Shipping internationally is an attractive option for UK retailers looking to reach new customers, but the complexity of doing so may be discouraging many.
The UK’s pandemic online retail boom appears to be over, as talk of recession grows. IMRG market results for April 2022 show an overall year-on-year growth rate of -12%.
The slowdown in UK online sales, and stagnant growth forecast for the remainder of 2022, is encouraging retailers to look further afield to reboot their sales. A new survey of 250 UK businesses by CEBR found that 72% had plans to move into at least one more EU market.
Despite that, shipping internationally remains challenging for retailers to navigate. Here we will unpack the main challenges of cross-border delivery.
1. Scaling a carrier network to serve cross-border markets
Accessing more markets means having more carriers. To expand your shipping internationally, you need to have multiple carriers in each market to cater for new delivery requirements. However, there are significant challenges in selecting and integrating with new local carriers.
It usually requires creating a new carrier integration, changing part of your tech stack, and tying up resources in terms of both people and time to connect.
These issues fall into three categories. First, there is the initial integration effort, the time to spin up each new carrier can be significant. Secondly, there are always nuances in each integration; the integration depends on the carrier themselves. Finally, there is the quality of their API and the ongoing maintenance in case of changes in specifications.
Taking advantage of new market opportunities means having a clear and quick path to integrating with new shippers.
2. Adjusting to new customs arrangements
In a post-Brexit world, taxes and duties, and logistics flow are far more challenging, with a range of new customs and regulatory requirements.
HS or harmonisation codes are used to aid global customs by creating unified categories to classify different types of goods. When shipping internationally from outside the EU, a harmonisation code is required on the customs declaration so that the receiving customs body can correctly process them. Not supplying the correct harmonisation code or item description can lead to parcels being seized at customs, possibly being destroyed, or returned at a cost to the sender. It will certainly lead to delays in delivery.
A delivery management platform can automate the labelling process, allowing you to set rules for each carrier, and easily generate customs information for orders that need it.
3.Satisfying new customer service demands
New research by DeliveryX Europe reveals that ‘convenience’ was a factor in the buying decision of more than 92% of shoppers in 19 European markets. It also found that 26% of those online buyers are willing to pay an additional €3 for faster delivery.
Delivering on your customer service promise when shipping internationally is all about being able to offer a large network of carriers to match new expectations.
Offering fast delivery options at checkout helps retailers maximise conversions and improve customer service. On the flip side, keeping your international delivery promise, requires having insight on where and when parcels will be delivered.
Detailed and accessible reporting to track visibility and speed helps improve customer satisfaction, reduce WISMO query volumes, and gives you the agility to make improvements faster.
4. Choosing a technology partner
If you want to take advantage of lucrative potential earnings beyond the UK, you’ll need the right tools and support. Technology has a critical role to play in simplifying international expansion.
When shipping internationally, widening your choice of carrier can open up new markets at pace. However, finding the right carriers, adding them, and maintaining connectivity yourself is not scalable.
Instead of working directly with multiple carriers and tying up resources on new integrations, plugging into an existing API is simple, and far more cost effective.
With Scurri’s delivery management platform, you can connect to new international carriers quickly. Our rules-based engine optimises carrier selection so you can offer faster delivery options. Scurri connects carrier and customer systems to ensure they work together to reduce WISMO queries with order tracking through the full journey.
Rolling out into new markets is now far easier, and instead of worrying about integrating new carriers, you can focus on delivering a first-rate customer experience.