Now, if you’ve ever made an online purchase, you’ve experienced product delivery or order fulfillment in action from the customer perspective, you simply visit a website, select a product, give the merchant your payment and shipping information, then wait for your order to arrive.
Afterwards, if you have any issues, you contact the business for assistance as a business, you’ll follow a similar process as you expand into international markets. But now you’ve got borders to deal with, currencies to exchange, possible returns to handle and more customers to support. Imagine ordering a product from a business in another country, but you received the wrong item. What happens if you’re unable to communicate with the business or you’re unable to return it back across borders? You’d be quite an unhappy customer. As a business owner, you can avoid this scenario with proper preparation. Let’s look at some things to consider for international deliveries. Let’s say you own a vintage record shop. The new reissue of the Beatles Revolver on Vinyl has become so popular there’s a run on orders. Let’s have a look at your inventory and supply chain process. You’ll want to monitor demand and ensure your products are adequately stocked so you can fulfill orders as they come in and as your orders are received, they’ll need to be shipped in a timely manner, according to the promised delivery dates.
Have you thought about your ability to ship and the time and costs involved? Shipping across borders may involve extra costs that you’ll need to factor into your pricing model. Now let’s think about shipping partners. Not all shipping companies have access to all markets, so you’ll want to partner with a reliable cross-border shipping company or agency. Some cross-border shipping partners may have better access to certain markets, as well as the ability to collect and pay, import or custom taxes on your behalf, your shipping company or companies, if needed, can also advise you on packaging and labeling for shipping across borders. Be sure to explore all your options. Reliable shipping partners can truly drive your success when orders are shipped accurately and received in a timely manner. Even when a customer has successfully received his order, the merchant’s job isn’t finished. This post sales period can be a crucial time for your business as you try to cultivate this one time customer into a loyal repeat buyer. What happens if your customers in other markets need to return or exchange their goods? How will your business handle exchanges? How will you process refunds? It’s really important to provide clear, upfront instructions to your customers about policies and processes involved in refunds or exchanges. No matter where they’re located, customers expect prompt and friendly service. You can provide support online or via the telephone, but either way, you want your customers to be able to contact you directly as you put these processes in place. Be mindful not only of language differences, but possible cultural differences as well, so that you provide the best possible customer service during and after a sale.
To sum up, before offering product delivery to international customers, think about your inventory and supply chain, cross-border shipping and customer support. No matter what their location. When you take the time to properly adapt your process, you’ll be setting up your business for international success.