be too labour intensive, shipping internationally will throw even more fuel on the fire.
Can you generate customs documents?
If you need to include customs forms, that have correct harmonisation codes, with your overseas packages, a few things will be required. Firstly, customs documents typically require three pieces of paper to be printed, in addition to the shipping label.
Secondly, these documents need to be easily accessible on the parcel, so a plastic wallet or other waterproof storage will be necessary. If you can’t collate shipping labels and customs docs, you will need to add significant time, resources, and budget to your existing labelling process.
How are you managing shipment tracking?
How much information do you currently share with customers when it comes to tracking updates? By sending a single update in order confirmation emails, customers need to proactively follow the progress of their delivery.
This can lead to a significant increase in WISMO queries, which puts a strain on customer support teams. Similarly, if you rely on carriers to manage all tracking updates on your behalf, resolving tickets takes much longer. This is because support agents will need to log into carrier systems to retrieve tracking information. Then they’ll have to cross-reference it with their own customer data in order to provide accurate updates.
How many WISMO queries are you receiving?
It’s estimated that 30% of all queries that retailers receive fall under the category of WISMO (where is my order?). If your WISMO ratio is already teetering on the brink of 30%, international shipping could blow out this figure. The impact of an increase in WISMO queries affects both the efficiency of a customer support team, but also the customer experience itself.
New international customers may also have heightened delivery anxiety, and are therefore more likely to look for updates. Without appropriate resources in place, brand loyalty could be damaged before it’s had a chance to develop.
Can you integrate local carriers?
Adding local carriers can offer retailers the most competitive shipping rates. They also provide a sense of familiarity and reassurance to customers who are possibly shopping with you for the first time.
However, if you identify a local carrier in a new market, but can’t integrate their systems with your own, it can mean that shipping to that region isn’t feasible.
You can, of course, explore using carriers with widespread international coverage. But this might not be very cost-effective in the long run. Local couriers also often observe cultural nuances around deliveries. For instance, in Germany, shoppers tend to prefer deliveries to lockers, while Italians like the option of ‘cash on delivery’. Meanwhile, French consumers prefer to opt for deliveries to local convenience stores wherever possible.
Can you set shipping rules and triggers?
If you’re currently shipping to a single territory and are using one carrier for deliveries, you can generally apply a ‘catch all’ procedure to your delivery management process. However, with multiple carriers, this simply doesn’t work.
Shipping internationally can’t run efficiently if you need to manually assign specific carriers to orders. You’ll also be on the back foot in terms of knowing if and when a carrier’s connection is down. This can cause delivery delays, not to mention leave you open to human error.
Can you control your eCommerce shipping margins?
Finally, if cross-border expansion is going to be viable, you need to seriously consider your margins. Shipping internationally comes with a price tag, and brands often can’t replicate their domestic delivery pricing strategy abroad.
Even if you pass delivery costs onto customers, the cost of carrier integration, maintenance, packaging, and customs & duties can really add up. Therefore, you really have to work out whether you can afford to expand into new markets using your existing eCommerce delivery processes.
Leveraging technology to succeed across borders
The complexity of cross-border eCommerce can break a retailer’s existing delivery management process. However, that shouldn’t be a reason to shy away from potential growth opportunities.
Using a delivery management platform like Scurri automates shipping operations, so that international and domestic deliveries run like clockwork. Processes are streamlined, which frees up resources, and helps hugely with cost-saving as you grow your international presence. Key benefits of using a delivery management platform include:
– Labels are automatically generated and include all customs information on a single shipping label.
– Customer and carrier systems are connected, helping retailers to manage tracking throughout the entire eCommerce delivery journey.
– New carriers can be integrated instantly, with access to 700+ international and local delivery services worldwide.
– Carrier implementation and maintenance is managed by the platform, saving the retailer on extortionate development costs.